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photos by kat attack photography

It’s easy to see how kids fall in love with hobbies such as music, art or sports, but what would lead a child to a fascination with true crime? How does a kid become enthralled by abduction, torture and murder? For makeup artist and true crime storyteller Bailey Sarian, it runs in the family. “Growing up, my mom was a 911 dispatcher and she would take me to work with her,” Sarian explains. “I would sit in and listen through the headphones to the 911 calls. That’s when my curiosity was first sparked. We look back on it now and laugh because she probably shouldn’t have been taking me to work with her.”

Through these experiences, Sarian became desensitized to all things crime-related and began paying attention to some of the cases making big national headlines. One of the first cases to catch her attention was the death of JonBenét Ramsey, which occurred when she was 8. “It was my first introduction to death as a kid,” she says. “That sounds really dark, but it just stuck with me because it was never solved. It’s one of those cases that’s just so bizarre.”

Despite being allowed to listen to her mother’s 911 dispatches and watch documentaries on true crime, Sarian was forbidden to wear makeup as a kid. You heard that right, murder and mystery came before makeup. She began dabbling with makeup when she turned 18, and two years later she dove headfirst into the beauty industry after being hired at Sephora. “While I was there, I learned everything you can imagine,” she says. “It was an introduction to something I had no idea I would absolutely love. From there, I started doing bridal makeup and assisting celebrity makeup artists and then I started my YouTube channel.”

photos by kat attack photography

photos by kat attack photography

Back in 2013 when Sarian started her YouTube channel she stuck with the standard beauty guru content—tutorials, product reviews and vlogs. She found success with this for several years, but it wasn’t until she chose to combine the worlds of true crime and makeup that her channel really took off.

“My first ‘Murder, Mystery and Makeup’ video was on the Chris Watts case,” she recalls. “I stayed up all night, almost every night, researching and building all of my knowledge on this case—thinking I was going to solve it or something. Then I had all of this information and nobody to talk about it with because my fiancé does not want to hear any more of my true crime nonsense. So I was like, ‘What if I made a video about it while I was doing my makeup?’”

The debut of Sarian’s “Murder, Mystery and Makeup” was a huge success, earning 60,000 views in the first 24 hours and over 9 million to date. She took this as her green light and has been running with it ever since, in turn moving to the forefront of the growing true crime craze. “A lot of the people who love true crime are women and a lot of women wear makeup,” she says. “For myself, if I’m on YouTube I’m watching makeup tutorials and if I’m not doing that, I’m watching true crime videos and ‘Dateline’ episodes. I think I just tapped into a demographic.”

photos by kat attack photography

photos by kat attack photography

As a hardcore true crime enthusiast, Sarian has covered just about every case under the sun. She’s discussed the major murderers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson, as well as lesser known killers like Belle Gunness, Cordelia Botkins and Gary Heidnik. With nearly 150 videos under her belt, it takes a lot for a singular case to really stick out in her mind. “I liked making the episode on Ed Gein,” she says. “That was such a fascinating story of a very unique creature. At the time I was filming it, I was surprised his case wasn’t talked about more. Usually I go on YouTube to see if the case is popular or not, but that one wasn’t.”

Over the years, Sarian’s storytelling abilities have grown by leaps and bounds. She’s gained confidence she never knew she had and has gained a legion of fans by showing audiences her lovable quirks. “If you go back and watch ‘Murder, Mystery and Makeup’ from the beginning, it was really awkward and I didn’t know what I was doing,” she shares. “I sarcastically was like, ‘I feel like I need a theme song just to break the ice.’ So every episode, I sang a different little jingle and then I eventually landed on the ‘sana-sa,’ which is from ‘The Simple Life’ with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie. That was my filler when things were nervous or uncomfortable, now here we are. It’s so stupid, but it’s part of the show so I can’t get rid of it.”

photos by kat attack photography

photos by kat attack photography

Sarian has become one of the most popular true crime storytellers out there, amassing a staggering 5.3 million YouTube subscribers. Then, the pandemic hit and gave her the time she needed to move forward with her next big venture. “I started the podcast ‘Dark History,’ which is essentially ‘Murder, Mystery and Makeup,’ but instead of makeup it’s history,” she says. “I sit down and talk about dark history stories that you probably didn’t learn about in school. While researching true crime, I would always come across different stories throughout history that were super awful. I was like, ‘I want to talk about this on Monday’s episode, but it isn’t true crime.’ I was leaning toward just making a new series on my channel and then I got podcast software. I was like, ‘Oh, this is perfect, I can talk about these dark history stories and get the opportunity to make a podcast.”

For her podcast, Sarian is tackling some of the most underdiscussed, controversial and fascinating topics that have slipped through the cracks of history. From birth control to lobotomies to Andrew Jackson, she’s going deep on some of history’s most alarming topics and presenting them to her audience with the signature Sarian charm. “I hope everybody learns something new with each episode,” she says. “There’s that stupid saying that goes, ‘If you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it,’ and it’s so true. The stories we’ve been talking about are exactly what’s taking place today and it’s insane. My whole goal is to keep the story simple because I know people will leave learning something new.”

photos by kat attack photography

photos by kat attack photography

While Sarian may not be doing her makeup on camera for her new podcast, makeup is still a huge part of her brand. Not only is she continuing to debut new episodes of “Murder, Mystery and Makeup” every week and dropping collaborations with makeup brands, she’s paid homage to her love for beauty through her tattoos. “I have ‘Beauty is art’ tattooed on me, which I got when I was around 20,” she says. “I also have a couple of lipstick tattoos, they’re like Waldos. I have them all over my arms and legs. I actually never realized I have so many lipsticks and that it’s my thing.”

With a successful YouTube channel and a burgeoning podcast under her makeup brush belt, Bailey Sarian is an undeniable force to be reckoned with. Even though the stories she tells are dark, gruesome and, at times, nearly unbearable to listen to, she brings a light and a joy to the subjects that keeps us tuning in week after week. It’s a gift, one we’re damn lucky she’s chosen to share with the world.

styling by jacqueline zenere
makeup by alyssa marie
hair by arianna blean
assisted by jordan hurst
latex set: jane doe latex
shoes: von d shoes