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.
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."
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."
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.
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."