Around a month ago, Marlena Stell announced the end of Makeup Geek, one of YouTube’s first influencer brands.
Founded in 2012, the brand became synonymous with names such as MAC and Inglot, offering its own range of single eyeshadows (in addition to brushes and other basics). In 2015, Forbes revealed it was on track to hit the INC 500 list. Things looked even brighter in 2018, when after a rebrand it launched in Target.
So what on Earth happened?
Well, apparently COVID happened – something which also caused BECCA to shut down in 2021. It quietly exited Target stores, and some time later, Marlena Stell announced the news on YouTube.
In conjunction with the shut down, Makeup Geek commenced a 40 percent off sale, which I took advantage of.
Knowing this is my last Makeup Geek purchase is a bittersweet moment. I, like many people, found Makeup Geek – the brand and Marlene Stell’s Youtube channel of the same name – invaluable during YouTube’s infancy. I obsessively watched these videos for hours, excitedly trying the techniques out myself, and when my small makeup collection didn’t suffice, running to Target to buy more makeup.
In the 2000s, most beauty tutorials came from TV shows, makeup courses, or magazines. I opted for Japanese magazines, since it accommodated my Asian eye shape.
But being able to access the plethora of videos posted by Marlena opened up a world of possibilities: Accessing information previously made available through makeup courses, demystifying makeup products, and more importantly, helping people use makeup creatively.
How many people would still struggle to use makeup had it not been for the YouTube beauty community, and teachers such as Marlena Stell?
As much as I criticize the beauty industry, I’ll give credit where it’s due: Youtubers revolutionized the teaching of makeup. And Marlena Stell continued this through the creation of Makeup Geek, the brand, where the products were specifically geared towards makeup artistry. It didn’t cater to fleeting trends or gimmicks, a problem that dominates the beauty industry today.
But this could also explain the untimely shutdown of Makeup Geek. Although COVID-19 has wrecked havoc on many businesses, most fast beauty brands continue to thrive. Revolution Beauty, for instance, continues to perform well in Target. Capitalizing off trends and creating shorter release cycles have been key strategies for fast beauty brands that Makeup Geek didn’t utilize.
Was this a bad idea? For sustaining a beauty brand in an oversaturated market, probably. But you could argue Makeup Geek fostered a much closer knit community and a cult following thanks to Marlena Stell’s decade-long history in YouTube’s beauty community. NikkieTutorials, one of YouTube’s biggest makeup personalities, even credits Marlena Stell for helping her out during her channel’s infancy.
Nothing similar can be said about brands such as Colourpop, Revolution Beauty, or SheGlam. These brands, although popular, fill up drawers worldwide with cheap makeup, but little else.
Alas, the golden era of YouTube’s beauty community continues to fade away.