No More Dirty Looks recently asked – Who do you trust for Beauty Advice?
It was a post that Alexandra, one of the two original founders of the acclaimed site, originally wrote in 2012 when the landscape was much more different:
IntoTheGloss existed as a curated passion project that was almost a guilty pleasure of looking into the medicine cabinets of the 1%. Now it’s the Taylor Swift of beauty sites: a “welcome all” space that maintains a slight elitism that keeps your attention on their recommendations, running with an engine no longer driven by passion but by capitalism: ad space, endless published posts on sponsored material, click-baits and the “seemless” integration of Glossier into the lifestyle brand of Into The Gloss.
Beauty websites in between (i.e. Byrdie, Beautyhigh, etc) can feel like glorified Sephora e-mail blasts.
Bloggers who worked hard on their reviews all too often end up working with the very brands they write about or start their own ventures with an online store or another brand – always with the same story that honestly just elicits an eye roll at this point. And while I support fellow bloggers turning their presence into more opportunities, it is sad when said blogging goes away.
With the proliferation of social apps like Twitter and Instagram, it’s also disconcerting at times to see behind-the-scenes that the beauty blogger whose advice you trust is actually very cozy with some of the very brands that they write about. Regardless of how many times they write that nothing sways their reviews, seeing the blogger buddy up with the brands they write about doesn’t illicit a lot of confidence for a objective review.
As a blogging hobbyist myself, I can say that there are pressures to writing about beauty products. There is an unspoken relationship where talking a product up results in more support in the way of samples, increased views and promotions from the brand. On the other said, my sometimes out outspokenness has led me to being blocked from a handful of brands who either acted preemptively because they felt insecure or because my writing had offended them.
I think there was a blog post from a brand that I had never reviewed who indirectly called me a “nasty blogger who attacked people’s passions.” Which, fine – they’re allowed to feel however they want to feel, but that’s also something I want to speak about in the green beauty world. Because it is intrinsically such a tight knit community with founders of brands pretty much people sitting behind a computer and working out of their homes, it can feel personal but my own belief is that if you want to compete as a legitimate business, your products should be held to the same standard, so if I offend your “passion” by writing my honest observations, then maybe you aren’t cut out for the real world and neither are your products.
I recently reviewed May Lindstrom’s Honey Mud and provided my honest observations about it which drew a lot of comments from others who shared the same experience yet if we were to search online for reviews about this product – it would seem that my experience is the outlier. In fact No More Dirty Looks has told readers that if they experienced irritation with May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt (an exfoliating scrub with spices that should NOT be used daily) to just pat it on really gently and rinse off – which is a disservice to the reader as you’re completely wasting your money just so they can be supportive of a friend’s beauty line.
At the end of the day, everyone can do what they want with their own forum however I just think it is misleading for the reader. I’m not advocating for cruel take downs of people’s passions but merely for there to be some level of honest discourse.
So dear readers, my question is as follows: where do you go for beauty information? How do you parse through the countless sources to figure out what to rely on and what to read with a grain of salt?
I get mine from blogs. And reviews. I love reading through as many reviews as I can get my hands on, before I make a purchase. I usually let go of blogs that becomes magazines, from my feed. I am not their audience.
Also, something that helped : Find a beauty blogger whos skin type is similar to yours. For example, FleurDeForce recommends some products. She is pretty brutally honest when she doesnt like a sponsored product. Products that work for her, usually work for me. I have a handful of beauty bloggers whos product recos work on my skin type. I stick to them when I need a new product.
Into the gloss sort of blogs are entertainment for me. Its nice to know some names and market. But I wouldnt run out and buy a product because a celeb on there said she uses it.
Loved reading this post. Thanks for the honesty. Its endearing !
excellent post. thank you!
i regularly read the beauty look book and the non-blonde. their reviews are thorough and a pleasure to read. i still visit into the gloss but as you noted, it’s nowhere near as fantastic as it used to be.
Nice! I have just written a blogpost about clean dirt and problem solver that did not work for me at all. The overall meaning in the blogosphere is that they are just fine, sadly not for me.
A fellow blogger has same skin conditions as I do, and she has similar opinion about green beauty products, so I do trust Sugarlime pretty much.
Yes, its bloggers I trust, the more inconvenient their writing is, the more I trust.
You’re my source! And I have to say, when I reviewed the Kjaer Weis foundation, I felt the same way–like I was the only person on the planet who didn’t think it was great. I am currently working on a post about fancy skincare items that I am not repurchasing–it’s my second one. I concur with Archana on Fleur de Force. I also think Lily Pebbles talks about products she didn’t like and why.
This is why you’re needed tbh. So many green beauty bloggers become biased (ngl I would hold back if I was sent free shit) like beautybybritanie, kimberlyloc, lilly from genuine glow and nephriticus (how you gonna recommend me products when you’re skin be lookin like that?). I use to follow all these bloggers religiously, and have wasted SO MUCH money from fluffy reviews *sigh Kypris beauty and Tata Harper*… but you can start to tell who’s knows what they’re talking about and who’s faking the funk.
I get mine from blogs, especially bloggers who have a similar skin type to mine, and read a lot of reviews on different beauty websites. For example, I have you to thank for my Yuli obsession and I’m so glad because those products work so well for my skin. I hope they keep on making new products so I never get bored. I can’t imagine my skin without Halcyon, Pure, Panacea Elixir, and ME Skin Fuel. I use other brands as well to supplement but Yuli is my main skincare line and I can’t imagine finding a better line.
Wow! Im surprised by this post since I never really put two and two together – bloggers being “friends” with brands and thus a not 100% honest review. No wonder I dont get on with some cult products. I go off multiple reviews from Google searches then I weed out ingredients I know do not work for my skin. I know honey causes hives for me so Honey Mud has always been a “no”. Strong spices, shea butter and EE’s also are a no go so unfortunately many of the green beauty products have caused issues for me. I’m now going with the mantra “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” – use what is working for you and know there is not a miracle product that is going to solve everything.
I get them from blogs (both posts and comments) and am more likely to have confidence when I hear some integrity in the writing. I do get sick of the hyperbole but also I like enthusiasm so I try to parse out what’s seems legit. Also, video posts give me a clearer idea of a blogger’s perspective and whether they seem honest (even with free samples), for example Sugarpuffish comes across as genuine in her videos so I trust her opinions.
Quite spooky because I was having this very conversation yesterday about how “cozy” the “green beauty” world seems to be and where the conflict of interest line is drawn…..anyways my sources tend to be blogs i trust who I’ve ascertained have similar skin behaviour. I browse ITG and magazines for fun rather than advice.
Another thing I meant to mention–I look at consumer reviews on Amazon and makeup alley when I am researching a product. I don’t trust the reviews on the brand site. I’m also wary when I see a bunch of bloggers talking about the same product at the same time. I’ve gotten a few things based on posts I’ve read on Kimberly Loc and the Green Product Junkie’s blogs. If it looks good, I’ll read reviews then decide if I will by.
Hey, Nancy! Thanks for the shoutout. I truly appreciate it. I also love searching through MUA for reviews. I’ve been a member since 2005 and will sometimes find myself in the rabbit hole of MUA reviews when I’m researching something like crazy (usually acne solutions or things like vitamin C serums).
eaux at my comment not being posted… shouldn’t have called out names… interesting…
Ok let’s chill – I just got around to approving comments. I think everyone can have their own opinion, I quite like some of the beauty bloggers you seem to dislike, in fact grabbing some Raman with my friend Kim Loc soon!
I love the fact that you tell your review with the utmost transparency – how it really is. Bravo!
I always go to you!! I completely trust you and everything that has worked for you works for me. Currently I am using your advised arsenal of kypris, Ren and Verso, and my skin is very happy. Total agreement with you about May Lindstrom products and actually now find Into the Gloss a boring read and just scan through it, simply because it is obvious how it has conformed. I was an avid follower when Emily done all the reviews.
Please stay honest, we need you, and the likes – I also read Short, small and sweet, The Green Product Junkie, Unsullied and Small bits of Loveliness, and have also found them to be real
Hi Jill, just saw this and just wanted to say thank you for your support! 🙂
This is a great conversation by Beauty Idealist and I believe is also what most green beauty enthusiasts and bloggers are concerned about especially since now the industry is growing exponentially, along with the constant new wave of new bloggers/vloggers. Personally I love reading blogs but have to take them with a pinch of salt at times + do my own research + what I know about the company/their ingredients/ethics. As a blogger, I understand that readers don’t always like it if you’re reviewing PR samples only/most of the time coz that just raises the question of ‘what’s the point?’ I used to read NMDL quite a bit but no longer (the morning routines are still good reads tho) as I find that they mostly review stuff that are sent to them anyway.
On my end, I’ve been turning down brands more than I’m accepting, simply coz there’s just no way I can incorporate so many new products at any given time, and I prefer to take time with every product to properly test them out and gather my thoughts. Not sure where I’m going here now, but I always appreciate honest discussions and an outlet where everyone can be free to air their thoughts as a consumer, reader, and/or content creator. 🙂
Yes i notice there are plenty more good reviews than bad. Its almost as if no one dares to give an honest opinion if the products are bad. I do really enjoy your blog and keep coming back. i think we have similar skin so I live vicariously through you… I’ve bought the may lindstrom honey mud mask myself and love everything about it – the smell, the packaging, the texture… but it just doesn’t work on me. So i know exactly how you felt and appreciate your honesty. Please keep them coming.
It’s really hard finding a blog that both has good recommendations and that I feel is trustworthy. There’s a few brands I will never buy from now, either because of how they react to less than glowing reviews, or other ethical reasons.
I love your reviews, Kimberly Loc, and Nephriticus. I like NMDL’s morning routine posts because there tends to be a good variety of brands mentioned, but the rest of the posts are hit or miss if it’s just a review.
What I’ve started doing is finding a product that I’m interested in, that I think would work well for me based off of ingredients or other things that have worked well from the line, and googling the hell out of it in hopes I find good reviews.
Thank you, Heather! I agree on NMDL morning routines … gives an interesting peek into what regular women are using. See a lot of health food store brands and then a few luxury ones pop up, which is always so fascinating to me.
I’m a big fan of Greenderm– wish he posted more often. I like how he furnishes us with actual scientific knowledge.
You’re also another source that I trust because you don’t shill for a billion and one products. There are so many bloggers who constantly give good review after good review of so many different brands that I find myself feeling suspicious of such a lack of discernment. There was a point this summer when I got so sucked into the green beauty world of instagram that I got a bit obsessed with trying out new products constantly. Unfortunately my skin reacted badly to the non-stop cleansing (sometimes 3-4 times a day) and overmasking (everyday). It was only when I took a step back to re-evaluate what I was doing AND gave my skin a bit of a breather (I only used one serum– Vintner’s Daughter) that it’s starting to go back to its normal self.
Anyways, while I do wish you blogged more often, the more rational part of me is also glad that you don’t. Because I’d hate for your blog to transform to some website that shills for every single green beauty brand out there.
Yes, like others said- here! This is seriously the best place for honest, well-balanced and thoughtful feedback on products.
Awesome post, Fabi. The landscape has indeed changed from when that initial NMDL post went live and when the green beauty blogosphere really exploded. I echo many of the commenters here — I read ITG and magazines to stay updated on what mainstream brands are trending as well as to see what green brands are breaking through. I haven’t taken product recommendations from magazines or huge beauty sites for years because of the exact advertising / editorial line thing we are talking about.
Instead, I like seeking out reviews on MUA, your site and Instagram hashtags. There’s something very exciting about finding new voices in the beauty blogging world, and I love reading posts that are both positive and negative. I think there’s value in saying the cons of a product and pointing out how you think it may affect a skin type different from yours. I also take with a grain of salt when all bloggers are talking about the same product at the same time (hi, campaign!). It takes me months to cycle in new products for review unless it’s something easy like a fragrance or hand lotion (you either love it or do you don’t right?).
Keep these honest conversations going!
So Grateful to have found your blog and your honest posts after finding so much b.s. out there in green beauty land and feeling like I was crazy for not liking ML products or others that have similar nice people behind them but ineffective or damaging products. Thank you for your integrity, courage and dedication!!!
Great post! I bounce around to different beauty blogs, including this one. I hardly ever look at magazines anymore. I’ll sometimes look at reviews on Amazon and MakeupAlley. Your Honey Mud review was spot-on by the way! I used to trust NMDL but no longer. Other bloggers may write well and post great pics, but if I sense too much gushing over free samples by their friend who owns the company, I’ll tune out. I’m in my 40’s so I also look for blogs written by someone in my age range. The hyperpigmentation issues of my younger years are nothing compared to what I battle now, so it helps to relate to someone dealing with similar skin issues. Looking forward to your next review:)
I completely agree with this and I really appreciate the way in which you are unafraid to talk about less popular topics. I have found that alot of blogs I used to look to for reviews have now become very predictable in which brands they support and tend to give all products from the same brand great reviews as releases occur. Perhaps some of this is inevitable in the green beauty world as people are buying into not just the products’ efficacy but the ethos behind the brand and founder? For myself, despite wanting to support founders and ethics, at the end of the day if the product doesn’t work for my skin I don’t want to purchase it. Thus I now only buy products from retailers that have good return policies and only buy after alot of internet searching and cross-referencing MUAlley reviews, online store reviews, blogs etc.
Thank you SO much for your honest and sincere observation into green beauty blogging world. I’ve started switching to green beauty products early last year for few reasons and have been full heartedly enjoying the practice (much to dismay of my wallet 🙁 ). When I started researching different beauty products I used google to find reviews and came across many beauty blogs. I never really read any blogs before and I learned quite a bit about green beauty products. I’ve learned over the course of couple years though that I really need to discern some of the bloggers’ reviews. It seems like some love and rave about every new oil/serum/etc that’s released. That just seems improbable to me. I understand forming a bond with a particular brand and going into a partnership. But at what point is that blog or blogger truly impartial? There’s a particular brand that seems to be everyone’s darling that I’ve had really distasteful exchange with (I’ve spent like $1000 on their products in months time…yikes), and no matter what the reviews are I won’t spend a single penny on their product. It’s just so nice to read this post that echos my sentiment and knowing that I’m not the only one who’s skeptical.
Love love love your blog! I trust your reviews & opinions-keep it up!
I love reading your blog and greenderm the best – i think you are both honest and don’t shy away to criticise. Through you, I discovered my love for yuli, but also kahina etc. I also research ingredients, eg my skin is dry so I need products with hyaluronic acid and other moisture boosters, omegas etc and as I am over 30 I like to use lots of antioxidants during the day and some form of retinol at night to keep my skin looking young.
In general I also think trying samples is a good idea to see if you like a scent, texture etc – eg. So many people say the gressa foundation is not for dry skin, so I was hesitant to try, after I did, I loved it and it works really well for me, so you can never know… I also listen to dermatologist recomendations and try to translate that into a green routine (ie the mentioned antioxidants and retinols as wells as daily spf use are a no brainer for me and there are many green choices nowadays). I used to love into the gloss while emily wrote it, now it just seems marketing. As a journalist, I love raking time out from hard news and read a lifestyle magazine – it is fun, easy to read and keeps me up to date with the mainstream.