From Aspiring Musician To Beauty Influencer: Inside Jeffree Star's Rise To Fame
| LAST UPDATE 10/11/2021
From singing with Nicki Minaj to becoming an influential billionaire, Jeffree Star has been infecting the internet since 2003. But as we've learnt, it can be lonely at the top, and this superstar has certainly had his ups and downs.
Self-Made Beauty Influencer
There's no doubt that the world of beauty influencers has been on the rise, and many of the industry's icons have proven to be unstoppable. That certainly goes for Jeffree Star, a self-made makeup guru.
He built an empire from the ground up and continues to thrive no matter what's thrown at him. Find out how Star went from an aspiring musician to an iconic influencer and everything he's dealt with along the way.
Started Wearing Makeup in High School
Jeffree revealed that his childhood was rather difficult, as substance abuse and unhealthy relationships were common in his Los Angeles-bound family. However, he knew he could always rely on his mother for comfort, and she's part of the reason Jeffree fell in love with makeup.
At age 12, Star discovered his mother's makeup collection and used it to copy looks he saw in fashion magazines. When he was 16, he started wearing makeup to school, but the school called his mom and said his makeup distracted other students. "My mom fought the school, and I got to wear makeup every day," Jeffree exclaimed.
Falling in Love With Makeup
Star explained that when he first began playing around with makeup as a kid, he "Didn't really know what it was." Still, he was fascinated with the endless number of products and colors. "I just loved the idea of transformation. I loved that you could become a character," said Jeffree.
"So to me it was an extension of art," he continued. "It's almost like a mask or a costume. You just feel like a boss-a** b***h." The more he practiced doing his makeup, the more he learned about the art, and it became clear to Jeffree that he was destined to thrive in the beauty industry.
Aspired To Be a Musician
However, before Jeffree began creating his own makeup line, he dreamed of becoming a musician. He shared videos of himself singing rock music on his MySpace page and released his first song, We Want C***, in 2005. Eventually, he collaborated with Nicki Minaj on the song Lollipop Luxury.
He transitioned from MySpace to YouTube and began uploading vibrant music videos that showcased his incredible work on makeup and costumes. Star spent approximately 10 years focusing on his singing career and created various emo-electronica tracks, some of which went viral.
Signed With Akon's Label
In 2010, Jeffree signed a record deal with Akon's label and had high hopes about his singing career. Akon had previously signed Lady Gaga, so this seemed like a life-changing opportunity for Star. Akon even referred to Jeffree as "The next Lady Gaga" during an interview.
However, the record deal wasn't all what Jeffree had pictured it to be. Star was never able to release a second album, and he blamed this on his personality clashes with Akon. "It was almost like they were dimming my light, and they weren't letting me be me," Star revealed. In 2013, Jeffree gave up on music altogether.
Invested His Life Savings Into Jeffree Star Cosmetics
After quitting music, Jeffree decided to pursue his other passion and launch his own makeup line. So, in 2014, Jeffree invested his life savings into creating a liquid lipstick line, and Jeffree Star Cosmetics was born. He promoted the brand on his YouTube channel and hoped more than anything that his business would thrive.
"It was either this was gonna work out for me I was gonna have to go back to the mall... and work at MAC again," Jeffree explained. "It was probably the most scared I've been in my entire life." Within a few minutes of launching the collection, all 30,000 units sold out, according to Cosmopolitan.
Rise to Fame
Jeffree had already put his name on the map when he began his music career, and once he made the switch from MySpace to YouTube, his number of subscribers increased rapidly. His fans saw how he confidently expressed himself and started sharing their own stories about embracing their true self.
"And I will, like, write back to them some long reply and let them know that it's OK to be different, you know?" Star said in 2008. He continued building his brand and uploading more videos to YouTube for his fans, and eventually found himself with 17.1 million subscribers and 14.5 million Instagram followers.
Fight With Kat Von D
In the summer of 2016, celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D publicly ended her friendship with Jeffree through a series of social media posts. She explained that due to his substance abuse, social opinions and alleged bullying, she could no longer be his friend. Kat made some other accusations, and then their relationship instantly unraveled.
"Even though we were friends for ten years, you never know when you're going to literally wake up one morning and have your best friend backstab you in front of the entire world," said Star. He also claimed that Kat never fully supported his brand and eventually shared, "The drama is dead," along with their friendship.
Accused Kylie Jenner of Overcharging Customers
In May of 2016, Jeffree reviewed one of Kylie Jenner's lip kits on social media and didn't have anything positive to say. He also claimed that she overcharged customers for her products. "She found a lab that makes a $5 formula," Star revealed. They gave her the same exact one with her name on it and charged $20 more."
"If the product didn't suck, I wouldn't have anything to say," he added. "I was just giving my honest review." Jeffree also tweeted about Kylie's defective lipgloss brushes, an issue that she'd already publicly addressed. "I'd rather save millions of people money than letting them be ripped off by a celebrity," said Star.
Controversial Ad Campaign
When Jeffree Star began promoting his new product, the Androgyny Palette, in 2017, followers instantly accused the makeup mogul of blackface. One of the ad campaigns featured a photo of influencer Nikita Dragun covered in metallic bronze makeup, and fans pointed out that the makeup was significantly darker than her skin.
"Damn, Jeffree Star's model did blackface. Can we hate him yet?" one follower tweeted. "Asian model in #Blackface. Makeup sponsored by @jeffreestar Cosmetics. Who's surprised?" another person tweeted. Nikita responded to the tweets, explaining that her skin gets darker in the sun and the accusations against Jeffree were false.
Rehashing the Past
Among the countless tweets against Jeffree's ad campaign with Nikita Dragun, some followers used this as an opportunity to rehash a previous incident. "You tell black girls to lighten their skin with battery acid and now ur models are doing blackface? @Jeffreestar make up your mind ms thing," one user tweeted.
The tweet referred to something Star had posted on his MySpace page years ago, which had offended countless individuals. Since then, many people have expressed their feelings about Jeffree, saying he's offended them and hurt their feelings. When this resurfaced in 2017, Star dodged the comments, trying to move on from the past.
Apologized for Offending Viewers
After Jeffree's controversial comments resurfaced the internet over a decade later, he decided it was time to apologize for offending viewers. He uploaded a video on YouTube, intending to share his side of the story "From human being to human being." Star said, "It's upsetting. It's nasty."
"It makes me sick to my stomach to watch those old videos. I'm embarrassed as a person because that's never what I stood for," Jeffree continued. Star also revealed that it's been challenging for him to relive the things he'd said years ago. "I think it's awful that you guys have to see me in that light," he added.
Dissed Kim Kardashian's Makeup Line
In August of 2017, Kim Kardashian announced that her cosmetics brand, KKW Beauty, was getting ready to release their first-ever powder contouring kit and showcased the new product on Instagram. "Umm… Kim, what is going on with those new swatches?? Looks like chalk," Jeffree tweeted, regarding Kim's makeup.
"I'm never a fan of finger swatches, so I'll have to try the @kkwbeauty on my face for a final verdict, but… doesn't look great so far," he continued. And the moment that Kim's fans saw Jeffree putting down her brand, they immediately came to her defense.
Kim Gave Jeffree the Benefit of the Doubt
Kardashian took to Snapchat to thank Star for his honesty about her swatching videos and told her fans to stop hating on Star, regardless of things he'd said in the past. "I see [my fans] being so petty bringing up these things from his past where he, you know, was negative, but he's also apologized for those things," Kim explained.
"I welcome honesty, you know, comments about my product, and because of it, I'm watching better now," Kardashian added. "So everyone get off his a** and let's not be so negative. We're all in this together; There's room for all of us. Love you, Jeffree."
Kim's Fans Couldn't Understand Why She Defended Jeffree
Seeing Kim defend Jeffree absolutely outraged some of her followers, as they were still hung up on things he'd said in the past. "Idk what is worse, watching Kim K swatch sidewalk chalk or watching her defend a racist bigot knowing she has an interracial family," one user tweeted.
And after Kim explained why she was able to move forward with Jeffree and start fresh, her followers became even angrier. "Did I really just watch Kim K defend Jeffree Star and subsequently go on to say she doesn't defend racists?" another person tweeted.
Fans Said They Found Stray Hairs in Star's Products
About a year ago, many of Jeffree's fans revealed that they found hairs in their newest Jeffree Star eyeshadow palettes. "I wasn't going to post this, but the hair ruined my eyeshadow pan," shared one user. "I was not expecting this from @JeffreeStar... I was just not expecting huge a** fibers in my palette. I'm shook."
Other customers tweeted photos of their contaminated products, expressing their disappointment. The moment Star was aware of the problem, though, he did his best to make things right. "We have sent out new ones and also given a full refund because that does not reflect how my brand should be represented," Star shared.
Inspired Cole Carrigan to Pursue His Dream
In 2018, when beauty influencer Cole Carrigan was still in the process of launching his career, Jeffree collaborated with Cole and introduced him to his followers. "I have definitely been trying to use my platform and my channel to showcase smaller artists," Star said on his Snapchat story.
"I discovered him [Cole] on Twitter and Instagram; I was looking for new artists just to like see and discover," Star revealed. "You literally inspired me to help me find myself," Carrigan told Star. "I aspired to be like you... I'm as confident as I am wearing makeup because I see you are killing it."
His Makeup Was Stolen and Sold on the Black Market
On March 16th, 2019, Jeffree was distraught after discovering his warehouse had been robbed. "One of my stock and shipping facility warehouses was broken into, and over $2.5 million of product was stolen from me," Star revealed. "This is the biggest theft I have ever experienced in my entire career."
Star hired a private investigator to look further into the situation, and he learned that the stolen makeup was being sold on the black market. Authorities eventually tracked down the thief, and the individual was arrested. "This is my biggest hit as a brand," said Jeffree. "I am still shocked about the entire thing."
Said James Charles Was a Danger to Society
Jeffree was once a close friend of James Charles, another beauty influencer, but after James' public feud with YouTuber Tati Westbrook, everything changed. Star took Westbrook's side in the fight on social media, and followers watched the friendship drastically diminish.
"There's a reason why I haven't seen him since @GlamLifeGuru's birthday in February," Star tweeted. "He is a danger to society. Everything Tati said is 100% true." Jeffree made it clear to his followers that he no longer wanted to be associated with James and wasn't planning any future collaborations with him.
Claimed Kylie Jenner Was Offered 'Forbes' Feature Because He Turned It Down
After Kylie Jenner was named the youngest self-made billionaire by Forbes, her fans were extremely excited and supportive. Jeffree, on the other hand, had other thoughts on the young billionaire's accomplishment. He referred to Dictionary.com to share, "Self-made: Having succeeded in life unaided," implying Kylie was not self-made.
He told his followers the Forbes feature was meant for him, but he declined, and Kylie was his replacement. "I declined the feature, so they had to pick someone," Star tweeted. Forbes later revealed Star was 22-years-old when he became a billionaire, when Jenner was only 21, so he wasn't eligible.
Jeffree's Fans Praised His Hard Work
After Jeffree tweeted about Kylie's Forbes' feature and his take on the situation, his fans showed endless support. "I'm actually studying his (publicly available) life and career. He's my business role model," one fan tweeted about Star. "If ever I'm successful at ANYTHING in life, I want his influence in there for it."
Many of his followers admire Star because of his self-made career. "People don't give Jeffree enough credit Bc they are judging based on what they see," said another follower. "But he literally came from nothing & conquered everything he wanted... He also doesn't come off as flaunting his success."
Accused Jordyn Woods of Being a Liar
When Khloe Kardashian started a public feud with Jordyn Woods, due to her involvement with Tristan Thompson, Star followed along every step of the way, keeping tabs on what was said from both sides. After one of Jordyn's interviews, Jeffree fact-checked what she said and then claimed Woods was "Full of lies."
Jeffree wasn't the only public figure to comment on the situation; He based many of his tweets on statements made by others. "My whole entire town knows they've been hooking up for at least a few months... The rest of the world is now being played by lies. Nothing new lol," Star tweeted.
Criticized Khloe Kardashian's Parenting
After Star accused Jordyn Woods of lying about her relationship with Tristan Thompson, he also voiced his opinion on Khloe and Tristan's relationship regarding co-parenting. "Learn to co-parent on a healthy level and stop acting like your man ain't trash either," he tweeted.
"I'm so bored of these people, and I'm sorry that I'm even giving them an extra two minutes of my light," Jeffree added, after his countless tweets about the Kardashian/ Jenner family. "Now, what Khloe and Tristan need to do is shut the F*** UP, turn your iPhones off, and focus on co-parenting. Thank you next," he exclaimed.
Starred in Shane Dawson's Documentary
YouTuber Shane Dawson has been a close friend of Jeffree's for most of his career, and they've done quite a few collaborations. Last year, Dawson created a YouTube series called The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star, where he documented Star's travels, business ventures, personal matters, and everything in between.
In just 12 hours, the trailer for the documentary reached 5 million views, as fans were eager to watch another one of Dawson's tell-all videos, as he'd done the same with other influencers. "I've never felt this excited, nervous, and emotionally invested in my life," Shane revealed upon the release of the documentary.
Customers Disappointed With Star's Mystery Box
Like many makeup gurus, Jeffree sold a collection of Mystery Boxes, giving his fans the chance to buy some exclusive products. While many customers were satisfied with their box, some were utterly disappointed. "I hated everything that came in my Jeffree Star premium mystery box, so I'm selling it," one customer tweeted.
"First time buyer & big fan butttt not impressed with the smallest Mystery Box," another person tweeted. "3rd item= pop socket... cmon girl. so includes what looks like a half-used liquid lip!! "Love you @JeffreeStar... but can a girl get a refund?"
Dropped From Partnership With Morphe
Star's made a significant income from his partnership with Morphe, a popular makeup retailer, throughout his career. In July, Morphe issued a statement, saying, "Today we've made the decision to cease all commercial activity related to Jeffree Star and affiliated products," Morphe shared.
Morphe didn't release any other information regarding the matter, or make any accusations about Jeffree, but the decision was made amid various controversies the influencer was caught up in. "We are shocked and extremely saddened by the decision of our former retail partner," Jeffree shared on Instagram.
Doing What's Right
After being dropped from Morphe, Jeffree uploaded a video titled Doing What's Right and addressed many scandals he'd been involved in. "Without ever really thinking about the ramifications of my words, my actions, and or for the first time in a very long time, I'm really reflecting on my behavior and mind alone."
Star's apology video didn't impress all of his viewers, as some felt he didn't actually take responsibility for his actions. "It just felt very passive-aggressive," said musician Kahlen Barry. "He [Star] was sitting there like he didn't even want to address any of the things he was talking about, and he was being forced to."
Star Accepts Everyone
Aside from expressing himself and building an incredible cosmetics company from the ground up, Jeffree prides himself on being inclusive. "Whatever narrative anyone tries to spin of me, I am so f***ing proud to own an inclusive makeup company," said Jeffree. "Since I opened my doors in 2014, I have created products for everyone."
"Any product, shade, or formula I've created has worked for any race, gender, and most importantly, I want you guys to remember all beauty matters," Star explained. "From the very first ad, I have always shown people… No matter what size or body you are, or what gender you are, you are accepted in Jeffree Star Cosmetics."
Net Worth is $1.5 Billion
At age 34, Star has already achieved billionaire status, with a net worth of approximately $1.5 billion, as Jeffree shared on social media in April. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Jeffree makes an estimated $200 million each year from his YouTube channel alone.
That's not all Jeffree does to make a profit; He also owns a shipping and fulfillment center and a merchandise company. "So I have about ten businesses that I'm currently running besides my brand," he revealed. "I've accomplished everything I've wanted to accomplish thus far," said Star.
Wants To Help People Live Their Lives
"I don't consider myself a role model," Jeffree revealed. "But in reality, it's like, if my music or my being myself can help other people, that's all that really matters to me." Since launching his brand in 2014, Star's inspired Cole Carrigan to embrace his authentic self, and that's something he's incredibly proud of.
"So if me living my life and people seeing it online or on TV, if it helps their lives, then that's the most important thing I think," Jeffree added. He also explained that he's found comfort in makeup and hopes others can do the same. "I love that at the end of the day, you can wipe it off, and you're back to you," said Star.