Inside the rise of Alix Earle, TikTok's beauty breakout star – Glossy

Social media’s “Get Ready With Me” concept, more often shortened to GRWM, has been around since the dawn of YouTube. Creators have long developed personal brands by divulging their makeup routine to viewers and introducing new products as they prep for their day or night. As the platform evolved, breakout YouTubers at the time, like Olivia Jade, earned brand deals, attended massive influencer trips and gained mainstream visibility. At her prime, Jade, the daughter of actress Lori Loughlin, often received 2 million views per video by swiping on blush with a smile. 
But as the end of 2022 neared, GRWM content took on a new life as University of Miami senior marketing major Alix Earle reinvented the format. The overnight TikTok sensation doesn’t use skin care and makeup to guide you through her routine. Instead, she uses them as visual distractions while sharing stories about her often alcohol-fueled adventures or asking viewers engaging questions. Whether she’s prepping to go out with her friends or recapping a wild outing with her parents while they’re visiting her on campus, the New Jersey native never runs out of interesting things to say and do. 
And the app’s users are eating it up: Earle has a rapidly growing following of 3.4 million on TikTok and 1.3 million on Instagram. Her first TikTok was posted Feb. 2020, showing what you’d call a typical college experience: friends dressed in trash bags, seemingly headed to a party. It has 2.1 million views, significantly more than any of her other posts from that era. But the real shift in followers only became evident within the last month. Influencer marketing manager Amanda (@letstalkpopculture; 10,000 TikTok followers) pointed out that, in early December, Earle had 627k Instagram followers and 1.2 million on TikTok.
Even though stories, not beauty, are Earle’s real focus, fans of the social media star flock to nail her predictable yet captivating routine. Creator Diana Melstrad (2,700 TikTok followers) went as far as assembling a product-by-product breakdown of the makeup Earle regularly films herself using. The video, which spotlights 18 products totaling $497, has more than 80,000 likes. “Immediate follow!! You should have seen me at Ulta playing different GRWM videos of Alix’s trying to find products [laughing emoji],” said one commenter.
Meanwhile, celebrity makeup artist Danii (@facesbydanii; 13,800 followers) recreated Earle’s entire go-to routine, in a TikTok video that received 13,000 likes in less than a day and has been viewed 295,000 times. Earle’s picks include MAC Cosmetics Strobe Cream, Drunk Elephant Bronzing Drops and Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Liner. Her signature lash look combines Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof Mascara and Benefit Lash Roller Mascara. Earle could not be reached for comment through her manager.
It doesn’t hurt that the blonde, who’s upfront about using lip filler and hair extensions, matches the blueprint for Western beauty ideals. But as TikTok users seem to unanimously agree, her appeal runs much deeper than her looks. 
Her name has been hashtagged 297 million times, as of Thursday — and she presents herself as relatable and approachable. For example, she’s shared an honest look at her struggle with cystic acne — she’s currently on Accutane.
“The Instagram era of perfect, photoshopped lives, where everything you do is perfect and beautiful, is over,” said creative TikTok strategist Keith Blackmer (@keith_toks; 30,000 followers) in a Dec. 2022 video. “If you want to be a viral account on TikTok, you’ve got to be imperfect, open, honest, authentic. People are also over selfish influencer behaviors. Alix Earle is like a Barbie, but who’s everybody’s best friend. She’s giving her clothes away to people who can’t afford them, and she’s going out and volunteering her time to read books to children.” 
Earle also exhibits non-contrived self-deprecation, while simultaneously embracing any haters. She said in one video with a giggle, “People always ask, ‘Like, aren’t you afraid to get mean comments?’ I don’t know if this is weird, but I really like them. Because they’re true! If you can’t take a good self-roast, then come on.”
Blackmer pointed out the interesting dichotomy from which Earle’s success stems. “She is both transparent and relatable, while also having an aspirational lifestyle,” he told Glossy. “It’s being stunning and perfect, but also having an incredibly messy room. She’s able to be natural and authentic.”
Popular content creator Brianna “Chickenfry” LaPaglia (@briannachickenfry; 1.1 million TikTok followers), who is a co-host of Barstool Sports’ BFFs podcast, said Earle has changed the way people connect with creators altogether. 
“If you look at when Addison [Rae] and Charli [D’Amelio] blew up, all of their fans were like fandoms of little kids,” LaPaglia said on her personal podcast, PlanBriUncut. “They’re just like, ‘Oh, she’s so pretty! Who is she dating?’ But people are an army behind Alix Earle already. It’s like they actually care about what she’s saying. … If it stays steady in where it’s going, and she doesn’t get canceled for [something]… she’ll be more influential [than other TikTok stars].” 
This is already becoming apparent, based on how quickly she’s connected with major brands. In fall 2022, Earle went on an intimate, invite-only Tarte influencer trip to Key Largo, Florida. She was also invited to hang with Selena Gomez one-on-one during a Rare Beauty promo day in New York City. And that’s not to mention the brand deals Earle has secured in a short time, including with Grubhub and influencer go-to White Fox Boutique
Amanda believes Earle makes at least $40,000 per sponsored post, which is a common rate for mega-influencers, while others have estimated upward of $100,000. Earle also has a commissionable Amazon storefront, where fans can shop her hand-picked favorites, from hair and makeup products to bikinis, workout gear and festival necessities.
Amanda, who prefers to keep her last name private, posts Earle content regularly. She received more than 1 million views on a Dec. 2022 video about Earle’s rapid growth. “Engagement, follower count and audience analytics all go into negotiating brand deals,” she told Glossy. “I personally care the most about a talent’s actual influence. You can get a sense of this by how interactive they are with their audience, like how often they host lives and whether they respond to comments. Talent that does a great job at engaging with their audience have an incredible community that trusts them. Brands partnering with Earle right now most likely partnered with her for these reasons and also because of her relevance and traction online.” 
Earle consistently engages with her audience in post comments. She’s even posted a video of herself crying over a fan’s praise, stitching the fan’s video while sharing that she would be gifting her a Dyson Airwrap. In response to receiving the $600 gift, the fan, Diana Kirk (11,000 followers), posted an approximate three-minute video. In it, she calls Earle “one of the sweetest influencers on this app.”
Trend forecaster Coco Mocoe (935,000 TikTok followers) said in a Dec. 2022 TikTok video that Earle’s “show-not-tell method is working,” when it comes to attracting both brands and consumers. “If you do something cool, you don’t have to talk about how cool it is. If audiences appreciate the video, they’re going to actively seek out what it is you’re doing. And they’re going to feel more inclined to buy it because you didn’t pressure them. In the time you save not talking about the product, you can start talking about yourself and forming that emotional connection with the audience.”
So, what’s next for the soon-to-be college grad? In Dec. 2022, Earle told fans she promises to reveal everything about her messy split from baseball player Tyler Wade … if she lands an interview on the Call Her Daddy podcast. Just days before, Amanda predicted Earle would be a guest on the popular show, in a video that’s received 40,000 likes. “Mark my word,” Amanda said in the clip. “And if it doesn’t happen, huge missed opportunity for Call Her Daddy.” In addition, Amanda said she sees a podcast of Earle’s own in her immediate future. Other TikTok stars, such as Christina Najjar, have managed to make the leap into the podcast world. Najjar’s podcast, “It’s Me, Tinx,” debuted in Feb. 2022.
“[Earle] achieved her credibility and influence by simply speaking to the camera, which allowed her to successfully engage with her audience,” Amanda said. “She won’t have a hard time maintaining her success, as long as she continues to be super consistent with her content and engaging with her audience.” 
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