Sitting down to talk with Ingrid Nilsen — the mastermind behind the YouTube channel MissGlamorazzi — is like sitting down to talk with an old friend … if that friend has hundreds of nail polishes stored under their desk for “research” and has a flourishing YouTube career.
Growing up, Ingrid was anything but a girly girl and spent her childhood making cities and roads in the dirt. It wasn’t until college that she took any interest in makeup at all, but once her roommate had introduced her to the world of beauty, it became a full-blown love affair. Wanting to push herself out of her comfort zone of shyness, at 3 a.m. on a random November night Ingrid decided to make a YouTube channel after months of watching beauty videos online.
Now six years later, Ingrid’s MissGlamorazzi YouTube channel has become one of the most popular beauty channels on YouTube and has garnered over 1.4 million subscribers. While every detail of her videos are perfect — she spends a week making each one — it is her lovable and quirky personality that have endeared her to her YouTube audience. Chatting with NMR while simultaneously trying to keep her cat Nugget from climbing up the back of her couch, Ingrid shared why joining YouTube was completely terrifying, her impenetrable daily routine and her future plans beyond YouTube.
Check out the full interview below or visit the last page for the partial video interview.
In your Twitter handle you describe yourself as a “professional donut eater. A daydreamer. A panda lover. And an unprofessional parallel parker.” Would you like to break those down for us?
Miss Glamorazzi: Well I really love donuts and I can eat a lot of them so I like to call myself a professional donut eater. And I have loved pandas since I was like in the 4th grade, and I kind of have an obsession; if you look around my apartment you can see little panda things, everywhere. Daydreamer, I tend to be in my head a lot, always thinking of things and just kind of off in my own world, which when I was younger may not have been a good thing when I was in school, but now it’s great ‘cause I’m always like thinking of different ideas and stuff. And unprofessional parallel parker, I feel like that kind of speaks for itself. I am terrible at parallel parking and I avoid it at all costs, and I drive a really small car too and I still try to avoid it. And it’s just bad when I have to do it and I hate it when somebody else is in the car with me because it’s super embarrassing. They’re like, “How many times do you need to do this, Ingrid? Just get it straight!” And I’m like, “I’m trying!”
It’s always so much pressure when someone is sitting next to you too.
I know. I feel like I need to do it in one swift motion, and that is not happening when you’re with me.
I always want to ask them, “Can you get out of the car, and I’ll just meet you wherever we’re going?”
Have you always been a really creative person?
Yes, ever since I was a little kid I was always like making things, building things. I wasn’t super girly when I was younger; I was a tomboy, so I was always outside either playing with the boys in the neighborhood in the dirt building roads. I would build these really elaborate ramps and stuff for cars, and I would make like little cities and stuff so I was always into making things, and if I wasn’t outside, I would be inside drawing or making things out of popsicle sticks [laughs]. It started from a very young age.
When did you start transitioning into beauty and fashion?
I really didn’t have a huge interest in makeup until I was about 20, so I was in college and it was actually one of my roommates in college that got me into makeup more. I had worn makeup but it wasn’t like a thing for me, and so once she start introducing me to new things I became really interested and so that made me want to go and look up more things about it, and I found beauty videos on YouTube and I was like, “Oh my gosh this is so cool!” ‘Cause I was like really shy too, and so I didn’t really want to go and talk to other people in real life about it, so I was like, “I’m going to go on the internet and see what I can find,” and then there were all these girls talking about it so it was awesome ‘cause I could just be in my own little bubble. And then since I had made a goal for myself to do things that I was afraid of doing, I was like, “I’m terrified of being on camera, so I’m really liking these makeup videos and I’m just going to post a video and just try to overcome this fear,” so that’s what I did and that’s how it started, at 3 a.m. too. I made my channel at 3 a.m., which is why it has the name that it does [laughs].
That’s funny because you seem like such an outgoing, bubbly person.
I guess on the inside I had all these thoughts and opinions and things that I wanted to share with people but I was always just very, very shy growing up, and I wanted to express these things to people but there was something holding me back, this fear for whatever reason of just being around people I wasn’t used to being around and like talking on camera, and so I really wanted to overcome that because I was like, “I have things to say!” So I posted that video on YouTube and that’s really one of the biggest things that has brought me out of my shell because I just became more comfortable, and as time went on, I was able to just be around people I didn’t know and I realized like, wow, this isn’t scary anymore. I get a little bit nervous sometimes but it’s still a lot of fun meeting new people and talking to them, and I feel like I’ve come out of my shell.
After that first video, what kind of inspired you to keep going with more videos?
Really the comments that I was getting from people and just because it felt really good. It was like this weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I was like, “This is so liberating to do something that I was absolutely terrified of doing,” and I felt like that really helped my confidence and just getting the feedback from people and talking to them I was like, “Oh my god this is so cool. People are watching my videos, and how are they even finding them? Why are they enjoying them? I don’t know what’s happening but this is awesome! So I’m just going to keep doing it.”
What were some other things you were afraid of doing that were on your list?
Well, like meeting people that I didn’t know and having to talk to people that I didn’t know, so studying abroad was the first thing that I did that really brought me out of my shell because that included traveling on my own which I had never done before. I was with my roommate but neither of us had done something like that so we were thrown into this new world basically, and it really got me to speak up a little bit more because it was like, “Well if I don’t say anything, we could end up dead in a gutter somewhere so I’m going to speak up because I don’t want to die.” Studying abroad definitely helped a lot, and it just helped with me not being afraid to ask people questions if I needed help and stuff, and my roommate was also really, really outgoing so that also helped a lot too.
What did you originally study in college?
Architecture. Like who would have thought I’d end up here, but I was on the path of architecture, I was very devoted and committed to it. I had an interest in architecture from a young age because my dad was an architect, and I never really explored any other options aside from that because I was so focused on that path, so when beauty and makeup started to become an interest I realized it’s okay to have multiple interests in things. And I still love architecture now, and yeah, it really just helped open up my eyes to another world. Like it is okay to be interested in multiple things; I don’t have to be like totally just focused on one thing and just kind of have my blinders on and not paying attention to anything else. I feel like it made me a little bit more well-rounded because my interest started to expand more.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue YouTube full-time then?
I was nearing the end of college and I found myself at this fork in the road, at a crossroads, and I didn’t want to do both things halfway. I wanted to do one thing all the way because I really just wanted to put all of my energy into one thing and just go with that because then I would feel guilty trying to juggle both things, so it was a really, really hard decision because it was like do I take the traditional safe path or do I like follow my gut instinct and go with something that I’m really passionate about right now but it’s the road less traveled and riskier and it’s not as safe as the other option? And so being somebody who likes to take the road less traveled, I went with YouTube, and it’s mostly because I knew that if I didn’t pursue it, I would look back and wonder what if? And I hate that feeling; I never wanted to look back and wonder what if I had pursued YouTube, and like what could have happened, so that’s why I decided to roll with it because I was like, “If I’m going to pursue this, I need to do it now. Like this is the time to do it, and if I decide that for some reason if I don’t want to, I will go back to architecture then, but I don’t see myself wanting to stop anytime soon because I love it even more now than I did before.
What advice do you have for someone who is kind of at the same fork in the path?
I think you just really need to go with what your gut and your heart is telling you, because it’s important especially now to be doing something that you love doing. That is something that I’ve always wanted from a young age; I wanted a job that I was going to love, and growing up it was architecture, but I didn’t have another option, and when another option came around, I loved that other option more, and I think it makes a huge difference when you’re passionate about your job and you love working and you love what you do and it makes all of the stress and everything that comes along with it worth it. As opposed to doing something that you’re not so interested in, so when you get stressed out and overwhelmed it’s like, “Oh my gosh I just don’t even want to deal with this anymore,” so just doing something that you love and it makes everything very rewarding.
What have been the difficulties taking the unsafe, untraditional approach?
I think mostly just trying to explain myself to other people who don’t understand just new media in general and some of my family members that don’t understand this path and trying to tell them it’s okay, like this is my job and everything is fine. Even my mom was just like, “What is happening!” Because she is from Thailand and she grew up in a completely different country, a completely different culture, and the formula for my parent’s generation was you go to school, you get a degree, you get a job, and that’s not necessarily the formula today. I feel like in today’s world you need to be able to make something whether it’s a video or something with your hands; I feel like you really need to be able to make something and put something out into the world. Just kind of explaining that concept to people can be a little bit difficult especially when they are not familiar at all with social media or anything like that, so yeah it can be interesting sometimes, so that’s definitely been one of the biggest hurdles, but my family is totally supportive. They may not completely get it but they know that I enjoy it and they’re happy about it, but at first of course they were a little bit worried like, “What are you doing? What! What!” In the end it has turned out very well.
How do you keep your channel from being repetitive and creative?
It can get a little bit difficult sometimes; I usually have video block once a year, and it’s usually in the spring time for some reason, I don’t know why. But I have always been somebody that’s good at not inventing myself, but refreshing myself, so even when I was younger I was good at kind of refreshing the ideas that I had and like going over things, and since I’m always in my head and I’m always thinking about things and I get inspiration from everything around me, it’s not something that’s really difficult for me to do, and I just kind of pay attention to what’s going on in the world, what I find interesting, what other people find interesting, and I kind of just take those things, bring them together and find a happy medium for everybody. I think it’s not necessarily about reinventing but just refreshing and not being afraid to try new things and get yourself out of your box a little bit.
Because there are so many beauty gurus on YouTube, how do you kind of set yourself apart?
Well I’m weird so I feel like it’s not that hard because I can be a little bit strange sometimes, and I never really know what’s going to come out of my mouth and what’s going to happen, so I am just myself. The videos that I make I am the same person in my real life. Like when people meet me it’s pretty much the same exact thing, and I’d say the only difference is in real life I am a multi-dimensional person, so I’m not just always talking about beauty products and makeup and stuff. I am just myself so I don’t really try to set myself apart from anybody; I just am who I am and people watch my videos and I hope they like them [laughs].
Do you have a favorite beauty guru that you follow?
I have loved Kandee Johnson from the beginning of like forever since I started watching YouTube videos, and I actually got to meet her for the first time this past weekend and had a complete fangirl moment, like she’s the only YouTuber that has ever made me react in a total fangirl way like I just straight up was like, “Oh my god!” Because I had been waiting so long to meet her and our paths just always crossed, just like missed each other barely, and it was just so awesome to finally be able to meet her after years of wanting to, and she was just so nice and so sweet, and she’s really inspiring and very positive and funny and just very engaging. There is something about her that pulls you in, and that’s why I love watching her videos and I loved being able to talk to her. She sat down and talked with me, and I was like, “Oh my god I’m dying right now! Dying!”
I feel like if I met someone I was a big fangirl of, I would be really unsure what to talk about. What did you talk about?
It was so easy to talk to her ‘cause she was asking me questions, and I was like, oh my gosh she’s just making this so comfortable and so easy, so it was like just chatting with a friend and we talked about makeup tutorials, and I was telling her how much I loved her like Queen of Hearts makeup tutorial that she’s done and a Snow White one. I was definitely letting her know how much I loved her videos, but it was cool ‘cause it was just like sitting there chatting with somebody that I had met before and I was just so comfortable with her.
Have you had any crazy fan moments?
I remember a couple years ago in New York at IMATS — this was the first time that IMATS was being held in New York City — there was a girl and I just remember she came up to me crying and I didn’t know what to do. I was like, “Oh my gosh, no don’t cry! Don’t cry, don’t cry!” Because I was like really excited to meet her and she was really excited, and then I was like about to cry too ‘cause she was crying, and I was like, “Oh my god what is happening right now? This is turning into one big cry-fest,” but she was so awesome. It was just crazy to see that kind of intense emotion and then that emotion being transferred over to me, so that was definitely like my first really, really memorable viewer experience, and she was so nice, so sweet, and I just felt like I needed to like comfort her. I was like, “No it’s okay!” I felt like a mom or something — it’s okay, it’s fine, you don’t need to cry!
Is that ever strange because fans feel such a closeness with YouTubers they are watching but it is almost one-sided the first time you meet them?
I don’t think it is strange at all because I can totally relate, like how I was with Kandee. I think there is something about YouTubers that really draw people in, and it makes you feel like you know them and they’re your friend, and I don’t find it weird at all like meeting people and getting those kinds of reactions because I feel like the same way towards my viewers even if I can’t see them, if all I’m seeing is a username, I feel this connection with them and I genuinely love them and care about them. So being able to meet them in person and put faces to these usernames it’s just so awesome. It’s like, “Oh my gosh these people are real! They actually exist! They’re not just usernames, this is so cool!”
Do you see yourself staying on YouTube for a long time, or is it something you want to branch out of?
I see myself being on YouTube for as long as people want to watch my videos on YouTube. I don’t see myself being like a 75-year-old woman and making YouTube videos but I think at some point I would like to extend some kind of brand that can live beyond the life of my YouTube channel, so to create something that people can get in the real world that’s tangible. What that will be we will see, but that rhymed and I didn’t mean for it too [laughs]. But yeah, I would just want something out there in the world that is sustainable beyond my YouTube channel just because I am very into creating and I’d like to create something that people could enjoy in their own homes.
Beauty gurus seem like they are in this unique niche on YouTube where a lot of YouTubers are trying to get into traditional media. Is there something that beauty gurus are pushing towards as well? Or is YouTube the home that most beauty gurus just want to stay on?
I think for the most part it is a home that we are comfortable staying in. The only other thing that I could think of is maybe like hosting for some girls, but I don’t think too many have an interest. I think some have interests in acting and stuff, but for the most part it’s just kind of like we like being on YouTube and we like sharing the things that we love with other people.
Outside of YouTube, what are your days like?
I actually had a day to relax on Monday, and that consisted of actually prepping for the video that I shot yesterday, and I will spend today, tomorrow and Friday editing. But yeah it was a chilled-out day for me, which was my first kind of like relax day in a while where I didn’t have to be doing too much work-related; the only thing was just going out and getting things to prep for my video. I had a friend come over for dinner and it was just a nice relaxed day, but I still, even on relaxed days, I get up very early. I am an early riser — I get up at 5:30 a.m. I know you’re like, “What? This is a relaxed day for you?” I get up around 5:30 a.m., and I immediately do some kind of workout so I either go on a 10 to 12-mile bike ride or like a 3 to 4-mile run, and I come back and then I get ready, I eat my breakfast and then whatever is happening that day whether it is like shooting or like editing. And if I have a relaxed day, I just try to get my life together; I try to get my apartment organized and prepped so the next time I film it’s ready for the filming explosion to happen, because every time I film, products just end up everywhere around my apartment and I’m like, “Oh my god, I got to clean all this up!”
Are you a person who likes a routine?
Yes I am a very routined person. I have been ever since I was a little girl and my dad would say like, “If Ingrid gets off of her routine, it’s like her whole world starts to fall apart,” so a routine definitely gives me something to look forward to, like I know kind of what to expect even though my days are not exactly the same, but I like to keep my morning routine very solid because it just gets me up, it gets me ready, it makes me look forward to the day because I’m not immediately jumping into being on my laptop to being on social media. I’m like getting up, going outside, getting fresh air, like working my body out and it just feels good, so it gives me something to look forward to. But if I get off of my routine, that is why sometimes vacation is hard for me because then I just start pacing around the room like, “Okay, I need to be doing something. There has to be something for me to do right now!” So yeah I am a very routine person, but I still do enjoy the occasional spontaneous fun activity so I’m not totally completely structured.
Isn’t it still dark outside at 5:30 a.m.?
Well right now it’s pretty much mostly dark, but it’s starting to get light outside, but yeah it’s still pretty dark.
I was actually hoping that you woke up that early to go fishing with the fisherman and their chum that we met outside.
Oh my gosh! Oh my goodness. That’s so funny. I actually have not been fishing ever before so maybe that could be part of my new morning routine [laughs]. Like a boat tutorial, if you ever need to do your makeup on a boat here you go!
What are some things people probably wouldn’t guess about you from watching your videos?
Lets see. I am not good on the spot. I’m trying to think of something. I feel like people know that I can be like weird and random, but I think like more so in my real life like I tend to be pretty sarcastic which I think doesn’t come across so much on camera, because with sarcasm I’m playing off another person and since I’m not getting a reaction directly from my viewers it is kind of hard to play that sarcasm, so I’m definitely somebody that is super sarcastic, and so if anyone ever meets me, I try to like gauge their sense of humor a little bit before I dive in and totally go all in with the sarcasm. I make sure that they can handle it, so I do enjoy friendly banter though; it’s fun.
What are these weird, random tendencies that you keep bringing up?
Well I talk with my hands a lot; that’s one thing that has recently been brought to my attention a lot by multiple people, so I’ve always known that I’ve done that but now I’m like hyper aware of it. And I think because I am such a routine person I have such a– I just think about things so much and there is a way that I do everything, and my friends come over and they’re just like, “What are you doing?” ‘cause I’m like, “It has to be in this very specific way.” And like even just the way that I will pack up my bag or my purse or something it’s like things have to go in this order, or like the way that I do my makeup, the way that things are arranged, and it’s interesting because I’m not like a naturally super organized person, like clutter doesn’t bother me too much but it does get to a point where I need to clean. I enjoy being clean and tidy but I’m not somebody that’s like super crazy organized, but I still have like a very specific way of doing things which is strange [laughs].
Does it take you a long time to get ready then?
This is another thing that I do; I have a playlist that is exactly 1 hour and 10 minutes long so I know like where I should be in my getting ready process according to each song, so I know that by the time an Underoath song is playing and I’m not doing my hair then I am in trouble, so it takes me an hour and 10 minutes or less to get ready [giggles].
That’s incredible smart. Damn I need to get my life together.
So then that way you don’t have to be looking at your phone, you just know that from this point when I start this playlist, I have an hour and 10 minutes. And then I’ll change the songs every now and then but once I get really used to the playlist then I know by like this song, I need to be doing my hair.
What is your biggest beauty secret?
My biggest beauty secret, let me see. I’m trying to decide because I have a few. Definitely sunscreen. I’d say that that — not like it is a huge secret or anything — but it helps protect your skin and it can help improve your skin because I had really bad acne at one point in my life, and I still get breakouts, but everytime I get breakouts I get hyperpigmentation spots left behind, and a lot of people always wonder how do I clear up hyperpigmentation — one of the best ways is sunscreen. So use a moisturizer with sunscreen in it, use a separate sunscreen, use makeup that has SPF in it if you’re not going to be like on camera or anything so you don’t have to worry about like the white cast. But that is definitely one thing. Another thing, makeup setting sprays will change your life especially if you have oily skin; makeup setting sprays will keep the makeup on your face and prevent it from running all over the place and like wiping off on other people’s shoulder when you hug then which is super embarrassing! I freaking hate it what the happens! So yeah makeup setting sprays and sunscreen.
Who is someone who inspires your fashion and beauty style?
I really love Lauren Conrad and Kate Middleton. I love Kate’s just very classic and sophisticated style, and I love Lauren Conrad just how she’s been able to build up this brand, and she started on “Laguna Beach” and you would think somebody who came from a reality show wouldn’t really — like they would have their 15 minutes of fame and just kind of be done with it, but I really just love the transition that she’s gone through. And she’s just created this brand that is so unique and so relatable, and I love her laid back California girl-style because I feel like I can really relate to it.
What do you have coming up now?
Well in the near future, aka this weekend, I have a video planned to go up which will be my first summer video, and then I have some traveling coming up. I am going to London this month and in August, and other than that just lots and lots of videos and planning for them. I put a lot of prep into my videos, and I was actually explaining what I do to get ready for videos recently and I didn’t realize how intense and crazy I am about this process until I explained it, and I was like, oh man, in my head, and when I’m actually doing it, it seems like so easy, and now that I’m explaining it, it is like, woah, I have like an intense process for everything.
Will a video take you then like a full week?
Yeah, if the video that I’m working on currently is a “Get Ready With Me” video, and those videos usually will take me an entire week to do because shooting will normally take up one entire day and then sometimes an extra half-a-day — so a day and a half or so — and the editing on those is very intensive because then I had to go through all of the footage, I have to line everything up, get the close-ups for everything, so they can be very intensive and I like to have the time to really look at everything, make sure that everything is cut properly and just the way that I like it. And so that there is extra time if something goes wrong, if I want to change something that there is enough time to change. I have it planned out, don’t worry [laughs].
Looking back at all of your time on YouTube, what have been some of your favorite memories?
My first favorite memory of all time was meeting my friend Fleur or FleurDeForce; she also makes beauty videos on YouTube, and we were in touch from the very beginning. She had been making videos for maybe a month or two, and I had just started, and we had been in touch ever since and I consider her one of my really good friends just in my real life in general, and sometimes I forget that I met her through YouTube, and she lives in the U.K. and I see her more than some of the friends that I grew up with here. So we see each other a lot, and the first time that we met each other it was almost like I was going on a date with somebody because I had butterflies in my stomach, like I was nervous because you have this connection with somebody through the internet and you’re hoping that it translates over into the real world as well. So neither of us really knew what was going to happen, but when we met, we literally sat in my car like for 30 to 45 minutes and just sat there and just talked for so long, and we’re like, “Okay we got to go,” and then we would just like sit there and talk more, and that entire day — I lost my voice because we had talked so much, and now we’re just really good friends and that is definitely a day that I look back on and I’m like, “Wow this is the power of the internet. It brought two people from across the world with similar interests together, and now we’re friends because of that.”
What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming a YouTuber?
I say go for it. The only thing that’s stopping you is yourself. I’ve really come to learn what that saying means now that I’m a YouTuber because I used to hear people say that all the time, like the only thing that is stopping you is yourself, and I’d be like, “Okay whatever,” but now I really understand that because there really isn’t anything stopping you except your own fears, and I think that if you’re afraid you should just go for it. Don’t worry about what other people are going to think, don’t worry about like if you’re going to get views or not because you should be doing it because you love it and you’re passionate about it. I didn’t pay attention to anything for so long; I was just posting videos, I wasn’t looking at views or numbers of anything like that, and I think that is the way to go especially when you’re first starting out because you want to be doing it because you love it, and now I am at a place where I feel so thankful because I love it even more now and I didn’t think that was possible.
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Photography by Kelly Kenney