Feel poor yet?
YouTube beauty guru and cosmetics mogul Jeffree Star was named as one of the highest-paid YouTube stars by Forbes this week, coming in at number five on the ranking. Star was the only beauty guru on the list as well as the only queer person — of the top 10, most of the high earners were gamers or stuntmen. There were no women to be found.
Star’s earnings were estimated at $18 million, although the revenue isn’t solely from social media—in the Shane Dawson docuseries about him, Star calls his YouTube cash “play money”. Most of the former Myspace icon’s earnings come from Jeffree Star Cosmetics, the brand he co-founded in 2014, which sells an estimated $100 million annually, according to Forbes. That’s a lot of lipstick.
Star maintains complete control over his e-commerce brand, packing and shipping every item from his own warehouses in California. He also owns a merchandise business that supplies t-shirts and other accoutrement for other YouTubers. A former musician from the Warped Tour days, his music still likely brings in coin — his single “Love to My Cobain” has over 1.6 million streams on Spotify.
Star has long been a controversial figure: videos of him shouting racist slurs are readily available online, a topic he addressed for the first time in 2017. While he has in many ways been publicly absolved by consumers and many of his industry colleagues, accusations of racism and shady behavior continue to plague him. His former hair stylist Daved Anthony Munoz went on Snapchat to expose Star’s use of racial insults in text messages this past September. The incident, in which he allegedly called fellow beauty guru Jackie Alina a “gorilla,” spurred Alina to denounce Star’s “blatantly racist behavior” again.
In October beauty influencer Thomas Halbert claimed that Star had used racial slurs in front of him during a meeting at Star’s home, which resulted in stans finding Halbert’s own questionable tweets. On top of all of this, Star has a knack for losing friends: in the past year he’s had public falling outs with transgender beauty guru Nikita Dragun as well as Manny MUA and Laura Lee, both of whom later faced their own scandals thanks to Star’s fans dredging up problematic old tweets of theirs.
But in the world of beauty, drama often amounts to dollars. Star’s infamy only makes people more interested in him, as Shane Dawson chronicled in his five-part docuseries “The Secret World of Jeffree Star.” The series gave viewers an inside look into just how extravagant Star’s life actually is while also humanizing him, and his following has only increased since then. Love him or hate him, Star isn’t going anywhere — and his eyeshadow blends like a dream.