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Bailey Sarian murder mystery makeup tutorial

Enter Bailey Sarian’s bizarre world of murder, make-up, and intrigue

The YouTuber has amassed over two million subscribers who are obsessed with her videos that investigate true crime while simultaneously creating beauty looks

In the time since the birth of the internet, it has been used for fans of previously niche interests to come together, compile their knowledge of topics, and celebrate their shared enjoyment. Sometimes, these topics can be pretty dark (remember serial killer fan fiction on Tumblr?) or they can revolutionise an entire industry – enter: Instagram beauty influencers

In the case of this article, the unlikely combination of the two has led to a cult following for the creator of the true crime and make-up amalgamation, Bailey Sarian. Her YouTube account that posts weekly “Murder, Mystery & Makeup” videos has over two million subscribers, and similar high follower counts on her other social media channels. 

To sum up the content of this playlist: Sarian does her make-up while talking through the stories of true crime cases – be that serial killers, cannibals, or the supernatural. While her channel started with the more standard of ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos and make-up tutorials in 2013, the murder mystery crossover started in January of 2019 and has now amassed 70 videos in the playlist, with each episode amassing millions of views each.

However Sarian’s marriage of murder mystery and make-up was far from a premeditated merger of two popular topics, but simply something to do with her hands while she discussed the Chris Watts true crime story she had been following for months. “I’ve always been interested in true crime and in 2018 I started following the Chris Watts case,” she tells Dazed Beauty. “I was just obsessed, I couldn’t stop reading about it. I had all this information about the case because I had been following it so closely but nobody to talk about it with.”  

So, she reached out to her subscribers instead. “I filmed a video just explaining the whole case for anyone else out there who was following it as well, and decided to do my make-up at the same time as I didn’t want to sit there and stare at the camera awkwardly; I needed to keep my hands busy so enter: make-up,” she says. 

While Sarian mainly shares stories of serial killers and cannibals we haven’t heard of – the Greyhound bus passenger who killed, mutilated, and ate another rider, for example – she’s also given in to audience requests and covered the classic tales of Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, and Aileen Wuornos. With the more popular cases discussed, Sarian makes sure to remind fangirls (and guys) of serial killers to “get better idols.” Not once does she portray the killers themselves in any kind of positive light and is insistent that her viewers don’t either.

Sarian also makes it clear that she doesn’t want to take credit for creating the true crime and beauty crossover genre. “There are billions of videos on YouTube, I feel like at some point someone had to combine the two first and I’ve never claimed to be the first because I really don’t know,” the YouTuber explains. The OG or not, she is definitely the leader of the trend. 

While the internet’s make-up community has undoubtedly had its controversies, bitching between bloggers is far from as contentious as true crime obsessions can be. It may seem obvious to say that make-up is a female-dominated industry both on and offline, it’s worth noting that so is true crime

“Sarian says she can see how ‘make-up and murder sounds like the most disrespectful combination’ but (wants) to create a safer atmosphere to digest the horrors of the real world without inciting fear and dread in the audience”

In her book Savage Appetites and her subsequent Guardian interview, Rachel Munroe believes women flock to non-fiction murder tales because it is a way to explore our vulnerabilities outside of our real lives. “Reading a true crime story about a stalker who murdered his girlfriend might be a way for a woman to process her own anxieties,” she explained and Sarian also picked up on a similar sense in her subscribers, that the interest stems from a natural want to “protect ourselves.”

By combining the darkness of murder stories with make-up application, the threat and severity of the subject matter is mellowed. Not in a way that dismisses the topics or their very real victims – Sarian says she can see how “make-up and murder sounds like the most disrespectful combination I’ve ever heard of” – but to create a safer atmosphere to digest the horrors of the real world without inciting fear and dread in the audience. Sarian emphasises she wants to tell the stories with as much respect as possible but in a casual setting, as if “talking to a friend.”

As with any trend IRL or URL, Sarian’s videos have spawned copycats. As she said earlier, Sarian is far from hateful towards anyone taking up a similar style of make-up-meets-murder-mystery, but unfortunately, her fans have been. Keilidh Cashell, an Irish make-up artist and YouTuber, started her own series of “Freaky Friday” videos, wherein she discussed – often more British based – true crime stories alongside a make-up tutorial. This series has now been deleted off of Cashell’s YouTube and the account hasn’t uploaded a new video in five months. 

Although the weekly videos of Cashell’s have been deleted, along with the hurtful and hateful troll comments critiquing her for emulating Sarian, on the Keilidh MUA page’s Community tab the deleted videos are still logged and a couple of comments from the aftermath remain. “Oh look Jamie Genivieve’s background ripped off and Bailey Sarian’s whole channel ripped off with some make-up thrown in! You would hate this done to you so why are you doing it?” one response reads, and the ownership of the make-up and murder crossover trend is attributed to Sarian. When asked for a comment on her experience with bullying, Cashell did not respond. 

However this hatred is far from fuelled by Sarian, and the community surrounding her and the stories she shares is the reason she keeps creating. “I love the sense of community. I’ve got viewers of all ages, races, and genders watching and commenting. I love reading different perspectives about what we talk about. While we may not see eye to eye on topics, it’s OK,” she enthuses. “We all can find a common ground with true crime and make-up. It’s strange, but it works.”

Last week Sarian’s channel hit over two million followers and the YouTube star celebrated with balloons from her husband and not much else. She had already changed the way she wanted to use her channel from the first million and this second landmark only serves to support her purpose: Making videos that spread awareness about topics like corrupt police systems, America’s racial history, and unfair incarceration in the USA.

“When I hit one million subscribers I had a moment of realisation,” Sarian describes, “I can do some good with this huge audience. I decided to start sprinkling in more stories that showcase how flawed our justice system is, I feel like a lot of people are unaware of how flawed it is. I also did one story about Rocky Myers and how he was falsely accused of murder and is currently sitting on death row in Alabama.”

“When I hit one million subscribers I had a moment of realisation (that) I can do some good with this huge audience. I decided to start sprinkling in more stories that showcase how flawed our justice system is, I feel like a lot of people are unaware of how flawed it is” – Bailey Sarian  

As well as giving the story publicity, Sarian took action, “I asked the viewers to sign a petition I linked in the description box and I’m praying, hoping, that maybe bringing awareness to this story can lead to him getting out. By having all these subscribers, I need to do something good with it.”

Sarian started our interview with - and mentions multiple times on socials and her streams – that it is undeniable that make-up and murder is a controversial coupling. That said, it’s food for thought that the female-occupied domains of fun and seriousness coming together may not be as disputed if true crime was paired with a more masculine past time. With Sarian taking many measures to ensure she does not offend – instead, educates – maybe combining serious matters with simpler activities is the easiest way to spread important information into people’s feeds and minds.