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Companies are staying silent amid beauty guru James Charles' sexting scandal

Submitted by Tech Insider on April 8, 2021 - 12:16pm

James Charles

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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.

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. 

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