YouTube beauty video bloggers, aka vloggers, like Michelle Phan superstars. Every month, more than 1 billion people check out YouTube, which has a core demographic of 18 to 34-year-olds (more millennials watch YouTube than watch any cable network). Those seeking advice and inspiration for their grooming routines no longer need to pay for expensive blowouts or go to a beauty counter for tips. YouTube experts share their mastery of makeup techniques and hairstyling, provide specific product recommendations, and walk you through even the most complex looks with step-by-step videos.
Style-conscious fans have an ever-growing appetite for beauty tutorials, and many YouTube vloggers now have had hundreds of millions of views—and they're making bank. "Beauty is definitely a big part of the YouTube ecosystem and creators like Michelle Phan are showing how they can make a living from these kinds of videos," YouTube spokesperson Chelsea Maughan told Yahoo! Shine. According to YouTube, thousands of vloggers are making six figures a year! And that's just the beginning. Many successful online gurus have leveraged their popularity to work with prestigious beauty brands, create their own makeup and fashion collections, and get free travel to exotic locales for special events. Naturally with incentives like these, the online beauty community continues to grow at an exponential rate as more women try to follow their passion, have fun, and make money by vlogging from their bedrooms.
Many of the top beauty vloggers stumbled upon the online beauty community just like the rest of us and used YouTube to share their tips. Some, like Blair and Elle Fowler, Ingrid Nilsen, and Dulce Tejeda started gaining attention as "Beauty Smarties"—real girl experts tapped by Seventeen magazine to share their makeup and hair secrets. But they all say the same thing: any beauty junkie who puts in the effort can do it.
Are you looking to be the next YouTube star? We reached out to some of the top beauty gurus around the world to find out how they got started, how they're making a living from their videos, and what their insider tips are so you can follow in their footsteps.
Michelle Phan, 26, Los Angeles
YouTube stats: Joined July 2006. 4.1M subscribers, 734M views
Phan went to college to become an illustrator for children's books and movies, but while she was working on a personal blog, readers bombarded her with questions about her beauty routine. To better explain, she made a step-by-step video tutorial. As her popularity exploded, many, many more videos followed, covering everything from glamorous cat-eye makeup to beach-chic looks. Now Phan is the most famous beauty guru online.
My first beauty product obsessions was… eyeliner.
My beauty street cred is… in 2009 I quit my job as a waitress and took a hiatus from school and started uploading videos like crazy to my YouTube channel. Within the year a major makeup company contacted me.
I started becoming kind of a big deal when… I uploaded my Romantic Valentine Look video in 2010 and it received over a million views in a week.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? I have an exciting project launching with a prestigious global brand—it's something I've been quietly working on for the last couple years. More will be announced in the summer. Even though I get a lot of offers, I've been very selective about the brands I choose to work with. It has to be the right fit for both sides.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Before you put yourself out there you should have a good idea of what you stand for and what you want to be known for. If you have a vision or a message, share it. Most likely there will be at least one person watching it.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Anything to do with brows.
What else? Last year I launched ipsy.com, a beauty social networking site and sampling program that has over 1 million members. And I recently launched FAWN (For All Women Network), a lifestyle network for women. It's an outlet where I can develop and produce new shows while collaborating with women I respect and admire. It's important to be part of a community that uplifts and empowers women.
Bubzbeauty, aka Lindy Tsang, 26, Hong Kong
YouTube stats: Joined August 2007. 1.99M subscribers, 291M views
Tsang always had a passion for beauty, especially skincare. After graduating from university she started posting videos and stayed up late reading comments till "crazy o'clock." Since taking off on YouTube she's launched her own cosmetic brush line and T-shirt line, starred in a music video, hosted Fashion Week events, and traveled to different countries to raise money for charity.
I became totally obsessed with beauty when… my mum gave me some of her old lipsticks and eye shadows because I kept playing with her makeup.
My first beauty product obsession was… definitely eyeliner! I was amazed with how it could transform my eyes into different eye shapes.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? The revenue earned from Google AdSense provides income for me to live very comfortably. I absolutely love doing what I do, and it doesn't even feel like a job. Just out of personal preference, I turn down most brands and sponsors unless it's a brand I truly do support or a brand that will give back to the community.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Don't let numbers ruin your passion. There is suddenly a mass of aspiring gurus who are disappointed because they're not getting as many subscribers or views as they had hoped. From my experience, feeling competitive only takes away [from] the joy of YouTube.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Innisfree Neon Color Pot Rouge. I love rocking out bold lips for the scorching summer weather.
JuicyStar07, aka Blair Fowler, 20, Los Angeles
YouTube stats: Joined July 2008. 1.4M subscribers, 239.8M views
Blair's older sister Elle was already posting tutorials and "forced her to try it." Just 15 at the time, Blair posted a blue smoky eye tutorial and was instantly hooked. Since their dual rise to fame, the sisters have curated a shoe and bag line for JustFab and launched a makeup line called Skylark.
My first beauty product obsessions was… the Clinique 3-Step Skincare System. My mom bought it for me the summer before sixth grade to start clearing up my skin and I treated that set like it was my child.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? YouTube has a partner program that rewards the frequently watched content creators. We do make a portion of the money off the ad sales.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Make sure to post consistent content. No one wants to invest time in someone who may or may not see this as a phase and just quit one day.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? I've become obsessed with nail art, especially for the summertime. I'm also loving the Cle de Peau Cleansing Cream and Benefit Cosmetics Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow! Foundation.
What else? [My sister's and my] first novel, "Beneath the Glitter," came out last September, and the sequel, "Where Beauty Lies," hits shelves on August 13!
allthatglitters21, aka Elle Fowler, 25, Los Angeles
YouTube stats: Joined July 2008. 1M subscribers, 145.5M views
Blair Fowler's older sister, Elle, started posting videos one summer during college. Her first tutorial was on yellow eye shadow. Fowler says, laughing, "I look back and think, yellow? Of all colors!?" Five years later her videos highlight more mainstream, everyday makeup, and her fans eat it up.
I became totally obsessed with beauty when… my mom took me to Clinique for my first makeup shopping when I was in sixth grade. I was instantly hooked!
My first beauty product obsession was… clear mascara since I wasn't allowed to wear black mascara yet. Looking back, I think, "What in the world? It did nothing!"
My beauty street cred is… Everything I know how to do I self-taught myself through watching YouTube videos. It just goes to show that anyone can learn anything from YouTube!
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… The hardest part is the simplest; it's making the decision to put yourself out there.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Christian Dior Creme de Rose Lip Balm and my Pevonia Botanica and Kate Somerville skincare products.
What else? Together we have built the umbrella brand "Elle and Blair" which includes several design collaborations within it. To satisfy our glitter obsession, we have a cell phone accessories line with Cellairis.
Missglamorazzi, aka Ingrid Nilsen, 24, Los Angeles
YouTube stats: Joined October 2009. 1.4M subscribers, 106.6M views
After discovering beauty tutorials on YouTube, Nilsen was addicted, spending hours watching and then making her own videos. Her first vlog was on hair curling. "My friends and family had no idea what I was doing for months," says Nilsen.
My first beauty product obsessions was… Diorshow Blackout Mascara. One of my roommates in college got me hooked!
My beauty street cred is… I'm completely self-taught and find inspiration around me every day.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? Yes. Content creators receive a percentage of the ad revenue through the YouTube partnership program.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Put all your hesitations aside and just make a video. I was completely terrified of being on camera, but since I had made a goal for myself to do things I was afraid of doing, I just went for it.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Jouer Matte Moisture Tint. It's the perfect tinted moisturizer for us oily-skinned gals!
What else? Giving back has always been a top priority for me. Most recently, we raised over $7,200 for the Revlon Run/Walk benefiting Women's Cancer research. It was so awesome seeing my viewers and fellow YouTubers come together to support a wonderful cause!
dulcecandy87, aka Dulce Tejeda, 25, Los Angeles
YouTube stats: Joined June 2008. 1.1M subscribers, 183.8M views
Tejada was a mechanic in the military, getting dirty in overalls every day and hanging out with a bunch of dudes. When she discovered the beauty community online, she started to embrace her girly side. Soon she was making her own tutorials, recreating celebrity looks and fresh-faced styles.
My first beauty product obsessions was… COVERGIRL mascara. It made me feel more confident and awake, which I really appreciated at 7:30 a.m. on a school day.
My beauty street cred is… Everything I've learned about beauty was taught by my mom or other YouTube videos over the past five years.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? Having this platform has given me the opportunity to work with amazing brands I love, like Old Navy, Ann Taylor, Bebe, Sigma, Bobbi Brown, Benefit Cosmetics, L'Oreal, COVERGIRL, and many more!
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Stay true to who you are and consistency. I also have a passion for what I do, and I think that's very important too.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? The POREfessional by Benefit Cosmetics, because it preps my face before makeup to achieve a flawless, fresh look.
What else? I got the amazing opportunity to develop my own eye shadow for a palette with Sigma Beauty. I was flown to Paris, had a fun photo shoot, and felt inspired by the city.
Pixiwoo, aka Samantha Chapman, 34, and Nicola Champman, 32 Norwich, U.K.
YouTube stats: Joined June 2007. 1.1M subscribers, 160.3M views
Once Sam and Nic learned that their aunt, Maggie Hunt, earned a good living as a famous celebrity makeup artist, they both went to school to study makeup artistry. They worked in the industry for years, but YouTube put them on the map internationally. When Sam was pregnant she decided to shoot a video ("I figured I looked OK from the neck up"), and their skilled tutorials made their channel stand out from more amateur vloggers.
We became totally obsessed with beauty when… we watched our mum following the makeup and fashion trends. In the '70s she wore the tawny, shimmery shadows, highlighters, and glossy lips inspired by Farrah Fawcett, and in the '80s she power-dressed with shorter hair, bright blue eyeliner, and mascara.
Our first beauty product obsessions was… bright, shimmery eye shadows.
Our beauty street cred is… We both studied a two-year media makeup course straight from school. We have been makeup artists ever since [Sam was 18, Nic was 15], working for brands including MAC, Estée Lauder, Chanel, and Illamasqua, and freelancing. We are also part of the Avon Makeup Artist Team, and we have a range of brushes called Real Techniques that are available in Boots and Superdrug.
We started becoming kind of a big deal when… the big cosmetic brands started contacting us and asking us to include their products in videos.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? Vlogging has become an extension of our freelance makeup careers. We run a business and even have people who work for us, as we are very busy at the moment. The key to making money through blogging is to have many revenue streams rather than relying on just one.
Our best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Get involved with the blogger community and collaborate with other vloggers to get noticed. Be passionate about your subject matter, be honest about it, and be prepared to earn nothing for a good one to two years.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Any products that can make us appear less tired and younger. We have four children between us, so we always look tired.
What else? We are very proud of the makeup tutorials Nicola created for women fighting cancer, which show safe products to use and how to pencil in eyebrows and wear false lashes. And we are currently working with Maverick TV to create bite-sized shows for YouTube. We get to work with a professional crew, so we are constantly learning.
Pixi2woo, aka Tanya Burr, 23, Norwich, UK
YouTube stats: Joined October 2009. 974K subscribers, 62.3M views
If her username looks familiar it's because Burr's boyfriend's sisters are Sam and Nic Chapman, aka Pixiwoo. They taught her the tricks of the trade when she was just 17. Soon Burr put up her first tutorial—a Serena Van der Woodsen "Gossip Girl" look that girls went crazy for.
I became totally obsessed with beauty when… I was young. I always did all my friends' makeup growing up.
My first beauty product obsessions was… foundation. I discovered it when I was about 14 and couldn't believe that I could make my skin look perfect with makeup!
My beauty street cred is… I was a makeup artist for Laura Mercier and I also used to work a lot on weddings.
I started becoming kind of a big deal when… I had a meet-up in Central London the other day. I expected 50 to 100 people to turn up and what felt like thousands turned up.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? I get approached by brands all the time, but very few offers that are really attractive to me.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Just make videos you love and don't be afraid to put your personality into your videos.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Foundation and brow products.
Makeupbytiffanyd, aka Tiffany, 28, Atlanta
YouTube stats: Joined August 2008. 680K subscribers, 119.6M views
Tiffany D. loved making up her friends for big events in high school. Years later, her pals finally convinced her to make videos. "I had never seen any tutorials on YouTube," she says. "I thought it sounded crazy! I quickly gained subscribers, and I can't tell you how many messages and emails I read that would bring tears to my eyes."
I became totally obsessed with beauty when… I looked through the beauty departments of the drugstore as a kid and picked out fruity Chapsticks and lip glosses.
My first beauty product obsession was… mascara! In eighth grade I discovered what a huge difference it made. I was hooked for life.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? For the past five years, this has been my dream job. It involves so much more than making tutorials. I run my beauty blog, work and consult with beauty and fashion brands, create and help design my own makeup products for other brands, host events for companies, and travel for makeup shows. I'm so lucky to be able to work and travel with some of the best brands in the world and meet so many amazing people.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Do it for fun! Never get into it with the goal to make money or to be like anyone else. Be yourself and you'll be far more successful.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Chanel Bronze Universal.
What else? Sigma Beauty flew me to Paris to draw inspiration from the beautiful city and create a gorgeous makeup palette. I also created my Defining Eyes palette with Sigma Beauty from concept to finish. I will never forget the meet-up event held at the Mall of America when the palette came out. Having hundreds of people there to see me was incredible and surreal.
Itsjudytime, aka Judy Travis, 27, Seattle
YouTube stats: Joined April 2008. 637K subscribers, 126M views
In 2008, Michelle Phan's smoky eye tutorial inspired Travis. At school, she always received compliments on her hair, so she started with a basic video: "Beachy Waves with a Flat Iron." Now she's famous for her quick DIYs and first-impression product reviews. But those 10-minute clips? They often take five hours to make.
I became totally obsessed with beauty when… I was in junior high. I admired the women on the covers of magazines and I always tried recreating their looks and hairstyles.
My first beauty product obsessions was… my mom's pink sponge hair rollers! I curled my hair with them every night
My beauty street cred is… I worked at a cosmetic store for a couple of years.
I started becoming kind of a big deal when… companies approached me to promote their products. I was excited to just receive free stuff!
Do you earn a living from your videos now‚ or is it just a part-time thing? After a couple years, I was able to quit my day job and do YouTube full time. Tresemmé sent me to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City to check out some of their shows, and L'Oreal approached me about being one of their official "Destination Beauty" YouTube liaisons. I've also worked with Mally Beauty, Crocs, Sears, and Old Navy.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Always be true to yourself and your audience, and don't let negative comments bring you down.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Bio Ionic's One Pass flat iron.
Frmheadtotoe, aka Jen Chae, 28, Los Angeles
YouTube stats: Joined March 2008. 512K subscribers, 52.6M views
"When I first started, there weren't any tutorials for monolid eyes," says Chae. "Since I taught myself my own eye makeup techniques, I wanted to share them with others who were also frustrated with most popular eye contouring tips that never made sense [for Asian women]!" Her first tutorial was on a K-Pop forum called Soompi in 2007.
I became totally obsessed with beauty when… I first wore makeup for theater and drill team performances.
My first beauty product obsessions was… NYX eye shadows and MAC Fluidline Gel Eyeliner.
My beauty street cred is: I began freelancing under a pro makeup artist friend until I was confident and experienced enough to go out on my own. Freelancing taught me a lot of little tricks and adjustments for facial variations that I could never have gotten from just doing makeup on myself.
Do you earn a living from your videos now, or is it just a part-time thing? It honestly takes so much hard work to make anything, especially in the beginning! I've been blessed to be in contact with some of my favorite brands like Urban Decay, Chanel, and Benefit. Companies often found me from my mentioning their products [in a tutorial], so it's very exciting to hear from a company you love.
My best tips for others looking to break into the online beauty biz are… Always be prepared to change and adapt since the online world is constantly shifting. It's also important to have a thick skin against haters while giving grace to those who do.
What is your favorite product or obsession now? Tarte blushes and Étude House lipstick
What else? I would love to continue to touch lives and give people confidence beyond exterior beauty. It's my hope that I can do that no matter where my life or job leads me!
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