- Jeffree Star’s cosmetics company has raked in hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Forbes, making him powerful in the industry.
- He rose to fame with popular makeup vlogs on YouTube, and then launched his own cosmetics line.
- Before that, Star was a modestly successful MySpace musician. He’s one of the earliest internet celebrities.
- Star has been controversial for racist remarks he made more than a decade ago. He’s since apologised and championed cosmetics companies that create products for diverse consumers.
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Jeffree Star is one of the most polarising influencers on YouTube. He’s also one of the most powerful.
Star, whose real name is Jeffrey Lynn Steininger Jr., has been an internet celebrity for more than a decade now, and first achieved fame for dropping singles on MySpace. Now, he’s a mogul in the cosmetics industry with 16 million loyal YouTube subscribers.
Here is the story of Star’s rise to fame, from his early music career to YouTube celebrity.
Star first became passionate about makeup when he was 13 years old.
Star’s fascination with makeup began in his teenage years, when he obsessed over Cosmopolitan magazine and stole his mother’s eye shadow, he wrote on his beauty website. After graduating high school in 2002, he worked at several makeup counters and got jobs doing makeup work for weddings, celebrities, music videos, and fashion shoots.
In 2014, with a massive fanbase on YouTube, Star used his money to found Jeffree Star Cosmetics as an e-commerce business he controls.
Star first became famous on MySpace.
Star first gained notoriety for posting personal blogs and vlogs online. He quickly became an internet celebrity, garnering attention in as early as 2003 on MySpace.
He became well-known, in part, by the sheer force of his personality, and his unique androgynous image. In old videos and photos, he sported a look similar to what he’s now famous for: A shock of colourful hair, a lot of makeup and tattoos, and an unfiltered personality.
His outsized image got him fans, and he was particularly popular among outcast teens.
“A lot of people email me these crazy stories like, ‘Oh my dad is beating me, because I like dress different.’ And I will, like, write back to them some long reply and let them know that its OK to be different, you know?” he told LAist in 2008.
His blogs are now gone from his MySpace page, but the site still contains the other thing that made him famous: music.
Star had a mildly successful music career before he shifted to vlogging and makeup.
From the mid-2000s to early 2010s, Star spent most of his energy making emo-electronica music. His first song, “We Want C—,” had some viral success in 2005. He released the extended play “Plastic Surgery Slumber Party” in 2007 and his only studio album, “Beauty Killer,” in 2009.
It was around this time that Star transitioned from MySpace to YouTube, where he shared colourful music videos that highlighted his costuming and makeup talents.
He signed a record deal with Akon’s label in 2010, but never released a second album. In 2018, Star told Shane Dawson in an interview that personality clashes with Akon led him to quit making music in 2013.
“It was almost like they were dimming my light and they weren’t letting me be me,” he told Cosmopolitan.
Star’s was nakedly racist in his MySpace period. He’s since apologised.
In his early MySpace vlogs, Star frequently threw around racist slurs and said derogatory things about African-Americans and Mexicans. In 2017, after some of those videos resurfaced, he addressed them in a YouTube video and went on a media tour where he apologised and said he’d changed.
“It’s upsetting. It’s nasty. It makes me sick to my stomach to watch those old videos,” Star said. “I’m embarrassed as a person because that’s never what I stood for.”
In his more recent makeup vlogs on YouTube, Star has made a point of championing cosmetics brands that cater to darker skin tones,as Vox pointed out. His harsh review of a Tarte Cosmetics led the brand to expand its concealer shade range.
In 2014, Star founded his cosmetics company. It blew up.
By 2014, Star had posted a handful of videos on YouTube, most of which were focused on his music.
But he quickly began focusing his energies elsewhere. Star invested his life savings into a line of liquid lipstick he created under his new company: Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
“It was either this was gonna work out for me or I was gonna have to go back to the mall … and work at MAC again,” Star told Cosmopolitan. “It was probably the most scared I’ve been in my entire life.”
Star promoted the line with his own YouTube channel, and his then-friend, the celebrity tattoo and makeup artist Kat Von D. It was a sensation. All 30,000 units of the initial line sold out within a few minutes of launch, in November 2014, according to Cosmopolitan.
Star doesn’t drink.
Star’s vices don’t include alcohol or cigarettes, according to The List. He does, though, consume copious amounts of marijuana. Star lives in Los Angeles, where pot is legalised.
“I’ve never tried alcohol before which people don’t believe, I’ve just smoked weed,” he told Shane Dawson in an interview. “I’ve never tried coke, ecstasy, nothing. I’ve never sipped a beer, never tried wine, but I have a sweet tooth, so all that sugar really accelerated how f—ed my teeth were.”
In 2015, Star began a relationship with boyfriend Nathan Schwandt.
Schwandt – who is something of an internet celebrity in his own right, with 1.9 million Instagram followers – is a fixture of Star’s videos. Since they began dating in 2015, they have adopted five dogs and moved into a mansion in Calabasas, California.
Their relationship has spawned new business opportunities. The two are marijuana enthusiasts. In 2018, Star gave Schwandt a custom-made weed grinder as a gift. It was a hit among their fans, so Star replicated them and sold them on his site.
He’s also a car enthusiast. In July, Star sold their Bentley and bought him a $US155,000 vintage lime-green Aston Martin.
Star’s viral fights got him more attention.
In addition to talking up his own cosmetics in videos, Star reviewed other makeup lines. He could be savagely critical.
Star’s pugilistic attitude got him a lot of new followers, but it also cost him friends. He feuded with Kat Von D, as well as YouTubers likeManny MUA, Gabby Zamora, Laura Lee, and Nikita Dragun.
But these reviews and fights also bolstered Star’s own position in YouTube’s beauty space. Star became a divisive – and popular – figure.
Star’s racist past caused a rift between him and Kim Kardashian-West.
Since they both inhabit the cosmetics industry, Star and Kardashian-West were bound to meet – and clash. Their interactions were initially positive, with Star offering harsh but helpful criticism of her KKW products.
Some of Kardashian-West’s fans, though, didn’t forgive Star for the racist comments he’d made early in his career. They assailed Kardashian-West whenever she defended him on Snapchat.
“Guys, I see you being so petty, bringing up things in his past… but he’s also apologised for those things. I get it’s a serious deal if you say racial things, but I do believe in people changing, and people that apologise,” Kardashian-West said in 2017. “I will give them the benefit of the doubt and accept that you know people change and move on.”
When her fans blamed her for defending someone who said racist things, Kardashian changed her view and said she was wrong to defend Star.
“I really wanted to apologise to you guys and my fans for defending a situation yesterday that I really didn’t know enough about,” she said shortly after her defence. “I just feel a bit naive and I do want to really apologise for me feeling like I had the right to say ‘get over it’ in a situation that involves racism and I just don’t really feel like I have the right to speak on that.”
In his own statements, Star just urged everyone to get over the whole controversy.
“Every news and media outlet in the world has emailed and called my office all day asking me for a Kim. K quote.. Please f— off,” Star wrote in a series of tweets. “THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS 2 WORRY ABOUT.”
Jeffree Star Cosmetics reportedly sold $US100 million worth of makeup in 2018.
Despite – or perhaps because of – Star’s feuds, he and his cosmetics brand has exploded in popularity.
In 2018, Star’s friend and fellow YouTube celebrity Shane Dawson made a documentary series, “The Secret World of Jeffree Star,”about Star’s life, career, and financial success. The success of the series only raised Star’s profile. Dawson is currently working on a second season, to be released later this year.
The series also revealed just how expansive Star’s business empire is. In addition to his cosmetics company, Star owns a shipping and fulfillment centre and a merchandising company and has investments in marijuana businesses and real estate.
Star made $US18 million in 2018, according to Forbes, enough for the No. 5 spot on the list of highest-paid YouTube stars. His company sells $US100 million worth of products annually, according to Forbes.
In March, Star’s warehouse was robbed.
In a YouTube video published in April, Star revealed that burglars had ransacked his warehouse and stolen $US2.5 million worth of cosmetics – including every unit of an entire shade of concealer. Star hadn’t even announced the product yet, but the items ended up being sold on third-party sites like Facebook marketplace.
“One of my stock and shipping facility warehouses was broken into and over $US2.5 million of product was stolen from me,” Starr said. “This is the biggest theft I have ever experienced in my entire career. This is my biggest hit as a brand. I am still shocked about the entire thing.”
Star said police were investigating the incident, and that insurance covered the stolen goods. He plans to officially release his new line later this year.
Star became involved with another beauty influencer feud.
In May, YouTube’s beauty community was torn asunder with a feud between influencers James Charles and Tati Westbrook. Westbrook accused Charles of betraying her trust and manipulating straight men – accusations that Charles rejected.
Star got involved, saying his boyfriend banned Charles from their home. A cosmetics retail site he co-owns also temporarily stopped stocking Charles’s products.
Star ultimately walked back on his comments. In June, Charles made his products available on a cosmetics distribution site that isn’t owned by Star.
Star is a frequent critic of Kylie Jenner’s popular skincare line.
Kylie Cosmetics has made 22-year-old Kylie Jenner the wealthiest member of the Jenner-Kardashian family. But Star isn’t impressed.
In July, he called one of her releases “a complete joke” and “basically a money grab.”
“I’d rather save millions of people money than letting them be ripped off by a celebrity,” he wrote on Instagram.
In an earlier video, he gave Jenner’s makeup a mixed review, saying they were basic and ultimately overpriced.
Star is now being featured in another Shane Dawson documentary.
Dawson, Star’s friend, made a follow-up to his 2018 docuseries on Star. This one, titled “The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star,” covers Star’s growth as a celebrity and beauty mogul, and includes more of his thoughts on the explosive drama that frequently ricochets through YouTube’s cosmetics community.
The first episode of the nine-part series showed a look into Star’s lucrative, high-flying lifestyle. Star travels with an entourage that includes an armed security guard.
- Read more:
- Beauty mogul Jeffree Star says his guards are armed and ‘shoot to kill’ in Shane Dawson’s new YouTube documentary
- Why the beauty community on YouTube is one of the most turbulent and drama-filled places on the internet
- Jeffree Star has come under fire from some customers and other YouTubers who say his mystery boxes are disappointing
- A complete timeline of James Charles and Tati Westbrook’s explosive feud that tore their relationship apart
- YouTube influencer Jeffree Star says burglars cut through the roof of his warehouse and ransacked $US2.5 million in makeup