how male vloggers of color are turning the beauty industry on its head
These young men represent a little-seen but vital perspective on gender, race, and yes, make-up.
CoverGirl made headlines this year for hiring its first-ever CoverBoy, blogger and makeup artist James Charles. With only a handful of male beauty brand ambassadors preceding him, this was an exciting moment for the male make-up community. Unfortunately, after only months of representing the company, he made a comment on Twitter that enraged social media. Right before a school trip to South Africa, the 17-year-old tweeted: "'I can't believe we're going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola?' 'James we're fine we could've gotten it at chipotle last year…'" Despite the fiery reactions after apologies from both James and CoverGirl, he still remains their CoverBoy. The situation draws attention to the continued whitewashing of the beauty industry, and the need for greater diversity in our role models. While it's great to use talent across the gender spectrum, beauty brands must use an intersectional approach to represent faces and voices of all colors and backgrounds. The many remarkable male beauty vloggers of color are needed more than ever.
From teaching viewers how to contour with a darker complexion to speaking candidly about abandoning Western-centric beauty stands, brown and black beauty bloggers are creating content the internet has never shown before. They speak to audiences who don't often see themselves portrayed in the media. Slowly but surely, they are being recognized by the establishment—like L'Oréal Paris hiring Gary Thompson, AKA The Plastic Boy, as their first black male campaign star—but for every one boy beauty blogger of color there are an infinite number of white faces staring back at us from magazine advertisements. Here are six of the many, many black and brown make-up vloggers out there with enough talent and creativity to land a major beauty campaign—and hopefully, it's just a matter of time before the industry catches on.
Bretman Rock is a Filipino-born, Hawaiian-raised teen sitting on a soon-to-be beauty empire. His 7.5 million Instagram followers and 1.3 million YouTube subscribers know him for his wildly hilarious make-up guides, stunning features, and crease cutting ability. As a skilled self-taught make-up artist who exudes light and exuberance in his videos, Rock's follower count is evidence enough that the world wants and needs brown boy visibility.
The Nigerian-Brit behind the beauty and lifestyle vlog Damilola isn't just dishing out expert eyebrow tutorials and the intimate details of his skincare routine (both of which will change you deeply)—he also speaks very candidly about the specific experience of being a gay African man in London. Usually accompanied by a panel of his friends, Adejonwo talks homophobia in the UK, abuse and jealousy within gay relationships, and make-up as it intersects with black queerness.
If we can learn anything from Alan Macias of the beauty channel Alannized—other than how to get a highlight so good it will blind your enemies—it's that make-up is genderless. The beauty and lifestyle vlogger is equally as likely to walk you through his everyday glam look as he is to talk about his experiences as a gay Latino teen. His videos are nothing short of sweet, conversational, and packed with creative looks that seasoned make-up bloggers can salivate over—plus, he recently launched a Spanish YouTube channel where he plans to translate his videos from English and provide some original Latin-centric content.
Marc Zapanta has an encyclopedic knowledge of make-up. His beauty hauls and product reviews are so in-depth, he will become your guide to testing and trying out make-up you're nervous to splurge on. As a result, the Filipino-Brit is so transformative with his look, every Instagram photo seems like a different ethereal being—gender being an ever-fluid part of his identity and appearance. While Zapanta identifies as a man (his Instagram bio proclaiming, "Proudly a lad"), he looks equally as stunning with a full beard and winged liner as he does in a lilac wig with a matching lip.
The self-proclaimed "Tattooed Pretty Boy" of Beauty YouTube, Atlanta's own Stahr Milan is masculine-presenting and next-level glam with an unbelievable glow (explained in great detail in his "Black Radiance Makeup Tutorial" video). One scroll through his Instagram and you'll be desperate for his eyebrow routine—but don't worry, he has a video for that. Milan's skillful hand is only matched by his hilarious commentary on life, when he talks freely about wanting to break up with his boyfriend and how annoying his roommate can be.
Honolulu-based beauty blogger Zachary Domingo, a.k.a. Barbiegutz, is on the verge of 18 with over 300,000 Instagram followers and a taste for make-up that is fiercely on-trend, yet uniquely his own (like when he teaches viewers how to properly contour...using a knife). He is a queer brown teen whose follower count proves that space for people of color in the beauty industry is both necessary and welcomed by many—with or without the acknowledgement of beauty brands. He is also close friends with and a huge supporter of Bretman Rock, occasionally taking photos and filming beauty videos together—and telling from the number of views, their followers cannot get enough.
Text Sara Tardiff
Still via Stahr Milan's YouTube