For a while now, beauty gurus and lifestyle vloggers on YouTube have been the new influencer stars, but the landscape of the cosmos is changing a bit.
Michelle Phan has been long thought to be queen of the YouTube beauty gurus, with her own L'Oreal makeup line, Em Cosmetics, a style guide book, and a Birchbox-like subscription service, Ipsy. Now 28, eight years ago she was one of the first generation of beauty gurus to translate success in the digital sphere into professional success across traditional media with serious cash rewards.
But younger faces have been climbing the YouTube beauty guru ranks, and in the past couple of months, Phan's subscription and views numbers have been overtaken by two YouTubers in particular: Bethany Mota and Zoe Sugg, both solidly in the range of 8 million subscribers to Phan's 7 million.
So what sets apart these rising stars?
YouTube? More Like Youth-Tube!
Well, for one thing, they're younger, and that's certainly part of the bread and butter of YouTube. The vast majority of YouTube views come from women aged 18-24, with younger teen girls a close second. Zoe Sugg is just 25 and Bethany Mota clocks in at just 19. Mota's videos often cover topics such as back-to-school fashion or hairstyles you can do quickly in between classes. Sugg's look is classically young, with elfin features that rarely see a risky neon and fashion sense that is both hip and modest. Meetups for both stars are full of teenage girls keening for their everyone's-best-friend personality.
Super-Casual Content Meets Super-Duper Production Quality
Another thing that sets apart at least Zoe Sugg is the video quality. Phan's videos have become highly produced over the years, and rarely feature just her sitting in front of a camera in a room, talking. Sugg's videos, however, rarely stray from that format, rendering her much more approachable. Often she collaborates with the London YouTube community, inviting viewers to virtually be part of the friend group. Mota's videos are highly produced but harness a zany, youthful quality with snappy editing and music. She also leverages charm and humor along with her MTV-style content.
Both Sugg and Mota have found success in crossover media: Mota recently finished a wildly successful run on Dancing With the Stars, is launching a music career, and was one of three YouTubers selected to interview President Obama. Sugg's UK fame is such that she rarely goes outside without being mobbed. She published a #1 bestselling YA novel (about a girl who becomes famous on the Internet), is working on book number two in the series, and last year released a line of bath and body products that repeatedly sold out.
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And of course, pitting these women against each other isn't useful, and none of them have ever expressed any kind of competitive spirit. In fact, that goes against the optimistic, happy, straight-edge lifestyle that works best with young lifestyle and beauty gurus. If anything, the rise of Mota and Sugg should show us that there's room for plenty at the top, especially for enterprising young women.
And it's heartening to see what Phan is doing with the launch of Ipsy Open Studio in Santa Monica, creating a space to support up-and-coming YouTubers. Check out what she has to say about it here: