Beauty Guru Drama
Have you been following the Youtube Beauty Community Drama? If you are a regular youtube watcher it’s inescapable. It’s hit mainstream webzine articles like vox and Seventeen and Cosmopolitan at this point with infographics showing a timeline and key players of who trashed who, and the fallout. There are massive Reddit and forum threads discussing this and it’s taken over the internet over the past two weeks. I don’t watch the key players that ignited this all, but many of the makeup artists I do follow have been talking about this and the greater picture of the beauty community and how it’s been affected.
One thing I’ve learned over the years as a blogger is that consumers of influencer content are predominantly influencers themselves, so this is why the ‘drama’ has turned into such a vacuum with story after story with titles such as ‘my truth’ being published, and why the minor curfuffle between personalities has turned into a huge industry reckoning. I think there is a sven diagram that shows if you own and collect multiple eyeshadow pallets, and have an internet connection then those two realities overlap with the reality that you know all about this youtube beauty community drama already. Most of you probably don’t care and I fully expect you to gloss over this silliness but some of you are avid followers of the beauty community so I wanted to bring it up and open up the discussion, especially since it brings up the concept of contextual marketing campaigns which we are all exposed to, and in this case what I think is very clever gorilla marketing.
I’ll get into the rundown of what started this dumpster fire of a situation but the consequences of it to the community is much more interesting to me as someone that dabbles in monetizing content. This has called into question the integrity of the influencer industry, including makeup brands PR teams and agencies representing influencers. It has undermined ALL Beauty sponsorships as a result. This was a kamikaze mission either accidentally, or by design from some greater powers that be. I am inclined to think this is some sort of stunt somewhere up the flagpole since I’ve become very cynical about brands and marketing. I think all these content creators are just unwittingly taking part in this Greek comedy, and some of them are biting it
Jeffree is the big honcho of the beauty guru world. If you think of the beauty guru world as the mafia, Jeffree is the godfather. He has the largest following of all the beauty gurus, owns his makeup brand and various subsidiaries (which some gurus depend on), is a multi-millionaire and he has the power to bless an up and coming influencer with his sway in the cosmetics industry or curse them. Jeffrey is forever in a feud with someone and his most notable ones have been with his former friend Kat Von D, Too Faced Cosmetics and Jaclyn Hill. Jeffrey has had a ton of controversy surrounding him when he was exposed as a racist with racist tweets being resurfaced. Somehow he’s Teflon though and after his video apology, it was generally accepted in the community that he’s made amends and learned from his mistakes. It seems to be in the communities best interest to protect the grand
Jeffree Star had a clique of influencers he was friends with, including Laura Lee, Gabriel Zamora, Manny MUA, and Nikita Dragun. During this time, another YouTuber called Shane Dawson created a 3 part ‘documentary’ on the real Jeffree Star showing him as a real and likable person, at the same time as showing off his wealth and how he has gone from rags to riches. It’s a very inspiring story for anyone grasping for this kind of
This clique that Jeffree was part of allegedly received great benefits from their friendship with him and as a result they all landed their own cosmetics and merch deals, which Jefree generously facilitated. Once these deals were all made, the group; Laura Lee, Gabriel Zamora, Many MUA and Nikita Dragun decided to theatrically ditch Jeffree, calling him out as a racist and putting out a series of shady tweets about him. Tweets where deleted, sobbing apologies where made, and then old incriminating tweets from these influencers with their own racist’s pasts came to the surface imploding their careers. These YouTubers hemorrhaged followers and lost brand deals and had their makeup brands pulled from Ulta and Sephora. The one that seems to have faired the absolute worst is Laura Lee who has lost 500, 000 subscribers which amounts to an alleged $60,000/year loss.
These are all Youtubers I do not follow, but the funny thing is is that the few influencers I do follow and respect have thrown their hats into the ring turning this into an issue about the industry as a whole, how influencers get paid, how divas and personalities have ruined the gig and turned it into ‘all about the money’. Nobody is ‘naming names’ but it’s very clear that the community is siding with Jeffree and saying that a few bad apples spoil the bunch. The interesting angle to this story is that there are a few YouTubers that have agendas as their own makeup brands have created an income stream greater than their youtube channels, so they have started to throw shade on brand deals.
Another interesting thing to note is that a lot of these voices are represented by the same agencies, and get the same product sponsorships and trips (check out the NARS trip to Ibiza as an example). It’s all a very incestuous community once you start peeling back the layers to see who is represented by whom, and what friendships are actually brand alignments. Marlena, founder of the brand Makeup Geek (and originally a YouTuber) threw an atomic bomb of a comment when she said in her video that some influencers demand $60,000 per video mentioning a product, and it was further divulged that some big beauty brands will pay influencers premium dollar for negative reviews to be made for competing brands.
A lot of insiders are talking about how this rift reflects so badly on the youtube beauty guru community and how the beauty community is dying. Those of you that are avid followers of any youtube makeup artist, personality, a follower of beauty groups, boards and forums, what do you think of it all? Do you wonder about your own participation in this cycle of consumer/brand/personality? How much do Beauty Influencers really influence you to shop?
As a blogger, I want to add that the biggest winners in all of this, drama or no drama, are the big brands. They make huge profits via the marketing efforts of influencers, and brands can easily undermine those influencers earnings and still reap the benefits of a hyped up product. The influencer market is saturated so when one career implodes, there is another influencer ready to take the place. Make no mistake that the brands are always, always fully in control and they have sophisticated teams of people negotiating, playing and analyzing each and every partnership. It’s a perfect scenario because if you are an up and coming influence, you want to stay on the right side of those PR lists.
In creating this list of Beauty Guru Brands and Brand Collabs I was really surprised at how many influencer brands there are here that have been around for years that we now view as a bonafide cosmetics brand and not some side hustle of a beauty guru.