Hyram Yarbro: From Department-Store Makeup Artist to TikTok Fame

POPSUGAR Photography | Keila Gonzalez / Courtesy of Hyram Yarbro
POPSUGAR Photography | Keila Gonzalez / Courtesy of Hyram Yarbro
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Welcome to Big Break, where some of the most influential figures in the beauty industry reflect on the moments that made them — from the good to the bad and everything in between. Here, content creator and brand founder Hyram Yarbro shares how he became one of the most recognized beauty and skin-care names on YouTube and TikTok, eventually launching his own namesake brand, Selfless by Hyram.

Hyram Yarbro can recall the first time he stepped foot in a Sephora like it was yesterday. It was five years ago when he ventured into the beauty retailer in search of a tinted moisturizer to help disguise the sunburn he had gotten at the beach ahead of an important job interview.

"I was still grappling with my own identity and coming to terms with my sexual orientation, so being in that environment was definitely a little nerve-racking for me," Yarbro tells POPSUGAR. Growing up in Arizona on a cattle ranch, he describes his environment as "ultra traditionalist and conservative," so the thought of men experimenting with makeup and beauty products was practically unheard of. "But the second I went in, I was instantly made comfortable by the people who were there."

He left with the BareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer and a mascara and immediately went home to try it. "It was the first time I was able to ever feel beautiful," he says. "Self-confidence was something I had really struggled with, but when I put that tinted moisturizer on and looked in the mirror, it was just such a powerful and transformative moment."

That moment changed his life forever. "I not only wanted to spend more time investing in the world of cosmetics, but I also wanted to provide that experience for other people," Yarbro says. He started following makeup artists on YouTube like NikkieTutorials and Manny MUA and became mesmerized by both their skills and the online communities they had fostered. "There is just such a strong sense of community in beauty and, as someone who had never really experienced what a close-knit community felt like, it was instantly attractive to me."

POPSUGAR Photography | Keila Gonzalez / Courtesy of Hyram Yarbro

He went on to get a job as a makeup artist for Saks Fifth Avenue. That experience working in the luxury beauty sales environment introduced him to the vast world of skin care, but what intrigued him most was how much money people were willing to spend on their skin. "When I saw people spending thousands of dollars on products, I was thinking to myself, 'What is so amazing about these products that would justify that price point?'" From there, he started doing his own research.

Yarbro began looking up ingredients, watching videos from dermatologists and cosmetic chemists, and reading published articles on the science in skin care — consuming any content he could on the topic. "It really urged me to start sharing what I had been able to learn on a YouTube channel about skin care — to really simplify that information and to show people that you can have good skin just by using simple, affordable products from the drugstore."

When Yarbro started his YouTube channel in 2017, he was posting without the intention of getting many views. "I wasn't bothered by it because I really just enjoyed being able to make videos and the process and building a little community," he says. It took two years to amass 2,000 followers.

Things started to pick up toward the end of 2019, when he created a series of videos reacting to recent TikTok skin-care trends (although he hadn't yet joined the app). Immediately, he saw a spike in his views. "They just started getting a lot of views — hundreds of thousands to over a million views within a few days," Yarbro says. In May 2020, he joined TikTok, and the growth was instantaneous — his first couple of videos accumulated thousands of views overnight. "It was incredible, very exhilarating, and reeling, and confusing, but in the best way."

At first, Yarbro was posting with regularity across all his social media platforms while he continued working as a makeup artist — which meant he was sleeping maybe four hours a night to keep up — until he made the jump to pursue content creation full-time. "I was always like, 'What if it falls apart overnight?'" he says. "I was pretty scared." But when he made the switch and started investing more time in his videos, he could immediately see the change in his content, and the new subscribers came flooding in. In no time, he went from 100,000 followers to the 6.4 million he has today on TikTok alone. Yarbro's decision to make a career out of beauty content creation coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I really wanted to push myself to create as much content to help keep my audience distracted from everything that's in the world," he says.

POPSUGAR Photography | Keila Gonzalez / Courtesy of Hyram Yarbro

Yarbro didn't expect to get many (if any) brand deals from his social media presence because of how "brutally honest" his content was. That's why it was "mind-blowing" when he was approached by a brand for the first time to work on a campaign. "I really wanted to be an authentic voice for people to be able to listen to, to help them navigate the shopping for skin care, just like a best friend would," he says. "It really didn't register that this could become something I'm able to support myself doing."

It didn't take long for the community he built of trusting followers to encourage him to create his own brand, but he was apprehensive at first. "I knew that if I wanted to create a brand, I wanted it to have a really positive impact that actively helps make the world a better place, rather than just releasing products," Yarbro says. While doing some research, he stumbled upon the idea of launching a brand with a direct social impact and giving back as part of its core philosophy. "That's when I really started getting excited."

At the time, Yarbro had been working closely with the founders of The Inkey List, Colette Laxton and Mark Curry, a brand he deeply supports, and they came up with the idea to work on something together. "As we became more familiar with each other and our similar desire to want to change the world, that's when the conversation around building a brand began."

After two years, Selfless by Hyram launched in June 2021 with five products — cleanser, moisturizer, retinol serum, salicylic-acid serum, and exfoliating serum. At its core, it has all of the components of a brand Yarbro loves: it's environmentally conscious, affordable (priced between $20 and $30), simple, and fragrance-free. Perfect for Gen Z.

Since launching just a short while ago, Selfless by Hyram has scored a coveted Sephora partnership, which allowed the brand to expand internationally and reach even more consumers. "I'm pinching myself; it still doesn't feel real," Yarbro says. "Moving forward with Selfless, there's so much that we plan to do from a social-impact standpoint."

At just 25 years old himself, you can be assured: this is only the beginning.