beauty is in the eye of the follower

Inner beauty’s great, but coloring your face is more fun. I love makeup and I want to work in the cosmetics industry because I believe in the expressive power of brushes and pigments. So naturally, my news feeds on Instagram and Facebook are filled with clips by beauty bloggers, and most of my suggested posts are sponsored by beauty brands. Makeup reviews and tutorials go through the most rapidly changing and trend-sensitive feed I’ve ever followed, and I’ve come enjoy the overflow of contents btrends.jpgecause I like to stay up to date with what products are creating a buzz and what kind of eyebrows are in style. For instance, this month has been all about spring/summer collections of glowy skin, bold pink and green shadows, glittery metallic lipstick.

In broader terms, there are two aspects of beauty blogging: tutorials and reviews. Most content creators combine both and end up evolving into a more general lifestyle brand, since viewers who rely on the blogger’s opinion usually ask for more advice on different areas of interest like skincare, hair styling, fashion, fitness, and even about careers and relationships once the bloggers gain a certain level of credibility. The first-gen beauty channels started out with a huge focus on the tutorial aspect of makeup (I don’t know if anyone remembers the sensational 2007 Michelle Phan videos, but she’s basically the founding father of makeup tutorials, and she’s now a much bigger deal; her videos have been viewed over 1 billion times and she made it on the 2015 Forbes list of 30 Under 30 for art and style), but now, these bloggers are most consumers’ go-to source in finding out what to buy, what not to buy, and how to best use the products. So even if the individual user is not lookigiphy-1ng for different ways of applying on eyeliner, he or she has many other incentives to click on and sit through a clip. From personal recommendations to realistic reviews of hyped up products that don’t work, there’s always new information to learn for the cautious informed consumer. Whenever I’m looking to try out new foundation or eyeshadow palette which is usually pretty costly, I always am able to find a range of reviews which saves me a lot of time and effort. 

The makeup industry has been expanding at an unprecedented rate, and it recorded an all-time high according to an article on Likeable Media; as of 2016, it reached an annual revenue of 62.46 billion dollars. I’m careful to make a hasty generalization that this is due to social media activity, but there has to be a powerful correlation given that 97% of beauty-related content on YouTube come from beauty bloggers, and that those videos in the month of June 2015 alone had more than 5 billion hits. What makes this such a remarkable phenomenon is that brand-controlled content is way way way overshadowed by amateur UGC. It’s 2017 and we’ve grown increasingly suspicious of any next big thing, so we turn to people who are like ourselves, except with much more investment in growing and sharing their makeup knowledge and skills. Brand-led content on YouTube as of 2016 only composed a minuscule 3% out of the 15 billion videos that were related to cosmetics, because big brands know that a singular beauty blogger has much more leverage than million-dollar ads. Of course, there are brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, Glossier, MAC Cosmetics, and Kylie Jenner that have been doing phenomenal marketing through their social media handles, but if a religiously watched beauty blogger were to follow up with a brutal critique of their newest lip product, I think they would be seriously affected in both sales and brand image. At this point, the beauty industry might have the most tipped over scale in terms of influence by personal and company brands.


Just as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the realness and humanness are what drive social media and what we keep searching for in an increasingly automated world. As our classmates pointed out in their presentations, we’ve seen social activism change in scale with the growing power of the hashtag, and we’ve observed high fashion open up to the public to make room for online influencers. When I first started watching makeup videos in 2007 simply to learn how to do liquid eyeliner, I had no idea what social media had in store not only for cosmetics, but across countless domains such as art, politics, cooking, sports, just to name a few. I’m preparing to start a beauty blog at the moment and it’s truly inspiring and intimidating at the same time to see how fast online communication and digital business evolved to cater to the hyper-specified taste of millennials. Since I know some of you are experienced bloggers, I’d like to hear how you first got involved in it and how you decided to diversify yourself from the wave of other people with the same interests. And if you’ve had any encounters with beauty blogging, what is your thought on it? Do you find them reliable or would you rather stick to your nearby Sephora? Do you keep up with beauty trends on YouTube and Instagram like I do, or do you prefer following accounts on Snapchat?



  1. Awesome post! I’m also a follower of the beauty blogger community so reading your thoughts on it was super interesting! I totally find myself going to beauty bloggers for recommendations on everything from makeup to skincare to general style tips, and it’s crazy to think about how much I rely on people who I don’t know at all, but have created that sense of trust & credibility through social media. I also didn’t realize how much influence beauty bloggers have over the beauty-related content on Youtube, but that definitely is only going to continue push bigger brands (whether it be makeup brands or companies like Vogue) to pair up with these influencers and really change their marketing & overall strategy to fit with the beauty blogger phenomenon. The average consumer is now much more knowledgeable than ever before, and much more reliant on reviews, so brands have to make sure they’re pleasing these influencers, too.

  2. laurenmsantilli · ·

    I think what the beauty blogger industry really capitalizes on is how heavily we depend on word of mouth. Like you said, before I purchase a pricey new makeup or beauty item, I definitely want to know if it works. If my friends haven’t tried it, it’s so easy to find reviews online that will tell me exactly why I should or should not follow through with my purchase. I have followed a few beauty accounts on Youtube and it is interesting how once they build credibility, their followers will believe most of what they say. For example, one woman I follow on both Instagram and Youtube recommend a certain brand of protein powder and I pretty much bought it no questions asked (after watching a few additional Youtube reviews of it). It will be interesting to see how higher end makeup brands work with social media influencers in the future, as it seems that at this point in time it is more so drugstore brands that work with Youtubers.

  3. Interesting post. I do confess that I’ve learned more about the implications of digital on the beauty industry than I ever imagined from students like you over the years. Thanks for keeping me educated about aspects that I would never investigate myself.

  4. isabel_calo1 · ·

    Great post! Honestly I have never been one to follow make up or even know how to put in on properly but now its so many make up tutorials and comments on what brands to buy i feel more comfortable embracing the trend. This is very similar to DIY videos because now people don’t feel the need to go out and get their make up done, but rather maybe just get their talented friend.

%d bloggers like this: