Big beauty brands are finally recognizing the boys in the business.
With the recent announcement of CoverGirl's first CoverBoy, it seems like major brands have finally come to accept these players in the beauty space. But it hasn't been easy.
"Brands started approaching me once I had 800,000 YouTube subscribers," said Manny Mua, a male beauty influencer. "Some girls were getting offers with only 300,000. We just weren't being taken seriously for a long time."
He currently has almost 2 million YouTube subscribers.
Mua started making beauty tutorial videos two years ago after training himself while working at Sephora. In order to help sell products, he figured he might as well learn how to apply them on himself.
"There weren't a lot of boys in the makeup space back then," he said. "It was so fun to see this creative outlet getting expressed online."
Patrick Starrr, another male beauty vlogger, was an on-call makeup artist for a local MAC counter in 2011. Instead of letting his talents get rusty, he decided to start practicing on himself. Soon after, his co-workers suggested he start uploading videos to YouTube.
"I didn't think anyone would be that interested, but at first, a couple thousand were!" said Starrr. Today he, too, has nearly 2 million subscribers.
"Nowadays, beauty vloggers are a dime a dozen," he said. "Girls are beauty vloggers, boys are beauty vloggers, probably everyone's grandma is a beauty vlogger. I wouldn't be surprised if dads started, too."
Even with the influx of others in the space, it's not a competition to these beauty influencers.
"Everyone's growing and doing their own thing," said Mua. "Beauty can grow as a whole, since you shouldn't copy other people. They're already taken."
"At first, I didn't call myself an influencer," said Gabriel Zamora, a semi-new beauty vlogger who's recently partnered with Ipsy, a beauty subscription service started by YouTube star Michelle Phan, as it's first male stylist. "I didn't want to seem arrogant."
"But I went to school for marketing, even though I wanted to be an actor, and still do," said Zamora. "I just liked makeup. I never thought it would be a career."
Zamora used his marketing background to try to get brands' attention online by analyzing and studying what other people were doing. He wanted to see "how to get from A to B" with brands, which eventually led him to working with Ipsy. The company was recently only working with female influencers before Zamora.
"This really shows where the beauty world is going," he said. "Boys are really killing it right now. It's amazing to see a company support a male beauty influencer."
Starrr understands the responsibility to fans to promote products that he trusts and would use normally.
"Our viewers are not dumb," said Starrr. "They're very aware that we get paid to promote brands, so it's our job to understand what we're doing with our platform."
As a "makeup junkie, addict and artist," Starrr is always investing in his kit. He tries to only use products he knows are of high quality, no matter their price range. One of those brands is Benefit, a hugely popular cosmetics company.
"All of my partnerships have started organically," he said. "I was so excited when Benefit reached out to me. I was like 'This could actually work, since I've been using your products since 2012!'" (Starrr has been using Benefit's face powders since back in the day when they only had four shades; now, they have 12.)
One of the biggest questions, with most video-based social influencers, is how much attention they pay to feedback they receive from fans.
On the one hand, they have to stay true to themselves. On the other, they want to make sure they're creating content fans can relate to. And eventually they'll have to incorporate products as naturally as possible, preferably ones they already use.
"There's also the fact that you're a guy playing with makeup online," as Zamora says, which can be a scary space to participate in.
"There's going to be the occasional hateful or negative comments," said Zamora. "But I don't have a moment to be sad when I see so much love online. Once I started believing in myself, that was really the key thing."
So much time, effort and mental preparedness goes into the male beauty space.
"Most of my videos take between 8 to 10 hours, total," said Starrr. "Depending on the type of video I'm shooting, that can take anywhere from 1.5 hours to 3 hours. Then editing afterwards is at least 4 or 5 hours. Uploading is tough, because who knows about internet speeds."
"[Then] I wash it all off and do it again," he said. "It's honestly a never-ending experience, but the reward is amazing."