We Talked to YouTuber Aysha Harun About Representation in the Beauty Community

It all started with eyeliner. When cherub-faced influencer Aysha Harun, who goes by the handle “KeepItBeautifulXO” on YouTube, was still in middle school, she started playing around with makeup and couldn’t get enough of dark pencil liners. That is, until she discovered a frosty blue eyeshadow palette a year later. “Everyone was telling me I looked ridiculous wearing this blue eyeshadow, but I loved it so much,” the 22-year old, Toronto-based YouTuber laughs. Harun, whose channel boasts 116,000 subscribers, grew up watching beauty gurus like Michelle Phan and JuicyStar07, and would spend her evenings obsessively copying their looks.

“I always wanted to do better than the last time,” she says. “I would do a horrible smoky eye one day, [then decide] tomorrow night I’m going to practice it and it’s going to be even better.” At the same time, Harun noticed she didn’t see anyone who looked like her posting makeup tutorials, so she decided to step up and fill the void. In 2012, Harun began creating tutorials focusing on how to match foundation or wear a red lip on deep skin. “I started getting all these comments like, ‘It’s really nice seeing representation,’” she recalls, adding it was rewarding to be a role model for these women and to do something that she loved.

In her second year of University, Harun found herself without a part-time job. She used the newfound time to strategically grow her channel by posting two videos a week. It didn’t take long for her channel to blossom from 4,000 subscribers to more than 100,000. Whereas many YouTubers tend to project excessive excitability, Aysha, is delightfully low-key. She uploads videos of herself speaking in a crackly “morning voice,” and sometimes admits to checking her e-mail while sitting on the toilet. When she loves something it’s obvious, whether it’s gushing over a foundation she dubs “fricking flawless” or radiating confidence in her outfit-themed Eid lookbook. It’s all genuine Aysha, and her authenticity and approachability make her the real deal.

Harun is stoked to be one of the first home-grown creators showcased on YouTube Spotlight Canada, a new channel that will serve as a hub for Canadian content and a discovery route for emerging Canadian talent, of which Aysha is no exception. The amount of time Canadians spend watching YouTube has grown by 30 per cent over the past year, and yet, according to Aysha, “People often overlook Canadian YouTubers. People like IISuperwomanII [Lilly Singh, the Scarborough-based YouTuber with over 12 million subscribers] and all these other huge YouTubers are coming out of Canada and they work just as hard.” YouTube Spotlight is primed to champion both the incredible diversity of content on YouTube, and the diverse Canadian voices that create it. With 1 billion hours of content watched daily across the globe, we could all use a little more CanCon.

Subscribe to the Spotlight Canada Channel to see more of Aysha’s videos, along with other emerging Canadian creators.