The beauty industry is a ever-changing environment, with more representation and avant-garde looks than ever before, redefining our perception of makeup and beauty. Gone are the days that makeup could only be sold through catalogues or department stores. Today, most beauty brands have direct-to-consumer business strategies and advertise their products directly on social media.

In recent years, many fashion and beauty brands have invested a lot of money in influencer marketing. Even though cosmetic companies are the most likely to hire beauty influencers to partner or represent their brands, other industries can benefit from working with beauty and makeup influencers by addressing and reaching a new audience who often turn to these influencers for guidance and recommendations.

This strategy works very well if your brand overlaps with the beauty industry, which can mean fashion, lifestyle, jewellery or other accessories.

As we progress through the chaotic year that is 2021, take a look at the top makeup influencers on Instagram to follow, so you can ensure that they are on your radar.

If one of your 2021 resolutions includes upping your makeup game or expanding your skincare collection, who better to take a cue from than the Internet’s top content creators? The experts listed below are skincare wizards, makeup artists and beauty experts who are leaving an indelible mark on the beauty industry. If you’re not already following the beauty experts below, now’s your chance to hit that button.

Jackie Aina

Come for the beauty reviews, stay for Aina’s endless humor and push for inclusion in beauty. A YouTube veteran, Aina is always honest while reviewing the industry’s most coveted products and collections. Most recently, she’s entered a new landscape: the candle and fragrance world with her self-care brand.

Nyma Tang

South Sudanese beauty blogger Nyma Tang made it big with her YouTube series “The Darkest Shade,” where she tests the darkest complexion shades to highlight inclusive ranges. She shares glowy skin looks and killer nail art as well as cornrow tutorials and advice like microblading on darker skin.

Make up by Huda Kattan

Huda Kattan, better known through the cosmetics and beauty company she founded, Huda Beauty, is the top beauty influencer in terms of earnings. The account boasts a staggering 48.1 million followers! Although the page is for her own brand, she still reps and partners with other beauty industry leaders.

Much of her profile space is dedicated to other influencers, giving them a platform to show off their stunning makeup looks and tutorials – using her products of course.

On her personal profile, with 2.1 million followers, Kattan also reps fashion giants like Dior and Chanel, along with the photographers she has worked with.

makeup brushes

James Charles

Makeup and beauty influencers aren’t just women these days. At the front of the pack representing the men in beauty is the effervescent James Charles.

At just 19 years of age, the first ever Cover Boy, James Charles has built up YouTube and Instagram followings of over 20 million each.

A self-taught makeup artist known for his over-the-top glamorous eye makeup looks and tutorials, Charles has even launched palettes and brushes.

Michelle Phan

Phan started a Youtube vlog in 2007, now she has over 2M followers. She co-founded Em Cosmetics and popular makeup subscription service, Em Cosmetics. In 2010 Lancome made her their official video makeup artist, making her the first Vietnamese-American spokesperson.

Mariah Leonard

Mariah Leonard is not one to back down from color: her beauty formula includes glowing skin and stunning shadows, from bright greens to muted lilacs and bronze tones. Her highly-curated Instagram is comprised of vintage-inspired shots featuring new products and editorial looks, while her YouTube has easy-to-follow tutorials and self-care tips.

Hyram Yarbro

At the start of the pandemic, Hyram Yarbro’s expert hand in all things skincare caught the attention every Gen Z on TikTok. Suddenly, countless users were asking the 24-year-old creator to review their routine and suggests new products (he had a hand in the resurgence of CeraVe and The Ordinary). His hot skincare takes are honest and detailed, and his bubbly personality is an added bonus.

Em Ford

Bringing something a little different to the table again we have Em Ford, a beauty influencer who got her start blogging and has  expanded to YouTube and Instagram.

But Ford is different from your typical beauty influencer: she suffers from severe acne. That didn’t stop her though. She grew a following of 776k on Instagram, and 1.1 million on YouTube. She has built a platform for her powerful campaign, #redefinepretty, aimed at tackling stigmas and bullying around visible skin conditions like acne, scarring, and birthmarks.

Manny Gutierrez

The self-taught male beauty influencer, Manny Gutierrez has over 4.6 million followers on Instagram and posts a mix of makeup tutorials, product reviews, lifestyle, and even some makeup challenges, such as how to make low-quality makeup work. But really, he’s all about spectacular eye looks.

Gutierrez cooperates with subscription company BoxyCharm. He also reps brands like Lunar Beauty, and collaborates with other big-name influencers like Liza Koshy.

Manny Gutierrez’s lifestyle posts are what give him an authentic edge. He has opened up about being body positive and his experience with hair transplant restoration surgery.