Companies are staying silent amid beauty guru James Charles’ sexting scandal
© Stefanie Keenan/WireImage/Getty Images James Charles Stefanie Keenan/WireImage/Getty ImagesIn a recent YouTube video, James Charles admitted to sexting with boys who now say they’re minors.Most brands working with or adjacent to Charles have ignored Insider’s requests for comment.YouTube did not respond to an inquiry, but announced that Charles would not host the second season of Instant Influencer.See more stories on Insider’s business page.
In the five years since James Charles began posting regularly on YouTube, the 21-year-old beauty star has landed sponsorships with brands like Morphe and Chipotle, collaborated with Kylie Jenner, and even hosted a reality competition series on YouTube. The YouTuber now has over 25.6 million subscribers on the video platform and 36 million followers on TikTok.
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But recently, Charles – who has previously been involved with several YouTube spats – is in hot water after admitting to flirting and sexting with men who say they’re younger than 18.
In an April 1 YouTube video, he addressed the allegations and recognized that the conversations with teen boys shouldn’t have happened. “I was being reckless,” he said.
Charles said in the video that he believed the boys were 18, and blocked them on Snapchat when he found out their real ages, though one boy denied lying about his age in a conversation with Insider.
Most brands who have collaborated with or are adjacent to Charles’ career have ignored Insider’s several requests for comment regarding Charles’ latest video.
Here are the companies that did, and didn’t, respond to requests for comment:YouTube: YouTube has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Charles has been on the platform since 2015 and has earned income through video monetization and the YouTube partner program. YouTube monetization provides a stream of financial income for creators, and the platform demonetized David Dobrik’s channel in light of a rape allegation against a former member of his Vlog Squad group. Following the video in which Charles addressed the allegations, there were multiple calls for demonetization of his videos on social media. On March 26, before the video was released, YouTube told Variety that James Charles wouldn’t host the second season of its “Instant Influencer” show, though didn’t specify a reason for the separation.Morphe Cosmetics: Morphe has not responded to multiple requests for comment. The cosmetics company has seen a lot of pressure to comment on possible future plans with Charles after it released a popular eyeshadow palette in collaboration with the YouTuber in November 2018, along with two brush sets.Ulta Beauty: In a statement, the beauty brand told Insider it is “not a current sponsor of Instant Influencer,” the YouTube series that Charles previously hosted. “I can confirm our work with the platform ended in May 2020 and we have no current plans in place to reengage,” a spokesperson said.Lilly Lashes: Lilly Lashes did not respond to Insider’s multiple requests for comment. The lash company partnered with Charles in 2018 and offered 15% off purchases for customers using his code.Laura’s Boutique: Laura’s Boutique did not respond to Insider’s multiple requests for comment. The boutique partnered with Charles in 2018, offering 10% off for customers using an offer code.Sephora: Sephora did not respond to Insider’s multiple requests for comment. The makeup store currently stocks the Morphe collaboration palette with Charles on their website.Ole Henriksen: Ole Henriksen did not respond to Insider’s multiple requests for comment. In 2019, Charles shared a sponsored image using products from the skincare company. He also appeared in an ad campaign for the brand.Sugar Bear Hair: Sugar Bear Hair did not immediately respond to Insider’s multiple requests for comment. The vitamin company’s partnership with Charles sparked the now-infamous Dramageddon involving fellow YouTubers Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star.The Trevor Project: The LGBTQ nonprofit organization has previously worked with Charles through his Morphe partnerships, but told Insider it “has no direct relationship with James Charles.”Chipotle: Chipotle has not responded to multiple requests for comment. Charles’ recent makeup review of an eyeshadow palette from the e.l.f. cosmetics x Chipotle collaboration sparked rumors that Chipotle sponsored the video or paid him to make the review, but Charles did not disclose whether or not Chipotle was involved in the making of the video.
Charles’ YouTube video, titled “holding myself accountable,” was posted on his main YouTube channel on April 1, after several accusations against Charles went viral on social media. In the video, he said he wasn’t aware of the power dynamic inevitable when speaking with viewers or fans of his videos.
“A power imbalance can happen even when it’s not intentional,” Charles said. “What I wasn’t getting before is that the excitement that comes with talking to a celebrity is literally enough to make somebody do or say something that they normally wouldn’t. Even if that celebrity isn’t intentionally weaponizing their fame, money, or power. And that’s the concept that I just wasn’t getting, but I now do.”
He added that he would be taking a break from social media.
Charles has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Lindsay Dodgson and Sirena Bergman contributed reporting to this piece.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire—and something is clearly burning where social media influencer James Charles resides. After numerous accusations of inappropriate sexual contact with underage boys over the years, the makeup artist YouTuber has found himself at the center of yet another wave of similar controversy, again after previously denying such behavior.
Last week, after several underage TikTokers had posted incriminating private messages sent by Charles to them, he broke his silence to his over 25 million YouTube subscribers to state how he “fully understand my actions and how they were wrong” on sending nudes and being “engaged in a flirty conversation” with minors.
“I do understand with these videos coming to, it’s really starting to—not even starting to—it’s really looking, period, like I’m actively searching for younger people to be in a relationship with,” Charles says in a YouTube video he posted on April 1 titled “holding myself accountable.” “I just want to say firsthand that is absolutely not the case.”
James Charles’ underage sexting scandal lands makeup brand Morphe in hot water
James Charles recently addressed accusations that he had flirtatious conversations with minors on Snapchat.He apologized for being ‘reckless’ and said he was unaware that they were underage when the interactions began.Makeup brand Morphe is being criticized for not speaking out against Charles and continuing to promote his products.See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Makeup brand Morphe is being called out by consumers and influencers for staying silent following a video from YouTube beauty guru James Charles, in which he addressed accusations that he’s had sexual interactions with underage fans over Snapchat.
On Thursday April 1, Charles — who is one of the biggest beauty influencers in the world, with more than 25 million YouTube subscribers and 36 million TikTok followers — posted a video acknowledging that he had sexually charged conversations with two 16-year-old boys who he added on Snapchat. He said that at the time he believed them to be 18 and that he blocked them once he became aware of their age.
A number of similar accusations against Charles have been made in recent weeks, primarily in the form of viral TikTok videos posted by the boys who say they had flirtatious or sexual conversations with Charles. In his apology video, Charles said he had been “reckless” and that he needed to “take accountability for my actions and most importantly apologize to the people that were affected by them.”
Now, pressure is mounting on brands that have previously aligned themselves with Charles to speak out and distance themselves from him. Followers are singling out Morphe, a makeup company that has been closely associated with Charles since it released a hugely successful eyeshadow palette in collaboration with him in November 2018. Morphe has since launched a mini version of the palette, as well as two brush sets in collaboration with Charles. One of the brush collections, which is priced at $149, is currently sold out in the US; the rest of the products are still available to purchase on Morphe’s website.
On Sunday, internet reporter Def Noodles, who has close to 100,000 Twitter followers and has amplified the accusers’ stories since they began to emerge, tagged Morphe in a tweet which laid out the accusations against Charles.
It has now been retweeted and quote-tweeted more than 300 times. People asked why Charles still has a platform and encouraged others to stop supporting him. A number of users also tagged Morphe, as well as Nickelodeon, which produces the Kids Choice Awards, which recognized Charles this year. Some added that they will no longer support Morphe as a result of its silence, and drama YouTuber Truth Sleuth, who has more than 50,000 subscribers, is among those who have made videos calling the brand out.
It follows similar criticism from Def Noodles over a post on Morphe’s Instagram on Saturday 3 April which promoted the James Charles palette. Fellow influencer Trisha Paytas, who has used her platform of 1.4 million YouTube subscribers and 5.6 million TikTok followers to frequently criticize Charles, also tweeted to denounce Morphe, calling its continued association with Charles “embarrassing.”
Morphe has yet to address the allegations against Charles or his statements in his apology video. On the brand’s website, a page entitled Morphe x James Charles says: “Step into the crazy-colorful world of our Morphe Babe, James Charles. It’s so, so good!”
“Morphe Babe” is the term used by the brand for loyal customers and influencers it works with. Morphe is known for being one of the first beauty brands to heavily work with online content creators, both in the form of product collaborations and also affiliate programs, which allow influencers to make a small percentage of the revenue of each sale which comes via their unique code. This form of monetization has been criticized for potentially encouraging influencers to promote brands they are affiliated with over other products.
This is not the first time Morphe has found itself facing criticism for its links to controversial influencers. Just last year the brand cut ties with YouTuber Jeffree Star, whose makeup brand was sold in Morphe’s stores, amid controversy following the release of his makeup collaboration with fellow YouTuber Shane Dawson. Dawson and Star — two of the biggest names on the platform with a combined YouTube following of more than 35 million people — became the focus of intense scrutiny last year, much of which focussed on Dawson’s past behavior in YouTube videos, which ranged from using blackface to making jokes about pedophilia.
Insider has reached out to Morphe for comment on its ties to James Charles and has yet to hear back.