“As a creative, it feels very fulfilling and validating to have more brands recognize your worth. I’ve had my fair share of lowballed rates and unfair work practices, so to be praised and treated well on a professional level feels more freeing than anything else,” says beauty content creator, Cine Escalona.
Once upon a long time ago, the beauty industry was a complete mystery, to say the least. A wave of newly released bullet lipsticks and compact powders would make their surprise debut in print, while a range of gentle skin cleansers were introduced through 30-second television advertisements. It’s fair to say that product shots, swatches, and models fronted the industry, while the magic behind the production remained anonymous.
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As the world entered the age of social media, a new approach to beauty emerged. Its exclusive appeal soon found its way to the exit as the industry slowly unveiled the mystery of its puzzling realm. Soon, brands banked on content that focused on alluring swatches and real-life wear tests, while photographers, product developers, stylists, and social media managers gave its viewers a backstage pass of what a day looks like in production. The magic is no longer anonymous—in fact, it’s now celebrated.
The Beauty Profile focuses on unique definitions of beauty and the everyday routines of inspiring personalities. The new series presents honest and intimate conversations about one’s character, passions, and relationship with beauty. This is a space made for novices and enthusiasts alike.
For this story, we are bringing light to Cine Escalona, a Filipina beauty content creator behind some of the double-tap-worthy photos you see on brands like EM Cosmetics, Summer Fridays, Saie Beauty, and more. Below, we look back at her beauty beginnings, her story, and how she found love in her craft. Scroll down and be inspired.
Meet Cine Escalona
“I’m one of those boring people that pursued a career in something I love,” she began. “I’m a marketing and content manager for a beauty brand during the day, and I continue the same line of work on the side.” Cine Escalona is a name you’d often hear in the beauty sphere. The truth is she fronts as one of the most trusted creatives for product photography. Over the years, the creative made a mark for her remarkable product shots and visually-appealing swatches.
Her portfolio can easily garner admiration, but another standout feature about Escalona is her heart for her craft. “I genuinely love creating and experimenting, so in my free time, I shoot. I’d like to think of it not necessarily like I’m a workaholic, but that I’m just genuinely happy doing what I do,” she shared. The creative also teased, “When I do get the free time one of these days though, I’m definitely enrolling myself in mixology classes.”
On her beauty history
On most cases, the best beauty girls always come with the best beauty awakening. “An ex lovingly once told me my eyebrows sucked, so I got obsessed with grooming and filling them in,” Escalona revealed when asked how her interest in beauty began. “Before that, I had almost zero interest in anything that involved cosmetics.”
“I was a fresh graduate with barely any money that just wanted free products. The early days of my beauty content were very pseudo-influencer. Honestly, I cringe a bit at the thought as I don’t see myself as an influencer at all.” Escalona also shared how it challenged her to be more creative. “I’ve always been a bit competitive, so I used to try to out-do tons of local and international content I saw on YouTube and the early days of Instagram. I no longer have the same naive mindset, but it definitely propelled how much I know in my craft now.”
On her creative process
“I collect a lot of visual pegs. I follow a lot of local and international creators, tons of which aren’t even in the beauty space,” Escalona openly shared when asked about her creative process. “I try my best to surround myself with bits and pieces that spark joy. The broader your world, the easier it is to create. Everything after that is just technical knowledge, which anyone can get from YouTube.”
On her beauty breakthrough
It’s undeniable that Escalona is one of the brightest creative forces in the beauty sphere. Her works even captured the attention of some global brands like Merit, Cocokind, EM Cosmetics, Summer Fridays, Saie Beauty, and more. “I was like everyone who grew up watching Michelle Phan in the early days of YouTube, so working with Em Cosmetics felt more unreal than anything else,” she opened up. “Maybe when I received my first PR package from them was when I had my breakthrough moment, that ‘Hey, maybe I’ve made it, somehow.’ I remember not even being able to afford a PHP 200 brow pencil from The Face Shop just a decade ago, [but] now, international brands [send] their unreleased products to me every few weeks.”
On what beauty means
It goes without saying, but beauty is and will always be subjective. Every person has a distinct idea or definition of beauty, and it’s always fascinating to talk about how one sees it. “Having worked across all facets of beauty marketing—publishing, agency-side, brand-size, influencer/pr—has desensitized me to a lot of things,” she confessed. “I think I see beauty in every objective boxes. Every brand has a different way of marketing ‘beauty’ and what it means to be beautiful, but luckily, since we’re alive in 2022, there are way more boxes to fit in than in the early 2000s.”
Escalona, on the other hand, has a refreshing take on beauty. “I think looking at beauty in that way has made me more introspective about myself—what box do I want to be perceived in, and what amount of effort am I willing to put in to be perceived that way. The beauty with beauty as well is that commitment is a farce, and you can choose to change boxes at any time.”
On her beauty routine
Escalona is also one true beauty girl. As we rounded out our chat, we asked about her beauty routine. “I used to be a fool that followed beauty trends religiously—a 14-step skincare routine, slugging, baking your whole face. Name it, and I’ve probably incorporated it into my routine one way or another,” she shared. “It’s a bit ironic how I have access to so much makeup and skincare now, but I’ve turned into somewhat of a minimalist. For skincare, it’s been good ‘ol retinol, moisturizer, cleanser, and spf the last few months, with some nights where I sneak in my Saipo mask.”
Alongside, the creative also shared her favorite makeup picks. “For makeup, I’ve been sticking to my guns with what works for my oily skin—Tarte Shape Tape, Milk Hydrogrip, Patrick Ta blush, Benefit Precision brow, Sunnies Lip Treat, and my Issy eyeliner.”
On her best advice
It’s undeniable that the beauty industry is always evolving. However, it’s nothing short of exciting. Escalona shared a short yet impactful piece of advice for anyone who wants to explore product photography and styling: “You can do a lot with so little. A phone and some natural light is enough. Fancy gadgets and fancy lights won’t get you anywhere without fundamentals.”