Here's Why Michelle Phan Disappeared From The Beauty Community

Remember beauty blogger Michelle Phan? Of course you do. She's the insanely well-known YouTuber that helped popularize the YouTube makeup tutorial concept, and now, she's back.

Phan started filming YouTube videos in 2006, and she became a viral sensation in 2009. She amassed millions of followers, her very own beauty sampling company, and a deal with L'Oréal to develop her own makeup line, Em Cosmetics. After Em failed to connect with audiences and folded, the MUA backed away from the spotlight. Phan even uploaded an ominous black square as her Instagram profile picture and refrained from posting. Michelle Phan's comeback is upon us, however, and it promises to be exciting.

Here’s exactly what happened to Phan and what to expect from her next.

  • She Backed Away From The Spotlight To Battle Depression


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    After years in the spotlight, Michelle Phan decided to take a break from beauty in 2016. She left her YouTube channel, her makeup sample company Ipsy, and her cosmetics line Em. Her exit was shrouded in mystery, but eventually she shared:

    "People literally thought I was dead... I peaced out because I think I was going through depression. I don’t know because I didn't go to a hospital or anything or get diagnosed, but I was taking a few quizzes online and I felt really sad every day... I was waking up feeling so broken. I didn't know why. I think I reached that limit where [I thought], ‘You need to resolve all this, you need to figure it out, you need to heal yourself, you need to reflect.’"

    And so, Phan set off on a nine-month adventure through Europe, China, and Egypt to reflect, and revaluate. On Instagram, Phan elaborated:

    "I needed time to put real work, effort and commitment into healing, re-centering, and loving myself again, because in the end, all roads lead to love."

  • Her Beauty Line Totally Flopped


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    Beauty giant L'Oréal (which also owns Urban Decay) reached out to Michelle Phan in 2010 to collaborate on a beauty line. When asked about the opportunity Phan said

    "I don’t think me having my own makeup line was a dream I’ve always wanted. It was an opportunity that L'Oréal brought to me, and I’m not gonna say no to that opportunity. I knew that it would be such an amazing experience building something like that.” 

    The line, Em Cosmetics, took three years to develop but didn't exactly pan out the way Phan expected. The price point was between $50 and $70, alienating many potential shoppers. Many reviewers slammed the line, noting:

    "It applies like cheap makeup. For a not very cheap price. I really want to give a nicer review but everything seems so bad from Em Cosmetics... This palette was such a let down. I honestly don't think I have seen eye shadows as poorly pigmented as these."

    When Em Cosmetics folded Phan seemed devastated. She said:

    "I was really hurt when the brand didn't take off... It just sucked. It was three years of my life gone, just like that."

  • Ultra Records Sued Her For Copyright Infringement


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    Music always featured heavily in Michelle Phan's YouTube videos. However, in 2014, Ultra Records took Phan to court for copyright infringement, claiming that vlogger used their music without permission. Phan alleged that Ultra had given her permission to use the music, and posed a counter claim.

    Ultra Records sought $150,000 in damages per infringement for a whopping 50 instances. The company asked for a total of $7.5 million dollars. However, both the suit and countersuit were dropped in August of the same year. The parties settled out of court. 

  • She Stopped Wearing Foundation


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    In June 2017, Michelle Phan mentioned that she'd been "foundation free" for over a year. It may have seemed like an odd move because her career is based in makeup but Phan swore that 10 years of heavy cosmetics took a toll on her skin. She said:

    "I noticed that now that I’m entering into my 30s, my skin has changed. I’m noticing that my skin hasn't improved throughout the years that I’ve been wearing makeup. In fact, it’s gotten worse. [Foundation was like] a security blanket that I felt really safe in [but now] I don’t even wear any foundation, maybe like a little bit of concealer here or there but I don’t even wear BB or CC cream." 

  • Her Beauty Subscription Service, Ipsy, Raised $100 Million In Capital


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    Two years after going viral and garnering millions of video views, Phan announced her next venture: beauty subscription service Ipsy. Similar to BirchBox, Ipsy sends subscribers five samples of new beauty products to try for $10 a month.

    Ipsy set itself apart from other beauty subscription services by allowing users to personalize their products. The company raised a cool $100 million in venture capital in 2015 and, unsurprisingly, Phan was named one of Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 that same year.

  • She Was Popular Before YouTube Became Such A Huge Platform

    She Was Popular Before YouTube Became Such A Huge Platform
    Video: YouTube

    Michelle Phan is one of the OG bloggers. She got started back in 2005, long before YouTube tutorials became profitable. On her blog, she wrote about makeup and advised readers how to achieve certain looks. Then Phan started posting vlogs on Xanga as  Ricebunny. She discovered YouTube in 2006.

    Her video tutorial style quickly became popular, possibly because she based her voiceover style on the iconic artist Bob Ross. Believe it or not, Phan has cited him as an inspiration saying:

    "To this day, I love to play a Bob Ross tutorial in the background of the room when I am working - this is how I relax!"