The beauty “influencer” world is in the middle of some massive drama over vitamins. YouTube beauty vlogger Tati Westbrook who uploads video tutorials, product reviews, and tips is angry at fellow beauty vlogger James Charles for promoting a competing brand of vitamins. The drama is unfolding in realtime and has millions of people glued to YouTube.
If you are unfamiliar with the beauty world, the beauty vlogging market is enormous. Tati Westbrook has been running her channel for eight years. Her videos have amassed more than a billion views. For many, Westbrook is the “OG” of beauty vlogging.
Now in her late thirties, Westbrook has used her fame to mentor up-and-coming make-up artists. James Charles reached out to Westbrook after a photo of him went viral. In 2016, Charles had his senior pictures taken in full make-up. The images went viral, and Charles became an instant sensation.
After reaching out to Westbrook through DM’s, the two became fast friends. Westbrook used her YouTube fame to help Charles launch his channel. Not long after his senior pictures went viral, Cover Girl signed Charles as the first male face of their brand.
Since then the teen’s fame has skyrocketed, today James Charles’ YouTube channel has more than 15 million subscribers. He launched a make-up palette through Morphe. Additionally, he was most recently invited to attend the Met Gala.
Charles’ success has not been without controversy. He’s made some unflattering and controversial remarks about Ebola, transgender men, and comparing “social influencers” to marginalized populations.
In April, Charles said he didn’t define himself as “completely gay” because he was attracted to transgender men.
“I mean, no,” Charles responded. “There have been girls in the past who I thought were really, really beautiful. There’s also been like trans guys in the past, too, who I was like really, really into for a moment in time. Especially living in LA where everybody is a lot more openminded. I think that honestly [the] majority of guys are wanting to experiment.”
Then earlier this week, Charles shared a photo of himself at the Met Gala. In the caption of the photo, Charles wrote:
“my first met gala � thank you so much @youtube for inviting me and @alexanderwangnyfor dressing me! � being invited to such an important event like the ball is such an honor and a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst. video coming tomorrow!”
People were outraged that Charles insinuated the privileged and wealthy social influencer community was marginalized and discriminated against in society.
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my first met gala � thank you so much @youtube for inviting me and @alexanderwangny for dressing me! � being invited to such an important event like the ball is such an honor and a step forward in the right direction for influencer representation in the media and I am so excited to be a catalyst. video coming tomorrow!
All in all, Charles hasn’t had the best few months. However, that is nothing compared to what just happened between Tati Westbrook and him. The drama between the two is all over a vitamin Charles promoted on Instagram. In a 10 second story, Charles advertised “Sugar Bear Hair” vitamins.
Charles told followers he used Sugar Bear Sleep Vitamins to sleep. The supplement contains melatonin and a host of vitamins and minerals. According to Sugar Bear Hair’s website, the product will aid in sleep.
“SugarBear® Sleep gummies are an easy-to-use, scientifically formulated, vegan vitamin complex designed to help you sleep!Formulated with Melatonin, the berry-flavored chewable gummies also include our proprietary Rest Well Blend consisting of Lemon Balm Leaf, Passion Flower, Valerian Root, and 5-HTP.”
However, Tati Westbrook was livid. Apparently, Tati Westbrook has her own brand of supplements called Halo. The brand offers two products. One is for hair and nails, and the other is for the skin. Westbrook’s company does not sell sleep vitamins.
Halo’s website is equally misleading about the benefits of their vitamins. Their product Booster promises to reduce gray hairs, promote healthier and fuller hair, and reduce wrinkles on the skin. Her supplements sell for $39.95 for a one month supply.
The other product Kiwi Seed Booster promises to reduce bacteria on the skin that are associated with chronic skin conditions. Without stating what conditions the vitamin can treat, the implication seems to be it will treat psoriasis, eczema, and acne
To convince people that the products work, the brand says the products are “clinically proven” to work. However, the bottom of the page reminds buyers the products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration to treat, cure, or prevent any disease
The ingredients in the supplements are a bunch of vitamins, minerals, biotin, and collagen. Halo says biotin is the magic ingredient. However, research has shown that too much biotin can be harmful to individuals.
When biotin levels are too high in the blood, lab results and testing can give false positives and negatives. These products could be extremely detrimental to anyone that needs regular blood draws for diseases.
So Tati is angry at Charles for promoting her “number one competitor” because he should be “loyal” to her. When she saw his promotion, she uploaded an Instagram story bawling. She told her followers she had been betrayed.
Charles issued a public apology to Westbrook through Instagram. He said the promotion was done because Sugar Bear paid for security to follow him at Coachella.
Instantly, Westbrook supporters slammed Charles for the “fake” apology. Then an all-out feud erupted. Yesterday, Tati Westbrook uploaded a 42-minute video titled “Bye Sister” trashing Charles for promoting Sugar Bear Hair and aired his dirty laundry about his sexuality. She accused him of going after “straight men,” and acting “too sexual” in his YouTube videos.
During the video, Tati said she had to make the statement because she’s a “role model” and won’t stand for Charles’ destructive behavior. She outlined all the ways she helped Charles over the year by promoting his channel, helping him with contracts, and mentoring him about the business.
She insisted she never asked for anything in return. However, she seemed to contradict herself because she then said Charles wasn’t loyal to her. She blamed him for “embarrassing” her by promoting her “number one competitor.”
Within in hours, Charles YouTube following started plummeting. Because Tati is considered one of the top divas in the beauty “vlogging” world, her followers began unsubscribing to Charles’ channel. In less than 24 hours, Charles has lost nearly 1.5 million subscribers. Conversely, Tati’s YouTube channel has gained nearly 2 million subscribers.
As if the entire dramatic fight isn’t ridiculous enough, the fact that they are fighting over unregulated products that are expensive and do nothing seems lost on everyone in the beauty world. Fans of Tati are calling Charles a snake, egotistical, fake, and traitor.
Yet, all Charles did was promote a similar junk product that happens to compete with Westbrook’s product. Halo doesn’t offer the product he promoted on Instagram. Additionally, both products are marketed to teens between the ages of 12-14 years old.
Both of these influencers are using their fame to push unregulated and potentially dangerous products. While the beauty world drowns in a sea of drama, the rest of us realize the dangers of influencers on social media. Using a platform to promote supplements and a cure or treatment for anything is not only unethical but irresponsible.
While Tati works to destroy Charles’ career, she fails to see her fault in the matter. Tati is pushing vitamins that are extremely expensive to kids. The products aren’t regulated and could contain anything in them. For both the YouTuber’s it appears money matters more than ethics.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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