Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or living in the real world, only with 0% interest in cosmetics), then you probably know that makeup is nothing like it was back when Max Factor ads were still a thing.
Over the past decade or so, YouTube has become the go-to for consumers on the hunt for how-to makeup tutorials (e.g. the perfect cat eye, contouring or even cleaning a beauty sponge). It has also become integral to makeup reviews of trending products. Vlogging makeup gurus are aplenty and are constantly upping their game as they seek out more subscribers and more sponsors.
As a makeup fiend, I devour these videos every evening after work. I have a soft spot for @GlamLifeGuru, Tati Westbrook, for her fantastic dupes videos (for the newbies out there, dupe stands for ‘‘duplicate’’ and is usually less expensive than its nearly identical higher-end counterpart). I also adore @EmilyNoel83 for her warmly cheerful persona and infectious love for a good bold lip.
There are so many more out there, of course. While many of them are in their early late teens or early twenties, there is also a good number of gurus over the age of thirty who are making a living by dishing out great little tips for the more mature makeup lovers.
An important aspect about this industry is that despite it being YouTube, not all vloggers are dishing out 100% unbiased reviews. This is due to the fact that some vloggers produce videos which are actually sponsored by a brand. It’s difficult to pin the entirety of the blame on the vlogger. If she or he owes their financial success to their sponsorship deals, they cannot exactly bash a runny mascara or a too-orange foundation.
On the upside, this type of video is fairly easy to weed out. For one thing, many reviewers will try to be upfront about their sponsors. If they don’t mention it verbally in the video, they will add it in the info box below the video. If you still aren’t certain about a video, you can always do some online research on the vlogger to get extra info.
The best part of the rise of YouTube makeup videos is that it has paved the way for newer, fresher brands to make their mark and find success among the aisles of Sephora, Ulta and even the drugstore. The best mascara category is no longer ruled by Dior or Lancôme. The best red lipstick isn’t only available at MAC. While those aforementioned brands are still excellent (shout-out to my favourite-ever-after, Mac Russian Red), smaller cosmetics companies have been given exposure to the masses, thereby a unique opportunity to shine through. It takes just one product to start trending and a second later, the company name is on every customer’s lips.
Marketing heads have come to realize that the current generation would sooner trust an independent vlogger on YouTube than an actual, company-generated ad. Remember the 90s? Those catchy TV commercials, touting the latest must-haves?
Sure, this ads are still around. But you know what’s hardly around?
People watching actual TV.
The bigger companies have caught on to this trend. Case in point is L’Oréal and its newest mascara, the Voluminous Lash Paradise. The original Voluminous has been around for eons and they still run star-studded ads for this product. Meanwhile, I have yet to come across a single ad for Lash Paradise. When I search online, I only come across independent vlogger videos.
Which is probably why there is no official Lash Paradise ad from L’Oréal.
They didn’t have to make one.
As soon as Lash Paradise launched, vloggers immediately noted that the packaging was unmistakably reminiscent of the wildly successful Too-Faced Better Than Sex mascara. Too-Faced is high-end and far more costly. This similarity was enough for vloggers to test out the product and post their thoughts on YouTube. The consensus is unanimous; everyone adores Lash Paradise and it’s selling like hotcakes. Some people have actually commented that the Lash Paradise exceeds its dupe status. That it’s actually better than it’s expensive counterpart.
Another example of Youtube popularizing a makeup product, is the rise of the concealer. It’s funny because concealers have been around forever but weren’t particularly advertised on television ads because they weren’t sought-after like foundations or powders. Then came along the flawless undereye trend, thanks largely in part to Kim Kardashian’s famous beauty routine.
Suddenly, concealer became the name of the game and brands left and right began coming out with product after product. Nearly every single one of them have been reviewed at least once by a Youtuber. Those that didn’t live up to its promises were quickly discontinued while others became so hyped that they flew off the shelves. The most popular concealer is arguably the Tarte Shape Tape.
Retailing at $25 USD, Youtubers are wildly obsessed with its thick and creamy, vegan-friendly formula. They have yet to find an exact dupe or even an similarly priced item that performs just as well (although the Wet ’n Wild Photofocus Concealer is purported to be the closest match, albeit with a minimal shade option). Tarte’s website states, ‘‘Did you know one shape tape is sold every 26 seconds?’’. Whether that’s exactly true or not remains to be seen but nonetheless that’s a hell of a statement.
Therefore thanks to YouTube, a cosmetics company, whether it’s a beauty conglomerate or a lesser-known indie brand, must create new product lines faster than ever before. Once the line is launched, the next step is to send samples to popular vloggers. If they’ve created winning products, it’s suffice to say that the rest is back-order history.