Beauty YouTubers are some of the best known (and best paid) in the business when it comes to the world of internet stardom. In fact, a number of the biggest beauty stars on the platform, such as Bethany Mota and Michelle Phan, have pretty much become household names. These megastars are known for their incredible makeup skills, memorable personalities, and, of course, their killer looks.
However, you may be surprised to learn that some of these YouTubers haven’t always been the glamorous superstars they are today. Many of them come from pretty humble beginnings and have fought through some tough times to reach their current levels of stardom. We’ve uncovered the fascinating histories of some of the internet’s biggest stars and how they’ve evolved over the years. You’ll be amazed to see what they used to look and act like before fame. Here are the stunning transformations of popular beauty YouTubers.
Beauty YouTuber James Charles was once an awkward teen with braces
Anyone who follows the beauty scene on YouTube will have heard of James Charles. The YouTuber first rose to fame in 2016. That year, BuzzFeed reported how he famously retook his senior year photo to make his highlighter pop. His talent with makeup and his newfound fame soon helped him to become CoverGirl’s first-ever “CoverBoy,” as noted by USA Today. Since then, Charles has gained a staggering 19 million YouTube followers – not to mention over 5 million Twitter followers.
But this makeup guru hasn’t always looked so glamorous. In 2019, Charles shared a photo of himself before he’d ever picked up a bronzer brush — and he really is nothing short of unrecognizable! In the Instagram post, the popular beauty YouTuber credited his breathtaking transformation to “braces, scissors, better taste in clothing, [and] a little make up.” If only these simple tools could work the same magic on all of us!
Huda Kattan went from adorable girl next door to a bombshell beauty YouTuber
Huda Kattan is truly taking the world by storm. In 2019, she was 36th on Forbes‘ list of “America’s Self-Made Women,” with a total net worth of $610 million. The New Yorker reported that, before the beauty YouTuber uploaded her first videos, she studied makeup in Los Angeles before moving to Dubai. It was there that she launched her YouTube channel, Huda Beauty, which, as of 2020, has almost 4 million subscribers. On Instagram, she’s racked up over 44 million followers!
But Kattan hasn’t always been a beauty maverick. In 2019, she revealed to Cosmopolitan (via Independent) she has always felt insecure: “From the beginning, I didn’t feel as though I fitted in.” She went on to explain how she had plastic surgery on her breasts and nose at the same time. She also made the decision to remove her cosmetic fillers for a “more natural” look. Kattan has clearly gone through several drastic changes in her appearance.
So, what did she look like as a teen? Well, back in 2018, Kattan shared a rare image of her younger self on Instagram, in which fans could see her before and after her nose job.
Michelle Phan reappeared on YouTube better than ever after two-year break
Michelle Phan is widely considered to be one of the “OGs” of YouTube’s beauty world. Her story dates back to 2007, when Phan took to YouTube to post her first beauty tutorial. It didn’t take long for her to skyrocket to fame. As Elle explained, she amassed over 10 million followers in her first ten years. Things seemed to be going great for Phan — that is, until she dramatically vanished in 2015. The Cut noted that her millions of followers on YouTube were left confused by her disappearance.
Things took another turn in 2017, when Phan posted “Why I Left,” an 11-minute video explaining her need for space from the platform until she was “inspired to share new ideas.” Finally that day came in 2019. The beauty YouTuber was back and better than ever, sporting a modern haircut and glowy makeup, proving that Michelle Phan has had a stunning transformation. Her new look was a far cry from the looks she sported in her first videos.
Beauty YouTuber Amanda Ensing has had a self-proclaimed "glow up" since starting out in 2012
Amanda Ensing started out on YouTube in 2012. In her rise to stardom, she has accrued almost 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube and 1.4 followers on Instagram. In 2019, Ensing made headlines for her bold claims that Kylie Jenner copied her Instagram photo, as seen on Elle, for instance. Jenner denied the accusation, saying, in part, “Ur not on my mood board,” but the two photos are remarkably similar. Whether the photo was copied or not, Ensing fans were paying attention.
But what was the beauty YouTuber like before she was famous? In 2018, Ensing took on the “reacting to my first video” challenge. In the video, she opened up about her state of mind when she first started on the platform. “I didn’t have many friends, and I was really just miserable in life,” she confessed before watching one of her first-ever videos. Ensing couldn’t believe how much she changed, noting how different her lips and eyebrows looked in 2012. She even called her own transformation a “glow up” in the video description, as she is almost unrecognizable! While her transformation may be thanks to procedures like cheek fillers, lip fillers, and eyebrow lamination, it’s clear that her makeup skills have developed over the years.
Popular beauty YouTuber Bethany Mota has really changed since being bullied in school
Bethany Mota is another beauty superstar who owes her fame to YouTube. As of 2020, the star has over 9 million subscribers. As noted by Forbes, she’s had a partnership with Aeropostale, boasted a school supplies line at Target, and competed on Dancing With the Stars.
Before all of this success, however, the Californian first started uploading her videos after struggling with childhood bullying. In an interview with Fox 9, she explained how she was “about 12 when [she] was cyber-bullied.” She said, “These kids started a sort of MySpace page — all of it was kind of talking negatively about my appearance, and being 12 you are very vulnerable and take things to heart.”
She’s certainly come a long way since those early days. The beauty YouTuber posted her first video in 2009. The low-quality camera, side-swept bangs, and adorable hair bow are all indications of just how young Mota was at the time! Mota has certainly grown into a gorgeous young woman who has said goodbye to the bangs and the lip gloss in favor of some killer modern makeup skills.
Fans might not recognize beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials from her early videos
NikkieTutorials, whose real name is Nikkie de Jager, might be one of the biggest names in the business. The popular beauty YouTuber, who uploaded her first video in 2008, has amassed over 14.1 million followers on Instagram and 13.4 million subscribers on YouTube over the years.
De Jager’s stunning transformation might be the most dramatic of all the popular beauty YouTubers. In 2018, de Jager took to Instagram to post a jaw-dropping image featuring a photo of when she was younger and a photo of her present-day. In the caption, she humorously wrote, “Thank god for puberty and fillers.” Looking at her old photo, it’s not surprising to hear that she’s had fillers — she really is almost totally unrecognizable!
And fillers aren’t all she’s done. De Jager spoke to Fred van Leer about the work she’s had, which includes Botox in her jaw and forehead, as reported by Cosmopolitan. We love her openness, and there’s no denying that she looks fabulous, though she looked gorgeous back then too!
Nicole Guerriero had some pretty humble beginnings as a beauty YouTuber
Nicole Guerriero is known by her fans for her hair and makeup skills, along with her quirky, likable personality. She’s racked up 2.8 million subscribers on YouTube, and she’s collaborated with Anastasia Beverly Hills, as reported by Allure — but she wasn’t always so successful. In one 2010 video, she appeared with a messy teenage bedroom in the background and dated eye makeup on her young face. She sure has changed since first starting out!
So, how did she do it? StyleCaster spoke to the popular beauty YouTuber about her journey. “It took a while, but once I hit 100,000 subscribers, I realized I could quit my job and do this for real,” she shared. But even though she’s made it big, Guerriero still struggles from time to time with “getting [her] words out.” She explained, “When I speak too quickly I mess things up and it becomes this big jumble… Four years later, that’s still what I’m working on.”
Tati Westbrook's beauty YouTube career began with some cringe-worthy makeup tutorials
When it comes to beauty YouTube stars, Tati Westbrook is practically royalty. She has 9.4 million YouTube subscribers and counting. She’s also the owner of her very own beauty brand, Halo Beauty. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Westbrook though. In 2019, she made headlines for her “feud” with fellow YouTuber James Charles (via E! News). Despite the negative press, Cosmopolitan reported that the scandal nearly doubled her following — and also her paycheck!
With her new millions of followers, Tati Westbrook is a thriving professional in the beauty industry, but she hasn’t always had such a polished life. In 2017, the star shared her first-ever video from 2010 with fans in a reaction video, as the original video had previously been set to private. Before showing the footage, Westbrook confessed, “I knew nothing — nothing about focus, lighting, video quality, none of that.” When the 2010 Westbrook appeared on the screen, it was a shock! Westbrook looks young and inexperienced, especially with her “90s over-plucked eyebrows.” Plus, as Westbrook pointed out, the video is pretty cringe-worthy!
Beauty YouTuber Carli Bybel started getting lip fillers at a party
Carli Bybel’s YouTube followers will know the star for her sultry looks and her seriously impressive makeup skills. If anyone has used their YouTube success to kickstart a mind-blowing career in business, it’s Bybel. Since starting out in 2011, she’s collaborated with big name brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills, Il Makiage, and BH Cosmetics.
We looked back at the beauty YouTuber’s first few videos and were blown away by what we saw. While Bybel was undeniably gorgeous back in the day, we couldn’t help but notice a few differences in both her looks and her videos’ production quality. It turns out, Bybel owes her transformation, in part, to lip fillers. In a 2016 vlog, Bybel admitted to getting lip fillers, and she explained how her first experience happened at a beauty party! She’s also tried out microblading, as shown in a 2018 vlog.
Jeffree Star went from MySpace goth to beauty YouTube royalty
Anyone who’s dipped their toes in the world of YouTube beauty channels will be aware of the hugely popular Jeffree Star. Star is without a doubt one of the biggest names in the business. In addition to his 18 million subscribers on YouTube, Star has found success with his cosmetics company, which sells products all over the world. His net worth is estimated to be around $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
It’s hard to imagine that Star was ever an ordinary kid. But like many beauty YouTubers, Star comes from some fairly surprising beginnings. Before becoming a beauty guru and business mogul, Star began his online career in music on MySpace, as reported by Insider. But his look has certainly changed since his MySpace days. Comparing his high school goth look, featuring red hair and heavy eye makeup, to his fierce, modern makeup of today, you’d never guess these two looks came from the same person!
Desi Perkins looks like a whole new woman since her start as a beauty YouTuber
Desi Perkins is a beauty influencer who started out on YouTube in 2013. Since then, she has quickly racked up the views and followers. She has over 3 million fans on the platform, and she has collaborated with Dose of Colors to produce a makeup line. Looking at her videos, you’ll see a beauty with a perfectly contoured and highlighted face.
But Perkins hasn’t always rocked this look. Back in 2018, the star casually admitted to getting breast implants in response to a fan’s comment on Instagram (via Life & Style). In a 2019 video, Perkins opened up about how she’s changed as a person over the years. Looking back at herself in junior high, she said, “I was insecure about being too skinny. As a Latina, I’d get picked on for not having enough curves.” But Perkins has since asserted she is much more comfortable and self-accepting.
Popular beauty YouTuber Laura Lee has become a self-professed "family woman"
Laura Lee made her name on YouTube for sharing her self-taught makeup skills and her natural good looks. Like other successful beauty YouTubers, she’s used her platform and following to secure amazing business collaborations with the likes of MAC and ColourPop. Her popularity took a serious nosedive in 2018, when old racist tweets were discovered on Lee’s Twitter account, as reported by Allure. Lee apologized in a now infamous video which has since been deleted from Lee’s channel.
Nevertheless, Lee has moved on since 2018 and is still on YouTube churning out personal vlogs. In a 2020 vlog, Lee and her family discussed what their lives have been like during lockdown amid the pandemic. Lee, who said she is “a family woman now,” claimed that she is now obsessed with home decor and has helped tutor her niece in English. At least Lee has been able to move on and find ways to help those around her a few years after her career-threatening scandal!
Beauty YouTuber Jackie Aina admitted she started out with some questionable beauty practices
Jackie Aina has not only taken the YouTube beauty world by storm, but she’s also become a powerful voice against racial discrimination in the beauty industry. The New York Times highlighted how Aina’s videos are often aimed at helping young, non-white viewers navigate beauty companies that seem to aim their products at people with light skin tones. She has even collaborated with Anastasia Beverly Hills to create makeup for darker skin tones. She’s amassed a following of nearly 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube.
However, when Aina uploaded her first videos, you would never have guessed that she’d become a beauty mogul. In a 2017 video, Aina attempted to recreate one of her early tutorials. Not only did we get to see her old look in the video, but Aina also shared some personal details about her past: “When I recorded that video I was not happy at all. … I just remember being embarrassed to turn on the camera and record videos.” She went on to explain how her next eight years on YouTube completely transformed her life for the better. And when it came to makeup, the famous beauty YouTuber admitted that she loved the matte look and wasn’t always the best at blending. It’s good to know that even Aina wasn’t always a pro!
Jaclyn Hill is one beauty YouTuber who is stronger than ever
Jaclyn Hill has made quite a name for herself over the years. With over 5.8 million YouTube subscribers and her own cosmetics brand, which has notably had some ups and downs, it’s hard to imagine this superstar making low-quality videos in her bedroom. Nevertheless, even Hill had to start somewhere. In her first video from 2011, we get a glimpse of the beauty YouTuber before she made it big — and the star certainly looks different. While some fans have attributed her changed looks to plastic surgery, Hill denied this on Twitter in 2019, saying that her face changed as a result of weight gain. She added, “Can you guys please stop body shaming!” Good for her for speaking out against harsh beauty standards!
In March 2020, Hill took to Twitter again to announce that she was taking a break from YouTube to prioritize her mental and physical health. She explained, “I am currently spending 6-8 hours a day with doctors, IV’s & therapists because I am determined to get back to where I need to be.” It seems that 2020 was Hill’s year for a healthy transformation.
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