YouTube Beauty Gurus: A Convergence of the Personal and the Professional

In Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age Brooke Erin Duffy notes the rising influence of the fashion blogger. The interactivity afforded by the Digital Age has led to a rise in consumer participation across media industries. Increasingly, magazines catering to women are turning to fashion “experts” of Internet-made fame. These “experts” are often bloggers or vloggers that actually begin posting tutorials and advice as non-professional; however, they successfully gained popularity through some media outlet (YouTube is a popular platform) and were able to make their passion a career. In fact, popular vloggers on YouTube (in and outside the realm of beauty & fashion) are able to apply for a YouTube partnership. If Google, who now owns YouTube, approves the partnership, said vloggers returns a profit based on advertisement views and hits. For the extremely successful channels, this can add up to a pretty hefty sum.

Michelle Phan also wrote a book!

YouTube has helped quite a few young women become prominent within the beauty and fashion industry. Vlogger Michelle Phan has become so renowned as to actually have her own makeup line. Andrea Brooks of AndreasChoice created a preemptive makeup tutorial series for Katy Perry’s E.T. music video that led to her and her tutorial being feature during the music video’s MTV premiere. Elle Fowler (AllThatGlitters21), who began beauty and fashion vlogging in 2008, has garnered a whopping 169,688,290 views and 1,311,921 subscribers on her main channel alone. She convinced her sister Blair (juicystar07) to begin vlogging and she has since gained her own substantial following. Together, they have created their makeup, perfume, and collection of shoes and handbags for JustFab. Duffy notes, “The ascendance of fashion blogging culture fits cozily into a larger rhetoric about political-economic shifts in the fashion industry over the decade. The fact that haute couture designers such as Jason Wu, Vera Wang, and Norma Kamali now produce fashion lines for mass retailers Target, Kohl’s and Walmart, respectively, demonstrates the so-called democratization of style” (100). The YouTube fashion vloggers listed above are essentially “average Janes”. They do not have the credentials of a seasoned professional. They are self-taught and create the videos out of their homes. The make up a large majority of the style and beauty vloggers on YouTube; however, there are some professionals that create vlogs. I am not referring to those created by companies or prolific fashion designers. Rather, professionals within the industry (in this instance, makeup artists) that create vlogs on their own time.

Lisa Eldridge at work.

Lisa Eldridge is an elite within the world of make-up artistry. Eldrige has done make-up for Vogue, Allure, and Glamour many, many more. She has worked with Chloe, Alberta Ferretti, Prada, Donna Karan, Moschino, and, of course, many more. Eva Green, Emma Watson, Kate Moss, and Helena Christensen are just a small sample of the women she’s made-up. Anyway, you get the point, talented woman. Eldridge has been posting make-up tutorials and other beauty how-tos on a personal YouTube channel for the past five years. Her videos range in content from simple everyday looks to more in-depth videos that relay the social, historical, and cultural significance of the techniques and products used.

Lisa Eldridge’s background as a professional is evident in the nature of her vlog. She is not the only vlogger on YouTube with a pre-established professional resume. Kandee Johnson and Pixiwoo (sisters Samantha Chapman and Nicola Haste) are two successful YouTube accounts run by already established makeup artists. Like Eldrige, these women’s experience is evident in no only their craftsmanship, but also in their choices of content. These women tend to create more experimental looks, make industry-specific historical references, and have a professional-grade selection of tools. Unlike the “professional-amateur hybrids” Duffy identified as both a potential tool and threat to the fashion elite, these women had already established themselves in within the industry prior to entering the vlogosphere. Much like Michelle Phan or Elle Fowler, Lisa Eldrige’s vlogging seems to have started as a hobby. However, since its creation, the production value and intricacy of her videos has increased exponentially. Duffy notes that the increased reliance on technological proficiency in the workplace has led to a displacement of women in top positions at female-aimed magazines. Perhaps these Eldridge see the benefits of exhibiting their proficiency online. Maybe she marketing herself as free agent (not to say she has trouble finding work). Either way, it is clear that YouTube has blurred the lines of professional and personal.



Duffy, Brooke Erin. Remake, Remodel: Women’s Magazines in the Digital Age. Urbana: U of Illinois, 2013. Print.


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