Beauty blogging is not a new thing. For years, make-up artists and experts have posted tutorials, hints and tips online to the ever-expanding market of young female readers. In the past few years, however,YouTube has taken on a life of it’s own, replacing the humble make-up tutorial with video equivalents, beauty hauls, and has given readers an altogether more personal experience. Whilst the market of YouTubers is still dominated by the professional make-up artists, there’s a select few who break through and attract a mass following, despite no formal make-up artist training. Estée is22 years old, and started her channel Essiebutton in 2011. She’s never studied beauty or make-up (in fact, she’s mid-way through a Psychology degree) yet her channel has attracted over 120,000 subscribers.
Estée’s background is a little different to the traditional beauty blogger. Born and raised in Canada, it wasn’t until she met her boyfriend online that Estée upped sticks and moved to London. “We’d been talking online for a year, and the whole time I’d been thinking about whether I’d move to England. In the end it was an easy decision to make, but it wasn’t an easy transition” she admits, and has spoken in previous videos about her difficult first few months in England. “When I moved up here, I had a lot of time to myself. I stumbled across the world of beauty blogs, and I thought that’d be a great way to fill time and make friends” and so in March 2011,Estée started up her blog.
Essiebutton started as a beauty and lifestyle blog, a daily outlet for Estée to post about her favourite make-up and skincare products, as well as a few lifestyle posts; often recipes or photos from days out in and around London. It wasn’t until her blog became relatively established that she decided to join on the community of beauty ‘gurus’ on YouTube. “I’d always been obsessed with beauty” she begins, “I was blogging for three months before I started doing YouTube videos, and I was really nervous to start because I was watching girls who were really professional and I knew I couldn’t be like that, I swear a lot!” These ‘professional’ videos were recorded and uploaded by channels like PixiWoo and TanyaBurr, that are run by trained make-up artists.The videos that Estée and a lot of other YouTubers make are a bit more personal, and stray away from the ‘guru’ image that’s attached to many beauty channels. “My first video was fifteen minutes long, and it was about three make-up brushes” she says, “I really didn’t know what I was talking about, it was so boring!”
Since that first video, Estée’s youtube channel has gained over100,000 subscribers, and 4 million views. She wasn’t an overnight success,though. Like many of the more popular and successful channels, Estée’s fanbase was slow-burning. “I get a lot of emails saying ‘how do I get views’ and they don’t realise that I’ve been doing it for three years, it’s not like it was an instant overnight thing!” she insists, and is the first to admit that as many lovely and flattering comments she gets, there’s always a few mean ones.
The anonymous nature of the internet means that hatefulor nasty comments can be posted without filtering, and YouTube is one of the top offenders. “In all the mean comments I get, like ‘you think you’re all that now’ people are downright mean! The comments don’t bother me because they don’t know me, but they can be really horrible.” Estée’s channel has also received an unexpected backlash from parents, “I get emails from mums saying ‘You said the F-word and now my daughter’s saying it’ but I don’t look at myself as a role model. It really makes you censor yourself.”
There’s also a stigma attached to blogs and channels thatare sent PR samples for free, something which Estée understands “I can appreciate why people don’t trust some of the reviews, but I can’t go out and buy all the new collections each week! If I get sent products and they’re shit, I don’t want to put them on my blog! People don’t see the emails I send saying ‘Thank-you for that foundation, but I got a head to toe rash, so I won’t be featuring it’” The ethical side of having such influence over her readers affects Estée too, “I don’t want to say that I really like something, then have my 14 year old viewers save up all their money and go to space NK to buy it! That’s not what I’m about.”
Despite finding out quite early on that she could forge a career from YouTubing, Estée insists that it was never about that for her, and she doesn’t live the flashy, glamorous lifestyle that so many bloggers seem to. “I don’t go out, ever! If I get some money, instead of buying a top or a camera, I’ll buy a blush! I’ve been collecting make-up since I was about 15. It’s my passion” and despite her success on both YouTube and as a blogger, Estée has other ideas for her future.“I’ve always liked the idea of being school councillor. I’d like something that I can be creative and have fun with. Or actually my dream job is a travel journalist, I know everyone says that but I’d love that!”
The carefree, humble and self-deprecating attitude of Estée, both in person and in her videos, is what attracts so many viewers, and allowed her to meet and befriend so many of her fellow bloggers. “I felt so lonely when I moved here, and when I actually started finding a common interest, that was brilliant. It’s like we have a bond. All of my friends are from the internet, and making these videos and going to these blogger events has really been the best way for me to make such close friends.”