Monet McMichael has the kind of name you want to say in full each and every time.
Over the last year, the 23-year-old social media star has soared through the ranks of BeautyTok and beyond, drawing viewers from around the world thanks to her bona fide charm and authentic approach to content creation.
Blending inspiration from the stylings of the OG beauty YouTubers she grew up watching (many of whom she now counts as mutuals on social media — a development she says she’s still acclimating to), with her own distinct and approachable flair, McMichael has amassed a TikTok following of more than 3 million users and counting.
It makes sense that she would thrive on the very platform that originated the “That Girl” aesthetic, a trend which gained prominence in 2021 and personifies a girl (or person) who practices self-love (in the arduous, wake-up-early-and-drink-your-greens kind of way just as often as in the fun, treat-yourself kind of way) and possesses a particular je ne sais quoi.
Despite her newfound, meteoric success on TikTok, though, McMichael’s foray into content creation predates the platform by several years: in fact, it was 2009 when she uploaded her first YouTube video.
“When I was young, I would go into my mom’s closet and makeup bag — I’ve always just been a little diva,” said McMichael, who is the second oldest of five siblings. “Even in middle school, [my mom] told me I couldn’t wear makeup until high school, so I would apply my black eyeliner in the school bathroom, then wash it off before I went home — I was doing the most.”
In her debut YouTube video, a side-part-clad, nine-year-old McMichael gleefully sets the stage with an endearing, “Hi YouTube, I am a new YouTuber, and I’m going to attempt to be a beauty guru.”
It was a “surreal moment” for McMichael to revisit that video — and specifically that intro — when she hit 100,000 subscribers on the platform last September (she now counts more than 250,000), and even more so following the antics that have ensued since.
Since the start of 2023 alone, McMichael has made her red carpet debut at Vanity Fair and TikTok’s Vanities party earlier this month; starred in her first podcast appearance on Manny MUA and Laura Lee’s “Fool Coverage,” and embarked on a slew of back-to-back brand getaways to Cabo, Paris, Wyoming, and a certain viral, mid-January Dubai excursion with Tarte Cosmetics.
“[The Tarte trip] was crazy — I got home and I was like, ‘This is on ESPN?,’” recalled McMichael. Having grown up watching YouTube vlogs of previous #TrippinWithTarte influencer trips through the 2010s, it was a “pinch-me moment” to be invited to join one herself.
Among the earliest of McMichael’s posts that garnered widespread attention was an unassuming, slow-motion video she uploaded in 2021 of herself flipping her hair in her dad’s bathroom. Slow-mo soon became something of a signature of McMichael’s, and she shortly thereafter began delving deeper into myriad video styles, including GRWMs (“Get ready with me culture, I feel like, is a forever thing — everyone needs a friend, everyone loves a good kiki,” said McMichael), hair tutorials, gym, travel and lifestyle vlogs and more.
“My approach to content creation is heavy on tapping into the little things that I love; being passionate in the content I create is important — I feel like it shows,” said McMichael, adding that she maintains the same approach across platforms, though she enjoys experimenting with video length, depending on what she feels a video’s intended platform is most conducive toward.
It was February 2022 when McMichael received an Instagram DM from Priyanka Chopra’s Anomaly Haircare, nabbing her first brand deal. “I was in the car with my mom when I saw it — at that point, I only had around 75,000 followers on TikTok and I was honestly just making videos for fun, so I couldn’t believe it.”
It wasn’t long after that the partnerships began rolling in, from Fenty Beauty and Hourglass Cosmetics, to a limited-edition collection with Amazon’s The Drop and UGC for Anastasia Beverly Hills (“I booked out a whole studio and photo shoot for that one — all they wanted was an Instagram post, but it was just such a huge moment for me,” recalled McMichael of the latter, mid-laugh).
According to influencer marketing platform Tribe Dynamics, McMichael powered a total $2.5 million in earned media value for beauty brands in 2022, which marked the year she graduated with her nursing degree from Rutgers University and subsequently began pursuing content creation full time.
While significant, the figure is a mere fraction of the EMV the rising star is on track to generate this year; in January, McMichael powered $1.4 million EMV across 21 posts for Tarte Cosmetics while in Dubai alongside fellow next-generation beauty darlings Alix Earle, Meredith Duxbury, Xandra Pohl and others.
U.S. Google search data from Spate, too, demonstrate her surging momentum, with the data provider reporting searches for McMichael have seen a 1,883 percent year-over-year increase from February 2022 through February 2023 versus the year prior.
On the whole, one thing is clear: This is just the beginning for the TikTok heavy-hitter.
“For me, the magic in creating content is the connection it creates; even when it was just my 10 friends watching my videos when I started,” said McMichael, adding that her goal for 2023 is to step out of her comfort zone more — an objective one can safely say she’s well on her way toward fulfilling.