Abby Roberts is running 15 minutes. We’re chatting four days after UK government’s decision to greenlight the reopening of salons and the TikToker is making up for lost time.
“Sorry my appointment overran slightly,” the teenager says breathlessly over Zoom. The reason for her lateness: a long overdue appointment. In fact, it’s one in a series of overdue appointments. “I think it’s because I asked for extra long nails because I’ve been so desperate to get them done.
“I also got my hair done yesterday, and have some ear-piercings booked in later this week – I’m not messing about!” continues the Leeds-based Roberts, flashing glimpses of her extra-pointy coffin nails decorated with holographic flame stickers and her new purple hair do.
Most of us, of course, were itching to get back into salons after three months of lockdown. But Roberts has professional skin in the game. Her mind-blowing personal make-up transformations into pop culture icons like Joe Exotic and tutorials on how to do TikTok-approved aesthetics such as cottagecore have earned her 11.5 million followers. No wonder she’s understandably indulging in some long overdue beauty TLC.
Despite only just turning 19, Roberts has established herself as one of the app’s most established faces on the For You page. Her 15-second clips have been liked over 572 million times. A Fornite inspired look she did last year being viewed by a scroll-stopping 25.5 million people.
All this began, the beauty fanatic explains with a shrug, after “I started posting online when I was 11. It wasn’t serious. It was just me doing my sister’s makeup on YouTube – and it was so bad,” Roberts admits with a mortified grin.
After hearing some YouTube commenters making digs at a then-unknown app called TikTok, a 16-year-old Roberts decided to check out the platform – just to “see what was on there and cringe at stuff”.
However, it didn’t take long for her inner makeup maestro to take over, with one particularly OTT look changing everything. “Last May I posted this checkerboard make up with a Venetian mask. It blew up like crazy. I think it’s at 40 million views now and I’m the top video on that song,” she says of Lalala by Y2K and bbno$.
One of those 40 million views was Face Issue 003 cover star Noen Eubanks, who reached out to the unknown English teen to collaborate while he was in London on a photoshoot. The pair have now been together for over a year, even though the pandemic has meant they haven’t seen each other IRL for six months. Still, that hasn’t stopped them jumping on nightly FaceTime calls and Zoom dates. Romantic, right?
“Well, I don’t know if Noen is the romantic one in the relationship,” says Roberts with a stifled giggle. “We went on a few fun dates over Halloween time at Universal Studios for the horror nights and that was super fun.”
Luckily for the two lovebirds, Roberts will soon be relocating to Los Angeles to start her own YouTube show with talent agency Kyra TV.
“I was meant to go to LA back in April but it’s been put on hold for a while because of the travel ban,” she says, understandably a bit miffed. “I’m hoping to get there by mid-September time, though.”
The show, which Roberts is staying relatively tight-lipped on, will “show a different side of beauty”. For the social media sensation, this means one that “just has fun with it, and prioritises creativity over snobbery”.
Until then, Roberts is staunchly TikTok obsessive. “I spend all day, every day on the app. I’m on there for work, and I’m on there for fun as well. No joke, I’m on there for six hours at at a time!”
So when I ask her what she’s got planned for the rest of her evening as we sign off the Zoom call, her response is no surprise.
“Oh, probably some more TikTok.”