If you're on TikTok, Steph Hui's videos have likely appeared on your "For You" page. The bubbly 22-year-old has become known on the app for her beauty content, amassing 1.4 million followers. Hui, a former dancer, started her account in March 2020. Her first video? A classic TikTok dance video, of course. However, she began gaining attention when she started sharing beauty tutorials full of approachable hacks,'90s references, and dramatic looks that would be right at home on the Euphoria set.
Within two years, Hui has become a social superstar. She's appeared in a Samsung commercial alongside Addison Rae, starred in a M.A.C campaign that ran throughout the Asian-Pacific region, and had her content spotlighted by brands like Glossier. In the midst of her booming beauty career, Hui also graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a film degree in May 2021.
The beauty phenom is hard to pin down, considering her day-to-day schedule is jam-packed. In the last few weeks, she's been jet-setting from fairytale beachside trips in Croatia with Tory Burch to her homeland Hong Kong. When she signed onto Zoom for our interview (which happens to be her first), she was in the middle of a block of meetings. The rest of her day included filming and posting to her social channels. "Content creation is kind of a 24/7 job," she says.
Ahead, Hui shares more about her booming career as a creator, her relationship with beauty, and her favorite makeup products.
What was your introduction to beauty?
Honestly, YouTube. It was around 2014 when the cut crease trend was big. I was thinking, How do I do that with my Asian eyes? I watched a bunch of Asian YouTubers like Michelle Phan and Karen Yeung to learn how to do makeup. I loved the way [playing with makeup] made me feel.
Your life looks so glamorous on social media, but you've also posted about the amount of work that goes into being a content creator. What does a typical day look like?
Before I got management, my day consisted of sending emails, negotiating with brands, and things like that. My whole team helps with that now. I do a lot of research to plan my videos. Generally, I love going on TikTok to look up inspiration and see what's been trending. I always want to try to jump on that and add my two cents to it. Sometimes, it involves Pinteresting any looks that go viral or reading articles on beauty trends. And then, I film in my home studio, edit my videos and post them. It's so funny because people see a one-minute video and think, That looks so easy. In reality, I have one to two hours of footage to work with, and cutting it down to that length sometimes takes around two hours.
Do you feel like studying film in college has helped you shoot videos?
I wouldn't say being in film school helps exactly with what I'm doing now. Still, a big part of TikTok is knowing how to package content in a concise and punchy way. Film school helped with learning storytelling elements. I think a lot of it also has to do with having a good eye and knowing what works naturally when I edit. As a dancer, rhythmically, I get the pacing part of it, too.
Anything you're particularly excited about with TikTok these days?
People on TikTok get so creative with hacks, and that's really exciting. Also, TikTok has given a lot of people like myself the opportunity to do this as a career. On the platform, there's so much organic reach and space for everyone. I've definitely seen more POC creators on TikTok, too, especially in the beauty space, which we definitely need more of.
You now have the platform to give beauty advice to other young people who look like you. How does that make you feel?
It's been such an honor to be a part of the mainstream beauty space in the U.S. market, especially being from Hong Kong. A lot of my followers have reached out to thank me for sharing my tips. They tell me, "I didn't know how to do stuff like that on my Asian eyes." I'm honored to contribute to this conversation, and I can't believe I have the space to do that now. In my content, I try to include tips and tricks on how to use makeup on our features. Makeup techniques are so different for every face. How you contour isn't going to be the same way another person contours. I try to make it more flexible and diverse in that sense.
Do you have any favorite TikTok beauty hacks?
When I accidentally get mascara on my lids, I love using a dry spoolie to scrape it off. It somehow doesn't mess up my eyeshadow, either. Also, I like to marinate my concealer, which involves applying smaller amounts of product and letting it sit for a bit before blending, which allows more coverage using less product. Also, putting eyeshadow primer on some of the oilier areas (like my nose) helps it grip onto my base better and prevent the product from sliding around.
What are your makeup staples?
Benefit Roller Lash ($27) is the only mascara I use. Many mascaras don't lift my lashes or curl them. I don't even need to use an eyelash curler with this one. I've also been loving the Kosas Revealer Concealer ($28) and the brand's powders and foundations. They have the most natural, "no-makeup makeup" finish. Another product I love is the Rare Beauty Blush ($20). I've mentioned it in many of my videos, but that blush blends nicely. It doesn't separate, lasts forever, and can be used over powder.
How do you find time for self-care despite your busy schedule?
Honestly, it's hard, but spending time with friends and family helps me stay grounded. Also, I focus some time each day on activities I like doing, like walking my dog, putting on a mask, taking a dance class, or making a snack.
Any new projects you're especially excited about?
I just did a Samsung campaign with Addison Rae. I don't know how it happened, but I was in Hong Kong at a hotel on my last day of quarantining from a trip to L.A. and got a call from my team, who said, "Actually, can you fly back to L.A. tonight?" I thought to myself; You know what, I can't miss it. So I went to my house in Hong Kong, unpacked, repacked, and flew back to L.A. the same night. That was a crazy experience. I learned so much, and everyone was so nice. I met many people I'm now friends with from that shoot.
What are you hoping to achieve in the next couple of years?
I want to take my social media to the next level and start a YouTube channel. I love talking, so I want to create a podcast about what it's like in this industry. Because I'm not American, being in this space is a unique experience, and I want to touch on it. I also want to have more conversations about being a person of color in beauty while helping build a bigger POC community within the industry. I also plan to travel more. Now that I'm working for myself, I can do that whenever, which I love.
Any advice for someone who wants to become a content creator?
My best advice is just to do it. Pick up a phone and start creating, filming, and posting consistently. The comments can sometimes be intimidating, but try not to think about that. You should also become a creator because you are passionate about it, not for potential fame or money.