For 10 years, Michelle Phan taught millions of beauty lovers how to ace their makeup routine with YouTube tutorials that made her a star. Then she disappeared.
Now, the makeup artist hints she might return to the platform that made her famous.
In the first new video on her channel that features herself in more than three years, Phan takes viewers through a short photo shoot for her makeup line, EM Cosmetics. It’s got an appearance from her cat, a few glimpses of the YouTuber and yes, a lot of makeup. Only this time, she’s not the one wearing it.
The video ends cryptically: “See you later :)”
When is “later,” exactly? She’s staying mum.
She popularized beauty vlogging, then left YouTube
Before James Charles, Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star made digital beauty their career, Phan made it popular. She shared her first makeup tutorial 12 years ago and the trend took off. She upped the amount of content she churned out, wrote a book and founded businesses like Ipsy and EM Cosmetics.
Then in 2016, at the height of her power, she abandoned the platform suddenly, leaving only a hair removal video in her wake. In a video shared one year later, she explained her departure–her booming online career (and a slew of copyright infringement lawsuits she fought for using popular songs in her videos) made her unhappy.
But quitting YouTube hardly dimmed her business ambition. After a spiritual sojourn in Switzerland, she reactivated her social media to relaunch EM Cosmetics, which has kept her busy since 2017.
Phan posted a video in June, but to fans’ dismay, she didn’t appear in it. It’s a livestream of songs she told Variety she’d been listening to recently, part of a marketing strategy for an online music marketplace she co-founded.
So is this video the sign that she’s back for good? It’s not clear.
But for any of her 8.85 million subscribers who’ve failed at a smoky eye or red lip in her absence, there’s renewed hope she’ll return to rescue them once more.