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Jeffree Star, the beloved MySpace musician turned beauty vlogger turned makeup entrepreneur, made headlines last month when he very publicly called out Kylie Jenner's new lip gloss wands for their terrible quality.
Star's calling them "unacceptable" led to Jenner's promise that her customers would receive new applicators, a true feat. But Star isn't done with Jenner — or the rest of the digital beauty crowd.
In Las Vegas on Thursday night, where a large group of Instagram and YouTube influencers and beauty editors were gathered for a makeup launch, Racked caught up with Star. He talked about his Twitter beef with Kylie, his own forthcoming products, and what it's like to be a "beauty boy." (Manny Gutierrez, aka MannyMUA, wandered in half way through the conversation with a few of his own thoughts.)
You made a huge statement when you criticized Kylie's lip gloss. Did you ever end up talking to her or did she reach out to you?
If the product didn't suck, I wouldn't have anything to say. I was just being honest and I had no idea it was going to get so big. I was just giving my honest review. She tweeted me some half-ass response like "I care about the industry too" with a heart and I was like you didn't address anything I said. Typical. [Ed. note: Her exact tweet was "I have the same passion."]
Do you think she spent enough time researching the formulas for all her lip products?
No. I can already say no without you finishing the sentence. No. She found a lab that makes a $5 formula and they're called Colourpop. [Ed. note: This is a common theory, though it's never been officially confirmed or denied. She has been seen on social media in the lab with the founder of Colourpop.] They gave her the same exact one with her name on it and charged $20 more. I'm bored. [laughs]
So what are the challenges of being an indie makeup brand right now?
I think if you're an indie brand you have to try harder. There isn't corporate America and a bunch of investors behind me telling me what to do. So it's definitely harder to find stuff that no one's done before or color palettes that no one's done before. Now I have highlighters and eye shadows coming out. When I approached that, I wanted to make a formula that no one had done before. Top of the line. A lot of indie brands go cheap on the formula.
How do you get the labs to work with you?
Thankfully I have a lot of money to invest in my own brand. I took a lot of my own money, so now that the liquid lipsticks have blown up so big, I'm investing in top of the line products so people will respect me and I won't be a little one trick pony.
You often run out of your most popular colors.
That's the problem.
Why does it take so long and how many can you make at a time?
Manufacturing makeup takes a lot longer than people think. Huge brands have the funds in the beginning to order a huge amount. Now I'm ordering a million per color and it's just still not enough. It's insane. It's been a big growing pain, but I'm trying my best.
Were people getting pissed off at you?
Yes. People get mad that they can't have it right away.
So you have highlighters and eye shadows coming out. Are you moving away from lips? Do you think the liquid lipstick thing is going to end soon?
I get asked that all the time. It's going so strong. I just put out two new colors a few weeks ago and it was sold out in like 27 minutes. So liquid lips are not going anywhere. I know a lot of people think they are, but I'm also making stick lipsticks later in the summer. But highlighters first then my eye shadow palette.
So are the highlighters coming in different colors?
Yep. This is one of them. [Here he sucks in his cheeks and turns his head; it was very shiny.] So there are a lot of weird colors that no one's ever done before, like mint green and baby blue and then I'm also doing all the safe colors for every skin tone like peach and silver and gold.
I saw that you tested the Prism rainbow highlighter.
I liked it a lot! I don't know the founder. I bought it as a fan and a customer and I reviewed it and the video is almost at two million views in a week. It's crazy. I didn't know it was gonna be that big.
Is there a sense of competition? Because there are new brands popping up all the time.
Yes. My formula speaks for itself and at the end of the day most people that have brands are females, so being a male that wears full makeup I kind of have the upper hand. [laughs] It's different. It's easier to stick out than the average brand.
[Manny Gutierrez wanders over.]
So a lot of YouTubers and Instagrammers get paid by brands to promote products. How can you tell who's getting paid and who's genuinely a fan of what they're using?
JS: Most of the time they are [getting paid]. I don't do that.
MG: I'm very open about it. I've done one sponsored video in two years. You have to find the content creators that you love and that you trust and people who are honest with you; I'm not against sponsored content if it's genuine.
JS: And if you like it.
MG: Like the frickin' tea!
JS: You know all those girls who are like, "Drink this tea and lose weight!" and then they get a few grand a month? I don't believe in that. You can tell if someone is genuine. Manny has a lot of affiliate codes, but he loves the brands he works with and he has a real relationship and he uses the products and actually likes them. Not to be catty but a lot of smaller people do it for some quick cash and it just comes out wrong. So work hard, be genuine and be yourself..
MG: And be honest. You cannot produce all this false content or people are going to see right through it.
So boys in beauty got a big shoutout from Marie Claire this week. Are more reaching out to you?
JS: A hundred percent. There are a lot of guys who are finally having confidence. When I was 18 wearing makeup everyone was like, "What the hell?" Now it's a lot more acceptable. I think in the last ten years we've come a long way, so it's cool that more people can be creative and be themselves and not feel like I'm gonna get my ass beat. Now there are people like Manny coming up so strong and so artistic, I gravitate to people like that who are just real. There are a lot of people who are just doing it for the wrong reasons or they want to get famous overnight. I can see through that and I can see genuine people — that's why we started getting really close.
What kind of comments do you get in public?
MG: I will get comments here and there and I get stares. The stares happen more than the comments do.
JS: But there's a lot of love and we have a lot of fans, too.
MG: People recognize us. I've never really experienced anyone say anything like, "Oh you're a gay bitch who wears makeup."
JS: I have experienced that, but recently in the last two years it's become more accepted. Is society as a whole changing? Slightly. We're definitely not there yet but we're finally making a dent.
Is it getting crowded in the Instagram beauty space?
MG: I definitely think there's an oversaturation on YouTube. I think that now that people see certain people's successes, they want that and a lot of people are trying harder.
JS: But here's the deal: I'm a hundred percent myself and so is he. You can't duplicate that. This is just who we are. When the wig's off and the makeup's off, we're the same crazy bitches that we are right here.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Disclosure: Benefit Cosmetics paid for my travel and lodging in Las Vegas.