The past few years have seen a new breed of beauty mogul emerge within, and subsequently change, the industry. The now ubiquitous ‘beauty influencer’ has transformed social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram into a lucrative playground, generating massive global followings and even bigger incomes. Beauty influencers, like Jeffree Star and Huda Kattan, are now recognised as bona fida celebrities and their success even prompted Forbes to create a ranking of top influencers (in the style of its ‘top ten richest’ lists) in 2017.
Social media has become a lucrative career for all types of influencers and live-streamers, however it’s the beauty influencers who come out on top in terms of net worth. Whilst online gamers, for example, have been able to generate a substantial income through platforms like Twitch, which is typically used by eSports gamers, these amounts often pale in comparison next to the income streams of an Instagram and YouTube beauty influencer. Yes, these once amateur make-up enthusiasts have upgraded their output, securing million-dollar endorsements and even their own successful cosmetics lines. Here are some of the most influential and successful, who are still riding career highs as we transition into 2019.
The CEO of her own, eponymous cosmetics line (Huda Beauty), Huda Kattan is a thoroughly 21st century Glamazonian and one of the figureheads of the ultra-glam, drag inspired makeup look. She topped the Forbes list of highest-paid beauty influencers in 2017, with an approximate net worth of $550 million, even though she only launched her blog in 2010. Kattan’s global Instagram audience is around 27 million, and her blog, www.hudabeauty.com, has won awards (including WWD Beauty Inc’s ‘Indie of the Year’ award in 2018) and is still the web’s most-read makeup blog.
A huge contributor to the Iraqi-American’s success is Huda Beauty, which she launched in 2013 with her two sisters with her now iconic false lashes. The brand has grown exponentially since its launch, and now includes eye, lip and skin products, as well as one of 2018’s most-hyped foundation with its 30 shades.
Still only 19 years of age, James Charles is a highly successful entrepreneur who is also in demand with leading cosmetics companies. This instantly recognisable male beauty vlogger (and makeup artist in his own right) became CoverGirl’s first male spokesperson in 2016, and his combined Instagram and YouTube reach of 16.4 million global subscribers has helped him generate an estimated net worth of $8 to $12 million.
Charles is one of the most business savvy beauty influencers and has been known to make the most out of his marketability with brands including Morphe. Upfront about his use of discount codes, Charles’ affable personality has not only ensured his huge global following, but also the launch of a clothing company named after his catchphrase “Sisters”, which even features items with the slogans “used code James” and “not with that attitude”.
Caption: Top beauty brands like Maybelline are partnering with leading influencers like Nikkie Tutorials
Nikkie de Jager, aka NikkieTutorials, is no stranger to going viral online. Her combined social reach across YouTube and Instagram is around 22 million, and she has produced content featuring everyone from Kim Kardashian to Drew Barrymore. As a professional makeup artist, Nikkie specialises in beauty tutorials, and her expert makeup skills regularly draw in millions of viewers ensuring that her earning potential is now at an incredible $1 million per vlog.
Originally from The Netherlands but now based in the US, Nikkie has also had lots of success collaborating with international beauty brands. Her Too Faced palette, The Power of Makeup, was an instant hit, and she began a lucrative partnership with Maybelline in 2017. More recently, she has released her own makeup line in collaboration with the pro makeup brand, Ofra.
Jeffree Star was one of the original internet celebrities, bursting onto the MySpace scene with his genderbending aesthetic and irreverent music. For seven years, he was a successful touring musician, released an album on the Warner Brothers record label and was even mentored by Akon, who declared him “the next Lady Gaga”. However, a bad business deal put paid to Star’s music career, but it was then that he discovered his true calling. Star made a quick transition from MySpace to YouTube, and within a matter of months was pulling in millions of views. Since his early days, the Star empire has grown so much that his net worth is now a massive $50 million approximately.
Jeffree Star Cosmetics was established in 2014 and its limited edition products have sold out with every launch. His regular line of liquid lipsticks and highlighters is a dressing table favourite with celebrities, drag queens and make-up enthusiasts alike and his appeal (despite some controversies) is universal. Star also runs a successful merchandising company, and has made smart investments in property and luxury accessories.