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The Fastest-Growing Beauty Influencers of 2023

Multiple social platforms announced their next generation of creators this week, but TikTok creates overnight beauty stars like no other.
Sydney Morgan (L) and Nyadollie Deng (R) were named top beauty influencers by YouTube and TikTok, respectively.
Sydney Morgan (L) and Nyadollie Deng (R) were named top beauty influencers by YouTube and TikTok, respectively. (Courtesy)
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Key insights

  • The next generation of beauty influencers sees rapid virality with content that is less polished and more entertainment-based than long-form YouTube videos from the 2010s.
  • Nyadollie Deng’s March 2023 neon-pink makeup tutorial was the top TikTok video in 2023 with over 500 million views. Meanwhile, YouTube tapped Sydney Morgan as its top rising beauty star.
  • YouTube has been working to win back its status as a beauty creator launchpad, incentivizing exclusive content and short video, but it’s TikTok’s algorithm that has created beauty stars in a flash.

Nyadollie Deng was just 11 years old when she first started watching beauty YouTube videos. She was quickly taken with the transformative makeup looks of James Charles, Nyma Tang and Patrick Starrr. Now, the 23-year-old is quickly on her way to reaching their level of influence, but not through YouTube.

On Dec. 5, TikTok announced that a makeup tutorial by Deng was its top video of the year in the US, with over 500 million views. In the March video, the creator, who only started posting makeup content on TikTok in January, shares her everyday routine. She highlights a Fenty Beauty foundation and a neon pink Morphe 2 eyeshadow. Now, Deng has over 2 million followers and regularly works with Fenty Beauty, Mac Cosmetics, Nars, L’Oréal Paris and Rem Beauty after signing with talent agency A3 in April.

Like Deng, most newly minted top beauty influencers such as Mikayla Nogueira and Meredith Duxbury have found their big break on TikTok rather than other platforms, marking a shift from the early days of beauty YouTube and Instagram. Still, other platforms like YouTube are working to hold their place in the online beauty conversation as they lean further into short-form video and incentivise exclusive content.

But according to Megan Levy, senior talent manager at Shine Talent Group, the days of a star beauty influencer being born exclusively on YouTube are over as reaching subscriber counts over 1 million has become a challenge without a preexisting following on other platforms. “If you have a very big audience on YouTube, most likely, you have an audience to match that on TikTok or Instagram,” she said.

Just as TikTok highlighted Deng as one of its top video stars, YouTube also announced its 2023 “beauty queen” Sydney Morgan, who is known for her special effects-style makeup routines and has 7 million subscribers on the platform. Like Deng, Morgan also first rose to fame on TikTok, where she has over 10 million followers.

The Rush to Short-Form Video

As TikTok has become the main social media platform for delivering new mega beauty influencers, competitors have moved into short video to remain relevant.

Morgan got her start in 2020 when, like many influencers, she started posting her attention-grabbing makeup looks on TikTok and saw fast virality. She had been posting on Instagram and YouTube for years with little traction.

“When YouTube rolled out YouTube Shorts is really what changed the game … and blew up my subscriber count,” said Morgan.

YouTube has gone beyond the introduction of Shorts to attract a younger generation of beauty stars to the platform. It works with Morgan and other influencers to provide a flat rate to keep videos exclusive to YouTube, and promote e-commerce listings such as a Sydney Morgan-branded rose gold lip gloss launched via YouTube e-commerce earlier this year.

“It was much harder to cast a wide net and expand your audience before vertical short-form content on YouTube,” said Morgan.

The Multi-Platform Beauty Guru

YouTube has not given up on longer-form content, however, as it encourages influencers to build their audiences via Shorts and then create longer-form videos to keep them hooked.

Madeline Buxton, culture and trends manager at YouTube said, “The creators that we see breaking through the most are the ones who are creating content that is multi-format, so they’re creating Shorts; they’re creating long-form; they’re experimenting with livestreams; they’re experimenting with podcasts.”

Deng expanded to Instagram and then YouTube after her success on TikTok. She plans to create more YouTube content in the future. “As of right now, I’m doing short-form, but I do want to do long-form videos on YouTube,” she said.

According to Levy, younger beauty influencers have been creating more long-form content beyond tutorials. “I’ve seen a really, really big shift within the past three months where they have been spending more time on YouTube because a lot of their followers want to see more into their personal life,” she said.

Morgan has built her audience with entertainment-based content, creating both long-form and short-form videos showcasing special-effects costume-inspired makeup and gaming-related makeup videos.

“Back in the OG beauty YouTuber days, like the 2016 era, it was very clean cut, polished, a plain white background, like ‘I’m going to show you how to wing an eyeliner.’ I just don’t think people are looking for that as much anymore. [We’re] Gen-Z-ifying the old beauty community,” said Morgan.

Further Reading

Amid rising competition for online eyeballs, the Alphabet-owned video app will host its second Beauty Festival this week to reassert itself as a hub for beauty creators.


About the author
Liz Flora
Liz Flora

Liz Flora is a Beauty Correspondent at Business of Fashion. She is based in Los Angeles and covers beauty and wellness.

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