2018: The Year in Beauty YouTuber Drama

A month-by-month breakdown of the soap opera that was the beauty vlogger universe.
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Jeffree Star and Kat Von D. Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images For Sephora

Jeffree Star and Kat Von D. Photo: John Sciulli/Getty Images For Sephora

It's been a long 12 months, and before we kick 2018 to the curb, we're looking back at all of the most memorable, game-changing fashion and beauty things that went down. Follow along with us as we look back at the year in review.

Even if you've never watched a YouTube tutorial in your life, chances are you've heard of Jeffree Star. The 33-year-old Internet celebrity is known just as much for his feuds and controversies as his actual tutorials. (To drive the point home, he has a Pomeranian named Drama.) In 2018, things got especially heated between Star and Kylie Jenner, one of his favorite, long-term nemeses.

But Star is far from being the only beauty YouTuber with a penchant for histrionics. His colleagues and competitors caused plenty of drama without him, too. As 2018 (finally) draws to a close, we took the liberty of putting together a month-by-month breakdown of the soap opera that was the beauty vlogger universe. 

January

  • When Kylie Cosmetics launched its 30-shade range of concealers, reactions were mixed. Some praised her while others noted she was just piggybacking on the infamous 'Fenty Effect.' When YouTube star Jackie Aina reviewed the collection, she added criticism that not enough other people of color had received the collection to test, while white YouTubers like James Charles and Laura Lee had. "I would have loved to see any other dark-skin blogger, male or female, sent this product to be able to give the review on it," she said in her video.
  • Later that month, Star (shocker!) called on Kylie Jenner to apologize for the quality of her new brushes, which he deemed subpar.
  • Soon after, though, Star was criticizing the launch of Charlotte Tilbury's Hollywood Flawless Filter for what he saw as a limited seven-shade range. Detractors pointed out that it was only meant to be a primer and/or highlighter, and as such, seven was actually on the high-end of the shade range for the product type.

March

  • By March, Jenner's team had had enough, and Star was removed from the Kylie Cosmetics PR list.
  • When Lashify (a high-end false lash system) launched, founder Sahara Lotti was self-admittedly naive about the Wild Wild West that is the world of influencer marketing. But when Manny Gutierrez, aka Manny MUA,  purchased her product of his own volition, she jumped at the opportunity, rushing to ship out his package and including around $200 worth of extra product. A week later, his video went up. He called it: TRYING ON THE WORLDS MOST EXPENSIVE LASHES! $125?! WTF!, and criticized the kit for its price and not being "cunty" enough for his style (whatever that means). Before ending the video, he ripped the lashes off, calling them "shit." He then linked to a selection of lashes under the header "AFFILIATE SHIZ," including obvious Lashify competitors, like Lilly Lashes (back to them later) — or, in other words, brands he'd get a kickback from if his followers purchased from them.
  • Lotti replied via Instagram video: "Honestly I don't know what he thought [the lashes] were, but I have to remember at the end of the day, he can have all the makeup he wants, but he's still a dude…Manny, you still a dude, bro." In wake of her response, Lotti was met with death threats and bad reviews from people who'd never purchased Lashify, leading her to disable her company's Google Business profile and Facebook reviews capability. 

June 

  • After early influencer reviews were unflattering, Jaclyn Hill & Morphe pulled their 35-shade eyeshadow collaboration.
  • The Jeffree Star/Kat Von D feud (which dates back to 2016) reared its ugly head after someone commented on one of Von D's videos, "Jeffree Star is watching this right now." and Von D replied "Jeffree Who? ;)" Star responded on Instagram Stories, commenting, "Just imagine for one second that you are me and someone that hated me so adamantly and made up so many false lies, is still making a profit off my name; that's why I got a little upset." ("Making a profit off my name" is a reference to a Kat Von D liquid lipstick shade called "Jeffree").

The August Fiasco 

  • A huge spate of drama unfolded when Star allowed fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson to create a four-part YouTube docuseries about him. In it, Star made comments alluding to his past feuds with various members of the beauty YouTube beauty community: "With my ex-friends, people still don't really know what went on. Why do I feel like they need to know? Because there's so many versions of things that never happened out there....Half of the people still think I'm the bad guy, when I only loved and cared about all these people, boosted them up, and gave them all my connections, but I'm still the f**king bad guy."
  • His ex-friends' ears were burning and the documentary prompted one of them, YouTuber Gabriel Zamora, to tweet a photo with fellow beauty YouTubers Laura Lee, Nikita Dragun and Manny MUA — middle fingers up — captioned "Bitch is bitter because without him we're doing better."
  • Defending that tweet, assumed by most as to be an obvious dig at Star, Zamora followed up: "Imagine stanning a racist? I could never."
  • Here's where things got really crazy: Star's army of fans (his YouTube channel boasts 11 million+ followers) took the rhetorical question as a challenge and quickly resurfaced incriminating messages from Zamora and the others.
  • In late August, Star fans uncovered racist tweets from Lee's Twitter circa 2012: "Tip for all black people if you pull ur pants up you can run from the police faster.." which caused her to lose close to half a million of her five million followers. Others included offensive "jokes" about Chinese people and use of the N-word, and, in 2013, she'd also posted a series of fat-shaming tweets. The fallout was prompt: Ulta cancelled the launch of her line, as did Diff eyewear, and Boxycharm — though it did not pull her product — did issue a statement. 
  • Lee apologized and promised to get involved with organizations that focus on the importance of "equality and social injustice." Regardless, the video doing so was widely criticized for being insincere and incomplete.
  • Zamora filmed an apology for triggering this Beauty YouTube World War with his errant tweet, and then another one announcing that he was cutting ties with Gutierrez. Star had never done anything to hurt Zamora, he admitted, claiming that he'd essentially been trying to stick up for his friends. He said that since then, however, he'd reached out to Star, heard his side of story, and come to the conclusion that he had not known the full truth.
  • Shortly thereafter, Gutierrez came out with an apology video of his own, entitled "My Reality Check," in which he replied to Zamora's video saying, "I can see the hurt in his eyes and I understand where he's coming from, 100 percent."
  • In case you were wondering what Star thought about all this, he wholeheartedly rejected Gutierrez's video and apology entirely, referring inquirers to someone else's tweets.
  • Popular makeup artist Wayne Goss posted a favorable video about Lashify, and received the same vitriolic responses as Lotti herself. Even further complicating the matter, an anonymous poster behind r/BeautyGuruChatter suggested that Lilly Lashes had paid Gutierrez to make the initial video. Though parties deny this claim, the tides had turned and Lashify was back in favor, while MannyMUA's channel was racking up accusatory comments, like, "You could buy 560 of these kits with the 70k lily lashes paid for this video." Since then, Lashify's business has thrived. Lotti told Wired, "I didn't get it. I was so naive...Now, I don't trust influencers [or] 'makeup artists.' Everybody wants free stuff and they just want to make money — there is no ethics behind it."

September and October: The Comebacks 

November

  • Jackie Aina called out Star, saying, "Let's stop making exceptions for people just because we like the way they blend eye shadow."

The (scary) truth is that all of the above doesn't even cover all of the feuds, scandals and buckets of hot water YouTube stars found themselves in this year, but if you're all about this tea, good news: In late September, Netflix announced it'd be making a documentary on the very subject. Appropriately, the very announcement caused a feud of its own.

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