Sunday, November 29, 2009

An introduction...and The Beauty Review Bandwagon (rant)

Sorry this is a long one, I promise they won't be as long in the future!

Hello out there! I was sitting here for the longest time thinking about how to begin this first blog and introduce you to what may be coming in future posts. I'll start with an intro to the blog: I am in my mid 30s ; took a break from makeup for 10 years, rediscovering in January of 2009. I have a very dull/monotonous day job and I was in a "funk" so to speak...seeking an outlet, a new hobby. Boards, blogs and youtube tutorials re-introduced me to makeup as an artform and creative outlet, and here I sit writing to you all with my very own blog. It's been an interesting year...where I have learned a lot about the workings of the internet message boards and tutorials...controversies and trends.

I know there are *many* blogs out there now, and you may all think, what could possibly be the benefit of yet another one, coming from someone like me, who doesn't claim to be an expert of any kind? I am not offering an expert advice column. I won't be selling you stuff or accepting gifts or even having contests and giveaways (uh oh did I just lose all of you? lol). This isn't going to be my side business...I already (co-)own a business (non-beauty related) and wouldn't have the energy or time to start something on the internet. This is just my corner of the web to discuss the looks, trends, products that inspire me, make a real difference for me/enhance my life, and even to discuss the "beauty industry" on the web. I may even be critiquing some "themes" in selling makeup *gasp*! So if you have a problem with rants/ warned.

And with that, I will begin with a post I put up for discussion on one particular beauty board on the net, that drew up some heated discussions. Please do tell me what you think.


Lately it seems like a bunch of you-tubers and beauty bloggers will all decide to review the same product around the time at least 10 others have already reviewed it. How many reviews saying the same thing do we really need to see? Honestly, if peeps had something *new* to add to the conversation that's one thing....but to just say what everyone else has already said? Why?

I think that's why I am becoming skeptical of product reviews from anyone...even trusted sources for tips/tricks etc. If everyone starts hyping something I start to think "they must be getting free product for good reviews". Seriously, take the case of Sigma brushes. I have nothing against them, and in fact I have ordered from them before and just did again. It's just one example lately....I am not trying to accuse anyone of anything. I am not saying that "gurus" are lying. I am just saying that the redundancy is making me skeptical and turning me off to product reviews in general... I am skipping blogs and vids and such because of it.

I do appreciate all the effort and time that so many put into reviews/tuts/blogs and I usually love watching them. I am just starting to feel like sometimes things are over-promoted...overly starts to feel like a never ending infocommercial when you see the same review 30 times from 30 different people. I know some have said "I don't have to review anything I don't why would I lie?"....that's not my issue and I am not accusing anyone of doing anything malicious. All I ask is before doing a review, do a search on youtube or google...or just check out your fellow bloggers/youtubers to see what they have been up to...Just check on how many other people have already done that review-and said basically the same thing- recently.

I think it's obvious that some bloggers and "gurus" are sent a lot of stuff for free...I mean where do you buy OCC liptars or Sigma brushes? They were new products/brands that needed to get word of mouth going, so they sent freebies to people. And there's nothing wrong with people accepting that IMO as long as they are honest about it...As some have said they don't "have to" review a product or hype it if they hate it.

Example: It's especially funny when a bunch of them get something before it's even available to the public and act as though they paid their own money for it. I do think it makes a difference as to whether you think something is "worth getting" for the quality...when you have to pay for it with hard earned cash. I am far less critical about a product I receive as a gift than I am about something that cost me a lot and ended up being mediocre, at best. And sure I am going to be enthused by someone sending me a gift for free..I might get so excited I would write a great review before really using that gift for very long.

There are some gurus/bloggers who deal with/promote an online retailer that sends them stuff quick and for free, but take months to send a product to the cash-paying customer (if they ever send it at all)...I see several gurus touting an online retailer that has terrible customer history according to posts I have come across on Specktra. Some of them just aren't dealing with the same "reality" that the cash paying public has to deal with...jmo

I also  love how some are bent out of shape about having to reveal what they get for free...The reaction by and large seems to be "It's so stupid because you all know by now that I am honest with you always"...welllll

#1 Nope, don't know them personally, and a review IS different when you have to pay your hard earned cash
#2 If you're honest, you shouldn't have a problem telling us when it's free

Again, I don't think there is anything wrong with reviewing products that were sent for free. It's the hype that seems to come along with that trend that bothers me. With the example of the 88 palette or the OCC liptars or even Sigma brushes...they aren't available in stores. So we go on the word of "gurus" and bloggers who have been sent the products to "try out". I respect and understand that we all have different tastes/expectations and what you might like I may not...really I do get that. But say ONE gave it a good review. And then 10 or 20 other reviewers did too...and some of them suggest these products are the best thing since sliced bread...It becomes like "wow that must be really amazing stuff, I've GOT to try it". That's where the hype really grabs at people and gets them to purchase stuff/try stuff that ends up being....less than great in some eyes. It's not that anyone was "lying" but the power of hype, without criticism really misleads people.

But maybe, just maybe, a product isn't "perfect" in every way. Maybe a brush or two they got has shed several hairs...for example. Maybe the pigmentation or texture was off on some items...and not others. Maybe there was a funny scent. Maybe the company didn't package the items well and they were bent on arrival and had to be reordered. What if that information was left out of a review because "overall" a guru liked the products or the people who sold them. What if they just don't want to hurt the feelings of these new entrepreneurs who are so excited and so kind to ship their products for free? Now that's where it gets tricky for me. The hype gets passed on and some of the truth doesn't get passed along with it. That's all I want: the whole truth. I swear that some of the reviews online of Sigma brushes are scripted LOL! They all say the same thing....the same way...Sooo strange. Again, I think the biggest issue is just people repeating glowing reviews that have already been done 44 times before, and not adding any new info....I think the people with the wider audiences are usually the first to do the reviews and that's great. But why are there 20 copycats after the fact? I have to think it's probably because they're trying to get free stuff.

I have sensed a sort of "entitlement" from attitide of "well just skip it then"...As if I didn't think of that already? There was a time when I liked watching vids and now I don't because of the redundancy of those types of infomercials. I hope it isn't wrong to say I wish things were different so I can watch/enjoy vids again.

Ok phew. Just getting that off my chest. Trust me I am not one to rant THIS much too often, and I don't take this hobby so seriously. It's just the one thing that I really wanted to speak out about. With that out of the way, I can assure you that in the future this is gonna be a FUN place lol.

You don't have to agree with me, but please do try to respectfully disagree ;)


  1. I personally agree with you on a lot of this.

    First, it is annoying to see the same review over and over and over. The funniest thing is when the guru takes the time out of their day to make sure you know that they are NOT copying such and such's review. Well...if that many people thought your video was EXTREMELY similar to another's you probably did bite their inspiration. And I understand that there are only so many ways to talk about a product and so many products to buy...but at the same time, you can tell when somebody is trying to be like a more known "guru"

    Second, I agree with the new law that they have to tell us if things are gifts. It's only fair. I don't understand why they're making such a big deal out of it. Soooo many are getting bent out of shape. NOT a big deal at all....only as big of a deal as they're making it. Say "Thank you such and such for sending me this" and move on. People don't even pay attention to what the "guru's" are saying until they show the actual product.

    Third, while I appreciate the time and effort they put into making these videos, some of these girls are NOT talented enough to run around acting like they are. Not talented with makeup, not talented with speech, not talented with filming...

    Maybe it's just my mass comm major coming out but they're taking so much money from professional journalists that they need to be held to the same high standards. Print magazines are going out of business because companies can get bloggers for a teeny fraction of the cost.

    It totally sucks.

  2. thanks for commenting! I shouldn't be a big deal to say "thanks for sending me this product and here are my thoughts". I tend to think that if they're getting bent out of shape about the new FTC rules it's because they don't want their viewers to know *how much* of the stuff they review was actually received for free. It's definitely going to shed light on the reasons behind the "review bandwagon".

  3. I whole heartedly agree! I used to get soooo annoyed when gurus had their own stores & would tell you to go buy it at their website. Now that seems like the most honest thing going on with YouTube.

    As for the 'I don't have to review it if I don't like it' some of them throw out there... Well, actually it'd be really nice if you gave it a negative review & told us why. Why do you only review the "good" stuff? However, due to the fall out of certain gurus & companies like Coastal Scents for example, I think people are afraid to give negative reviews.

    Maybe the FTC rules will bring YouTube back to tutorials & away from the infomercials. I can hope, but I won't be holding my breath.

  4. First off, HIIIIII & congrats on starting a blog! Can't wait to see more content from you. This was a very thought-provoking first post indeed. =)

    I don't watch YouTube, so I don't care much about that part of it... but to be honest, I really don't think it's such a huge deal. I agree with many of your points, but I also disagree with some of them.

    I honestly don't think many people started "beauty blogs" or "beauty channels" because they expected to start receiving freebies after they got to a certain number of readers/subscribers/etc. It takes a whole lot of work and effort and networking to get to that level and I think it's pretty damn transparent when someone's not in it as a hobby. In addition, I hate when people accuse bloggers of being dishonest just because they got the product for free or accuse them of being paid to review the product. As far as I know, not even Temptalia has been offered money to write good reviews and I think a whole lot of us were really quite insulted at the insinuation that a free product would cause us to lie. And I agree wholeheartedly with what someone said on MUA that NO ONE could possibly afford to review as much as Temptalia does if she didn't receive products for free and I think she really does a great service as far as providing a starting point perspective on most products. Aly (alyheartsyou on MUA) at TheGlossMenagerie wrote a fantastic writeup in response to the new FTC regulations and I won't rehash her reasoning here...

    I know there are always some bad apples and wannabes and some people with too little imagination to come up with their own material, but their existence shouldn't ruin the experience for the rest of us. I also think that as readers and viewers, we do also need to take some responsibility for forming our own judgements from the information we take in. There are so many different factors that affect skincare, cosmetics, etc, I don't think it's at all fair to judge a reviewer just because something didn't work out for you. There is practically no product on MUA that *doesn't* have mixed reviews.

    And with what Keisha said, yes, many of the people reviewing or doing tutorials probably shouldn't... but it's the internet and they have freedom of speech and we have freedom to choose to listen/read or not. You can't have it both ways.

    Furthermore, as a blogger and member of MUA myself, I just have to say it is a lot harder to write a negative review than it is to write a positive one, and it's even harder to write a mediocre review. It's much more exciting and fun to show all the new stuff you've got and rave about the things that really wowed you. I fall into this trap a lot. I don't have that much free time to blog, and when I do, I'd much rather talk about the things I love than focus on the things I hated or that didn't really do much for me. I even come across a lot of ladies that don't do negative reviews because they think if they don't have anything good to say they'd rather not say it at all (I think this is kind of dumb personally, but it certainly helps explain the skew).

  5. And you also really have to look at someone's rating scale! Most people are exceptionally lenient when it comes to rating products! Temptalia recently explained hers, and as a longtime reader, I had already kinda figured it out, but a product has to MASSIVELY FAIL to get a D ish, kinda suck to get a C and most products which do what they're supposed to but aren't really wow-worthy get in the B range. I would rate much harsher. I know sooooo many people who are like this though. Even in rating professors I often think students on my own campus are too lenient. If have never seen a professor with less than 70% approval rating - these professors SUCK HORRIFICALLY, but 70% of their students still would generally recommend the professor??? And why? Because they feel bad giving him or her a low score. I think you'll find this is true of most reviewers for ANYTHING regardless of whether they got a product for free or not. I'm not saying the gratis doesn't affect reviews at all, I just don't think people give enough thought to how reviews are in general.

    Anyway, this turned into an essay LOL. And I should be working on my personal statement for graduate applications due Tuesday, and other homework. So, I will just say, I have been blogging for almost 3/4 of a year now, and have only started to pick up more regular readers, and only when I increased my frequency of posting, I have never been sent a free product for consideration, and I blog because I find it fun. I follow both blogs that receive free PR considerations and blogs that don't, and I expect different things from the two.

    If you want to respond, please notify me via a comment on my blog (which goes to my email) because I never check posts for replies to comments. (Which is also why I only reply to my own posts if a reader has left absolutely no other means of contact.)

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  7. Hi Catherine, I will definitely check out your blog and respond , but I wanted to thank you for joining and also just state that my main issue and "pet peeve" is the copycat vids/repeating reviews that have already been done to death in order to get free stuff...People that just reiterate a "review" and turn youtube and blogs into a huge infomercial (as the case is with the sigma brushes for one recent example). I have to question why people engage in that kind of repetitive reviewing. If it's not to get free stuff...then what's the point? Is it because they have NILS (name in lights syndrome) and just like to hear themselves talk?

    I truly don't have a problem with people getting stuff for free. I know that in many cases, it is to our benefit that these items are made available for review. But I do like to know just for my own reference, so that I can compare people who bought it *spending their own money* versus people who received them for free, and see whether the two agree on the "greatness" of that product.