Alix Earle, 22, is a University of Miami graduate — and a TikTok influencer with a millions-strong army of fans waiting to watch her next “Get Ready With Me” (often abbreviated GRWM) video.
Earle spoke about her success as she got "unready" and took her makeup off with NBC's Donna Farizan on TODAY.
"If you had told me a year ago that I was going to come on the TODAY Show and take off my makeup, I would have been like, 'Um, no, that’s the one time that I need to have the most makeup on,'" Earle said. "But it makes me so happy that I built this brand where I’m OK with being myself and, you know, showing who I really am and showing my real skin."
Earle explained she struggles with acne, but once she posted a video about it, she found a community of people who could relate to having issues with their skin.
"I got to a point where I said, 'This just isn’t real.' It isn’t authentic for me to be putting on these filters and taking on makeup and pretending like I’m not struggling with something that a lot of people deal with," she said. "I thought people from my school would judge me and immediately it was just this overwhelmingly kind community and I think a lot of people resonated with that."
Earle has been posting on TikTok since 2020. But if she seems to be everywhere right now, that's because of her follower count's recent exponential rise.
According to influencer marketer Amanda, the founder of @letstalkpopculture on TikTok, in early December, Earle had 627k Instagram followers and 1.2 million on TikTok. As of today, Earle has 3 million Instagram followers and 5.8 million on TikTok.
The seemingly overnight sensation works with the ingredients that have defined the lifestyle influencer game for years: Introducing viewers to new hair and makeup products, showing off her recent purchases out of the bag and as glamorous outfits and being a pocket-sized advisor for an aspirational life.
Earle shared the advice she would give to the millions of people who look up to her on TODAY.
"Something that really helps me is setting goals," she said. "I have a journal and probably once a month, I tried to write down goals I have for myself, and I think you come a lot further than you realize."
One of those goals: graduating from the University of Miami. Earle completed her degree in marketing earlier this year, all while juggling her massive social media success.
"A lot of people were asking me why I didn’t drop out, but it was super important to me," Earle said on TODAY. "I was learning a lot from school. And I think that people are going to hopefully be able to use their education to the best of their abilities and do the unimaginable."
According to her fans, Earle's influence is more than surface level. Earle's appeal, fans say, is in her approachable and relatable storytelling demeanor.
Earle made her TikTok debut in February 2020, by posting a video of her and her friends showing off their outfits made from trash bags. Fast forward two years later, her content now reflects life with an elevated platform — she recently posted about attending Miley Cyrus’s New Year’s Eve party, for example.
Through it all, her candid approach has remained, whether she's talking about her experiences with plastic surgery, her struggles with acne or simply getting mascara all over her eyelids as she applies makeup and recounts the previous night's misadventures.
“From the start, I decided I was going to be open with this, especially on social media,” Earle said in a recent TikTok posted on the one-year anniversary of her breast augmentation (her "boobaversary," as she puts it).
“If you’re paying to get something done, wouldn’t you want people to notice? Like, I paid all that money for a surgery and no one noticed anything different about me, I’d be pissed,” she continued.
Earle told TODAY she thought it was important to be transparent about her image.
"People are going to know. So why lie? I think it’s also something you see on social media, I grew up looking at these girls with these perfect bodies and are so you think and you think that’s natural, and you think you’re supposed to look that way," she said. "But that’s not always real."
Her big sister attitude sets her apart from other influencers on the platform, as LaPaglia mentions on her podcast, PlainBriUncut.
“If you look at when Addison (Rae) and Charli (D’Amelio) blew up, all of their fans were like fandoms of little kids,” LaPaglia said on her podcast. “They’re just like, ‘Oh, she’s so pretty! Who is she dating?’ But people are an army behind Alix Earle already. It’s like they actually care about what she’s saying.”
Tiktok influencer Samantha Tannor (@samanthatannor), who focuses on business, brands and social media, chalks Earle's rise up to the “cool best friend effect.” This, she explained in a TikTok of her own, is achieved in a fine balance being both glamorous and self-deprecating. Simply put, she lives an aspirational life but somehow remains relatable.
“A lot of influencers are doing it, but I think Alix Earle does the best job at it,” Samantha said. “Because she genuinely feels like your cool best friend. You feel like you know her, which then means that you’re loyal to her and when her videos come up on your 'For You' page, you’re going to like them and probably comment too.”
The Alix Earle effect has worked on followers like 28-year-old Gabrielle DiDato of Connecticut, tells TODAY.com she discovered Earle by scrolling through the “For You” page on TikTok.
“I instantly followed her, wanting to see more,” DiDato says. “Alix is appealing because you can tell she is being her authentic self. I think a lot of us are tired of seeing picture perfect Instagram posts. People are keeping it real on TikTok. It’s relatable when someone doesn’t try to act perfect 24/7.”
Earle has seemingly adjusted to the spotlight — perhaps because she's no stranger to it.
Her father, Thomas Earle, 49, runs a lucrative New Jersey asphalt and road construction business and is now married to Ashley Dupré, a former escort who was the target of intense media scrutiny that eventually led to New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s resignation from public office. Earle's father and mother, Alisa Earle, previously divorced.
Earle's personal life also makes headlines, thanks to her previous on-again, off-again relationship with former Yankees player Tyler Wade and romantic links to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Braxton Berrios.
Earle told TODAY she's single "technically," and that her fans will have to listen to the first episode of her new podcast on Alex Cooper's Unwell Network to hear more details.
And as devoted as her fans are, Earle is not without controversy. Some commentators point out the wealth she flaunts in videos (like her decision to buy a second Dyson Air Wrap, a hair accessory product that costs $600). Creator Diana Melstrad added up the products in Earle's beauty routine, finding it amounted to $497.
She also most recently faced criticism for promoting a $10 hair oil from Mielle Organics, a company whose products are intended for Black hair.
The Black-owned hair brand's Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil quickly sold out after Earle told followers a month of usage led to “tremendous hair growth," leaving Black women with fewer hair care options.
“Our black section is already small,” one TikTok user commented. “Don’t sell out our stuff and our makeup as well.”
Mielle Organics announced Wednesday, Jan. 10 that it will join P&G Beauty to expand access to the brand in Black communities and fund research and innovation in hair care for underserved communities.
Despite these controversies, Earle will continue to dominate TikTok — at least that’s what fans like 23-year-old Nicole King of Florida believe.
“I think she’s a young girl that has seemingly blown up overnight and is navigating such a new massive set of eyes on her in the best way she can. I think she’s been doing a good job at it,” King told TODAY.
King became a fan of Alix after she came across one of her “Day In the Life” videos.
“I watched that video and was hooked,” King said. “Now I’m a loyal follower.”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com