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I love beauty. I love filming. I love entertaining people. It’s who I am. And who my fans have come to expect. They’ve been tuning in to my beauty reviews and transformation videos since 2020. They’ve watched me meet Selena Gomez (!) and Rihanna (!!), collaborate with beauty brands like Glow Recipe, and even create a lip kit with e.l.f. What they haven’t seen is my mental health rapidly deteriorate, to the point where I had to seriously rethink my entire career.
Of course, I always knew there were dangers to working in social media. When I was a teenager, I used Instagram to fuel an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. As an adult, I thought TikTok—with its emphasis on real people doing real things—would be different. I used the platform to create my brand, which is essentially me being a straight shooter, giving out no-BS beauty info and advice. Even so, I quickly realized my job is not normal.
It’s not normal to stare at your own face for hours and hours every day. It’s not normal to talk to no one but an onscreen version of yourself all week long. It’s not normal to have what you say be picked apart by millions of people—to be celebrated by some for your authenticity and criticized by others for being yourself. It’s definitely not normal to watch strangers urge you to “lose weight” or “get a nose job” or to see the internet question your character or private life. (Cut to me defending myself from doubters who accused me of having my wedding sponsored. It wasn’t.)
Miracle Clear Exfoliating Cleanser
“I use this in the morning in the shower and before bed at night. It feels so refreshing, calming, and cooling on my face—plus, it helps with minimizing breakouts and blackheads.”
Block Star Invisible Daily Sunscreen
“I love that this SPF both protects from the sun and has a little bit of tint to even out my skin. Sunscreen is just really good for skin in general. I find that it helps with texture and breakouts too.”
Plush Puddin' Intensive Recovery Lip Mask
“I cannot live without a lip mask, and this twist-up version is one of my favorites. I put it on every single night before bed so my lips are always hydrated.”
Fat Oil Lip Drip in Missed Call
These come in a ton of shades, and they’re so comfortable on my lips. I like the applicator too! I love one of the pink shades—it’s super pretty.”
Blushed Liquid Blush in Blush Lily
“I love how these blushes make my cheeks look. The shade range is massive—I use Blush Lily—and the finish is so beautiful. It’s a satin texture that blends so easily.”
The thing is, for years, I’ve worried that speaking publicly about this stuff would make me appear ungrateful. I’m super aware of all the privilege I have—and I appreciate it, deeply. But my constant battle with anxiety and depression was nearly eating me alive. Bottling up these feelings didn’t help, and about six months ago, I felt like I hit rock bottom. I contemplated quitting, but that only made me sadder. That’s when I realized I didn’t want to give it all up—I just needed to change the way I work.
Over the past six months, my top priority has been to learn how to do my job while also being happy, starting with a mindset shift. I now consider myself to be someone who uses social media, not someone who consumes social media. There’s a big difference. I post, respond to comments, and put my phone away—that’s it. The majority of my screen time hours are working hours, not full of mindlessly scrolling or endlessly watching Stories. I don’t have Twitter or Snapchat, and I don’t go on YouTube at all. Being more present in my real life has made a huge difference for my mental well-being. When I’m done with work, I cook dinner with my husband, go for a walk, put on a movie, and just live my life.
It’s not always easy, and I still cry some days, but with the help of my family and friends and other creators who’ve gone through similar struggles, I’m learning to focus on big-picture things, like the community I’ve built or the lives I’ve impacted by telling my truth. There’s an ongoing mental health crisis in this country, and even though I don’t consider myself to be a role model, I want to use my platform to be a resource—not only for makeup and beauty but for people’s well-being. Ultimately, I hope the ups and downs of my journey inspire people to keep pushing, to get through hard times.
Recently, at a meet and greet in Boston, a girl came up to me: She was crying so much that she couldn’t even talk. Later, at the end of the event, her dad found me and said, “Mikayla, I just want you to know that you saved my daughter’s life. I want to thank you for that.” I was overwhelmed. And more convinced than ever that speaking up about mental health is the right thing—not just for me but for all of us—to do.
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