Sydney Sikes, 15, is pictured in her bedroom applying makeup for her Instagram feed, which has 31,000 followers. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Billl O'Leary

If you watch Sikes in the makeup tutorial videos she posts on Instagram under the name "SydMarie" - some of which have drawn tens of thousands of views - it's easy to forget or even doubt her age. She moves with an easy confidence, and when her face is highlighted and contoured to her satisfaction, she could easily pass for 25.

But if you could see beyond what those videos show, if that tiny camera on her iPhone could pan out and around her as she sweeps sunset shades across her lids, you would see glimpses of her teenage life in northern Virginia. You would see she is sitting in a bedroom decorated with hot pink and black wall hangings. 

You would see a girl who, in the middle of filming one recent afternoon, calls out to her father:

"Hey, dad, can you do me a favor? Bring me a Lunchables?"

He brings the juice pouch with it. Sikes snacks and drinks, stopping occasionally to talk, while spending two hours doing her makeup for a video that she will edit down to about a minute and then post for her 31.7k Instagram followers to see.

If you have ever wondered how a person becomes an "influencer," that modern-day title reserved for those who have become so popular on social media that people want to buy what they buy and do what they do, Sikes can tell you.

In just two years, she went from a girl who started experimenting with makeup because she felt insecure about her cystic acne to a makeup artist with an enviable resume.

She is sponsored by several cosmetic brands, her name and face have appeared on a limited edition makeup collection and people pay her to make them look beautiful on days when they need to look their best. She has done makeup for three brides. She has worked at a fashion show. And among her repeat customers is fitness coach Brooklyn Hillenbrand, who is also an influencer with 279k Instagram followers.


Watch SydMarie at work 

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Guys if my pics in my bio get the most likes on the @ilmakiage website then they will give @ilmakiage products to 20 of my followers !!!!!! GO TO MY BIO RIGHT NOW AND LIKE MY PICTURES 💕 • • • Products Brows: @ilmakiage Brow Factor Shade Caramel Eyes: @ilmakiage Color Boss Squad Hustler 996 // Color Boss YOLO False lashes: @ilmakiage 27 Foundation: @ilmakiage Woke up like this 035 Concealer: @ilmakiage BFF Perfecting Concealer 02 Bronzer: @ilmakiage Mineral Baked Bronzer Waka Waka (new fav) Highlight: @ilmakiage Mineral Baked highlighter Halo Lip Liner: @ilmakiage Natural Moisturizing lip liner wine Lip Gloss: Lipgloss Nude #ilmakiage #foundation #makeupbysydmarie #mua #highschool #15yearold #15 #15yearsold #fire #women #brow #foundationbrush #makeuplooks #makeuplook #makeuptutorial #makeuptutorials #yolo #gloss #glossier

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She also hears from people who assume her parents are rich. She tells them they aren't. Her father works in government contracting and her mother is a stay-at-home parent.

Sikes started learning about makeup by buying inexpensive brands with money she earned from walking dogs.

"I may be extremely young but she helps me understand age is just a number & with passion & drive I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to," it reads. "She is crushing it because she is raising me to be a woman of strength & she uplifts everyone she knows & would give the world to someone in need."

The Washington Post