The heart of the online beauty community isn’t lost. It just moved to TikTok.

mikayla tiktok

  • The internet beauty community has lived on YouTube and Instagram for more than a decade.
  • Now, TikTok stars like Hyram Yarbro and Mikayla Nogueira are transforming the digital landscape for makeup lovers and skin-care enthusiasts alike.
  • Even brands like CeraVe and Nars are taking notice of the growing beauty community on TikTok.
  • Social-media expert Trina Albus told Insider that TikTok will likely continue to take over the beauty industry because of its unique algorithm, relatability, and opportunities to go viral.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

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.

YouTube's beauty community formed in the early 2000s — and it's changed drastically over the years

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 — largely as a result of the competitive opportunities now available to creators.

Jeffree Star and James Charles are at the top of the internet's beauty community.
James Charles / YouTube

Today, makeup enthusiasts are rising to fame on TikTok

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.

Catfish????🐱🐟 #fyp #foryou#foryoupage #beauty #makeup #levelup #catfish #beforeandafter

Now, Nogueira has more than 2.7 million followers, and TikTok serves as her full-time job. According to the makeup artist, she gains approximately 100,000 followers per week.

"The biggest reason I ended up leaving Ulta Beauty is because of how much time TikTok takes up," the makeup artist said. "Today, I filmed two different types of videos — an eye-shadow tutorial and one about how to make your foundation look good. I got up around 7 a.m., and I finished those videos around 12 p.m. It can be a full eight-hour day, and it's exhausting honestly."

Nogueira wouldn't trade her new job for another. Her TikTok fame gets her free products from brands, and she's earned enough money on the platform to move into her own apartment. She's also been able to see how her videos have positively impacted viewers.

Thank you so much. You changed my life. #makeup #beauty #thankyou #WorldPeace #MusicLesson

"Everyone says the beauty community is so toxic, negative, and the worst community to be in," Nogueira said. "But that has not been my experience. It's so loving and welcoming."

"I personally don't think I'm like a lot of the major beauty people — I'm just not — and because of that, I really didn't think people would be interested in me," she continued. "But now I get comments every day that say, 'I watch you because you're relatable and act like a normal person. When I watch your videos, I feel like I'm FaceTiming my friend.' And that means so much to me."

Skin care is also having a moment on the platform, and no one knows that better than Hyram Yarbro

Yarbro, known as Skincare by Hyram on TikTok, began making beauty videos on YouTube in 2017, though he saw a major boost in his TikTok following as the pandemic began. He now has more than 6.6 million followers on the platform.

Yarbro told Insider that TikTok gives him a way to connect with fans.

"I'm able to make duet-style videos in response to their skin-care routines or respond to them doing crazy things to their face, and they can get my genuine reactions and thoughts about what they're doing," Yarbro said. "That's a really unique interaction that you're not able to get on any other social-media platform."

You got this boo, we’re behind you!! ❤️ #duet with @kassandravalentina01 #skincarebyhyram #bodyacne #skincare

Yarbro is open about the fact that he's not a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician, and describes himself as a skin-care specialist.

"I've always approached social media and my skin-care recommendations the same way I approach walking into a store with my best friend," he said. "I really do view my followers as my friends, and it feels like we're all going skin-care shopping together."

While Yarbro says he would have expected a dermatologist to be more influential, he can understand why followers like him: He's relatable.

"In an industry that has been regarded in the past as a little bought-out or overly sponsored, I hope my content can show a high standard that people can at least rely on, whether they agree with my positions or not," he said.

The multi-billion-dollar beauty industry is taking notice of TikTok's rising stars

According to Trina Albus, a social-media expert and founder of the influencer-marketing group Magenta Agency, the opportunity for beauty brands to grow on TikTok is "tremendous" — though not all are taking advantage of the platform.

"Some brands have been really smart to get on there and form partnerships with influencers," Albus told Insider. "And then there are others that are like deer in headlights. The opportunity is tremendous, but because you have to create content that is very specific to TikTok — you cannot just repurpose existing content — it's harder for brands to really take the leap. But I think if they do it in the right way, it can be really rewarding and successful."

One brand that has is CeraVe, with products flying off store shelves in recent months thanks to Yarbro; the brand's cleansers are some of his most recommended products.

Speaking to Insider over email, CeraVe's Vice President of Marketing Derrick Booker said he could not disclose sale numbers, but noted that the brand "has been growing for quite some time now," partially as a result of TikTok videos reaching Gen Z customers.

"Hyram has undoubtedly played a part in letting the secret out of the bag to a new generation of skin-care enthusiasts, and he has been a great skin-care educator to his followers by showing how an effective skin-care regimen can come at an affordable price," Booker said. "We've certainly seen an impact of Hyram's endorsements through engagement with new brand fans as well, as they continue to share their own CeraVe stories with us."

Sold Out CeraVe? Use these instead!! ✨🙌 LINK IN BIO ##skincarebyhyram ##cerave

Nogueira, on the other hand, said it was slow at first to get in contact with beauty brands or be offered sponsorships. But that changed quickly — she was even asked by Nars to star in its biggest TikTok advertisement. Representatives for Nars did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Achieve total mattisfaction with @mikaylanogueira . How will you #BringYourMattitude? Ft. new Soft Matte Complete Foundation. #foundation

Some people prefer beauty content on TikTok over YouTube and Instagram

Bailey Gandy, a 24-year-old TikTok user from Florida, told Insider watching videos on the platform has completely altered her beauty routine. 

"I've been browsing Ulta and Sephora once a week just because someone on the app shares a holy-grail product, or there's a sale going on that I hadn't known about," Gandy said. "My makeup collection has doubled in size, and I've completely revamped my skin-care routine since downloading TikTok."

Charlotte, a 23-year-old from Guildford, UK, agreed and said since using TikTok she has developed a four-step skin-care routine that's made "a massive difference." She told Insider she prefers beauty videos on the platform because they're "more realistic" than ones she'd watch in other places.

"I use to watch YouTube, but I've found it harder to find specific videos that are relevant to me," she said. "With TikTok, the algorithm means similar videos to ones I've liked come up and they're easy to save and go back to whenever I need."

This transition makes sense, according to Albus, who says there's "a lot of realness" on TikTok, which makes for an inclusive environment.

"You can poke fun at yourself, show close-ups, show your acne, show skin texture, and have fun," she said. "People on TikTok are not afraid to share that."

She added that there's a "thirst for knowledge" on TikTok that's not as strong on other platforms — and Yarbro's audience is the perfect example.

"Hyram really put CeraVe on the map, and it's nothing new, but the younger generation is so hungry for education and knowledge about taking care of their skin, especially during the pandemic when people couldn't see their dermatologists," Albus said. "So it's Hyram to the rescue."

YouTube and Instagram are still crucial to the beauty community — but its stars are being made on TikTok

TikTok videos might be quick and entertaining, but the platform lacks the ability to share long-form content, in-depth explanations, and high-quality photos — which you can do on Instagram and YouTube. That's why influencers argue that up-and-coming creators shouldn't rely on one platform over another — no matter how enticing TikTok is.

"I think it's critical to use TikTok and Instagram together," Nogueira said. "After I post a TikTok, people always go over to my Instagram post so they can see the details, read all the products I used, and that's why I love Instagram. I also love how I can post things on my story in the moment, and not be concerned about views."

Yarbro, on the other hand, thinks YouTube and TikTok are "the perfect duo," especially when you grow your following on the latter platform and direct viewers to your longer-form content.

"I think on its own, TikTok does lack the monetary ability to support its creators in the long run, which is where I think you'll benefit from YouTube," he said. "YouTube is difficult because it's the long game. You really have to invest a lot of time for a long time to see growth, but with sustained growth on YouTube, you'll really ensure your business thrives long-term."

Still, TikTok has made beauty on social media feel "fun again," according to Albus, and thanks to creators like Nogueira and Yarbro, that feeling is likely here to stay.

"Because of TikTok's for-you algorithm and its discoverability, the engagement and following that creators are seeing have skyrocketed," Albus said. "You can almost feel the energy and excitement when you're on the app, and I think that's something that's been missing — especially on Instagram — for a long time. It gets addicting."

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