Even if you’re a stranger to makeup, there’s still a good chance you’ve heard of Jeffree Star: an internet beauty guru with over 15 million subscribers on YouTube. If not for his cosmetics line or his music, perhaps for his numerous online feuds with celebrities and other beauty influencers. I find that he’s one of the most outspoken and fascinating people on the web today.
As far as internet celebrities go, he’s a pioneer, having gotten his start on MySpace back in the mid 00s. At one point, Jeffree was the most followed person on the platform, which led him to launch a music career, eventually signing with Akon under Konvict Muzik. He was dubbed “the next Lady Gaga”.
Despite the success and the hype, Jeffree suddenly left the music industry and severed ties with Akon (who was facing his own legal issues at the time) embarking on a bit of a hiatus from the spotlight.
In 2014, Jeffree founded his own makeup company, Jeffree Star Cosmetics and used his preexisting internet fame and YouTube channel to promote it and reinvent himself in the beauty industry. In 2018, Forbes Magazine named Jeffree the 5th highest paid YouTuber, with his channel earning above $18 million in one year. Today his net worth is over $50 million.
Jeffree has proven himself to be a prolific businessperson, but what I love most about him is his creativity. Jeffree is a master of marketing and coming up with innovative ways to sell his products. When it comes to Jeffree Star Cosmetics, you’re not just getting a box of makeup, you’re getting an experience; a piece of art. But who is Jeffree Star behind all that?
Jeffree Star grew up in Orange County, California and was born Jeffrey Lynn Steininger Jr. His father committed suicide when he was just six years old, which left his mother alone to raise him. As a kid, Jeffree already began experimenting with his mother’s makeup.
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✨ THE GLOW UP IS REAL!!!!! ✨ Flashback to 7th grade….. I was scared to be myself. I was scared of expressing myself. Until one day I woke up and decided to live for ME. To follow my dreams…That little kid who first discovered makeup and never turned back. 💗 And yes, I definitely grew into my face but them cheek bones have always been cutting sharp 🔪 #glowup #jeffreestarcosmetics
In junior high, he managed to convince his mother to let him wear makeup to school. After high school, Jeffree moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a makeup artist and model and used a fake ID to get into high end Hollywood clubs. It was there that celebrities took notice of Jeffree and began hiring him to do their makeup privately.
Around this time, MySpace became a major thing and Jeffree began to use it to propel his music career forward and also to ignite a social commentary about men wearing makeup. His confidence and awareness of self-image at that time already began to attract people into his world.
In 2009, Jeffree announced publicly that he identifies as Androgynous. He told Out Magazine in an interview: “I think everyone doesn’t know what Jeffree Star is — like are you a man, are you a girl? What are you trying to be? And at the end of the day I’m just all about pro-expression.”
Although men wearing makeup is not an uncommon thing today, during the MySpace days Jeffree was basically alone out there. He was certainly one of the most high profile men wearing makeup at the time and this brought him a lot of attention- both good and bad.
When people achieve the level of success that Jeffree has now, it’s easy to forget that things weren’t always shiny and glamorous for that person. Back in the day, Jeffree received a lot of hate for wearing makeup and appearing androgynous and still does to this day.
Drudging Up The Past
I don’t want to spend too much time on this topic, but I do feel it’s important to mention it for one reason. As more and more people gravitated towards Jeffree on account of his successful businesses and his charismatic personality, things from his past began to surface that he was not so proud of.
One of those things had to do with a satirical video that Jeffree made well over a decade ago, in which he made some racist comments that he has since apologised for. He did so by posting a video on his YouTube channel discussing ad nauseam how he condemns those remarks and how they don’t represent his views today at all.
According to Jeffree, that time in his life was an extremely low point. He was suffering from depression, anger and anxiety all caused by being a visible, outspoken, androgynous and makeup-wearing man in an age of nonacceptance.
He goes on to reveal how much backlash he was receiving at that time for just simply existing; from strangers degrading him by using words like ‘faggot’ and ‘freak’ to spitting on him. He states that although it’s gotten much better since then, he still receives hate regularly from strangers telling him to kill himself.
I think it’s vital to realize here that although racism is never justified, to me it makes sense why a person who feels disenfranchised might, during a low point, try to degrade someone else, especially someone who also belongs to an underprivileged minority group – it’s an “easy” target.
Which brings me to the reason that I brought this up: If you’re being hated on all the time, it must be incredibly challenging to not reciprocate that hate. Ultimately yes, you have to hold an individual responsible for their own actions, but if we as a society don’t look at the bigger picture and try to understand where animosity and hatred come from, we won’t make any progress.
Jeffree Star Cosmetics
Jeffree’s eponymous cosmetics line has blossomed into one of the pillars of the beauty industry. His eye shadow palettes are brimming with super pigmented and bright colours yet interspersed with many wearable and neutral tones. On top of those, he’s got highlighters, lip gloss, concealer, to name a few and of course his signature hand mirrors that he uses in the intro of every one of his YouTube videos-” Hi, how are ya?”
In November, Jeffree will release a much anticipated collab with fellow YouTuber and friend Shane Dawson. The Conspiracy Palette is set to drop on November 1st and is being preceded by a weekly docu-series made by Shane and released on his YouTube channel.
I really didn’t touch on Jeffree and Shane’s friendship much yet, but it’s important to mention in the story of Jeffree Star. About a year ago, Shane released a documentary entitled, “The Secret World of Jeffree Star” which went extremely viral, currently having over 44 million views. This documentary has been pivotal for Jeffree since his controversial reputation has always preceded him. This was really the first moment where people were able to see and fall in love with another side of him.
The new series entitled “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star” is already underway with an installment having been released every Friday for the last two weeks. In this series, Jeffree invites Shane, who has become one of his closest friends, to sit at the table of Jeffree Star Cosmetics and develop his very own makeup palette in an exclusive partnership with Morphe Cosmetics.
The hype around Shane and Jeffree’s palette is really insane and for good reason. They’re both super creative people, but the way Jeffree has managed pull out Shane’s particular talent for branding and creating a palette is quite genius. That combined with Shane’s unique cinematographic perspective and sense of humour makes for some remarkable content. If you haven’t already, I would seriously recommend checking out this series.
So that’s my intro in the world of Jeffree Star. Let me know down in the comments below what you think of the polarizing makeup mogul and whether or not you’ll be buying the new Jeffree x Shane Conspiracy palette.