- On Friday, beauty vlogger Tati Westbrook announced the end of her longtime friendship with makeup artist James Charles in a YouTube video titled “Bye Sister.”
- The controversy is the latest in a string of scandals faced by the 19-year-old makeup artist throughout his career.
- In 2017, Charles faced his first major backlash when he joked about contracting the Ebola virus before visiting South Africa.
- He later received criticism for calling Ariana Grande the “rudest celebrity” he’s ever met and has been accused of editing his Instagram photos.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
James Charles is widely known as one of the biggest beauty vloggers on YouTube. But after a public feud with his longtime friend Tati Westbrook on Friday, Charles has lost millions of followers overnight.
However, this isn’t the first scandal Charles has found himself involved in. The 19-year-old makeup artist has actually faced a number of controversies online throughout his career.
For example, Charles faced widespread criticism after posting an offensive tweet about the Ebola virus in 2017. He’s also been accused of editing his Instagram photos, “manipulating” people, and describing influencers as a marginalized group.
From his first scandal in 2017 to his most recent feud, here’s a look back at the beauty mogul’s controversial past.
James Charles faced his first major backlash after joking about Ebola in February 2017.
On February 16, 2017, James Charles posted a now-deleted tweet in which he joked about contracting the Ebola virus while visiting South Africa. He shared the tweet shortly after being named CoverGirl’s first CoverBoy.
“‘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’….” Charles said on Twitter, according to The Cut.
Twitter users were quick to criticise the then 17-year-old, and called his message “stereotypical and degrading.”
According to Seventeen, Charles also began to block users who called him out, and shared a tweet in which he seemingly told himself to “block and move on james block and move on.”
The makeup mogul later said on Twitter that he was “extremely sorry” for his tweet, and was “aware” that his message was “extremely offensive and degrading.” He also referred to the continent of Africa as a country.
In September 2017, Charles found himself in a middle of a feud with cast members from the horror film “It.”
Seven months later on September 7, 2017, Charles wrote in a tweet that he was “excited” to see the film “It.” But, according to BuzzFeed, the makeup artist quickly changed his mind about the film, and called it “awful” and “predictable” in a series of now-deleted tweets.
Fans of the movie weren’t the only ones to disagree with his tweets. Finn Wolfhard, an actor who starred in “It,” also sent Charles a message over Twitter.
“Why are you on your phone in the movie theatre? Rule 1.” Wolfhard said on Twitter.
Charles also asked people on Twitter to “please shut up about using your phone during a movie,” as he felt that there were “more important things to worry about like, idk, the world ending.”
One month later, Charles was widely criticised for creating an “It”-inspired makeup tutorial on YouTube.
On October 8 2017, Charles uploaded a makeup tutorial titled “It Pennywise Glam Halloween Makeup Tutorial.” He opened the video saying, “I know everybody’s gonna say that this is the most hypocritical, ironic video of 2017 so far, and you’re probably right.”
“It would be way too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Charles continued. “Even though I personally did not enjoy the movie, Pennywise was the best.”
The following day, “It” actor Wyatt Oleff took to Twitter with a message that was seemingly about Charles, according to BuzzFeed.
“When you decide to exploit a movie that you hate for money & attention cause why not,” Oleff wrote on Twitter.
Charles faced backlash for calling Ariana Grande the “rudest celebrity” he’s ever met in March 2018.
On March 30, 2018, Charles uploaded a YouTube video in which vloggers Shane Dawson and Ryland Adams apply his makeup. Approximately 11 minutes into the video, Dawson asks Charles to name the rudest celebrity he’s ever met. He quickly replies, “Ariana Grande.”
“I haven’t really talked about it because I really like Ariana, I guess I just had a really crappy experience with her,” Charles said in his video.
According to Charles, the star followed him on Twitter, and exchanged direct messages with him following one of her concerts. But once fans called out Grande for following Charles in the midst of his “Ebola scandal,” the popstar unfollowed him so as to “not disappoint” her fans.
Grande’s fans immediately defended the star, according to Billboard, and said she did the right thing by unfollowing Charles.
Six months later, Charles found himself in another feud, this time with makeup mogul Marlena Stell.
YouTube’s beauty community saw tons of drama in August 2018, most notably between vloggers Jeffree Star, Manny MUA, Gabriel Zamora, Laura Lee, and Nikita Dragun.
Shortly after their feud subsided, Marlena Stell, the founder of the beauty brand Makeup Geek, took to Twitter on September 27, 2018. In a now-deleted tweet, she announced that she was working on a Netflix documentary about the beauty industry.
Charles responded to her tweet, saying, “Wait what?” He continued to tweet Netflix, saying he wanted to make an unbiased documentary “on the behind the scenes of the beauty industry and why the community is plummeting.”
Stell first responded to Charles by saying she was approached by Netflix, and that “it would be great” to hear from an influencer for her documentary. Charles, however, did not accept her response, and the feud continued for hours, according to Dazed Digital.
Leading up to the release of his first-ever makeup product, Charles was accused by fans of creating fake eye-shadow swatches.
James Charles announced his first-ever beauty product, the $US39 James Charles x Morphe eye-shadow palette, in a YouTube video on November 2, 2018.
While swatching a black shade named “Spooky,” Charles is seen swiping the shadow across his arm, and appears to do so over another layer that he applied previously. Fans noticed the second layer, and began questioning Charles on Twitter.
That same month, some fans said that pink shadows from the James Charles palette stained their eyelids and gave them hives.
According to the Twitter user, her eyelids were stained pink and broke out in hives after she applied the shade “Skip.”
“You should never, ever, ever try to promote a product that does this to another human being,” she yelled in her video.
Charles defended himself in a tweet, saying “most pinks, purples, & reds all stain certain skin types.”
“You accusing me of lying to fans & not caring about people is a ridiculous cry for attention,” Charles continued. “If you have hives, consult your dermatologist, not me for likes on Twitter.”
Kodeerants did not accept his response, writing on Twitter: “Your lack of sympathy for someone who was harmed by a product with your name on it is truly shocking.”
Some called the makeup artist a hypocrite after he destroyed a James Charles x Morphe palette — something he criticised another YouTuber for doing.
At the end of December 2018, a YouTube star named Lauren Godwin shared a video of her destroying a James Charles x Morphe eye-shadow palette to TikTok.
“There are people who can’t afford the palette, can’t get it because it’s sold out, or who have been scammed by knock offs,” Charles replied in a now-deleted tweet, according to We the Unicorns. “And she’s gonna buy one just to destroy for likes… on tiktok? this ain’t it sis.”
Godwin followed up with a YouTube video, in which she said she had no harsh feelings towards Charles, and even bought an extra palette to use. Charles then replied in a tweet where he apologised to Godwin, saying “it wasn’t that deep,” and that she shouldn’t receive hate.
A few days later, however, Charles appeared in a Jeffree Star YouTube video where the two makeup moguls are seen destroying makeup, including their own palettes. Many felt the video was hypocritical, and questioned Charles about it on Twitter.
In March 2019, Charles was accused by Reddit users of editing his Instagram photos.
According to Revelist, people on Reddit began to accuse Charles of “faking his skill level” in March, as many of his makeup looks are extremely refined and proportional.
While the makeup artist has frequently admitted to using the photo-editing app Facetune on his photos, people on Reddit claimed that Charles was taking his editing too far.
“Photoshop absolutely can be art,” Reddit user jimmyjrdanceparty wrote. “But when you’re selling yourself specifically as a makeup artist and you’re editing your makeup to the point where it’s clearly not your skills in the final product, that’s incredibly disingenuous.”
Charles was called out by people on social media for his use of the phrase “the house” in YouTube video.
On March 22, 2019, Charles uploaded a YouTube video in which he is seen applying his makeup in alphabetical order. He also uses the video to teach his followers the basics of “Sister Speech,” or the slang language he frequently uses.
When he gets to the letter “T,” Charles says it stands for a phrase called “the house.” Charles then says he learned the phrase from YouTuber Rich Lux, and defines “the house” as the “best way to put emphasis on anything.”
According to BuzzFeed, people on Twitter were quick to correct Charles, informing him that the phrase was meant to be “the house down,” rather than “the house,” and that it actually stems from drag culture, coming from the late drag performer Erica Andrews who created the phrase “the haus down boots.”
Charles was widely criticised for saying he’s not “full gay” because he’s been attracted to women and transgender men.
On April 12, 2019, Charles uploaded a YouTube video in which vlogger Jeff Witteck does his makeup. The two discuss dating and sexuality, among other topics, and at one point talk about the Kinsey Scale.
“So the Kinsey Scale is from like, zero to six,” Charles says to Witteck in his video. “Zero being like, completely straight, and six being like, completely gay. I truly believe the amount of people that are a flat-out zero, or flat-out six, is very, very small.”
When Charles says he would put himself on the scale at 5.5, Witteck replies, “So you’re not even full gay?”
Charles then says, “I mean, no. There have been girls in the past that I’ve thought have been really, really beautiful. There’s also been like, trans guys in the past too that I was really, really into for a moment in time.”
According to Nylon, the response from Charles upset many fans, who felt his answer was offensive, and discredited transgender men as “actual” men. Charles later apologised on Twitter.
After attending Coachella with Charles, YouTuber Gage Gomez accused the makeup artist of “manipulating” him.
Gage Gomez posted a YouTube video on April 29, 2019, in which he claims he was manipulated by Charles from January up until Coachella. Throughout his video, Gomez claims that Charles “pressured” him to hang out, and tried to “manipulate” him.
“James saw this as an opportunity to manipulate me as a person who may or may not have been trying to figure things out about their sexuality, after the fact that I told him I was straight multiple times,” Gomez says in his video.
Charles took to Twitter with a statement, in which he said Gomez “never” told him he was straight. Charles also claimed that Gomez was looking for “an opportunity” to spend time with influencers.
While attending the 2019 Met Gala, Charles was accused by fans of copying a red-carpet look worn by Zoë Kravitz — which he previously mocked.
On March 11, 2019, Charles was featured in one of Tana Mongeau’s YouTube videos in which the two “brutally roast celebrity fashion.”
When discussing the gold-and-black mesh ensemble Zoë Kravitz wore to the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, both Charles and Mongeau say they don’t know who she is, and rate her outfit a zero out of 10. Charles also says Kravitz looks like “she didn’t finish getting dressed.”
But while attending the 2019 Met Gala in May, Charles arrived wearing a similar outfit, which included a mesh top and black pants.
According to Revelist, many Twitter users pointed out similarities between the two outfits and were upset with Charles for wearing a style that was similar to one he previously mocked.
After the Met Gala, Charles was criticised yet again for talking about social-media influencers as if they were a marginalized group.
After attending his first Met Gala, Charles took to Instagram to share a photo from the event. In the caption of his photo, he thanked YouTube and Alexander Wang for inviting him to the ball.
“Being invited to such an important event like the ball is such an honour and a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst,” Charles wrote on Instagram.
According to Revelist, people on social media criticised Charles for seemingly describing influencers as a marginalized group, and felt that his caption was ignorant.
Arguably his biggest scandal to date occurred on Friday, when beauty vlogger Tati Westbrook publicly ended their friendship in a YouTube video.
On Friday, Westbrook released a 43-minute-long video explaining why she’s ended her friendship with the makeup mogul.
According to her video, titled “Bye Sister,” Charles “completely blindsided” her when he advertised Sugar Bear Hair vitamins on Instagram in April. The vitamin brand is the top competitor of Westbrook’s supplement company, Halo Beauty.
Westbrook also accused Charles of “manipulating someone’s sexuality.”
The video has been viewed more than 35 million times and has resulted in Charles losing millions of YouTube subscribers.
- YouTuber James Charles has lost nearly 3 million subscribers after his bitter beauty feud with Tati Westbrook
- One of the world’s biggest YouTubers is wading into the platform’s beauty war: PewDiePie says Tati Westbrook seems ‘manipulative’ in James Charles takedown
- The beauty YouTuber war is growing: Jeffree Star says James Charles is a ‘danger to society’ and has been banned from his home
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.