We’ve had this discussion before on where everyone is going to for their beauty scoop but in the evolving landscape of beauty publications, I thought that this time I would just share my list beyond the blogs you see in my re:
NoMoreDirtyLooks: Sophie Amoruso of #GIRLBOSS fame recently stepped down from her position at Nasty Gal and in an Instagram Story captioned something along the lines of: “We killed it until all the copy cats came to our table and ate our lunch.” That is where I feel green beauty is currently. Bastions like No More Dirty Looks and Spirit Beauty Lounge who worked to establish the concept of “green” and “beaut is wellness” have become obsolete. In the case of No More Dirty Looks, the original founders got busy and brought on contributors who cozied up so much to the industry, it felt disingenuous (there was one time where 8 posts in a row were about one line). Editorial integrity was called out which was never sufficiently addressed. That’s where the downfall, for me, started but they still kept it going… until even that floundered when said writers struck out with their own lines and outside editorial jobs in the same industry which made the site lose a lot of the appeal that drew readers in the first place as a community to share rather than a place to sell. Now the site is all but dead with the founders acknowledging that the site “has fallen by the wayside”. Maybe one day it will be back, hopefully with the intent and tone realigned with the founder’s original purpose. But if that can’t be done, perhaps it is best left in the past.
The Formula Blog: This personal blog was one of my favorites. I love Aimee’s self produced content from the photos to her brief reviews. There was a lot of insider content thanks in part to Aimee’s relationship with editors. However the last post was more than 5 months ago. Her Instagram is still good although the beauty feature is very scarce.
Into The Gloss: back in the day Emily Weiss would share her routines and that is actually where I learned about lines like Sunday Riley, Aesop, and even more mainstream lines like Jurlique. Her insider knowledge and access to people like Eva Chen and every beauty editor and fashion model was the draw. Now it has become the self-styled “editorial arm” of Glossier. Good for Emily, for maximizing her opportunity but let’s face it – the site is sooo not what it used to be back when we learned about Rodin Olio Lusso, or how jewelry designer Eddie Borgo went from La Mer to vegan products. Now the site fluctuates between sharing TOPSHELFIES of “on brand” girls from social media and writing their own posts in that cutesy, fae, “Broad City is MY life” type of way that I find to be too much. It is irritating to see the brand forcefully commit to communicating their almost stereotypically offensive take on “millennial speak.” Now I skim through the main page and just go “this will be about glossier… this will have more products but they’ll be low key raving about the 2-3 glossier products they have in there… this one will be annoying AF…” and the posts just don’t carry the addictive quality that made me go back and re-read posts of yesteryears. It also doesn’t help that their products (which already don’t promise much) have consistently felt like a cosmetic version of holding a limp dick, I’m always left feeling like “this is a sad product, are we supposed to find the crap quality ironic in a hipster way and love it for that reason?” is the appeal “OMG this is so basic and opposite of good, HOW REFRESHING & BAD ASS!”?
So anyway, the churning of eye-roll inducing articles mixed with self-promotion means this-
TL;DR ITG started slipping when Emily Weiss stepped away from the editorial/content side, and since Glossier’s launch has become increasingly unbearable transforming from an insider look behind the scenes of the most aspirational, into an SNL parody on millennial marketing. Like many relationships, change is inevitable and it’s time we cut the bullshit and acknowledge this is just not working anymore.
The Rise of the Clones
These are the “holistic health” sites like mindbodygreen, Well+Good, Chalkboard Mag that have great content yet absolutely no spark nor personality; making them difficult to differentiate. The combination of never critical beauty round ups, smoothie recipes, 5 foods for stress/immunity/ so on so on, gluten free EVERYTHING is a bit tedious and while the majority of articles are informative, everything just feels very… blogging by the numbers and formulaic… there is no engagement. Honestly, I can only take so many articles about avocados on toast. Whereas ITG doubled down so much on developing a personality as contrived as it may be, at least they arrived at a personality.. these sites need to find an identity that doesn’t all blend in together.
Recently, I’ve found myself signing up for feeds from two men’s sites that could not be more different from one another. Very Good Light is written for “generation z” and has articles on products next to pieces geared toward redefining masculinity. The product pieces are written in a way where it’s almost a journey of discovery and exploration as though the reader is figuring out a BB cream or new cleanser with the writer.
Garçon’s World goes in from the other direction, with the express purpose of providing an edit for the modern man. The tone reads like GOOP x ITG (from their heydays), where the writers – themselves experts in the industry (including my favorite – Green Derm), talk shop with copies befitting of advanced magazine editors. More than that, they really cut through “trends” and deliver focus on products that are simply strong performers, including raving about a retinol serum from a purely clinical line (harder to get than Biologique Recherche) that I’ve never seen anywhere else before. There’s also really juicy stuff on their social media, their last Instagram story on the Kypris cleanser contamination was the first of two times my jaw dropped on Oscar weekend.
While not a small-time operation by any means, I will go ahead and place Garance Dore in here as the site was started as her personal space. Since then, she’s done so well for herself. Garance Dore‘s Beauty category has expanded quite significantly and is probably the closest thing to old ITG that I’ve found. I think it is because while her team has grown over the years, Garance retains her voice as the site is still her “business focus”. Check out their post: Objects of Beauty and you’ll see why this site is one of few that still makes articles that I come back to read.
Caroline Hiron’s is the beauty bible for many people and I love her cutting yet honest reviews (check out her visit to Violet Grey). Admittedly our perspective on some things are not the same: I think the amount of acid toning and retinols she recommends is bordering on counter productive, and some of her reviews esp on cleansers leave me confused i.e. Tata Harper’s Purifying Cleanser to her is a strong cleanser and should be a 2nd cleanse but in my experience it turns into oil on skin and is pretty much a 1st cleanser as it leaves a film behind but can remove make-up (my review here), she also says Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip is a similar cleanser that is low foaming but in my experience, it was pretty foamy and one of the cleansers that would dry out my skin so I saved it as a once a week cleanser for when skin was extra oily. All this is to say, everyone’s skin is so different as are our perspectives when it comes to products and just because we don’t always align does not mean the other person is not valid. I think Caroline is blunt, no-nonsense and so witty and will continue to read her site as both an informative source and for juicy tidbits.
I think that does it for my reading list, does yours look like this too? Are there others I should be adding to the list?
WOW you’ve been gone for a while but you came back to SLAY. SO TRUE about NMDL and ITG. I stopped reading NMDL about a year before this happened and ITG has been more and more lacking in quality articles, I couldn’t articulate it the way you did but I totally used to bookmark articles on there and now barely give the pieces more than a cursory glance.
I miss SBL and wish she could come back. There are good sites like Integrity Botanicals and Detox Market but they really don’t have the same feel. The only comparable is really CAP Beauty but I went into their shop once and did not detect any kindness.
I find that instead of reading blogs, I mostly follow bloggers on instagram as it gives me a better idea of their “day to day” and is easier to ask direct questions right under the posts.
Whom would you recommend on Instagram? I’m always looking for recommendations because I also had to stop following many green blogs. Thanks in advance.
Robbie, I had the same experience at CAP Beauty. The two shop girls were chatting with each other the whole time, never asked me if I needed help, and looked annoyed when I interrupted them to check out.
You are on fire. I almost spat out my drink at the office reading your take on Into The Gloss! You hit the nail on the head, the problem with their messaging is not that it’s so casual but rather it feels contrived. Like they saw the success of #GIRLBOSS and Lena Dunham and decided to pivot, but Emily as we can tell is NOT that girl, it isn’t her “truth” so it feels like a facade and that is where they lose me.
Although you don’t post as much as I hope you would, you seriously never disappoint. Is there a place we can chip in for a podcast on your hot takes? lol
I love the Garance Dore site but her podcast is a little… boring. Have not gotten through one yet. I also really like the Caroline Hirons Youtube channel, her vlogs are quite addictive. Very Good Light has some good articles but others are a bit heavy for just leisurely, beauty reading, though it is nothing against them. Wasn’t Spirit Beauty Lounge working on a lifestyle site too?
You’re my spirit animal. There is no one who says the things you say but many who feel the same way.
Can anyone fill me in on what happened on the Garçons World Insta story about the Kypris cleanser….
There’s so much truth in this blog post, thanks for always saying what is on your mind, for not holding back.
In the last year I stopped following a lot of green blogs and channels. Critical reviews are hard to find, every second post reads like an advert and so many bloggers follow the same hype and guru recommendations. I’m tired of all of this.
I’m drawn to people who go out and buy their own products, who still document their real journey and not a glossy version of it. I’m drawn to people who actually use the products they own, who don’t buy a ton of stuff every week just to have something new to show, who don’t accept tons of free products they will never be able to use up in time. I’m drawn to people who are curious about trends but approach them carefully, who don’t get too close to the industry, who critically evaluate the products in their life.
I would love to get some recommendations for green bloggers and Instagram accounts.
I just realized.. “What I’m reading” is so genius lol.. you read NMDL/ITG to filth!
Happy to see this post from you! The burnout is real, and I’ve been actively searching for new sources of great beauty content, real reviews and real opinions.
On the blogger side, I struggle to create new posts more and more because when I find new things I really like … I don’t want to stop using them. As the sole content creator behind my blog (besides my boyfriend, who is going to write once a month, supposedly!), it’s tough. After doing this for 7 years, I’ve found a lot of stuff I really love … and just wanna keep using. It’s hard to keep your pulse on what’s new when, well, your face is on the line.
With that, though, I have been exploring Korean beauty a bit and have really dug in to the following blogs:
And of course, the reddit Skincare Addiction and Asian Beauty threads
Keep your posts, whatever they may be, coming! Always love reading your perspective on all things beauty.
Thank you so much for this. Your honesty is refreshing.
Damn girl! I miss your posts, but THIS is worth the wait. You are spot-on, always:)
I think this post contains my favourite line ever in the history of beauty blogging lolz.
At this point, I read your blog and Caroline Hirons. That’s it. I appreciate that you buy all your products yourself and how honest your reviews are.
On another note, I wanted to say thank you. It was because of your blog that I first tried Yuli skincare. As a longtime acne sufferer (two rounds of Accutane!), I am always on the lookout for good products that don’t aggravate my skin and can help with acne scarring. I’m on Bottle #3 of Cell Perfecto and my skin is looking better and better.
Your analysis is spot-on. I remember looking forward to ITG’s Top Shelf, which, even when it featured people living that impossibly luxe life, included down to earth products like Dr. Bronner’s (Lisa Marie Fernandez’ one is one of my favorites). Nowadays Caroline Hirons, Detailed Oriented Beauty, and the occasional Garance Doré Beauty Minutes are what I read.
I recently just found Garcon’s World and absolutely love it! Such a high-quality, informative site. And gorgeous. I don’t care if it’s just for men!