VIDEO Back in April 2001, I wrote a Guardian article about home shopping networks. These days, I have a new fascination, no doubt originating in the same part of my brain that latched onto QVC: YouTube's beauty gurus. I never did pick up any samurai swords from Shop at Home's knife guy, but I can now do winged eyeliner like never before.
Filming themselves at their kitchen tables and bedroom vanities, the gurus (YT-speak for "expert") upload opinions on everything from high-end mascara to dollar-store lip gloss. There are "Tag" videos, which get passed around from guru to guru ("Top 10 MAC Eye Shadows"), popular perennials (giveaway videos score high), and "haul" videos, which detail shopping-trip spoils.
Haul videos have earned mainstream media attention, with a recent New York Times story detailing how some women are making mad cash thanks to YouTube's revenue-sharing partner program. The ultimate success story? Probably Lauren Luke, a.k.a. panacea81, a bubbly Brit who parlayed her YouTube fame into her own makeup line.
While not all gurus make money off YouTube, many have received free products from companies eager to tap into each channel's unique audience. Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that "bloggers or other 'word-of-mouth' marketers" must disclose their material connections with a company when endorsing its products. You'll notice many YouTube beauty vids now have FTC disclaimers ("I got this for free ...") accompanied by guru disclaimers ("... but this is my HONEST opinion!") tucked into the video description box.
But them's semantics. Most gurus, paid and otherwise, also provide tutorials of hair and makeup looks using favorite products. If you're stressed about appearing professional at a job interview, or sexy on a date, YT gurus have got you covered. And they review everything: if you've been waffling over whether to drop $23 on a Nars eye shadow, fear not. Someone on YouTube has already bought it, tested it, and deemed it worthy (or not). The best gurus have the kind of charisma that can transfix thousands of viewers — even when the subject at hand is a 15-minute discussion of nail polish.
YouTuber: Lisa Freemont Street (www.youtube.com/user/LisaFreemontStreet)
What you'll find on her channel: classy vintage hair and makeup techniques inspired by Old Hollywood and pin-up girls.
Her favorite kind of video to make: "My series called 'Diamonds and Dames' consists of requested looks by my viewers, based on their favorite hairstyles [from] classic films. These are the most fun for me because they require the most research. I have to figure out what setting was used to create the style or how to tailor the look to my own hair texture or length. I also include music from the year the film was released, to lend some extra credibility to the video, and I tend to really get into character by the end of filming."
Her audience: "I have come to realize that my viewers range in age from preteen to octogenarian. I love that! The one thing I hope they take away is that if you enjoy and appreciate a vintage style, you should not let the world's trends sway you. Stay true to yourself and feel pretty all the time, even if you get a few odd looks along the way."
Her favorite beauty product: "A plain white concealer stick. It can be used to provide a pale base for eye shadow or as a highlight for brows and cheeks."
YouTuber: Pursebuzz (www.youtube.com/user/pursebuzz)
What you'll find on her channel: upbeat videos offering hair, makeup, and nail advice. Also, her "How to Fake Abs" makeup tutorial has over 13 million views. Respect.