Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Greg Doherty

From Army Reserves To YouTube Stardom: The Untold Story of Jackie Aina's Rise To Fame


| LAST UPDATE 10/20/2021

By Manny Ray

Jackie Aina greatly impacted the standard of beauty and has been advocating for inclusivity since the beginning. But this wasn't always her plan; Jackie went from an Army Reservist to an influencer and never looked back.

Jackie's Mission

Ever since she uploaded her first video over a decade ago, Jackie Aina's made it her mission to change the standard of beauty through her YouTube videos, collaborations, and her advocacy for inclusivity in the beauty industry.

Jackie AinaJackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

After deciding to pursue her passion, Jackie turned her life upside down and turned vlogging into her lifestyle. Find out how Aina gained over 3.5 million subscribers and changed the beauty industry one video at a time.

Originally Studied Medicine

Growing up in California, Jackie Aina's parents had a particular future in mind for her. "My dad is from Nigeria, and he expected me to do something more traditional like become a doctor or lawyer," Jackie revealed. Although she always had a passion for fashion, her parents pushed her to get a degree in another field.

Studied Medicine Jackie AinaStudied Medicine Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

In one of her YouTube videos, Jackie explained, "Growing up, I had no leverage, I had no rich uncle." So, she enrolled at California State University as a pre-med student, which is ironic because her focus is nowhere near medicine today. But she would soon find out that this wasn't the right path for her.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Dropped Out of College

"My brain just kind of, like, exploded in college," Jackie explained. "I was just burnt out, and I couldn't do the really big classroom sizes." She started dating a man who would eventually become her husband, and he was in the US military at the time. In 2008, Jackie decided to put academics on hold and enlist in the army.

College Jackie AinaCollege Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

At 21-years-old, Aina and her boyfriend got married and moved to Hawaii, where she was stationed during her time in the Army Reserves. At the time, Jackie thought this was the life she'd wanted, but she eventually learned that she'd "rushed a timeline of expectations."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Started Vlogging in the Army Reserves

"Because I was in the reserves, it also meant I had a lot of free time to do other things," Aina revealed. "I just learned that there's always a bigger picture... You just kind of learn to stick with it." So, she explored some potential hobbies, but vlogging didn't appeal to her initially.

Vlogging Army Reserves Jackie AinaVlogging Army Reserves Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

"I didn't really have any interest in doing my own videos; I was only watching a lot of videos," Jackie revealed. "But I was always known as the girl who always had all these colored eye shadows and for doing all these really bold looks with my dark skin." So, her friend persuaded her to create a YouTube channel.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

YouTube Kept Her Going

"I felt like I was stifling my creative side," she said, after finally giving YouTube a try. "I always loved beauty, and I'd always been passionate about fashion - it was always my number one true love." Eventually, Jackie got divorced, after coming to terms that "I was not happy at all."

YouTube Kept Her Going Jackie AinaYouTube Kept Her Going Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

"YouTube was one of the only things that kept me going," she revealed. So, Jackie moved back to California with just $300 in her pocket. Part of what she didn't like about her marriage was that her husband was the primary provider, and Jackie felt as though she had to put her "dreams on hold" to be a supportive wife.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Making Her Mark

Jackie knew she wanted to establish herself in the beauty industry and was extremely devoted. "At that time, it was mainly white women and Asian women in the beauty community," Jackie shared. "So I was taking these looks that the more popular vloggers were doing, and I was basically showing people how to make them work for brown skin."

Making Her Mark Jackie AinaMaking Her Mark Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

So, Aina had to create her own path to success. "Whenever I'd go to makeup counters or makeup shopping, I'd realize that it actually became a thing - I'd show them a picture or video and be like, 'Do you have this listed?'" Jackie explained. She'd seek out specific products and then upload tutorials on how to use them.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Felt Rejected in the Industry

"It seems like a recurring theme both online and offline that, at the time, there weren't a lot of things for people who look like me," she explained. "I got tired of feeling rejected, so I learned how to do these things myself instead of counting on someone else to teach me ."

Felt Rejected Jackie AinaFelt Rejected Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

After launching her channel, Jackie felt like this was her opportunity to shine, as so many other people might be feeling the same way. "I was doing it on YouTube, not realizing that I was filling the void not only for myself but for other people," Aina revealed.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Inspired by Pat McGrath

Jackie was deeply inspired to launch her career as an influencer by Pat McGrath, another African American beauty guru. "I can't even put into words what it feels like to see someone who looks like you, has that skin tone, doesn't come from a well-connected background, and makes it," Aina explained.

Pat McGrath Jackie AinaPat McGrath Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Rabbani and Solimene Photography

"It was such a turning point for me." And as Jackie continued to upload videos and thrive in the industry, she and Pat got to know each other on a deeper level. "She's taken me to fashion week in Milan. I've traveled to Japan with her," Jackie shared.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Going Viral

When Jackie first started vlogging, she had trouble feeling comfortable while being herself on camera. "And it was when I did my very first yearly series called 'Trends We're Ditching' - a tradition of an end-of-the-year roast on all of the trends and whatever goofy stuff popped up on your Instagram newsfeeds," she explained.

Going Viral Jackie AinaGoing Viral Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Astrid Stawiarz/Stringer

"And the first time I ever made a video of myself just being silly and goofy, that I went viral. And it went like viral, viral." After receiving such positive feedback, "I finally thought that this was what my channel always had potential to do, and from there on out, my channel just never stopped growing," Jackie shared.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Launched Inclusivity Palette

In 2019, Jackie launched a new makeup palette designed explicitly for people with darker skin tones. She'd always been an advocate for inclusivity, but she decided it was time to literally take matters into her own hands and provide all of her fans with products that could fit their individual needs.

Inclusive Makeup Jackie AinaInclusive Makeup Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Astrid Stawiarz/Stringer

Jackie collaborated with the company Anastasia Beverly Hills, and according to Teen Vogue, the palette is "straight glam." Additionally, she even helped to guide rising YouTubers with contracts and other logistics, saying, "I just want to see people win and not get taken advantage of."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Unimpressed by Kylie Cosmetics

While Jackie didn't necessarily dislike specific products from Kylie Cosmetics, she noticed something that rubbed her the wrong way about its advertisements. "You went out of your way to create this beautiful bottom row of dark colors, but I didn't see a single person on YouTube outside of Shayla, reviewing those products," she said.

Kylie Jenner Jackie AinaKylie Jenner Jackie Aina
Instagram via @kyliejenner

"I wanna see some reviews from some chocolate girls. I just wanna know where are they?" Jackie couldn't understand Kylie's logic with her social media. "I looked at all the pictures she's posted since this launch, and the only pictures I see of anyone darker than tan was the day that the concealers were announced," Jackie revealed.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Offended by Jeffree Star

When beauty guru Jeffree Star wore his hair in dreadlocks for a campaign, many people were offended, especially Jackie, saying he "does not represent [our beauty/ influencer community] values." She's been deeply offended by some of his comments over the years, saying, "I have not and will not excuse his blatantly racist behavior."

Jeffree Star Jackie AinaJeffree Star Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jeffreestar

"No one in the beauty community should feel like they are protected enough to continuously say things to make black women feel ugly and ashamed in their own skin," Aina continued. And this wasn't the first time that Jackie called out Jeffree for his behavior; She stated that she'd never buy his products in a previous video.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


In 2017, Aina released a video titled "Anti-Haul," where she pointed out specific brands and products that she would never purchase for various reasons. For some, it was because she simply didn't like the product itself, but for others, like Jeffree Star's line, Jackie was too hurt by some messages he'd sent.

Anti-Haul Jackie AinaAnti-Haul Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Krista Kennell

The following year, Tarte released its new Shape Tape Foundation line, and Jackie was disappointed when it only included 15 shades. "I don't appreciate the blatant erasure of a whole spectrum of people," she said. "It doesn't even look like they tried."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Supports People Based on Morals

Following her publicly disapproving of Jeffree Star and a few other brands, Jackie explained her reasoning behind all of her opinions and reviews. "I truly mean this wholeheartedly, whenever I talk about brands, I want them to actually implement that feedback and use it to their benefit," she revealed.

Morals Jackie AinaMorals Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Rich Fury

She wanted her followers and even her biggest critics to understand that while her reviews may come off as malicious, she's genuinely just trying to help these brands succeed. "I make content that explains why I do not support certain people and their brands," Jackie tweeted. "It's ALWAYS based on morals and ethics."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

At Odds With Tati Westbrook

When Jackie decided not to associate herself with Jeffree Star or promote his products, this also put her at odds with another influencer, Tati Westbrook. After her falling out with James Charles, Westbrook became closer than ever with Star, so she jumped to his defense against Aina.

Tati Westbrook Jackie AinaTati Westbrook Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Rodin Eckenroth/Stringer

At the time, Tati defended Jeffree's every move, no matter how controversial his statements and actions were. However, she would eventually realize that she'd made a mistake, as Jeffree wouldn't always be the incredible influencer and friend that she'd thought.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Deleted Twitter To Escape the Haters

In 2019, after many disagreements over social media, Jackie decided to delete Twitter, saying she felt like "the verbal punching bag of the beauty community." This was rather unusual for an influencer, as they essentially need Twitter for their career. "This is the first time that I've deleted my Twitter account," she revealed.

Deleted Twitter Jackie AinaDeleted Twitter Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Darren Gerrish

"It's one of the platforms I spend the most time on, and I think that I needed to develop healthier habits," Jackie explained. Aina recognized that she needed to detox from all of the platform's negativity, at least for a little while. "I don't like how, because I have a lot of followers, I'm supposed to be immune to abuse."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Reviewed KKW Beauty

When Kim Kardashian released a new concealer line for her cosmetics company, KKW Beauty, Jackie uploaded a viewing reviewing her products, giving her sincere opinion. "Honestly, if this wasn't sent to me, I probably wouldn't have bought it," Jackie admitted. There were some aspects she liked, but many that she didn't.

KKW Beauty Jackie AinaKKW Beauty Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Stephane Cardinale - Corbis

"The contour kit, while it was cute, I'm definitely going to give it like a B minus," as she didn't see it as a must-have. After uploading the video and attending Kim's launch party, Jackie was featured in a photo on Instagram. However, she wasn't tagged, leading followers to think Kim was salty about the review.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Fans Suspected Tension With Kim Kardashian

"Wow Kim K tagged everyone who came to her beauty launch on insta except for Jackie Aina bc she gave an honest review about her contour kits," one of Jackie's fans tweeted. "Kim K untagged Jackie Aina from her Instagram post because she gave an honest review of KKW Beauty," another user wrote.

Kim Kardashian Jackie AinaKim Kardashian Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Getty Images via Dimitrios Kambouris

Jackie's followers were convinced that Kim went out of her way to untag Jackie from a photo after giving an honest review of the products, and they were furious. But evidently, this was an honest mistake, as Kim shared, "I would never post someone's pic on my page and then intentionally not tag them."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Kim Appreciated the Feedback

"When I uploaded the album, I was tagging everyone that came to the party, and for some reason, it wouldn't let me tag Jackie's name," Kim wrote. She went on to say, "I love that she has an opinion, and I'll take what she said and use it to better my products."

Kim Kardashian Jackie AinaKim Kardashian Jackie Aina
Instagram via @kimkardashian

"I hung out with @jackieaina in my home, and she was super sweet," Kardashian added. Ultimately, this turned out to be a massive misunderstanding. "Thank you @kimkardashian for clearing that up, having me into your home, and welcoming my honesty and feedback," Jackie responded.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Tati Apologized

Remember when Tati Westbrook took Jeffree Star's side after Jackie accused him of poorly representing the industry? Well, she eventually changed her perspective; "I got it twisted that you had provoked Jeffree because you were angry that I filmed [with someone] who had a history of being labeled as a racist," said Tati.

Tati Westbrook Jackie AinaTati Westbrook Jackie Aina
Instagram via @glamlifeguru

"Jackie, I'm sorry that I did not do the right thing and walk away from him [back in 2018]," she continued. "I should not have defended him, and I regret any of the pain I may have caused you." And Jackie was happy to move on; She even gave one of Tati's products a positive review on YouTube, the ultimate sign of forgiveness.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Denis and Jackie

While Jackie's certainly thrived with her own YouTube channel, she and her fiancé, Denis Asamoah, launched a joint channel called Denis and Jackie. Between Asamoah's knowledge as a productivity coach, nicknamed 'Mr. Work Smarter,' and Aina's experience with vlogging, they've truly made the platform their own.

Denis Asamoah Jackie AinaDenis Asamoah Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

"Here, you'll find bits and pieces of the life we've created with each other," the couple shared on their channel. Denis and Jackie have covered everything from house tours, inside secrets about their relationship, shopping trips, and more, showing a different side of Jackie's life.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Beauty BFF

Towards the start of her influencer career, Jackie became quite close with another vlogger, Jaclyn Hill. "I seriously do love her to pieces, I think she's like - as far as putting products together, I honestly do think she's one of the beauty community's visionaries," Aina said about Hill in 2017.

Jaclyn Hill Jackie AinaJaclyn Hill Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Desiree Navarro

The two beauty bloggers frequently showed off their friendship on social media and publicly supported one another's products. Little did Jackie know, she'd eventually cut Jaclyn out of her life for reasons that she still has yet to share with her followers.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Cutting Out Jaclyn Hill

In 2019, Jackie announced that she would no longer be reviewing any of Jaclyn's products. However, she didn't give much of an explanation, leaving followers wondering what could've possibly gone down between the former besties. Through a series of tweets, Aina implied that there was some sort of disagreement.

Cut Out Jaclyn Hill Jackie AinaCut Out Jaclyn Hill Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Rachel Murray

Fans were eager to hear the tea from Jackie herself, but she kept things relatively vague. "The more and more this plays out this is not a good look at all," Aina tweeted. "Especially as someone who has recommended her collabs in the past I feel like this is getting WAY too out of hand."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Accused of Creating Offensive Products

When Aina released her collaboration collection with Anastasia Beverly Hills, critics believed that one of the products had an offensive name. The particular shade in the palette was called 'Wiggalese,' which apparently, to some, "is just racist AF when you remove the 'lese' from it."

Wiggalese Jackie AinaWiggalese Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Taylor Hill

"Shame [Anastasia Beverly Hills] included a word with a slur in it," another person wrote. Jackie's fans tried to shut these critics down, explaining that 'Wiggalese' likely came from 'wig languages' and was never intended to come off as hurtful or offensive, especially coming from a woman who fights for equality in the industry.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Throwing Shade

Jackie's fans got extremely defensive over these claims about her product, saying things like, "Racists hate Jackie Aina so much they're jumping through hoops talking about how she used a 'slur' in one of the names of the shadows (Wiggalese) for the palette."

Wiggalese Jackie AinaWiggalese Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Astrid Stawiarz/Stringer

And critics continued to fight back; "Just because I am not a fan of Jackie Aina & will not buy her collabs does not make me racist." One of Jackie's fans responded to this tweet, saying, "Yes, it does." There were countless other tweets from both sides, as people were evidently set on their own opinion of Jackie.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Happily Ever After

About ten years after saying "I do" for the first time, Jackie's now fiancé, Denis Asamoah, surprised her with the proposal of a lifetime. On a romantic vacation in Santorini, Greece, Denis got down on one knee with a stunning diamond, and Jackie said yes!

Denis Asamoah Proposal Jackie AinaDenis Asamoah Proposal Jackie Aina
Instagram via @denisasamoah

Unlike in her first marriage, where Jackie felt the need to hold back her creative side, Denis encourages her to be her true self and pursue all of her passions. Plus, since he also created his own YouTube channel, he understands what it's like being an influencer, and there's no doubt they make a good looking pair!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Too Faced

One of Jackie's many collaborations has been with Too Faced, a brand owned by the infamous Estee Lauder. When Jerrod Blandino, co-founder of Too Faced, began creating the line of varying concealer shades, he needed an ambassador who understood his vision.

Jarrod Blandino Too Faced Jackie AinaJarrod Blandino Too Faced Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jarrodblandino

"I realized I needed to call somebody, not only that I completely respect and trust, but somebody that I love enough to sit in my throne and really lead me and guide me down this road, " said Blandino. "Jackie's at the forefront of changing that for us - for the world." And Aina has become a crucial part of the brand.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Opening up New Doors

"She's got that light," said Blandino. "She has opened up doors, windows, roofs, worlds, to people who felt marginalized, who felt like they weren't seen, who felt like they didn't matter, who felt like it was impossible." Evidently, other significant people in the beauty industry noticed that Jackie filled a void.

Opening Doors Jackie AinaOpening Doors Jackie Aina
Getty Images via Greg Doherty

As such a prominent celebrity makeup artist and businessman, Jarrod's opinion in the industry carries a lot of weight, and he's repeatedly emphasized that Jackie "showed them that not only is it possible, it's their right" to feel beautiful and pursue a passion.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Net Worth Is $800,000

Ever since she launched her YouTube channel over a decade ago, Jackie hasn't held back one bit. Between her frequent videos and her own products, Aina's earned herself an estimated net worth of $800,000, according to Naibuzz. With over 3.5 million subscribers, she makes a significant profit through ad revenue.

Net Worth Jackie AinaNet Worth Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

Jackie's expected to make around $260,000 a year from advertisements alone; Not too bad for doing what she loves! She's also a spokesperson for various brands, with many sponsored posts on her Instagram. Chances are, Jackie's following and net worth will continue to increase, as she's proven to be unstoppable in the industry.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Being Her True Self

While reflecting on all that she's accomplished so far, Jackie explained, "People watch my videos now, and they're like, 'You changed so much!' And I'm like, 'No, I'm actually more myself than I have ever been.'" On her YouTube channel, "I decided to just let my guard down and really, actually be myself for the first time."

Being Herself Jackie AinaBeing Herself Jackie Aina
Instagram via @jackieaina

Seeing how successful she was from just letting loose and doing what she loved, assured Jackie that moving back to California and creating her YouTube channel was an incredible decision. "I'm really happy that I decided to wake up one day and just be myself, and I think people underestimate how important that is on YouTube."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below