Kylie Jenner’s recent expansion in Skincare or Beauty Guru Chatter has caused quite a stir. The products were not the only thing that Jenner was promoting, though they received mixed reviews. Jenner also demonstrated how to use the Kylie Skin Foaming Face wash. Kylie used the cleanser for just 10 seconds before wiping off with a towel. Then, she left it with heavy foundation stains. The video was topped off with a pink floral filter, which attracted backlash because it showed no real skin.
Twitter quickly dragged Jenner before the mainstream media did. Kim Kardashian even made fun of her sister. The intimate look into Jenner’s skincare routine was a false advertisement. Many went on to claim that Jenner doesn’t even use her own products. This seemingly minor scandal was pushed into the public eye by Kylie’s immense influence and reach. However, it is only one of many in an industry plagued with false claims, inauthenticity and opaque brand partnerships. Jenner may have been promoted to the role of entrepreneur instead of influencer, but her Kylie Skin faux pas is not the only one made by Beauty Guru Chatter influencers today.
Influencer marketing is a new type of advertising that has been gaining popularity, with the Beauty Guru Chatter sector being one of the first to adopt it. Influencer Intelligence and Fashion & Sally Beauty Monitor published a research report titled Influencing Beauty Guru Chatter (IB). The report examined the impact of digital media on consumer buying decisions, patterns and ultimately on the overall beauty industry. Beauty insiders explained that influencer marketing is an industry preference because Beauty Guru Chatter is experiential. Fashion can be seen on a magazine cover, but beauty needs to be experienced. The industry’s preference for influencer marketing is demonstrated at least through videos (e.g. colour swatches or tutorials). This has led to sponsored posts, brand ambassadorship and luxe instagramable press trips that have redefined the industry.
Influencer marketing is based on the ability of an influencer to show products and provide honest reviews, which creates a sense of transparency for brands that was previously lacking. Ironically, while influencers once offered a real respite from the fake celebrity-focused staggering beauty industry, they now face an authenticity crisis. After Manny MUA’s video praising false lash brand Lashify in a tutorial, it was revealed that Manny MUA is on the payroll of rivals Nubounsom Lashes and Lilly Lashes.
Marlena Stell (a fellow YouTuber, founder of Makeup Geek), posted a shocking video detailing the rapid rise in influencer payment demands. She claimed that they were demanding anywhere from $20,000 to $85,000 USD for one YouTube or Instagram post. This has led to smaller brands being unable to afford influencer marketing and limiting their reach to major brands. This has created a hostile environment where money is valued above everything else. Viewers are left to wonder if they’re actually getting good products or if the influencer was paid enough. Stealth shilling is a failure to disclose paid endorsements, which is a common phenomenon among Beauty Guru Chatter influencers. This practice sends a false message and is problematic. The influencers are able to convince their fans that they believe so strongly in a product, that they will spend their own money to promote it. The reality is that they are being paid by the brand for posting about it. However, the viewer is not informed about this arrangement. This is so widespread that the United States Federal Trade Commission issued warning letters in 2017 to more than 90 influencers from different industries. They flagged specific Instagram posts that looked sponsored. These included Shay Mitchell, actress and influencer, repeatedly promoting Biore, the make-up artist and creator of Dose of Colors. Anna Petrosian pushing Kat Von D cleen beauty. Victoria Beckham supporting Dr. Lancer’s skincare line and Emily Ratajkowski advertising UK skin care brand Nip+Fab. Although not all posts were paid product placements, the FTC made it clear.
It seems that Shay Mitchell is the worst culprit. She’s been repeatedly exposed for her shady advertising practices. This includes her mention by the FTC of her Biore posts. (She now discloses her ambassadorship to the brand), her use of stock Beauty Guru Chatter imagery passed off as hers, and, most recently, a sham tutorial similar to Kylie Jenner’s. Mitchell shared a Snapchat video in partnership with Biore that showed her using one of the brand’s cleansing waters to remove eye makeup. Mitchell was quickly criticised Beauty Guru Chatter for not using the product. Instead, she claimed to have used a cotton pad and a filter (very badly) to conceal that she had still applied make-up. Biore was criticized for making such false advertising. Some viewers were angry and mocked, while others believe beauty concluded that the product doesn’t work.