Online Makeup Influencers vs Industry Professionals by Lily Kwoh-Gain (n9926127)

Industries today increasingly seek to explore new opportunities arising through social media, in terms of engaging with customers, users and partners. In the makeup industry, social media has created a great impact on consumers and makeup artists globally. Entertainment as self-formation gives people the opportunity to engage the practice of who they are through an online transformation process. The beauty industry is using social media affordances to engage new audiences to turn them into customers through new business models. And viral content and memes surround the beauty industry on YouTube which create social shaping of technology by gaining visibility and attention.

The beauty industry has evolved throughout the years and due to growing feed on social media, new media has to value audiences as demanding contributors. Industry professionals now have to compete in the world of makeup to self-taught makeup artists that is continually growing on YouTube and Instagram. With my experiences, I work for an Australian makeup company and I undertook a certificate in fashion, glamour and bridal makeup artistry, and completing the course with a qualification. Nowadays self-taught makeup artist are taking over beauty companies and branding themselves on YouTube as freelance makeup artist as well as being a public figure. Being in the makeup industry some of the top makeup artists have started from the bottom working in retail makeup to as high as as the overseas creative makeup team. With social media and the rise of new “beauty gurus” it is very easy to be publicly known with a large following to be the best in the industry. However how can we draw a distinction between industry professionals and self-taught amateurs? This is one of the questions that ties in with the nature of the platform affordances and the shift in digital media and communication technologies.

One of the disadvantages to new media audiences it that professional media producers remain in control and exploit user-generated content to make profit. On YouTube, analytics allow users to view how many people are watching, whether they are male or female, where they are located and what age group they are in. With access to this information users can use audiences as commodity and gain profits and commission off their viewers. Most of the top leading beauty bloggers gain profit by advertising new makeup products on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. Bethany Mota, a twenty-one year old living in California is one of the top YouTubers gloabally. She has created videos on DIY crafts, hair and makeup tutorials and interior design states Halperin (2014). In 2014 Mota was earning around $40 000 a moth from her videos alone according to Business Insider. Her videos are entertainment as relational in relation to her audience, targeting teenage girls as she finds ways to engage with them through digital media. Mota uses social media platform affordances to interact with her audience linking her YouTube account with her Instagram and Twitter. Here she can advertise products and gain profits as well as attract new followers, so social media applications encourage YouTubers and bloggers like herself to compete for social benefits.

The blurring of distinctions is an issue for professionals in the beauty industry because top beauty bloggers with a large following on social media collaborate with some of the top makeup brands to either promote the brand’s products or create new makeup products featuring the beauty guru’s name for popularity. This ultimately boosts beauty blogger’s social status and construct their personas to professionalism to market themselves to an audience. By gaining visibility and attention this can be seen as a benefit because it can produce income and greater networks. This happens to majority of beauty bloggers and this can be soon on most social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat. For example an Australian based beauty YouTuber, Michael Finch promotes beauty products on snapchat by giving his biased opinion on their products.

Image source from Snapchat: MakeupbyMichaelFinch

Most YouTubers nowadays are sponsored by top beauty brands and people find it hard to trust their opinion as they get paid commission most of the time. Burgess and Green (2009) state that most of “YouTube’s popular videos are contributed by a range of professional, semi-professional, amateur, and pro-amatuer participants”. Because of all the participants that contribute to YouTube it is harder to distinct whether it is a professional or an amateur. Most self-taught makeup artists are some of the top YouTubers with the largest quantity of subscribers yet industry makeup professionals have a lesser amount of subscribers. This may be because most viewers feel they can relate more to the user. Through YouTube new media entertainment has to value audiences as demanding contributors as audiences will want more from them. Before I even had a certificate in makeup or even had my job as a makeup artist, I would only watch beauty YouTubers who were similar to me in the sense that I had no background in makeup but just learning on my own. This for example would be NikkieTutorials as watching her videos made me feel like we had something in common and that her opinions would be valid only because we had similar interests. But after nine weeks of completing a certificate in makeup I’d found a new respect for professional makeup artists worldwide as their techniques and tricks were industry standards. Charlotte Tilbury a global professional makeup artist with her own makeup company was someone I knew was one of the industry's best but on Youtube she doesn't have as many subscribers as self-taught beauty gurus on YouTube. In my opinion most teenage girls in high school and uni don’t have a certificate in makeup so they would be more lenient in watching self-taught makeup bloggers. In terms of self-taught YouTubers, many of them are perceived are worthy as being employed by a company, thinking of themselves as a product. So the affordances of technology in some ways can shift a person’s thinking or persona away in order to gain income or social benefits.

NikkiTutorials YouTube Homepage: 6,726,268 subscribers
Charlotte Tilbury YouTube Homepage: 425,771 subscribers

Gaining income through user generated content and capturing new media audiences, as well as the distinctions between industry professionals and amateurs play a role in the beauty industry today. The industry uses social media platforms to engage with audiences as well as use technological affordances to create content and display it over different platforms. This industry has evolved a lot due to the digital media and a few issues has surrounded it but new media has changed cultural perceptions through social networking sites. The beauty industry will continue to grow and evolve online in the digital world for the coming decades ahead of us but could possibly shift in technological affordances.


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Graves, L. (2007). The Affordances of Blogging: A Case Study in Culture and Technological Effects. Journal Of Communication Inquiry, 31(4), 331-346.

Halperin, A. (2017). This Teenager Makes Half-A-Million A Year Just By Shopping. Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 3 April 2017, from

Majchrzak, A., Faraj, S., Kane, G., & Azad, B. (2013). The Contradictory Influence of Social Media Affordances on Online Communal Knowledge Sharing. Journal Of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(1), 38-55.

Trepte, S. (2015). Social Media, Privacy, and Self-Disclosure: The Turbulence Caused by Social Media’s Affordances. Social Media + Society, 1(1), 205630511557868.

Created By
Lily Kwoh-Gain

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