Health & Beauty

Are beauty vloggers damaging teen self-esteem?

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As an only child, I once relied on Shout magazine when I was a teenager to provide me with some guidance on make-up, which only an older sister could provide. Without the role of an older sibling or a mother who was fond of cosmetics, I remember trying to trowel on streaky orange foundation, leaving me resembling what could only look like a young Pat Butcher or a bag of cement. Nowadays, with millions of beauty vloggers online, bedroom beauty tutorials seem to be becoming one of Britain’s fastest-growing industries.

The most prosperous British beauty vloggers have become significant businesswomen in their own right. Popular vloggers such as duo, ‘Pixiwoo’ – make-up artists – Sam and Nic Chapman – have more than 200 million views on their YouTube site. Their protégé, Zoella, aka Zoe Sugg, has just fewer than five million subscribers watching her weekly vlog posts.

The 14 year-old me would have constantly indulged in vlogger heaven. I might have even been detained at school for not doing my homework, but at least my eyelids wouldn’t have been electric blue (which they usually were). Yet, the 21-year old me can see that paying such close attention to beauty, and the way our faces look, is a double-edged sword.

For all of the helpful advice beauty vloggers offer, such as the art of applying make-up tastefully, I wonder whether feeling confident with make-up is lifting the self-esteem of the millions of young girls out there who watch the videos. Or on the other hand, I want to know whether teens feel as though they can’t afford to compete with the vloggers, who are using cosmetics even the Queen of Sheba would struggle to afford.

It’s true that these beauty enthusiasts do help to teach young girls the importance of a proper skin care regime. At the start of my teenage years I would have idolised a beauty enthusiast to teach me the importance of taking my make-up off properly. I used to think a make-up wipe was an adequate technique for foundation removal – which would cleanse my face from daily impurities – but now I know wipes are for bums only!

I feel that through the use of interactivity, vloggers are a great medium for answering questions and queries that masses of teens may have. Em Ford, aka MyPaleSkin vlogger made a poignant video about her time being trolled after revealing her acne-ridden skin online. Titled, ‘You look disgusting’ the vlogger received over one million views on the homemade video, which helped other teens to embrace their true skin types on social media and in their day-to-day-lives.

But these benefits come at a price.

A quick look at the beauty vlogs on YouTube, reveal that many vloggers use high-end products that cost a small fortune. On one video the products that Irish vlogger, Lauren Curtis used came to a grand total of £127, which is extortionate for anybody who is in their teens or late twenties still in education.

The explicit use of Michael Todd, Mac, Chanel and Clinque are enough to break the bank individually let alone to be used as a foursome for just a morning skin care routine. Nevertheless, these products might well be the best on the high street and we are seeking advice from real girls who have tried and tested these products with an impartial view.

However, these vloggers are ultimately advertising an idealistic amalgamation of expensive products, and not something full-time students could or maybe would want to use.

Maybe popular vloggers have just lost touch with the reality of life on the ground for the average teen. They may have started off making videos in their bedrooms for a hobby, but now it’s a big business. YouTube vloggers make on average $0.001 per video hit – and with Zoella’s channel averaging 22 million video views a month that works out a £15,000 monthly cheque. How come we have to pay £25.00 for a Nars eye shadow duo but Zoella has the right to charge £20,000 a pop to promote a product in her videos?

The knock on effect is that someone who could probably buy out Coco Chanel is advising schoolgirls which make-up brands to buy. We’re a nation with an out of control credit card habit, so it’s not exactly wise to encourage 18-year-old students to crave Laura Mercier and Dior when they just about stretch to a Rimmel lip-liner on their minimum wage pot washing job.

Yet crave them they will, one of the biggest challenges at school is keeping up with the latest fad from handbags to shoes. Now with added pressure highlighting the goods in your make-up bag, I wonder if beauty vloggers are helping young girls with their make-up buys or whether these individuals are simply making teenagers feel inadequate if their favourite foundation is under £10.

I feel as though vloggers have had a snowball effect on one another. Instead of promoting individuality, hundreds of vloggers are teaching girls that conformity is best. Take the latest trend, contouring for example – this is where light and dark crèmes or powders are used to give shape to an area of the face to enhance the facial construction, such as a powerhouse jaw and cheekbones. Until now it was a beauty secret that nobody was aware of other than the professionals.

In 2015, however, the likes of Kim Kardashian-West and her younger sister, Kylie Jenner have launched video apps that emphasise their contour regimes. Yet nobody see’s how the dark and light shades being used are ultimately creating an unrealistic image of defined facial features. It seems these influential celebrities and bloggers have really had a knock-on effect with their fans and it has suddenly become a fad overnight. We should be experimenting with make-up, and trying to suppress the uniformity. It seems vloggers have turned us all into little contouring clones that have a quivering pout like Patsy Stone.

It would be great if one vlogger turned around and addressed that contouring doesn’t look natural. But instead we are ultimately teaching influential teens that they need to try and make their noses look slimmer to compete with celebs that are surgery ridden.

Vloggers with their ‘to die for’ good looks (let’s face it, you’ve never seen a butt ugly one), teamed with expensive products promotes the idea that you have to spend to a copious amount of money to look at your best. But sometimes the old clichés really do ring true. Beauty is on the inside, so my sincere apologies, Kylie bloody Jenner.

Words by Carly Roberts

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Jess is your Deputy Editor

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