Kai Javier is experiencing one full-circle moment after another
On Kai Javier’s TikTok account, her bio simply reads “beauty & kaartehan.”
Kaartehan (vanity) has played an integral part in her fresh success. What was perceived as an insult—with many equating being maarte to self-centeredness—carries a new meaning in the digital space. With the rise of social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok, many individuals have skyrocketed to staggering fame.
The simple act of putting on makeup (on camera) has opened so many doors for people, thereby empowering them and giving them a platform, even providing them with an honest way to earn a living. For 23-year-old Kai, she has not only become a beloved part of the local beauty community, she is also an entrepreneur—co-founder of TikTok-beloved brand Kayu Beauty alongside other content creators like Ayn Bernos and Rica Salomon—and is now on her way to becoming a professional makeup artist.
Here’s the thing: she worked for it. The newly minted AB Multimedia Arts graduate from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde “grew up around art.” As a daughter of an architect, she thought she would pursue the same path as her mother, before realizing she was more passionate about other things like graphic design.
In high school, during the booming era of YouTube, she wanted a hobby she could benefit from and tried her hand at makeup. She hoped to do her own looks for senior prom and graduation after a regrettable experience with a makeup artist. Kai tells Wonder, “I wasn’t super into makeup trends at the time, and I never did skincare before, too. My mom was more of a minimal makeup and low-maintenance kind of girl. Whenever I would go to events in high school, I would just wear lipstick.”
She realized this new “hobby” would be very expensive, so she would work part-time jobs to buy products. Kai narrates, “When I told my parents about wanting to do makeup, specifically doing my eyebrows, they said [I] should be the one to put in the money to do it. Mainly because they were artists and, if it’s a hobby, [I should spend] my [own] money. In high school, I did part-time jobs to buy makeup.”
She fell in love with the process of doing putting on makeup, especially because she loved learning the art behind it. And with her success as a content creator from such a young age, she experiences one full-circle moment after another. Kai reveals, “My first makeup product was something I stole from my mom. I would use the 2Way Powder Foundation from Revlon especially since my mom used it, too. If I wanted a no-makeup makeup look but [using] powder, that [was] my go-to product in high school. One day, I started modeling for Revlon, and it was super full circle.”
Amidst everything, she makes it a point to continue learning and not limit herself to creating content on social media. During her first year of being a content creator, she wore fake lashes all the time, which unfortunately gave her an eye infection. It came to a point where she was so anxious about the possibility of not being able to do makeup on herself. This was when she considered enrolling in makeup school.
She tells Wonder, “When you are a beauty creator, there’s that pressure that people [think] you already know how to do makeup. When in reality, I [didn’t] know how to do makeup. I just really love doing it.” MUD Studio Manila fortunately gave her the big break she needed and offered her a scholarship. By December, Kai Javier will be a certified makeup artist.
The local beauty landscape is unmistakably thriving, but there’s still more to be done. Even with more homegrown brands are coming out with complexion products that target a wider range of skin tones, it’s still not enough. As a business owner herself, Kai is aware of how difficult it is to source the right materials, but she “hopes to get to the point that there are makeup products for any skin tone.”
The passionate, self-made creative has come a long way. For her own beauty brand, Kayu Beauty, she’s also envisioning more budget-friendly yet high-quality products that “I know I would use and other people would like.” She notes, “People will always want affordable options, especially the younger ones, so we want to be able to put out products for them to use easily, and [for them to be] something they can buy with their monthly allowance.”
At the end of the day, it’s another full-circle moment for Kai Javier. With her beauty brand, she’s creating products her younger self needed.
Starring and Glam by Kai Javier
Photography Favour Ajah
Creative Direction Alexandra Lara
Interview, Story and Fashion Direction Elisa Aquino
Styling Clarisse Furio
Hair Valerie Corpuz
Location B&B Studios