It’s been a while since I’ve watched one of YouTube beauty guru Ingrid Nilsen’s videos. I used to enjoy her content a couple of years ago, although got turned off as she became more sweetly bubblegum-ish to appeal to a younger and younger demographic. But I found myself interested in what her current videos showcased now that she’d shared a rather important and brave aspect of her private life with her viewership. If you’re not up on your YouTube news, you might not know that she recently came out as a lesbian after having several high-profile relationships with male YouTubers. She was incredibly brave for making that announcement on what is effectively her “job,” even though it has cost her support from many conservative members of her fanbase.
So I feel bad for picking on Ingrid’s video in particular here, but it really illustrates the reason why I’ve all but given up on YouTube beauty gurus in the past few months.
At what point did these videos go from girls and women just sharing their genuine thoughts and tips about makeup to literally becoming slickly-produced advertisements for anything and everything? In the description bar of this video, you can find out where to buy everything from her face scrub to her turtleneck — and in the video itself she shares the hookup for her espresso maker and oatmeal as well.
But even though these content producers have become more and more sponsored and professionalized within the last couple of years, there is just something disheartening about feeling any pretense of relatability or naturalness disappearing from what used to feel more like a social media forum for a fun hobby than a million- or billion-dollar industry of “big sister” recommendations — for a price.
It should be said that Ingrid’s not as bad as Essiebutton who has a bad reputation for failing to disclose sponsorships, advertisements, and free products — especially for some frankly bizarre things like ready meals that she conspicuously eats in her vlogs. But in general, this once fun medium for exploring beauty with “normal” women now feels like a series of corny feminine hygiene ads and it’s bumming me out.
People like Lisa Eldridge and Charlotte Tilbury who don’t make their primary income from YouTube can afford to remain neutral, but I understand and appreciate that these girls and women have turned this hobby into a career; I just wish they hadn’t sacrificed fun and integrity in the process.
Either way, I defy you to watch the above video and not spend half the time wondering when she’s going to drop the line, “That’s why I need protection that can keep up with my busy lifestyle” whilst a disembodied hand spills a blue liquid on a pad.
Have you started or stopped watching YouTubers? Is there anyone good left?