Erin Kahaly Is Turning Heads with Her Dramatic Eye Makeup Tutorials on Instagram
CAS senior’s use of long lashes, glitter, and gemstones has made her a beauty influencer
Makeup guru Erin Kahaly is becoming famous for her right eye. From her South Campus dorm room, Kahaly (CAS’20) posts twice-weekly close-ups of her eye on her social media accounts: saturated, dramatic eyeshadow, along with long lashes and the occasional splash of glitter and gemstones. She says her style is often inspired by drag makeup.
On a recent weekday, Kahaly opts for a rainbow color eye, noting that her Instagram feed has been “lacking brightness recently.” She slowly and expertly adds blue and green around her eye with a delicate brush.
Her desk is her workspace, and it’s piled high with makeup palettes and brushes. The camera doesn’t reveal the comfy sweats she’s wearing, which come in handy as she says she frequently wipes extra makeup off on her pants. She usually makes up only one eye, then takes photos or videos for her page before removing it all.
Kahaly has a growing Instagram base—close to 4,000 followers at present. That’s peanuts compared to some of the more prolific social media makeup artists out there, like Huda Kattan (40.9 million followers) and Manny Gutierrez (4.3 million), but she’s working at slowly growing her online presence.
Followers are integral in the business, she says. “Influencing is now a huge thing. You don’t really need to do an internship in makeup, but connections matter a lot.” Currently, she’s a brand influencer for companies Violet Voss and Anastasia.
Kahaly got her start with cosmetics in high school. She was (and still is) into hardcore music, and its fans are really into makeup, she says, and so she taught herself, something that she encourages others to try. “Makeup is something that people typically wear to cover flaws or insecurities, which is what I used to do,” she says. “As I began to play more with colors and styles, I drifted away from the natural makeup look and began using my eyes as a canvas and doing whatever I thought looked cool. It’s like my makeup is an accessory that I make from scratch each time, and I can do whatever I want, no rules.”
Outside of school (Kahaly is double majoring in sociology and psychology), she works part-time at Sephora and in the Dean of Students office. She’s also a makeup artist for Off the Cuff magazine and does makeup on a freelance basis for sorority formals, weddings, and other events. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a career doing makeup for celebrity red carpets, inspired by artists like Nikki Wolff. But for now, she says, she’s still busy learning the craft.
“I think people assume it’s too hard, and it’s not,” Kahaly says. “I look back at pictures I did last year, and what I’m doing now—it’s crazy. It’s a lot of practice. Like everything, people might not be good at it to start.”