You might recognise Keilidh Cashell from some of her viral TikTok videos, showing off glamorous make-up looks or even transforming her face into characters like the Grinch.
Cashell – who goes by @keilidhmua on the video sharing platform – is arguably the biggest name in Irish beauty on TikTok, racking up 2.7 million followers and almost a hundred million likes.
However, she said she wasn’t interested in make-up until well into her teens.
“Growing up I was a tomboy – I was mainly outside playing all the time, so make-up really wasn’t on my radar until I was around 15, 16,” admitted the now 27-year-old, who is based in Mullingar, Co Westmeath.
“I started going out and you know, you want to get the attention of boys, you want to look pretty for your school disco – that’s the time I started wearing it.”
Cashell started experimenting with beauty looks, and eventually went to college for make-up for a year – that’s when she started posting her looks online.
She said she was posting on social media “just for fun” and as a “creative outlet” to begin with, because her style tended not to be super conventional. She remembers “getting up early before work [on a make-up counter] or before college to do a crazy make-up look”.
Cashell was in her early 20s at the time: “That’s when online really took off, and I realised that I could make a living for myself doing what I love, which is painting my face.”
While going to college did help her with the basics of the industry – particularly things like hygiene when working on clients – she said: “All the stuff I’ve learned throughout the years, it’s been through experience and really throwing myself out there. You have to do it right.
“And from working on the [make-up] counter as well – working on different skin types and skin tones, all sorts of different people… But in terms of creative artistry, that was me sitting down for hours on end, painting my face to take it off five minutes later. Definitely a lot of hours went into it.”
Cashell added that her popularity really rocketed when TikTok took off.
“It’s interesting because the type of content I do – really crazy, creative make-up – when TikTok came along, that style really resonated there, and that’s when it exploded, especially during the lockdown.”
She might be a pro on TikTok, but Cashell said she still struggles to predict which of her videos will go viral.
“Sometimes the ones you put no effort into, that you don’t even look at, you’re just like going to throw this up – they’re the ones that end up going super viral. It’s the ones you don’t expect… I feel like that’s what TikTok’s all about, it’s being more natural and more your personality.”
Over the past six years, Cashell said a lot has changed: “I’d like to think I’ve changed a lot. You know when you look back and you’re like, ‘What did I do?’ So an awful lot has changed.”
One thing that’s certainly changed is Cashell setting up her own beauty brand in 2019: Kash Beauty.
“It has always been my goal to have my own make-up brand – it was always something I wanted, I think a lot of make-up artists would say that,” she said. “I’ve done collaborations in the past before, so I got a taste for it, [and] knew how much work was going to be involved. I knew I had a real passion for it.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to do it this early on in my career,” she added. “But from getting the platform I have now, from growing on TikTok and other social media platforms, allowed me to have the confidence in myself, but also the resources to really go for it.”
Cashell said her motivation is to help people “feel confident or creative or try something new”, as well as making them laugh along the way.
With “world domination” next on her to-do list, Cashell said: “I honestly can’t believe this is my life every day. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s just crazy this is what I get to do.”