Beauty influencer Ivan Lam shares how seeing the full you is the key to finding your light.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Ivan Lam spends plenty of time reflecting on the outcome of the ideas and self-imagery he puts out into the world. From YouTube and Instagram content chronicling a day-in-the-life of living alone (cat feedings included) to a Q&A with his younger self about being a queer Asian man, Lam’s work inspires us to embrace our full, authentic selves.
Lam shares his perspective as an American-based Asian beauty influencer in an industry historically dominated by eurocentricity to a male embracing — and speaking out about — makeup’s power to let us express all sides of ourselves. He’s also a quick-witted, irreverent, and empathetic person frequently using his platform to inspire and encourage fans simply by acknowledging that he sees them, too.
We recently caught up with Lam to talk about how he’s finding his path while staying connected to his identity.
What does soulcare mean to you?
It’s a way to meet myself at the start and end of the day, and give myself back love and nourishment. We move through the world so quickly with social media and productivity-[obsessed] hustle culture. It’s nice to remember that you are really a living thing that needs to be taken care of, and that your body, mind, and soul are all interconnected.
How does it show up in your beauty and daily rituals?
Beauty is a way to practice active, simple meditation and spend just a few minutes honoring yourself, everyday. When I’m applying my skincare, [I’m] doing a little bit of massage and looking in the mirror to consider, There’s something behind those eyes.
Also, focusing on acts versus outcomes: enjoying the process of making a coffee or cooking, or really enjoying my skincare process versus the goal of “having great skin.”
You’re a male in a female-dominated industry. What ideas inspire and inform your content?
I’ve talked to my friends about this a lot, actually. I do take my time to research ingredients, products, and routines. And, I love watching women take care of themselves. When I present myself, I try not to put myself in a place of authority, because there’s enough of that: men being in authority and telling other people how to act.
I don’t really think much about whether my content applies to women, men, or anyone in between. I’ve personally worked so hard to break down binaries of gender and approach things in a way that’s de-gendered. I try to come from a place of intention and sharing, rather than what you should or shouldn’t do with yourself, your hair, or anything else.
What’s your favorite Keys Soulcare offering thus far?
My favorites right now are [Keys Soulcare’s] Golden Cleanser and the Comforting Balm. The Comforting Balm is awesome because L.A. is really dry. I have that next to my bed and use it for everything — even as cuticle balm!
The cleanser doesn’t smell too flowery or strong — just rich and refreshing. I use it every morning on its own, and then after an oil cleanser at nighttime. I’ll even use it as a mask for a couple of minutes before rinsing it off. I have a more acne-prone skin type. So for skin like mine and drier skin types, too, ingredients [like charcoal and turmeric] are great for drawing out impurities without having to over-exfoliate.
Which parts of your body have you learned to love that you may not have before?
When I first came [to the U.S.] from Malaysia, I was really insecure about my eyes because they are smaller than most other people’s. Even I would make little jokes about them. After a while, I began telling myself, I like my eyes. They’re my dad’s eyes. I love my nose. It’s my mom’s nose. I’m a product of my parents. I love them. It was a slower reconciliation, but a deep one.
Real talk. How do you take such good photos of yourself?!
Well, sunlight is the best, because it highlights faces so naturally. Anywhere that has a big window, I will take photos. “Golden hour” right before sunset is great, too.
Oh! And there’s an option on the iPhone where you kind of tap the photo first, hold your finger down so that it goes into “lock.” [From there, you can] toggle the brightness, so every selfie you take has the same amount.
What’s your highest vision for what you’re doing?
I want to live a very authentic life. Hopefully when people see my life, they know it’s possible for them, too. I say that because I know that I’m in a place of privilege and comfort to express myself, but also to have a job that’s on social media.
There’s a lot of content telling people to “just be themselves,” but certain families and cultures make practicing self-love that way literally impossible. Hopefully, what I share inspires others to feel like there are resources they can look to — whether to get themselves out of a situation or [create] more love for themselves within a situation.
Where can you give some extra love to the next time you look in the mirror?