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How Hyram Yarbro Became a TikTok Star, and His Favorite Skin Care Products

The word skinfluencer is practically synonymous with one person: Hyram Yarbro. His social media following is enormous (more than 12 million across platforms), the products he recommends tend to fly off shelves, and his TikTok reaction videos have amassed upward of 10 million views. So how did a 26-year-old with no formal training as a dermatologist or aesthetician become TikTok’s most trusted—and most followed—skin care authority?

Yarbro was born and raised on a cattle ranch in (his words) “the middle of nowhere,” Arizona. At 18, he moved to Honolulu, where he’s remained ever since. He trained as a makeup artist and started posting videos on YouTube, but pivoted when he developed an interest in helping others look after their skin. “I was fascinated with it, because I saw the potential it had to unlock people’s ability to see themselves in a more confident light,” Yarbro tells BAZAAR.com.

But his YouTube channel was slow to take off. “Over the first two years, I grew to something like 2,000 followers,” he says. That began to change just before the onset of the pandemic. “I started noticing the most significant growth on YouTube at the end of 2019. That’s when I went from, I think, 10,000 followers to over a million within [a few months].”

Yarbro isn’t surprised that his skin care content saw such growth even before we were all stuck at home. “It was something that I kind of predicted. From 2016 to 2018, makeup YouTube was huge. People were using full-coverage foundation and heavy, dramatic makeup, which was awesome,” Yarbro recalls. “But I also realized, if people don’t know how to properly take care of their skin, it’s going to cause some skin concerns. So that motivated me to create the content that I did leading up to 2019.”

Then came COVID-19, and with it, a rush of creators moving to TikTok. Yarbro was one of them, and his growth was, once again, exponential. He grew from 100,000 followers to four million in just four months. Since then, he’s parlayed his success into other ventures: Last year, he launched a skincare line, Selfless by Hyram, and he recently started a podcast, Justaposition, focusing on everything from mental health to, yes, skin care.

Ahead, he talks to BAZAAR.com about his secrets to social media success, how he deals with the pressures of maintaining such a massive following, and, of course, which products currently have his seal of approval.


How did you develop an interest in skin care?

I was interested in makeup first, so I started working as a makeup artist. And then, that led me to skin care, and I started connecting to dermatologists and aestheticians and chemists online.

My goal was to simplify [skin care] information as much as possible. [The experts] were creating valuable information that was understood by people who knew a lot about skin care. But I wanted to speak to people who had no idea what products to use.

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You grew from 100,000 followers to four million on TikTok in a very short time. Walk me through that.

The primary reason I loved the platform was that it gave me an opportunity to connect with my followers and with the community at a level that I just couldn’t on YouTube or Instagram—being able to see their faces, see their skin care routines, all of that. And when I started doing reaction videos to people’s skin care routines and pointing them in the right direction for what products would work best for their faces, as well as just kind of seeing all the chaotic skin care trends and DIY hacks that people were doing, that’s when I noticed the significant growth. Before then, I didn’t take the platform seriously.

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I remember the first video where I looped in skin care. I think I got over a million views on the first day, when I really didn’t have followers. From there, the videos started to gain a lot of traction. Before that, I had never seen such an intense interest from younger people, specifically Gen Z. Previously, on YouTube, people were looking to fade fine lines and aging, dark spots or age spots. TikTok was the first time I saw 15-year-olds interacting with my content. And I was inspired seeing that, because it meant that we have a whole generation of people who know about skin care.

Do you ever feel pressure having such an enormous Internet presence?

One of the reasons why I’m grateful I was able to experience growth during the pandemic was that we were all at home. So, subjectively, my life didn’t change too much, because I was just at home every day filming videos in my bedroom.

I can only speak for myself, but when you experience that pace of growth, it doesn’t feel real. You’re just seeing numbers on the screen. When you’re used to your videos getting, maybe, 100 views each, it feels very surreal. I’m glad I was able to have that perspective, because if I was able to conceptualize the number of views my videos are getting, I think it would have put too much pressure on me. I would have felt too much anxiety to continue posting. But over time, I’ve been able to slowly understand the significance of it.

I’ll be 100 percent honest, it is overwhelming at times.

That being said, I do feel the pressure when it comes to the products I talk about. I’m a stickler when it comes to ingredient lists. I have my ingredient standards, and I do not stray from those. The same goes for products that I organically mention across my channel. I really feel the pressure there, because I owe it to my audience. At the end of the day, I just want them to have better skin and make sure that they’re using products that are good quality, affordable, accessible.

I’m sure your followers appreciate that.

It’s definitely been helpful to see their love—it eases the pressure. I’ll be 100 percent honest, it is overwhelming at times. Sometimes it feels a little bit scary, just because of the magnitude and how the Internet can be. You have to deal with a lot of different opinions, a lot of different emotions from so many different people. But I try to focus on the impact that my videos have been able to make and remember the stories of people who say that their skin was improved, they were able to walk outside without foundation on, whatever it may be.

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Now you’re entering a whole new platform with your podcast. What made you want to start it?

It’s definitely a passion project and something that I’m hoping can make a positive difference. Having been in the online space for a while, [I’ve seen] the way social media can contribute to people viewing others through very narrow lenses. We tend to associate people with one thing, whether it be a creator that’s solely associated with makeup, or beauty, or fashion. Or from a real-world sense, you know, not taking time to understand the complexities in people.

I wanted to name it Justaposition, a play on the word juxtaposition, to explore all sides of people and hopefully show audiences that humans are deeply complex beings. Let’s hear their stories. Let’s understand their challenges as a way to remind people to be more empathetic, to be more understanding, to be more kind.

Switching gears a bit, what is the question you get asked most about skin care? Let’s see if we can answer it for good.

It’s usually how to get rid of acne or acne scarring. That’s usually the first introduction that people have to skin care. I always recommend exfoliating your skin using ingredients like salicylic acid, or PHAs, to get rid of those dead skin cells. And then, I recommend not stripping your skin, making sure you’re moisturizing, and taking care of your skin overnight. And I always, always recommend sunscreen. Because even if you won’t see an immediate difference in your skin, it’ll help to prevent so much long-term damage. It’s really the best skincare product out there.

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What is a skincare trend you would be happy to never see again?

Probably DIY scrubs. When I first entered social media, that’s what you saw everywhere—DIY skincare, face scrubs using coffee grounds or sugar. There’s really no need to use a face scrub, especially one that is that harsh or abrasive.

Of course, I have to ask, what are the products you are currently using and loving?

I’ve been using the Youth to the People Superberry Dream Cleansing Balm. That one has been a nice, nourishing experience. For a cleanser, I’ve honestly just been sticking to Selfless by Hyram Centella & Green Tea Hydrating Gel Cleanser. Recently, I’ve enjoyed using a product I never anticipated, the Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Eye Cream. I have been struggling with dark circles, and that one has been the best-performing product by far.

I always use the Selfless by Hyram Salicylic Acid & Sea Kelp Pore Clearing & Oil Control Serum. I have to use that one every day because my skin’s always so oily, and I want to make sure I’m preventing any potential breakouts from happening. It’s so lightweight on the skin. The [moisturizer] I’ve used the most this summer is the Rovectin Clean Lotus Water Cream, a Korean lightweight gel moisturizer that makes sure my skin never gets too greasy. And for sunscreen, a recent thing that I’ve been loving is the Hero Cosmetics Mineral Sunscreen. It’s just a really good formula, very minimal. I honestly don’t see any white cast on my skin.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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