A digital beauty community emerged over a decade ago, sharing makeup reviews and tutorials on YouTube and Instagram. The top creators on those platforms transformed into rich celebrities as they helped the beauty industry become a multi-billion-dollar business.
But, along with their popularity and success, beauty influencers have become synonymous with drama and feuds — everyone from Jeffree Star to James Charles has a scandal tied to their name. And the community that once served as a safe haven for experimenting with makeup and sharing skin-care insecurities has, for some, become toxic.
But the heart of the beauty community isn’t lost. It’s just moved to TikTok, where everyday beauty enthusiasts rack up millions of views with their down-to-earth videos. And now beauty brands are taking notice.
Adrienne K. Nelson is credited with posting the first makeup tutorial in 2006, though creators like Michelle Phan and NikkieTutorials are often considered the founders of YouTube’s beauty community, starting their channels in 2007 and 2008.
Around that time, the influencers, as well as women like Zoella and Bethany Mota, became known for their reviews of trendy products, giant hauls, and makeup challenges. And many became early users of Instagram.
Today, the online beauty community is ruled by digital moguls like Jeffree Star and James Charles.
The two influencers, as well as other top beauty creators, still share makeup reviews and tutorials, though they also sell products, open up about their personal lives, and become involved in feuds with one another.
Massachusetts native Mikayla Nogueira became interested in makeup at 10 when she realized it could be an outlet for creativity and acceptance. She taught herself makeup skills, began a YouTube channel and Instagram page, and even worked as a freelance artist. But by 18, Nogueira found herself at a standstill and decided to delete her accounts and go to college.
Little did she know at the time that the decision would lead her back to beauty. Nogueira was in a graduate program when the pandemic hit the US. Her school went remote, and her post-graduate job offer was rescinded.
Finding herself stuck at home when not working at Ulta Beauty, Nogueira helped her mom — a social worker — make educational TikTok videos. And after seeing how the social media platform works, Nogueira tried it for herself. Her first videos, which showed her with and without makeup, “blew up instantly,” as she told Insider. So when TikTok users started asking how she covered the acne she had at the time, Nogueira showed them. She made another video about her product recommendations and application techniques, which gained more than 15 million views before being set to private — though the video has been reposted by fans.