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Remember when you were 13, and all you wanted was a cool, beautiful, older friend to show you how to be cool and beautiful, too? For teen girls everywhere, beauty gurus Elle and Blair Fowler, aka AllThatGlitters21 and juicystar07, are those friends.
Each produces three 10-minute videos a week, specializing in makeup how-to's, product reviews and mall hauls, where they catalog the plunder from a recent shopping trip.
Combined, the two have more than 1.5 million subscribers and 400 million views; an average video will receive a few hundred thousand views within days.
Graying magazines like Elle and Marie Claire clamor to feature the Fowlers to reach their teen audience, and the sisters typically receive seven or eight product-sponsorship offers a day.
Blair catalogues all of the pieces in her summer outfit.
Although they prefer the stores at the Beverly Center, these Tennessee natives and West Hollywood transplants shop at least once a week at the Grove, where we met up with them on a recent weekend.
Both wear a size double zero and have perky, piercing voices, so how do you tell them apart?
Elle, 24, is blond and doesn't like to sweat; Blair, 19, is brunette and works out five days a week.
Blair tends to blurt things out, while Elle is more eloquent and measured.
Elle keeps her dating life private, but Blair does joint videos with her boyfriend, aspiring actor and fellow You-Tuber Sawyer Hartman, 22.
Elle, who was pre-law at Miami University in Ohio, reviews young-adult novels in a segment she calls “Glitteratures.” Meanwhile, Blair says to me, “Wait, nonfiction [means] not real?” as we peruse beaded headbands at Anthropologie. “It confuses me.”
The two worked closely with a ghostwriter to produce a young-adult novel due out in September, part of a two-book deal they hope will become a series.
Up next: What the girls were like in high school
Elle explains which items she feels all girls should have in their wardrobes.
We meander over to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, where Blair puts four Splendas in her 16-ounce iced coffee and the sisters reminisce about how, as children, they cherished Halloween, the one time of the year they were allowed to wear makeup.
In high school, the popular Elle curled her hair every morning and wore craft glitter from Michael's around her eyes until a boyfriend told her she looked like a disco ball.
Blair, however, struggled socially, especially once the jealous girls in their town found out the sisters did a photo shoot for Seventeen. Bullies repeatedly egged and poured acidic wood cleaner over the brand-new car she received for her 16th birthday — she had to get the body of the vehicle replaced three separate times in the first three months she owned it.
Distraught, Blair dropped out after 10th grade to finish her GED online and focus on YouTube.
Elle and Blair avoid using the word “fans,” because it ruins the illusion that their chatty, breathless videos create something more meaningful.
Viewers are sometimes startled when the sisters don't recognize them when they approach in public.
Once, at Barnes & Noble, a girl knocked over an entire display while drooling over Elle before chasing her to the Apple store.