Kevin Riordan: S. Jersey teen channels beauty tips on YouTube

Megan Kroh applies makeup at home as her laptop displays her YouTube channel, Ciaoobelllaxo. More than 80,000 people are subscribers.
Megan Kroh applies makeup at home as her laptop displays her YouTube channel, Ciaoobelllaxo. More than 80,000 people are subscribers. (SHARON GEKOSKI-KIMMEL / Staff Photographer)

Megan Kroh has a medium for her hair and makeup message.

Posted: July 27, 2012

 Megan Kroh's passion for prettiness has transformed her into an online beauty guru.

More than 80,000 people subscribe (free) to the South Jersey teenager's YouTube channel, Ciaoobelllaxo, the star of which will help you become fabulous.

Just like her.

"I want people to feel beautiful," says Kroh, 19, who's blessed with a glorious smile and a dark mane of what she describes, accurately, as "voluminous" hair.

Although she prefers not to disclose her hometown for privacy reasons, the savvy entrepreneur feels right at home in what YouTubers call "the beauty community," an online agglomeration of providers and consumers of content about looking good.

Thus Kroh's channel is filled with tutorials, product reviews, and show-and-tell "hauls" of the proceeds from shopping trips, as well as selections from a popular subgenre called "What's in my purse?" (or "What's in my beach bag?").

Kroh creates them all in a pink-and-purple bedroom where shelves are meticulously lined with nail polish and images of Marilyn Monroe adorn the walls.

"Nothing is scripted," says Kroh, her signature name necklace - a silver "Megan" - sparkling in place.

She was inspired to make her first video several years ago after watching online makeup tutorials by Lauren Luke, who posted under the name Panacea81. Luke has parlayed her encyclopedic knowledge of cosmetics and application techniques into global celebrity and a line of makeup at Sephora stores.

"I loved her makeup. I came home from school every day and watched her," Kroh recalls. "I got obsessed."

She taught herself to make and upload videos about blush, boyfriends, and bed-head hair. And eventually, her Jersey girl-next-door glamour, likable presence, and deep love for her subject got Kroh noticed by YouTube's partner program.

Although YouTube spokeswoman Gina Shalavi says that "thousands of channels are making more than $100,000" annually through the partner program, the fact that Kroh plans to begin classes at the PB Cosmetology Education Center in Gloucester City in August suggests she's not getting rich. At least not yet.

"She was really doing it as a hobby," says Kroh's mother, Susan, who like her husband, Ken, works in sales and marketing. The couple has two other children: Andrew, 22, who's fresh out of college, and Mackenzie, 12, who's in seventh grade.

They're all "very proud of her," Mackenzie says. "She's doing what she loves to do."

That's one key to YouTube success, says Austin Lau, "creator programs specialist" at the website.

By phone from London, he says the partner program "enables really creative video-makers from around the globe to build audiences" for their content.

And while videos of cats, kids, and other cute things can draw enormous numbers of hits, hard work and personality are essential to building an audience.

"People will want to keep watching an interesting person," Lau says. "But you can't just upload a video every six months."

Kroh posts two or three videos - generally they're between five and 10 minutes long - every week, if time allows.

A typical shoot takes 90 minutes, an edit three hours. She has made about 300, and better lighting and more sophisticated editing equipment have added a professional gloss to her newer work.

Being recognized by fans, which happens occasionally, is fun. Dealing with "haters," some of whom post truly malicious comments on her channel? Not so much.

"It's not all glitz and glamour," her mother observes. "But I think Megan has developed a thick skin."

A skin she doesn't constantly coat with cosmetics, by the way.

"Yesterday I didn't put on any makeup at all," she says.

But cosmetology looks like an appealing career. If not a calling.

"I would love to have my own business, my own salon," Kroh says. "And then there's the dream: I would love to be a 'beauty smartie' in Seventeen magazine."

Stay tuned.


Kevin Riordan:

To view video of Megan Kroh working on her YouTube beauty-advice channel, go to

www.philly.com/beauty


Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or kriordan@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.

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