When it comes to beauty, we all have our firsts—our first beauty lipstick, our first perfume, our first experience of testing a bold eye shadow on the back of our hands before swiping it across our lids with little attention to precision. And it’s these early brushes with beauty that help us evolve our own beauty journeys. Follow us in our new series, First Brush With Beauty, as we revisit beauty firsts. Today we’re talking with Artrepreneur—dancer, model and YouTuber Alana Poetree—who goes by the moniker @_poemoney on Instagram and FROtorials on YouTube. Poetree shares hair tutorials, poetry, DIY remedies and advice through the videos she uploads. “FRO is much more then hair but the ultimate acceptance of beauty in all shapes and forms,” she writes. Keep reading for her first brushes with beauty.
When was your first brush with beauty—the first beauty experience you can remember?
When I was about 10 years old, my mum allowed me to wear lip gloss. She thought I was too young for makeup, so this was a big step for me. The bodega close to our house sold small fruit-scented lip glosses for £1. So when I was able to buy it on my own and wear it, I felt like I was so much older. The feeling of picking it out and paying for it was all I needed.
Who has taught you the biggest beauty lessons-and what did they teach you?
I feel like I haven’t learned a “big” beauty lesson yet. A lot of what I do know now I learned on my own. But I’m open to experiencing something memorable from someone who knows more than me further in the future.
Have you ever made any beauty mistakes? Do you even believe in the concept?
I don't necessarily believe in beauty mistakes. I don’t believe there’s one definition of beauty. So if there are mistakes, I make them all the time. I just stopped caring about what other people think. I don’t match my colours or patterns in my clothing. I don’t do my eyebrows or wax or shave my face. I wear men’s clothing. I thrift my clothes. I don’t care for name-brand anything. And that seems hard nowadays because of this new technological age. Everyone else make these things matter so much more than the real beauty in people.
But that’s just not who I am, “mistake” or not.
Think back to your teens—who was the beauty idol we’d find on your bedroom wall?
When I was teen, I admired J.Lo immensely. She came up as a dancer from the bottom. She’s an ageless Latina with beautiful style and talent. She was underestimated. I related, and I looked up to her.
What’s the one perfume that can transport you somewhere else?
I always used to sneak on my mum’s perfume, never knowing who it was by or how much to use at once for that matter. I never got into wearing perfume seriously, though. I always had this tomboy style and felt like perfume just didn’t fit, along with not really knowing how to choose what would be my signature scent. However, in college, when I studied abroad in Italy, I visited Capri. It was so beautiful I couldn’t describe it. Capri is known for its large lemons and beautiful flowers—lilies particularly.
I decided to stop by their perfumery, Carthusia, and I ended up walking out with Fiori di Capri (£80). It’s the first and the only perfume I wear now. And every time I wear it, it brings me back to that beautiful island with all of my memories on it.
Is there any part of your beauty routine that you’ve NEVER changed?
Lip gloss is always a must! Hoop earrings, too! It doesn’t matter where I’m going—for some reason, those two things always fit.
What was the trend that defined your youth?
Wow. When I was younger, bangles (thick, heavy colourful bracelets) were IN! Along with the matching bead necklace and earrings, waist belts and layered shirts to match the jewellery set. It was in. And I did try it out. I would definitely not wear it today, though.
How do you think beauty standards have changed since you were growing up? Has the change been positive?
Beauty is such a sensitive topic nowadays. It’s so hard to discuss, to accept and to understand. There’s pressure on little girls to look like grown women. When it comes to body image, type of clothing and makeup. There has been some improvements, though, like weight and cultural inclusion, but I don’t believe it has been positive enough. Social media—media in general—tears what beauty should be about to a million pieces every day. We’re all a part of the problem when we joke about things that shouldn’t be funny, when we judge people for their natural features and when we force people to mould to just one perception of beauty.
If you could, what beauty advice would you go back and tell your 10-year-old self about the future?
I would tell my 10-year-old self to live out loud, to try every idea that comes to mind no matter how much other people may not like it, and to be willing to be yourself as early as possible (because it’s your hair, your body and your face, and no one else’s). You live with you every day, so how you feel about anything about YOU should matter most.
Finish this question: Beauty is about…
IGNORING WHAT YOU THINK ARE RULES CREATED BY PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW.
Quick fire: This or that? Juicy Tubes or Lip Smackers?
Highlight or contour?
Highlight, every time!
Blue eye shadow or blue mascara?
Blue mascara! I have long lashes.
Follow Poetree on Instagram @_poemoney and on here YouTube.