I am a blogger. I blog about beauty sometimes. This, by default, pretty much makes me a beauty blogger amongst other subjects.
As I stood in the queue in M&S to pay for my choc chip shortbread cookies – have a dunk of these bad boys, you will be addicted forever – when my attention was quite literally grabbed by a headline in the May issue of Cosmo. The editorial equivalent of clickbait: ‘Beauty bloggers – Can we trust anything they say?’
Immediately sold – well that was the whole purpose, wasn’t it? – I grabbed my flimsy copy for the bargain price of £1. Wasn’t quite as economical as that in my day (she said, sounding like 100 years old) when said mag’s popularity was at it’s peak but a purse-friendly sign of the times nonetheless.
Last night, post putting the kids to bed, I settled into a bubble bath and got busy with my Cosmo to see exactly what we beauty bloggers had done to deserve such a negative headline.
Devouring the article, I scanned over and over to find any solid examples of why us lot are potentially so untrustworthy. Plenty of generalisations and flimsy facts abounded, but not one solid, concrete fact to back up this huge question being asked of the general public.
The article itself featured generic research by Mintel and some personal experience quotes from a fashion stylist called Alexis who was unfortunate enough to have her skin complaint turn from mild to mayhem after following the explicit recommendations of her ‘favourite bloggers’ none of which she names.
As someone who has encountered various bouts of skin complaints (and documented them on the blog!) I can empathise with Alexis, but I would not, as she did, try ALL of the recommendations available from various sources for fear of triggering a negative overload reaction to a plethora of fixes. That’s just something I would take slowly, one at a time, eliminating each success or failure as applicable. Surely an informed judgement call, rather than the bloggers’ failing?
“What’s being shared is personal experience, not qualified opinion says Harley Street Dr Sam Bunting. Which is fine for make-up but not skincare.”
Why is it ok to be encourage the public to squander their hard earned on pointless make up but not skincare? Doesn’t bad make up lead to bad skin? And isn’t sharing personal experience the very foundation of blogging?
‘Most influencers are not qualified’….
We are not saying we are qualified, we are merely giving people an account of our personal experience to make them more informed.
Akin to the backlash faced by Deliciously Ella after claims in the press of purporting to be a nutritionist – she only ever wrote about lovely food she enjoys.
The piece advises readers that basically instead of listening to the perceived heavily sponsored content being spouted by bloggers and mainly vloggers, they should instead press the subscribe button on the vlog of one of their quoted experts and book a complimentary consultation with another of their trusted experts – presumably treatment is not free thereafter? Furthermore, read the blog of their preferred NHS GP who has her own private treatment plans and procedures menu – these all ultimately cost.
Now I’m super impressed by this particular doctor and her available treatments, in fact I’d love to try them myself if finances allowed, but the point is Cosmo are directing readers and subscribers from one hub of information to another via the method of discrediting the integrity of the original source. This is not cool.
Don’t get me wrong, I think we are all quite aware that perhaps Zoella’s content and recommendations are a teeny-tiny bit swayed by the big bucks she openly earns for pushing products. However, Cosmo featured her on the cover late last year, holding her up as inspo for the Cosmo woman and expert on all things beauty – is she now not that? How fickle the press can be!
Bloggers and vloggers regularly publish work such as ‘5 beauty buys I wont be rebuying’ from the lovely Chloe of The Lady Writes. This is eternally helpful in the massive ocean of options we have in the beauty industry today. Perhaps they lied and were paid by rival companies to discredit these others? I think not.
To suggest that the great British public cannot make informed choices, are gullible little sheep who will buy into horse manure as the next big skincare solution if their favourite blogger recommends it, is a gross disservice to all.
Tons of us spend a mint buying the latest and greatest beauty lust-haves just to see for ourselves if they are worth the wonga and deliver true value, like this post from my blog BFF Emma here. and then pass on the findings to our readers.
Yes, product is often gifted (and disclosed) , yes sometimes there is payment, but only on shit we like and would buy anyways otherwise our loyal readers would see right through us – that’s how we roll! Brands see what we are already writing about and say, ‘hey want to review our latest offering? Let me send you it’. The review is ours to write and the opinion our own. They open themselves up to a negative review or a not so complimentary piece, that’s the gamble.
Blogs and vlogs are more popular than ever because we are on the whole, as transparent as can be – more so with recent stringent disclosure rules coming out of our ears – at the same time making a good honest living whilst generally working round our kids, seeing through a university degree or holding down several other ‘normal’ jobs to pay the mortgage.
We are real mums dealing with adult acne, chronic eye bags and the appearance of rogue grey hairs all at once whilst surviving on little or no sleep.
Real women who suffered through PND, depression, or mental health issues in general and found solace and self worth writing about their excruciatingly difficult experiences and resonated with millions.
Real students writing about ways to live in a rose gold reality on a budget whilst grinding out a 2:1 worthy dissertation.
Real fitness addicts who need to invent fast healthy meals to see them through lengthy days holding down their mundane desk job.
Real dads who are rocking the house husband role and want to give the real truth to their kinfolk on which is a half decent buggy to assemle with one hand when they clean up child vomit with the other.
Real make up addicts who tried every mascara under the sun until they found the perfect one, nearly wet themselves with excitement and needed to share the love.
Real women who never found their place in life until they started getting creative on the internet with their passion for make up or clothes, giving heartfelt advice on the stuff life threw at them and have grown with the audience they built from a total of one, to the full time, powerful influencers they are now, without the help of a news stand headline or being backed by global corporations feeding their phenomenal funds into their very essence.
Every blogger I know wrote first, earned second. Some never earn at all, but it doesn’t dull their desire to share their knowledge.
We are all of this and so much more. To brand us as a genre, as untrustworthy, skin-wrecking, dodgy advice giving, brand-backed charlatans for the sake of your floundering circulation numbers doesn’t seem like the right thing to do if you ask me.
Actually you won’t ask me, Cosmo, because I am not your popular demographic. The one who will never win one of your Cosmo blog awards (surely that’s an oxymoron now?) or be one of your much-feted celebrity influencers featured on your glossy pages. I am just one of the squillions of bloggers who don’t quite make the cut for you, because you haven’t found me, haven’t taken me into account giving my honest, unbiased opinions on anything that works for me in my life to my readers in the hope that it will help them too. I also earn from those opinions. So do the people who write for Cosmopolitan but you don’t hear me or my peers calling them liars, do you?
I don’t like to court controversy on this blog, but I felt really strongly about this latest shade throwing episode from Cosmo – it isn’t the first time, hopefully it will be the last. Remember the outcry when they published the article depicting us all as Instagram fakers who will sell their soul for an Instagram worthy knitted throw who don’t get out of our Pinterest-perfect pj’s for weeks on end?
Pick on someone your own size, please!
If empowerment, unity and girl-power is truly your ethos, stop trying to tear us down.
Comparison is the thief of joy Cosmo – there is room for us all. xx