Scandals that rocked the YouTube beauty community

The YouTube beauty community has changed dramatically over the years. Where once there were only a handful of "beautubers" who recorded makeup tutorials in their poorly lit bedrooms or bathrooms, now there are dozens of professional YouTube beauty influencers with their own makeup lines and millions of followers.

The more YouTube beauty influencers there are, it seems, the more drama there is amongst them. Regardless of their different channels and specialties, YouTube beauty influencers are part of a pretty small community, one in which everyone has seemingly had a run-in with everyone else at some point in their careers. In June 2019, Marlena Stell, for instance, released "Dear Influencers," a video that outlined her experiences with various other YouTubers over the years, as well as the drama she's endured both privately and publicly.

It's when issues — both small and large — go public, however, that things in the YouTube beauty community seem to get way out of hand. Response videos and public apologies only add fuel to the fire. These are the YouTube beauty community scandals that have garnered the most attention from fans.

The appearance of Jaclyn Hill's lipsticks worried fans

In May 2019, Jaclyn Hill announced the long-awaited launch of her cosmetics line, Jaclyn Cosmetics. In her video, Hill promoted her collection of nude lipsticks as "creamy" and "moisturizing," with "a custom blend of fragrance that kind of smells like vanilla butter cake." When they were actually released to the public, however, they did not live up to the hype.

In the video "The Truth About Jaclyn Hill Cosmetics," fellow beautuber RawBeautyKristi broke down the problems consumers were having with Hill's lipsticks, as many had allegedly found the products to be covered in a strange film. Most shockingly, some fans claimed the lipsticks had a lumpy texture or were covered in fuzz. "I was immediately shocked," Kristi said, adding, "Some of these lipsticks are full of hair, lint, fuzz, holes."

Following the backlash, Hill released both a video and an official statement on her website saying she would be issuing a full refund to anyone who made a purchase, but she reassured customers that the issue was a manufacturing one and had nothing to do with product quality.

Did Eltoria sell her YouTube fans second-hand products?

Eltoria has built her brand in the YouTube beauty community on unboxing advent calendars and doing hauls and try-on videos. In 2018, she put together her own 12-door beauty advent calendar, which she sold on her website for £50 (about $63). Unfortunately, according to some vloggers who did their own unboxings, Eltoria's advent calendar wasn't what they expected, as the calendars were allegedly filled with used or opened products.

In her Eltoria Advent Calendar unboxing video, YouTuber Mercedes Wilson pointed out a number of issues with the products, including an allegedly opened makeup brush with "dirt" on its packaging and a seemingly opened lip balm. "Another thing I'm a little bit concerned about is this doesn't have a hygiene seal on it," she said, noting, "It doesn't really look like something I want to be putting on my lips. It looks dried out and old."

In response to the backlash against her calendars, Eltoria told Metro, "It is unfortunate that people have made guesses and assumptions for it then to be treated as fact. Perhaps this is an issue that platforms need to figure out how to regulate."

Beauty YouTuber Huda Beauty's setting powder seemed too familiar

Huda Kattan is a beauty vlogger with a YouTube following of over 3 million as of publication. She focuses mostly on DIY tutorials and beauty hacks, and, in 2013, she and her sisters launched Huda Beauty with a collection of false eyelashes. The company has gone on to create even more makeup products, including its Easy Bake Setting Powder, which caused a stir in June 2018. Fans pointed out that it closely resembled a product line from a smaller company.

When Huda Beauty announced its Easy Bake line on Instagram, the reception was less than warm, with commenters accusing the beautuber of stealing the idea from Beauty Bakerie Makeup, a black-owned cruelty-free brand whose tagline is "better, not bitter." Comments ranged from calling the line "familiar" to outright accusing Huda Beauty of theft.

In July 2018, Huda Beauty released an Instagram video that didn't quite address the accusations but instead gave an inside look into the "development process" for the campaign. For its part, Beauty Bakerie posted its own response on Instagram, saying, "Hey Sweets, Everyone's invited to the baking party, even Huda."

Tati Westbrook claimed fellow YouTube beauty star James Charles betrayed her

Tati Westbrook and James Charles are both huge names in the YouTube beauty community — Westbrook's channel has nearly 10 million followers as of publication, while Charles' boasts 15 million. For a time, the two were best friends, with Westbrook acting as a sort of mentor to Charles.

In April 2019, Charles posted an Instagram story promoting Sugar Bear Hair vitamins, which happens to be in direct competition with Westbrook's company, Halo Beauty. As reported by People, Westbrook posted a since-deleted 43-minute video titled "Bye Sister," in which she slammed Charles for both his alleged betrayal and change in attitude since finding fame. "My relationship with James Charles is not transactional," she said, adding, "This is more than just a sponsored post. … There's so much going on with James Charles right now that I do not support. That I do not agree with. Fame, power, and a fat bank account will change almost anyone."

That May, People reported that Charles posted his own apology video in response to Westbrook, in which he said, "I'm so disappointed in myself that I ruined our relationship." That video has since been deleted.

James Charles got accused of faking swatches by the YouTube beauty community

In November 2018, James Charles released his first eyeshadow palette for Morphe comprising of 39 rainbow colored shades and including eyeshadows and pressed pigments. In his original swatch video, Charles explained that he at first didn't know the difference between eyeshadows and pressed pigments and said, "As an artist, I will say straight up to you guys, some of these pressed pigments are a little bit harder to work with just because you have to use slightly different techniques."

Charles went on to give advice on how best to apply the different formulas in the palette, but his video came under some scrutiny when it appeared as though he had faked or relayered his swatches. On Twitter, users called out the video, but Charles was quick to reply. Responding to a tweet asking if the shadows had been "pre-swatched" in the video, he said, "Yes, a few shades I layered twice because the first swatch wasn't good or because I had to re say my sentence and wasn't going to continue washing my arm, or that would REALLY mess them up. Not hiding anything."

James Charles' multiple social media missteps

Aside from his public friend-split with Tati Westbrook and his questionable swatching behavior, James Charles has repeatedly found himself in the spotlight on account of his social media practices. In 2017, Charles garnered the ire of the internet when he tweeted (via Allure), "I can't believe we're going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola." The vlogger soon apologized, but that was only the beginning of his trouble.

In 2019, Charles did a collaboration video with Jeff Wittek during which Charles implied that he wasn't "full gay" because he had been attracted to trans men in the past. Understandably, that didn't go over well, and he took to Twitter to apologize. But he'd soon make headlines again — this time because he allegedly tried to hit on a taken straight man.

When Cosmopolitan reported on the YouTube beauty drama with Westbrook in May 2019, it referenced a since-deleted tweet from pop star Zara Larsson that accused Charles of trying to flirt with her boyfriend online. When Charles pointed out that Larsson had met her boyfriend by hitting on him online, Larsson deleted her original tweet and issued an apology.

Jeffree Star vs. Manny MUA, Gabriel Zamora, and Laura Lee

The Jeffree Star/Manny MUA/Gabriel Zamora/Laura Lee "Dramageddon" is such a tangled mess that it's difficult to know exactly where to begin. But let's start in August 2018, when YouTuber Shane Dawson released a video series about Jeffree Star. In it, Star — whom Dawson referred to as "one of the most controversial YouTubers" — spoke candidly about his ex-friends in the YouTube beauty community, saying he had used his connections to help them but was still labeled as the "bad guy."

In a since-deleted tweet posted immediately after the release of Dawson's video, Gabriel Zamora shared a photo of himself, Manny Gutierrez, Laura Lee, and Nikita Dragun giving the middle finger, a picture presumably aimed at Star, and he called Star "racist" (via BuzzFeed). Star's fans responded by digging up old racist tweets from the group, but there was more going on behind the scenes.

Not long afterwards, Zamora posted his own apology video to Star, in which he denounced Gutierrez as a friend and called him "toxic." For his part, Gutierrez responded by posting his own apology video, "My reality check," in which he agreed with Zamora's claims against him.

Laura Lee's apology video to the YouTube beauty community

When Dramageddon hit in 2018, one of its biggest casualties was Laura Lee, who had a racist tweet from 2012 resurface with disastrous results. Makeup store Ulta, which Lee had been working with to launch her own beauty brand, announced via Twitter that it had decided against moving forward with her in light of her remarks.

Lee, like the others involved in the scandal, issued a now-deleted apology video via her YouTube page, but it didn't seem to go over quite the way she had expected. Responses were numerous and immediate, with people calling Lee out for allegedly being disingenuous and trying to distance herself from her own actions. YouTuber Ready to Glare posted a response to the original video and said, "Whether the tweets were retweeted or tweeted originally by you, it doesn't really matter, okay? Like, the intention of the tweet is the same." Others, like YouTuber Deceased, reposted the apology with parodied captions like, "It hurts me so bad to..(lose all this money and brand deals)." Across the internet, Lee's apology became known as little more than a joke.

YouTube beauty icon Jeffree Star's shady history

Ever since Jeffree Star launched his YouTube channel in 2006, the YouTube beauty guru has been something of a magnet for drama. But nothing would quite compare to the backlash he faced in 2017, when decade-old videos surfaced of the beautuber making racist comments.

In June, Star posted the video "RACISM" to his channel, in which he addressed his old comments and explained that he didn't know any better at the time. "Everything that you have seen is so, just, wrong," he said. "It's upsetting, it's nasty. It really makes me sick to my stomach to watch those old videos because what I was saying is not what I represent."

Star spoke with Allure at the time and told the magazine that he was sad to see his work discredited because of the things he'd said in the past, which he said were done to get a reaction. "You see one moment and it's literally when I'm 19-years-old," he said. "I'm 31 now and I look back at this and I think it's so sad that I spoke like that. I'm just tired of being accused of something I'm not."

Kat Von D dumped fellow Youtube influencer Jeffree Star as a friend

Jeffree Star and Kat Von D's friendship spanned an entire decade before Von D seemed to end things out of nowhere in July 2016, when she posted a now-deleted Instagram photo of Star with his face crossed out. She captioned it (via Refinery29), "After years of making excuses for, and rationalizing Jeffree's inappropriate behavior (including promoting drug use, racism, and bullying) I can no longer hold my tongue after recent events."

Von D then posted the video "Jeffree Star: It's so much easier to do the right thing," which criticized the vlogger. Von D took issue with the circumstances under which Star launched his own cosmetics line, which she claimed were due in large part to her connections. One connection allegedly included designer BJ Betts, whom Von D said was never paid for the work he did for Star.

Star responded with his own video, saying that things had progressed "past the point of just internet drama" and claiming his family was being threatened. Star said that things first broke down with Von D when she pulled out of investing in his brand, but he was adamant that Betts had been compensated.

Celeb and beauty YouTube star Kat Von D was accused of being racist

In 2007, Kat Von D left TLC's Miami Ink and went on to star in her own California-based series, LA Ink. According to TMZ, an autographed photo of Von D was delivered to her former boss, Ami James, that was signed with a flaming Star of David. Von D released a statement at the time denying the photo's legitimacy, and said, "This was already proven many months ago to be 100 percent untrue. I always have been, and will continue to be an advocate for tolerance of all races, religions and ways of life."

Von D's racism issues seemed to end there, until 2018, when her beauty brand posted a now-deleted Instagram image of its Lock-It Concealer in front of a cotton field with the caption (via Revelist), "Let Lock-it Concealer do all of the hard work for you with instant one-coat coverage." 

In 2019, Von D took to her YouTube to denounce the claims dating back to 2008, which she said were the result of fear that LA Ink would replace Miami Ink. "Just to set the record straight, I am not anti-Semitic," she said.

Kat Von D was labeled as an anti-vaxxer in the YouTube beauty community

In June 2018, Kat Von D found herself on one side of a heated debate regarding child vaccinations when she posted a since-deleted photo on Instagram detailing her "pregnancy journey." BuzzFeed originally reported the post, which was captioned, "…try being an openly pregnant vegan on Instagram, having a natural, drug-free home birth in water with a midwife and doula, who has the intention of raising a vegan child, without vaccinations."

Finally, in March 2019, Von D posted a response video to her YouTube in which she flat-out denied being an "anti-vaxxer." She explained her position further, saying, "What I am is a first-time mother," and she went on to say that she experienced "some hesitancy" after her initial research on vaccine ingredients. Von D finished by explaining that she and her husband would be taking the advice of their pediatrician and that she had "learned [her] lesson," noting, "I'm choosing not to make our decision … public."

Marlena Stell exposed the entire YouTube beauty community

In August 2018, YouTuber and Makeup Geek founder Marlena Stell dropped a beauty bombshell on her channel, calling out the entire online beauty community for alleged shady behind-the-scenes behavior. "I feel like I have a unique advantage, I'm not only a brand owner now, but I've been an influencer for the last ten years," she said in a video titled "My truth regarding the beauty community," noting, "I feel like I can take kind of a neutral side and say I think both parties are part of the problem that is [happening] in the beauty community right now."

Stell added that Makeup Geek hasn't been featured in the beautuber community in large part because it's refused to pay the $60,000 price tag required to get a shoutout. Makeup artist Kevin Bennett immediately came to Stell's defense and backed up her claims via an Instagram post that outlined the price list one "top-level beauty influencer" gave him. It included a $75,000 to $85,000 dedicated negative review of a competitor's product, of which Bennett said, "Yes, option #3 is legit — payment to damage the competition's business."

Marlena Stell gave her two cents on the Jaclyn Hill drama

Marlena Stell wasn't done with the YouTube beauty community when she posted her "My truth" video in 2018. In June 2019, Stell released "Dear Influencers," an hour and a half-long video that outlined her decade-long drama within the YouTube beauty community. "I'm sorry to be so blunt," she said. "I feel like my honesty and integrity that I valued so much and tried so hard for 11 years to keep with you guys has been dragged to filth, honestly."

Stell went on to address the Jaclyn Hill lipstick scandal, surmising that Hill had gone to a lab that Stell's company had previously passed over on account of its lack of sanitary practices. Newsweek reported in late June that Hill had deleted the entirety of her social media accounts due to the backlash she received following Stell's video. Hill's final tweet reportedly said, "I deleted [my account] because I immediately got hateful comments and although everything I stated is 1,000 percent true, I need to protect my mental state [first] and foremost."