Why 10 Million People Follow Skincare Guru Hyram & Are Completely Obsessed With His Techniques

Photo: Jazlyn Baptista, used with permission
Hyram Yarbo, skincare expert on TikTok, smiling

Social media has done so much good for the body positivity movement.  

Where we used to be flooded solely with photoshopped images of women who’ve been photographed covered in full-face makeup and lit with professional lighting, we now have an opportunity to see real bodies: jiggly, dimpled and scarred. 

But if you’re someone who has acne, scarring or uneven skin tone, there’s still a lot of shame. 

Fortunately, the gods of social media have gifted us Hyram Yarbo, the super-cute skincare influencer whose guy-next-door vibe and deep knowledge of products and ingredients has earned him a loyal following on his Skin Care by Hyram TikTok and YouTube accounts.

On top of it all, he's really funny. 

Hyram's most popular YouTube videos are reviews of celebrity skincare routines, but he's earned his following based on giving sound, reliable advice — even when it goes against classic skin care techniques or trendy celebrity faves. 

That's why it was so fun to interview Hyram for this story.

He's committing to a new way of thinking about and presenting "perfect" skin, and this new perspective will, no doubt, help all of us accept our unique beauty — even as we work toward healthier skin.  

RELATED: 30 Relatable Quotes About Acne Anyone Whose Ever Lived With Pimples Can Relate To

Hyram's message has clearly found an audience. In 2020, his viral TikTok videos helped grow his following from 200,000 to over 6 million followers just four months. Now, Hyram has over 10 million subscribers across his accounts.

His approach is all about easy routines with products that are accessible, simple, and gentle.

Most importantly, he doesn’t prey upon people’s insecurities about their acne or skin texture in order to boost sales of recommended products.

In fact, when Hyram duets with a TikTok user with acne, he focuses on what’s beautiful about them, encouraging them to be proud of who they are. Whether it's stretch marks, scars or acne, he sees what really matters — the spirit and light within his fans. 

In one duet, he offers advice to a young woman with severe acne and scarring. She says that people ask her all the time to cover her skin with foundation, as if the mere sight of her is offensive. 

Instead of advising on makeup or how to cover up, he tells her she’s beautiful and insists that she shouldn’t have to cover her acne unless she wants to. Because she is seeking advice, he tags some noteworthy dematologists who can offer help that he knows he cannot.

The title on the video is, “Keep shining, boo!”


Keep shining boo! #duet with @whitneyyysorenson40 #skincarebyhyram

♬ original sound - whit

This messaging is in direct contrast with how skincare was marketed in the past: That “flawless” skin is the goal — even if it’s impossible — and that we need to hide our skin when it's not perfect.

If the beauty and skincare industries thought they had to sell perfection in order to succeed, Hyram seems to be proving them wrong. 

Along with the incredible growth in his social media following, sales of the products he recommends have gone through the roof. He recommends everything from drugstore face washes, acne treatments and moisturizers, to expensive products that can only be bought in specialty stores — though he only recommends the pricey items if he truly believes in them, and offers less-expensive alternatives just in case.

According to The New York Times, “In July [of 2020], he made $265,000 from online ads, affiliate sales (the cut of a sale he gets when someone buys something he links to in his content) and fees from brand partnerships.”

This is an astounding figure to comprehend on its own, but it's truly shocking in comparison to January of 2019, when the NYT reports his affiliate sale income was only $50.

RELATED: How To Treat & Prevent 'Maskne' — Acne Caused By Wearing A Face Mask

I admit that I, too, am fascinated with Hyram’s videos, despite the fact that I’m well beyond the age of his targeted demographic and have a whole different set of skin issues than his Gen-Z and younger millennial fans. 

But I love the way he approaches skin care, how it’s very people-first, rather than product-focused. Even his most critical videos are sweet and funny rather than snarky and unkind. 

Because I’m such a fan of what he's doing, I reached out to Hyram to learn more about his mission to take the shame out of our relationships with our skin. I was delighted when he agreed to an interview.

What I learned made me like him even more.

Here's are five questions I asked Hyram about skin care and getting rid of acne shame: 

JS: So, what was it that inspired you to take on scarring and acne shame as a major issue in your work?

HY: I’ve personally struggled with a lower self-esteem due to breakouts in the past, and I’m happy to be a part of an online community alongside people who have struggled with severe acne. 

I’ve often become frustrated with the expectation of “perfect skin”, when we all, at some point experience breakouts, acne, and damage on our skin. 

In a society that’s constantly promoting perfectionism, I think it’s important for people to know that they’re beautiful and can be confident with acne and scarring! 

I want to continue a balance in my content on teaching how to resolve skin issues while maintaining confidence and self-esteem.

JS: Yeah, I mean, is there even really such a thing as perfect or flawless skin, as touted by so many in the beauty industry? 

HY: “Perfect skin” is such an interesting concept, considering it’s not a constant. It’s impossible to always have perfect skin. 

Given that we each experience skin issues, I think it’s important to normalize skin health rather than setting an unrealistic expectation. If we focus more on caring for and maintaining the health of our skin rather than judging ourselves or others for normal skin problems, we can make a lot of progress and reduce the negativity of unattainable beauty standards.

RELATED: 14 Quotes To Help You Feel Freaking Beautiful 

JS: In your opinion, how does making perfect or "flawless" skin the goal affect the average person's self-esteem? 

HY: I think it offers little to no help to people who are taking care of their skin. 

Skin care is supposed to be about having fun, self-care, meditation, and discovering a passion. My interest in skin care has always stemmed from the endless amount of education and science there is to pursue within the industry.

I think if more people were to tap into this part of skin care, self-esteem would naturally improve through educational edification rather than solely through aesthetic focuses.

Photo courtesy of Hyram Yarbo

JS: Are there any ways in which TikTok or YouTube beauty influencers are making the perfect/flawless skin goal even worse? 

HY: I’m grateful to be a part of a skin care community that largely seems to focus on education rather than appearance alone. 

That being said, we “beauty influencers” as a whole can do a better job of normalizing and showing our skin on bad days, and being open about our skin struggles. 

This is a commitment I’ve made to myself, and I hope influencers within every space of the industry are doing the best they can as well.

JS: What do you think are the most powerful tools to shift the conversation from "the goal is 'perfect skin'" to "the goal is the healthiest version of your skin"?

HY: I think focusing on education and passion for skin care will drastically improve the way we perceive ourselves. 

I don’t think I’d be able to make this impact if I were to focus on skin appearance alone. If we can help people discover a passion that’s rooted in self-care, education and confidence, rather than reaching unrealistic expectations of our bodies, the conversation will organically switch to skin health.

RELATED: Why Am I Breaking Out? 15 Super Weird Things That Cause Acne (No Matter Your Age)

As a mom of teenagers, Hyram's commitment to doing something different and healthier — for our skin and our emotional health — almost brings tears to my eyes.

This is a huge change from when I was young. We scrubbed our faces with scratchy pads that burned our skin in order to get rid of our pimples and slathered our pimples with crusty, brown drying cream to hide them.

Of course, people with acne were often bullied and nobody did anything to stop it, as if bullying was natural. The same way the believed back then that there was nothing you could buy over-the-counter that would really help soothe your skin while clearing it up.

Now, thanks to Hyram and this new generation of skin care experts, we know better.

Hyram has a huge audience, and if he and influencers like him can commit to removing the stigma and shame around acne and other skin issues — empowering us to take great care of our skin while loving it simply for being part of who we are instead — the world may become a better place. 

RELATED: The 3-Step Skincare Routine That Reduces Stress & Improves Your Skin

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer and media critic with a degree in gender studies from UCLA. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Esquire, Vox, and more. Follow her on Twitter for more.