Shane Dawson's New Makeup Series Is Shocking, Even to a Beauty Editor
As a beauty editor, I consider myself a makeup expert. I've met countless brand founders, interviewed dermatologists and cosmetic chemists about ingredients, and routinely tried the latest launches before the public knows they exist. Even with all of that knowledge, I still find myself learning more about the industry than ever before thanks to Shane Dawson's new YouTube series with Jeffree Star.
The series follows the pair of online stars as Dawson learns the ins and outs of the beauty world, creating a collaboration with Star's brand, Jeffree Star Cosmetics. There has been some criticism of the video collaboration, given Star's controversial past; he's been accused of racism on several occasions, including when a video circulated of him using a racial slur early in his career. But the series, showing how a successful makeup brand creates a product from start to finish, is still riveting.
Throughout the last month, Dawson has been dropping new videos, giving viewers an unprecedented look at the business side of beauty. The things he and Star reveal are not the polished final products I get to see or the PR pitches from brands — but everything that goes on before, from selecting the shades to purchase orders to negotiating with retailers.
So far Dawson has released four videos out of a six-part series, leading up to the launch of his collaboration on Nov. 1. Ahead, check out the videos and some highlights of the hour-long episodes.
The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star
Last year, Dawson started a series of videos on controversial YouTubers, one of whom was Jeffree Star. It was received mostly positively and revealed a softer side to the notoriously opinionated social media star. Since then, the two have developed a friendship and have been hinting at a makeup collaboration between Dawson and Jeffree Star Cosmetics.
In previous videos by Dawson, the star has been open about not earning as much money as other popular YouTubers despite having been on the platform for almost a decade. Star, however, who has only been consistently making makeup videos for about four years, has found multiple ways to grow his revenue, including a merchandise business and a cosmetics line.
In the first video of the series, Dawson follows around Star in his daily life as a popular beauty influencer as he goes to appearances and meetings to get a feel of the beauty industry.
The Secrets of the Beauty World
Star revealed that since his last series with Dawson, the sales of his cosmetics brand have increased dramatically. He explained to Dawson that a makeup collection can take six to seven months to create, and viewers get to sit in on the first meeting planning out Dawson's palette.
As an editor and makeup-lover, I was particularly intrigued by the beginning of the process. Dawson brought other palettes that he likes to show the team; they looked through paint chips (like the ones you pick up at Home Depot) to pick out exact colors they'd like samples of; and they started to brainstorm names of shades based off Dawson's life and videos.
One thing I've never seen before? The pair discuss what it actually costs to make cosmetics versus what brands charge. According to Star, some of the cost depends on where the products are made. If they're made in China, the packaging and ingredients are significantly cheaper. He explains you have to pay for the packaging, the assembly, the travel (by air or boat), the formula of the powders, labor, and the carton it comes in. Roughly, his palette Blood Sugar cost $20 to make (it's sold for $52), which Star says is expensive by industry standards. Star claims that other brands might sell products for $48 that cost $7 to make. While I knew that makeup was significantly cheaper to make than it costs, I loved hearing the specific breakdown of every aspect of the process.
The Dangerous World of Jeffree Star
In the next episode, Dawson explains his conspiracy theory-themed palette idea (he's known for several conspiracy videos, including one about Chuck E Cheese pizza), and the team goes over packaging ideas and imprinted designs they plan to put on each shadow. They settle on a selection of pig faces, root beer, and soda cans.
The pair also reviews the lab sample eye shadows and swatches them to decide which are up to their standards. Star lays them out on a table in his kitchen to arrange them for a large and a mini palette and they make their final shade selections.
The $20 Million Dollar Deal With Jeffree Star
This episode opens up with Dawson selecting a logo from a series of options Star's team sends over, picking out the final shades, and testing the final formulas for all of the products. After Dawson talks to his future sister-in-law, Morgan Adams about what she looks for in makeup, he decides his palette needed more neutral shades and that he wants to include a clear gloss in the collection, because Adams doesn't use lipstick.
The team decides to call Morphe to gauge the brand's interest in being the exclusive partner for the collection. They explain that the hero product is The Conspiracy Palette, which includes 18 shades, with both wearable and out-of-the-box colors. Dawson describes the packaging to the Morphe team, which will include a black-and-white spiral. Dawnson and Star explain that there will also be a Mini Controversy palette, with shade names alluding to previous videos Dawson has made, a set of liquid lipsticks, and a gloss. In addition to the makeup, the collaboration will include merchandise like a pig-shaped mirror and makeup bags.
Once the Jeffree Star Cosmetics team hangs up the phone, they discuss how big of a purchase order to make, given that they need product to sell on the brand's website in addition to the product for Morphe's stores. The team settles on just under a million palettes, which Star says would be his biggest purchase order to date. They mention that if they sell out, they'd make $35 million, and Star explains to a stunned Dawson he could potentially make $10 million.
Overall, what shocks me most about the series is the pure brilliance in marketing strategy. Because I've watched every video and seen how much work and passion went into this collection, I feel a part of it. I feel like I was there every step of the way as the duo discussed packaging, shade names, and formulas. I own (I'm not kidding) at least 30 makeup palettes, and I want this one. I want the pig mirror. I want the lipsticks. And if I feel this way, I'm sure others do as well. I fully expect this line to sell out the day it launches and I'm sure other brands will use this "behind the scenes" marketing in the future.
The Failure of Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson
In this video, Dawson demonstrates his makeup ability on his cameraman and proves that he's been practicing for months.
Star and Dawson also discuss that people broke into Star's warehouse and stole an entire shade of Star's concealer before it launched. It's interesting to see the behind the scenes of what a brand does when an unforeseen crisis like this one happens.
The pair has another meeting with the Jeffree Star Cosmetics team to discuss the final packaging of the conspiracy palettes. Anna, the head of packaging, presents Dawson with a variety of options, none of which he or Star likes. Since the team is getting close to the launch, they're stressed to discover they don't like the palette options and want to start from scratch. The team goes over some ideas and Dawson is shown sending some more to the team from home.
Dawson's future sister-in-law and fellow YouTube personality, Morgan Adams, has just gotten back from a press trip with other influencers where she felt pressure to "fix" herself to their standards. Dawson discusses this with Star and the three of them have a conversation about the toxic aspects of the influencer community.
The video ends in a time crunch to find new packaging for the palette.
The Conspiracy Collection Reveal | Jeffree Star x Shane Dawson
In this video, we finally get to see the highly anticipated palette. Star explains that he usually shoots a reveal video for his palettes, but they've already teased so much. The pair decided to do the reveal on Dawson's channel.
The pair are in another meeting with the Jeffree Star Cosmetics team, where they explain that they'll be closing down Star's merchandise business for a week to use those resources to help ship out Dawson's palette.
Check out the reveal in the video.