Saturday, December 4

Alumnus grows Instagram platform, promotes positivity through skin care, makeup

UCLA alumnus Remington Lee uses her Instagram account, @remisetglow, to spread positivity. Started in 2016, Lee posts about her favorite makeup and skin care products, as well as her surgeries and hospitalizations of the past five years. (Ashley Kenney/Photo editor)

Forgoing filters and Photoshop, Remington Lee applies her positivity and passion to glowing through life.

The UCLA alumnus runs the Instagram account @remisetglow where she discusses skin care and makeup products alongside her surgeries of the past five years. Her account features the tagline, “Let’s glow through life together,” which Lee said represents her own optimism through the challenges she’s faced in her life.

“I survived multiple near-death experiences, and through all that, I’ve still been able to stay positive and to stay optimistic,” Lee said. “Glowing through life means that you are just a shining bright light for anyone that you come into contact with.”

Lee created her account in 2016 after taking the rest of freshman fall quarter off when a kidney infection hospitalized her during week eight. She started off posting photos of her makeup for the day and discussed the products she was wearing. She said she used her knowledge of Instagram’s algorithm – including what hashtags to use and what time of day to post – to boost her platform.

[Related: UCLA student conveys both art, activism through bullet journal spreads]

With social media experience ranging from working at the Daily Bruin as the Social Media director to running a popular Twitter account alongside a celebrity news website, Lee said she began to see her platform grow. She said sharing both skin care and beauty products as well as her experiences having frequent surgeries helped her relate to her audience.

“I got really lucky that the strategies that I’ve learned worked because, in theory, things don’t always work with social media, it’s very hit or miss,” Lee said. “Thankfully my content resonated with people because I was very honest about my medical stuff that was going on.”

After contacting around 100 different brands about setting up a promotion, Lee received her first public relations package from Drunk Elephant in 2018. Now, nearly five years after its start, her account has more than 13,000 followers, and Lee has worked with a variety of skin care and makeup brands which she reviews for her followers.

Beyond promoting makeup and skin care, Lee said an important facet of her content is to be open and honest with her followers about her life and offer a different type of content than the traditional beauty influencer. She said other influencers can appear superficial with filters and false messages about how they attained their glowing skin or model figures, and she hopes to challenge that with her content. One of Lee’s friends, alumnus Akshara Sundararajan, said Lee is able to show both the low and high points in her life as well as the makeup and products she promotes.

“A lot of beauty accounts, at least from what I’ve seen, have been only showing you the highlights and the best moments in your life, but (Lee) showed both sides,” Sundararajan said. “She would show like, ‘Oh yeah, these are my lows’ and then she would be like, ‘Oh yeah, this is my full face of makeup right before surgery.’”

For Lee, posting about her hospitalizations on social media was never something she had to question. Lee was born with Caudal Regression Syndrome, a condition that affects the lower half of the body and means she has only one kidney and needs frequent surgeries. Because of this, she said sharing her experiences seemed like a natural extension of sharing about herself and her love of makeup and skin care.

Navigating her medical issues also came with navigating classes, which she said meant she had to drop quarters several times to care of her health. Lee said having her account to fill her time while not in school served as both a good distraction and an opportunity to build on her future while hospitalized.

“It was really nice to have that focus because I’m the type of person that doesn’t like having free time,” Lee said. “Having that outlet, knowing that I’m putting something that I can use for my future, it’s like doing research that I can use in my future career.”

[Related: UCLA student takes hobby online, offers free virtual yoga classes via Instagram]

Beyond being able to build on her career, Lee’s high school best friend Elle Freeland said Lee’s account is an extension of Lee’s creativity, a trait she noticed when Lee transferred to her school in 11th grade. Along with makeup, Freeland said Lee works on both digital art and paintings, and they exchange pieces of artwork every year.

“It’s really special to be able to share (artwork) with her,” Freeland said. “It shows how creative she is in multiple ways. … It’s all just connected and part of her creative being.”

While her account isn’t the be-all and end-all for Lee’s professional endeavors, she said she hopes she can use the account to continue connecting with and updating herfollowers as well as inspiring positivity through her content. Though Lee’s main career goal is to work as a political campaign manager, she said she is focusing on building her brand and social media portfolio for now.

“I never expected that (the account) would be (this) when I started it,” Lee said. “I just was hoping that it was going to be something that I would learn from and it ended up being so much more.”

Assistant Sports editor

Simons is currently an assistant Sports editor on the baseball, women's tennis, men's tennis, swim and dive and rowing beats. She was previously a reporter on the baseball and women's tennis beats.

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