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Why Are YouTubers Putting 100 Layers of Makeup on Their Faces?

"By layer 70, I could hardly breathe. My nose was filling with foundation. Was I suffocating slowly?"
Hannah Ewens
London, GB

The creation of beauty vlogging content is exhausting. The wells of creativity must quickly run dry. How can you do a review of Kylie Jenner's Lipkit and make it stand out from the 200 other bloggers out there who got sent it? What's so special about your Lush haul of bath bombs and bubble bars? Through it all, there's only one question to ask yourself as a content creator: What haven't people seen?


About a month ago, YouTubers found the answer: What if they started putting makeup on, as per the norm, and didn't stop? Just carried on while the layers stacked and the tube got emptier? What if? People would never be bored enough or wasteful enough to think of doing it in their own time. YouTubers, however, get sent makeup by the box-full, half of it probably garbage, to stick on eBay for extra income.

The 100 layers trend was born.

The videos involve YouTubers sitting in front of their laptop putting on 100 coats of liquid lipstick or mascara or fake tan. Some have made hideously impressive "polish mountains" from nail varnish. Jeely, a YouTuber who describes herself as "weird af" with just short of 63,000 followers, an underdog in the big-beauty business, has pioneered this. A video of her putting on 100 layers of foundation from two weeks ago has 7.5 million views. Famous YouTuber comedian Jenna Marbles did one last weekend, and it already has more than 8 million views.

The response has been one of two things. Firstly, "white people are crazy"—a reasonable observation, given the circumstances. Secondly, "WHY DO I KEEP WATCHING THESE??" A question probably every viewer has asked themselves. Why do beauty bloggers embark on this extensive mission—the nail polish towers take a whole day and night to create—and why are people so interested?

It seemed like a great way to waste an afternoon, so I went to the drugstore and bought the cheapest makeup possible and a pack of wipes, because as Jeely says in her video, "This is messy af."


I had a naked face to start off and just started layering up. Beauty bloggers have those little sponges that would have made my life a lot easier, but that's why they're the professionals. I just used my fingers. Very quickly I realized that this was going to mess up my already terrible skin. I could do without aggravating my acne, but already five layers in, I was committed. My skin had quickly rejected the tinted moisturizer—no more cheap toxins are getting in here. It would've said if it could. Instead the liquid sat on top of the skin, drying and cracking.

I got a little rhythm going, splodging the tinted moisturizer on, wiping my hands on a facewipe, drawing on the eyebrows, lips, stabbing away with the mascara wand, and writing another mark on the tally. Time started to acquire a fluid quality, expanding and contracting. The repetitive movements became meditative, and the activity levels of my mind came to rest. A calm pleasure washed over me like I was close to completing an hour of guided relaxation.

My lips were so heavy by layer 24 that they were drooping. A few layers later, they began to stick together extremely tightly, and I had to keep it open and breathe through my mouth because I was worried they'd get stuck and never open again. By 35, I'd lost a big clump of eyelashes. Periodically, a male colleague would come in and say, "Eurgh… you look butters." I suspected this was the opportunity he'd been waiting for to make similar comments.


Halfway through and it felt like rubbing lotion over severe sunburn that's peeling. Congealed lumps were gathering, and if I was too heavy handed, they would fall off, or I'd swallow them. But it felt amazing. My forehead was so smooth and thick with liquid, my fingers would glide through, like Ghost, except instead of clay, it was cheap makeup, and instead of Patrick Swayze, it was only me, indulging in the ultimate act of self-love.

By 70, I could hardly breathe. My nose was filling with foundation. My face got really hot, and I started to feel a bit nauseous. Was I suffocating slowly? Or pumping my body full of toxins, which were poisoning me? More comments from passing colleagues—"Christmas goblin" or "ugly waxwork." I was enjoying my new face for all its efforts. This is what you've done, capitalism. Take a good hard look at the results of your work too, patriarchy. Is this what you wanted?

It seemed as if my face had stopped getting progressively worse, but then I realized my eyelashes had molded into 3 or 4 lashes on each side. Soon it could be a monolash. My whole fingers were wrinkly from the wetness of the foundation and the four hours spent doing this exercise in stupidity.

After layer 100, I looked magnificent. I'd wasted an afternoon doing this. I was winning. The YouTubers getting the #numbers were winning. Together we had created something. I looked like a living Picasso, one of his not-very-good ones. Was this performance art? Probably.

My main takeaway is: Why wouldn't you do this? If you can think of something, why not make it a reality or follow it to its final conclusion? Imagine if people had stopped at thinking, I wonder what happens if I make these square wheels round , or I wonder what happens if we keep building floors of houses on top of each other . Revolutionary ideas started from ridiculous "what if's by dreamers who dared to dream." And we need dreamers in content.

Cynics might see this trend and think YouTubers are ridiculing their craft beyond recognition. But they've realized that by the fourth free bath bomb, no one cares. The harsh, overcrowded world of beauty content was reaching its demise, and beauty vloggers have done the most asinine thing possible. And they've won.

Follow Hannah Ewens on Twitter.