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A Conversation With @Gelcream, the Coolest, Most Refreshing Beauty Influencer on Instagram

For clean, minimalist beauty product shots and honest reviews, @Gelcream is THE Instagram account to follow. Never heard of it? We’re about to introduce you to your latest obsession.

As someone who works in and is obsessed with beauty, Instagram accounts that feature perfectly lit, perfectly flawless selfies and colorful, maximalist shelfies are my kind of eye candy.
The adjectives mentioned above do not at all describe the account @Gelcream, and perhaps that’s why, contrary to everything I mentioned above, I’m such a fan of it. In a feed filled with images that can best be described as “extra”, a Gelcream post is a refreshing palette cleanser.
If you’re not yet familiar, Gelcream’s posts often feature a well-manicured hand holding up a beauty product like the Hanacure mask, the Drunk Elephant C-Tango Eye Cream, or a Frederic Malle fragrance against a clean, softly-lit background, plus an honest review to go along with it.
The account, started in 2016 by Yana Sheptovetskaya, a former fashion editor at Russian Vogue, has over 110K Instagram followers, its own merch, a slew of copycats, and notably, no sponcon.
Recently, I had the chance to nerd out with Yana about beauty, Instagram, how the latter has influenced the former, and more. Read on for our full conversation.

The Klog: When you started your account, were you setting out to do something different?

Yana: When I started my Instagram I was not aware of the whole beauty movement on it, I took couple photos and posted them on my personal page and then decided to start a separate page for my beauty posts and that’s how @Gelcream was born, almost by an accident. I guess it attracted attention because I did what I felt like doing without looking at other pages, it was original and resonated with people. This is my advice – be yourself and think of how you want to see content, not others. I only post what I would enjoy seeing myself.

It would be very easy for you to do ads and sponcon, but you don’t, which feels so refreshing. I think I know the answer, but why is it so important to you to not do sponsored posts? What do you think your followers’ reactions would be if you did?

Again, it’s something I don’t enjoy seeing – I love my readers, we are friends and I feel like building mutual respect and trust is so important! I’m not motivated by money, I’m motived by the reason behind every action. I want my content to make people feel better or feel inspired. There is only one type of ad that I respect and love: beautiful campaigns, especially from the ’80-’90-’00s when teams would work hard on creating an image that takes your breath away. When there is no silly promo text, just the visual with smart copy – it gives you a some kind of a feeling and you can decide for yourself if you want to be a part of this brand’s universe or not. I wouldn’t mind having those on @Gelcream.

I think beauty brands and the people behind these brands are used to influencers saying nice things about them. They don’t always seem to take negative – or let’s say honest – reviews well. You’ve experienced this firsthand, and I’m wondering if these experiences deter or embolden you?

I love when the founders react! It is a great chance to get to know the brand better – I’ve seen such different responses and some made me fall in love with the brand, some – the opposite. Some brands silently blocked me and I think it also says a lot – if you are not willing to talk to your customer it means that you don’t care about her/him. So it’s very fascinating to see how brands react.

Pretty product packaging is such a major thing now and I’d be lying if I said packaging doesn’t play a part in my own purchases. But I love how you’ll take a photo of something “un-photogenic” like pimple patches and somehow, they still look good! What makes you decide to photograph and feature a product if not packaging?

I feature products that I have something to say about. Of course, packaging plays a big part – if I’m choosing between two similar products I would pick one that is prettier. The more products I try the harder it is; it’s harder to surprise me or make me feel excited. I think, that’s the main criteria: me being excited about either the look, feel or final effect of the product.

Social media especially can make it difficult to not spend all of your money on more products than you’ll ever know what to do with. How do you reconcile being a product minimalist yourself while being a part of this, might I say materialistic, Instagram world? 

Oh it’s so hard! This is why I don’t post very often – it makes me feel bad knowing how many purchases I influence by a single post. I now add a note to every post that says: “please don’t buy this unless absolutely necessary”. And I always mention that happiness and mental health are key. I also noticed that the less products I use, the more i’m satisfied with my skin.

There’s no doubt that social media has and is continuing to radically change the beauty industry. There are good things that have come out of this change, and some not so great things. 

I like that now everything is more transparent, with customers and brands interacting with each other on Instagram – it makes brands listen and customers be heard, it’s so great! It pushes brands to be better, communicate openly and not just say “we care” but actually care.
It’s great that there is more diversity; everyone can be a creator, a model. And it’s not just Kardashian-inspired accounts or perfect cute girls, there are some many great unconventional beauty pages – beauty is not about the pretty face and it’s so great there is a move towards this direction.
What is worrying is the amount of beauty brands and accounts – everything blurs and it’s really hard to distinguish one from another. It’s harder to trust them too.
I met a lot of great people through Instagram and it allows me to do what I like and provided a great worldwide audience, other than that – I love it for this, I also hate it for so many other things and can’t wait until they disable the “likes” feature like they did with comments.

You were candid about taking a break from your account at the end of 2018 and into early 2019. What did you learn on this hiatus?

I am still finding it a little hard to post and be social because I think my personal priorities have shifted. I turned 30 and went on a fascinating journey to rediscover myself, think about what makes me happy, enjoy people, books and music. I’m trying to find a way to express things that became more important to me on Gelcream and it’s not creams and serums. I think I’m very close to finding harmony and balance and will be back on a regular very soon.

How do you see Gelcream evolving and growing the future? What do you want to do more of?

I want to help people be happier, I know it sounds like a very grandiose plan. I want to learn together on how to be free, happy and beautiful in all aspects. The beauty industry is an important part of it, but there is so much more. And of course, continue to help navigate though a million of products.

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