Ally Gong visited Seoul, South Korea, to study marketing and management, and returned to UCLA with a newfound interest in makeup and skin care.
The fourth-year economics student’s YouTube channel, which has over 9,000 subscribers, is based around her interests in beauty, fashion and travel. When given the opportunity to study abroad at Yonsei University during her sophomore year at UCLA, Gong took an interest in Korean makeup and skin care, incorporating them into her platform. She found them appealing because of their effective formulas, and said she finds it exciting that Korean products have risen in popularity in America.
“It’s nice that it’s becoming more popular in the States because now we see Korean makeup and skin care even in the shelves at the UCLA store,” Gong said. “I think the reason for its popularity is that Korean beauty companies are very innovative and great at creating effective formulas.”
Even in America, Korean culture, music and beauty products have gained attention and popularity, she said. Korean beauty standards are different from American ones, and can be easily recognized from their focus on youthful and natural skin, straight and full brows, and a color palette that predominantly boasts pale tones – usually light pink or peach.
Gong’s videos include Korean makeup tutorials, a day in the life of her studying abroad in Korea and lookbooks that incorporate Korean fashion trends. In her video, “Natural Everyday Korean Makeup Look,” a majority of the products she uses are from Korean brands such as Innisfree, Etude House and Tonymoly. The look itself features Korean beauty trends such as gradient lip color, in which most of the lip color is focused in the center of the lips, while the outer corners of the lips feature hues that are diffused and blended out. This creates the illusion of a smaller mouth, which can be used to make one look more youthful and innocent, she said.
Bridgette Gong, Ally Gong’s younger sister, said she finds her videos entertaining, as well as informative and educational. In Ally Gong’s video “the best japanese and korean beauty products,” for instance, she shows her audience her favorite hair masks, facial toners and cushion foundations. She explains how each product functions, and because everybody’s preferences are different, she shares why she personally loves the product and encourages her audience to try it for themselves, Bridgette Gong said.
“Korean trends are so popular and it’s kind of overwhelming because there are so many different options for products,” Bridgette Gong said. “But I find her videos very helpful because it seems like the products that work for her tend to work for me, and that makes the whole process much easier.”
Korean beauty products have noticeably influenced Ally Gong’s YouTube channel, said Megan Hong, her friend and a third-year computer science student. She said each time Gong travels to Korea, she buys a multitude of beauty and skin care products. Hong also runs a YouTube channel herself, and said Gong’s travel and beauty videos inspire her and her own content.
“I think (for) a lot of skin care products and face masks that I buy here in LA, … the American companies produce their products in Asia – specifically Korea,” Hong said. “It’s cool to see that the influence of Korean skin care is now a norm here in the States.”
Gong’s nonbeauty videos are related to academics and traveling. Her UCLA-related videos cover topics regarding her economics studies, insights into her daily life as a Bruin and information on how to be accepted into UCLA. Her video “UCLA econ major: everything you need to know,” focuses specifically on the coursework and GPA requirements for the major, what students can do with an economics degree and what her personal experience has been like throughout the program.
Gong said because she will be graduating very soon, it is important for her to provide all the help she can for others while she’s still at UCLA. These videos have become some of her most popular, she said, and she has been recognized on and off campus by viewers.
During her second and third year at UCLA, classes became more difficult for her, causing her to take longer breaks from creating content for her channel. She said she continued to make videos to remind herself how much she enjoys creating content and sharing it with others.
“I don’t have to worry if my growth isn’t linear because I’m definitely not the type of content creator that puts out a lot of quantity. … For me, it’s more about the quality,” Gong said. “My end goal isn’t to be a professional YouTuber, but to just create content that I think isn’t out there and to create content that is genuinely an expression of what I care about.”