Why One YouTube Star Vanished … And Then Came Back

Why the early influencer left social media fame behind

Michelle Phan
Phan was one of the internet's first influencers
By Kayla Kibbe / October 1, 2019 7:43 am

In 2015, YouTube abruptly lost its biggest beauty star. After ten years of internet stardom, social media influencer Michelle Phan suddenly abandoned all her channels, leaving followers in virtual mourning. Now the former social media star is back, but, as she recently told The Cut, she’s not planning on making a return to the beauty vlogger limelight any time soon.

In 2017, two years after her channels suddenly went dark, Phan reappeared briefly with a video called “Why I Left,” which would go on to become the biggest post of her career. In the 11-minute video, Phan explained to her devoted viewership that she left her online life behind after feeling she had lost herself. “Once, I was a girl with dreams who eventually became a product, selling, smiling, and selling,” she said in the video. “Somewhere along the journey I lost myself.”

Phan didn’t stick around long after posting the video assuring fans she was alive and well offline, but last week she suddenly reappeared again. On Tuesday, Phan posted a short video of her cat called “Hello :)”

“I wasn’t even planning on dropping a new video, but yesterday moon was in Aries and I was feeling spontaneous as hell. Anyways. Hi!” she tweeted to her nearly 900 thousand followers after her name quickly began trending on Twitter following the new video.

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I missed doing this 🙂

A post shared by â„ł đ“‚€ (@michellephan) on

“As a creator, I’m always filming and documenting the world around me,” she told The Cut of her recent return to the platform. “I film a lot of personal vlogs for myself that I never share, but I decided to post this one for fun. After two years of reflecting and recharging, it felt like a good time to create and share again.”

However, the star clarified that she isn’t interested in making a full return to the industry in which she made her name. Now, the former beauty vlogger has turned her interests to other ventures, including cryptocurrency. Phan is an investor in Quarters, a cryptocurrency gaming company helmed by a 12-year-old. “It’s probably the most important investment you can ever make in your life,” she told The Cut of her newfound interest in Bitcoin.

Arguably one of the internet’s first mega influencers, Phan seems more than content to leave the empire she helped build behind. “I was at the height of the party,” she told The Cut. “And that’s when you want to leave.”

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