Erika Papa’s Inspiring Journey To Beauty Fame

For as long as she can remember, Erika Papa has been obsessed with all things beauty. The 23-year-old’s love began early, as she went from taking her mom’s makeup as a kid to eventually enrolling in a program that allowed her to attend cosmetology school while still in high school. Through that experience, she realized her true calling was a little different than the average profession. She knew that her passion was makeup.

She started working at Sephora and watching beauty videos for inspiration to create new looks. Since then, Erika has become a self-employed beauty influencer. Her Instagram alone has 66.1 thousand followers. For her, makeup serves as something both creatively expressive and powerful.

“I’ve just always loved the transformative process of makeup. You can look however you want, you get to express yourself, and then at the end of the day it all comes off. It’s very therapeutic to me,” Erika told College Candy.

Erika also talked to us about her must-have products, what it’s like to shop for vegan makeup and hinted at some exciting upcoming plans.


How much time do you spend on your daily makeup routine?
Daily, I’ll spend about an hour if it’s nothing too complicated that I’m trying to achieve, but that’s not counting how long it takes to get pictures and post them online. That nearly doubles the time.

What are some of the products that you use everyday?
I’m always using the same few brow products, the same primers and the same beauty tools! I love Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Definer, NYX Tea Tree Skin Elixir (especially if your oily or acne prone) and I can’t live without my brushes and beauty sponges! My brushes of choice are Sigma and Morphe, and my beauty sponge is always a beautyblender or Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge.

What are your favorite makeup brands?
So, a year ago my husband and I became vegan… And I know you are wondering what does that have to do with makeup? Well, a lot of brands unfortunately test their products on innocent animals so I had to do a lot of research and make sure I wasn’t supporting animal cruelty. Therefore, some of my favorites have completely changed in the past year! Some of the brands I’ve been loving recently are Tarte Cosmetics, Cover FX, Wet n Wild, Milani Cosmetics, Physicians Formula, Kylie Cosmetics, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Jouer Cosmetics, Marc Beauty and many more.

How long does it take you to create looks that you post on Instagram? Do you have a favorite look that you’ve done?
I always think I have a favorite look and then I create something else that I love! I have quite a few favorites, both traditional glam and creative. I often have people ask how long it takes me to get an Instagram look up start to finish. The glam process varies! It takes me thirty minutes makeup-wise if I’m doing a natural look, or if it’s full glam or creative, I could sit there for upwards of two hours. I love doing my makeup, so time always flies by when I’m getting ready. If I add in the time it takes to capture pictures and actually post the look online with all of the makeup details captioned, it’s a whole different story!

How has your life changed since becoming so well-known on social media?
It has definitely changed in many ways, which is so bizarre to me! People recognize me from time to time while I’m out and about, people I used to know treat me with a lot more respect, and most importantly, I feel more self-fulfilled after discovering my passion and having others enjoy my work as much as I enjoy creating it. Followers or not, I would still be doing what I love, but social media has been such a blessing and a useful tool for getting my work noticed. Another amazing perk is all of the friends I have made via social media. Between Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter I feel like I have a makeup family that loves, understands, and supports me, and interacting with everyone is one of the best parts of my job.

When and why did you decide to create your second account @beautybyerikamarie?
Very early on in my Instagram journey, I would always repost looks from other artists that I enjoyed, there were so many talented people who I personally thought deserved more attention. It has gotten harder and harder to get noticed and to get your work out there between the surge of new makeup artists on the platform and their new algorithm on the site. I wanted to create an account entirely for showing love to gifted artists that deserve more recognition! I personally know how hard it is to gain momentum, so I started posting others’ work on @beautybyerikamarie to help other aspiring MUAs and inspire them to keep going. I have not been that consistent with that account recently due to me needing to put all of my focus into my own account but I do plan on starting it back up.

How do you feel when you see people replicating looks that you’ve created?
It’s one of the best feelings knowing that you’ve created something that someone else liked so much that they want to try it themselves. It’s the highest form of flattery and it makes my day every time someone tags me to show me their recreations.

How does it make you feel that you have almost 10,000 posts with your #beautybyerikamarie hashtag?
It warms my heart. I never would have thought it! I created that hashtag so that people could use it in their makeup related posts that they wanted me to see and it’s mind blowing to think that many people want to share their artistry with me. I always just scroll through and show love to as many people as I can.

What are your career goals?
Well, this is a very broad question. I have yearly goals, things I’d like to achieve before I’m 30, and lifetime goals. I’d definitely recommend to put your dreams on paper and remind yourself of them every single day. It has helped me tremendously. My main goal is to help people feel beautiful. At the end of the day, that’s why I’m doing what I do. I would love to increase my social media presence and continue to inspire people through that platform. I would love to go on more business trips since I love to travel. I’d love to start my own beauty related business, possibly a makeup line… and YouTube is in my future for sure. That’s all I’ll share for now!

What is the craziest makeup trend you’ve tried?
I’ve tried quite a few! One time I turned myself into the blue butterfly filter from Snapchat, all with makeup! Another time I was very inspired by the large amount of abstract art that people were posting on Instagram, so I created a intergalactic highlighted look, which is the only way I can think of to describe it. That’s really as crazy as I get! I’m not one to use men’s aftershave as primer or to contour with a fork.

If you were allowed to bring five makeup products to a deserted island, what would they be?
Oh boy, this question always gets me. Just five?! First of all, I don’t know how concerned I would be to apply makeup if I were stranded on an island, lol. But hypothetically I’d have to say a brow pencil, concealer, mascara, coconut oil (because you can remove makeup with it and give your body an all-over glow while moisturizing) and lastly, lip balm. Specifically my Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. I couldn’t deal with chapped or sunburned lips!

What is your current favorite beauty trend, and what’s one that you hate and want to see gone immediately?
My current favorite trend would have to be highlighting or strobing. I don’t think it’s going anywhere and I’m sure most would agree with me! If we are talking about something more recent I would have to say glitter under the eye (almost to where it looks like you’re crying glitter). I definitely understand that it’s not a trend that everyone will want to try but the artist in me loves it! When it comes to a trend I’m not fond of (hate is a strong word) or want to see gone, I don’t really have one. I try to embrace all forms of self-expression, even if I wouldn’t recreate the look myself.

Erika’s favorites:
Lipstick: Jouer Lip Cremes in the shades Tawny Rose or Blush
Eyeshadow: Something I’m working on 😉
Eyeliner: LA-Splash Cosmetics Art-ki-tekt Slim Eyeliner
Mascara: Wet N Wild Mega Length Mascara
Blush/Bronzer/Contour: Milani Baked Blush, Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, Morphe 9C palette to contour

Related TopicsBeauty Style Interview makeup
Leah MarshallCOLLEGECANDY Writer
I'm a big fan of bagels, coffee, boy bands and Harry Potter. Greatest accomplishment to date: being in the top one percent of One Direction listeners on Spotify. Keep up with me on social media @lalaleahh!
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