Can You Really Trust Beauty Gurus?

Header credit: teen.com

The life of a YouTube beauty guru looks so glamorous, polished and attainable. Jetting around the world, your own personal makeup and filming studio, social media literally being your job and of course, loads of spare cash to spend on whatever is in fashion at the time that will no doubt, be shared in a haul video to your loyal viewers. Of course, we only see what they choose we can see. Recently, Federal Trade Commission regulations have been getting tighter for social media in the United States – FTC advertising regulations aren’t new, according to Bloomberg, but they are now being more strictly enforced as many social media stars aren’t adhering to them. Is there something going on behind the scenes?

Although YouTube is their vehicle towards fame and fortune, it is not their primary source of income. AdSense, clicks, views and the length of time their viewers spend watching their videos does give them a lot of income – but the main money that allows their excessive lifestyles to be sustained is from sponsored content and affiliate links. Online brands that have little following but a lot of money can sponsor a beauty guru to mention their products in their videos, tweets, snaps or Instagram posts, and can be assured that millions of fans will see their favourite YouTuber praising products that they conveniently have a 20% discount code for, but only through a specific link listed in the decscription box. Currently the FTC is regulating YouTube videos and Instagram, but advertising on Snapchat is still in a grey area given that the content that is put up only lasts for 24 hours.

But personal endorsements aren’t new – they’ve been around as long as advertising has been. Both Beyoncé and Michael Jackson were partnered with Pepsi and created adverts for the company as well as promoted them on their tours, so why is promoting makeup on YouTube considered different? Well, for one, even a lot of young children all know that advertisements on TV or playing in a sidebar have people that are paid to promote a particular product. However, watching YouTube videos of a beauty vlogger is a relaxed, authentic atmosphere, it feels like you are sitting down and talking with your beauty obsessed friend when suddenly she pulls out a random face mask from a no-name brand and spends about eight minutes of your thirty minute conversation talking about it. That can allow the sneakiest type of advertising to infiltrate your brain – you NEED this palette, your collection isn’t complete without this entire set of brushes from an unknown brand, your skin will thank you if you buy this, and use my discount code… You get the gist. When they don’t state that they are sponsored, compensated or paid to promote these products, it’s advertising when you’re in a vulnerable state. That’s what FTC regulations are trying to crack down upon – even the Kardashians have to comply.

Another point to make is that a common audience for beauty gurus is often young, impressionable teenagers. In my own experience, when I was sixteen, I always watched YouTube makeup tutorials wondering what products they used to get their skin so smooth and poreless, almost like an android, as my own skin was like a mountain range of acne. I tried so many pore-filling, smoothing and other similar skincare products to try and get the uncanny valley look. Of course I knew the photos on Instagram were photoshopped, but it never occurred to me until recently that blurring filters could be used on videos. Literally every person has pores, zits and bumps on their skin and being young, rich and famous does not exempt you from this fact of life. I think if I had been younger than sixteen and less prone to critical thinking, this could have seriously done some damage to my self esteem. YouTube is extremely popular among children under the age of ten as well, so there’s a chance many of them can grow up thinking their skin is ugly because it isn’t unnaturally blurred by bright lights and filters.

If this isn’t seeming sketchy to you, I do have another example. There was a bit of an uproar during October when the cosmetics company Tarte invited many famous beauty YouTubers to come to Bora Bora, all expenses paid and free products from their new line that launched just after the trip ended. The stipulation for the vloggers was to post about the products on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. If that were me, I wouldn’t say anything bad at all about those products so that I would get to go on more trips with that brand. It created a lot of distrust between viewers, brands and content creators. The line that launched after the trip was met with large-scale disappointment towards mediocre products at a high price tag, it was obvious to the consumers now where the money that was meant for Research & Development and Quality Control had gone.

So if we look at what I’ve compiled here, it seems that beauty gurus do have a history of dishonesty around what they promote. My advice is to take everything they say with a large pinch of salt, even myself if you’d count me as a beauty guru.

Do you still trust beauty gurus? Are there some you don’t trust and some you do? Let me know on Twitter or down below!

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Kat Von D Is Coming To Dublin + Products From Her Brand You NEED To Try

Header credit: Debenhams Blog

Makeup enthusiasts and tattoo junkies, have you ever wanted to meet Kat Von D? Your fantasies may become reality sooner than you think!

According to this Debenhams blog post, the famed tattoo and makeup artist will be coming to Henry St. Debenhams on April 1st for the launch of the new Kat Von D beauty counters and there will be a fan meet and greet!

Now the only way you can meet the star is to purchase a product from the new Kat Von D beauty counters (opening dates in different stores listed on the blog post) and you will get a free wristband which permits you to join the queue outside Henry St. Debenhams on Saturday morning. However, wristbands are in limited supply… and I’d say the products aren’t going to be well-stocked either. So what are the best products in my own humble opinion to pick up? All products listed below are vegan and cruelty free, as is the brand’s ethos.

  1. Lock-It Creme Concealer
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Kat Von D Lock-It Concealer Creme in the shade 13 Light. Image credit: katvondbeauty.com

This concealer launched late last year, and it remains a popular product of the brand. It comes in a wide range of shades, boasts a full-coverage matte finish and the packaging is gothic but elegant. It also comes in a pure white shade, which can be handy for highlighting on lighter skin tones, lightening up your foundation during the winter or for colour correcting any hyperpigmentation. Both her foundation and her concealer are designed to cover up tattoos, so you’ll only need a little bit for any zits. It is a bit pricey at €26, but I think it’s worth a shot to try given all the glowing reviews this concealer gets given. This is also a heavy-duty product for those of us who love our cake-face, so don’t expect a sheer natural finish from many of Kat Von D’s products.

2. Tattoo Liner

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Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in the shade Trooper. Image credit: debenhams.ie

I’ve heard of this magical eyeliner for years now, before I even knew who Kat Von D was. It’s a pen eyeliner, which I normally don’t like as I find the felt tips tend to dry out way too easily – however, this pen eyeliner features a thin brush tip to create flowing, precise lines instead of a felt tip. The colour Trooper is blacker than black, and there is a brown version called Mad Max Brown (I would buy that too just for the name alone). This liner is supposed to be super long lasting, easy to apply and little to no fading. For even better, more long-lasting results, I’d suggest applying an eyeshadow primer onto your lid before you put on the eyeliner. At €20, I personally think that’s a steal for a liner that won’t dry out. This product is somewhat of a cult favourite in the U.S. as well.

3. Everlasting Liquid Lipstick.

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I have tried this particular product in the past so I can absolutely vouch for its amazing qualities. This was one of the first liquid-to-matte lipsticks ever created, before the trend took off on Instagram. However, they were recently reformulated to make the product entirely vegan so they do have an updated formula. I own the lipstick in the limited edition shade “Project Chimps” which sadly, is not available anymore which is a shame because I think it’s the most beautiful oxblood red that everyone should own. The lipstick really is long-lasting, and it fades evenly throughout the day. Reapplications don’t make it crumble on your lips and the colours are so unique yet flattering. I’m planning on picking up either Lolita or Lolita II to get my free wristband. At €21, it’s worth the splurge!

I hope I’ve given you enough information about what products to try from the Kat Von D brand, and I hope to see you there at the fan meet and greet on April 1st! Let me know what you think of the products in the comments when you try them out!

 

 

Dying, Bleaching, Shaving, Growing: My Hair Journey

According to MTV, colourful hair is slowly becoming more and more acceptable by society – and why not? It’s such a fashion statement, but fashion is short-livedand always changing. This article inspired me to write about my own hair journey, from 2010 to 2017, the good and the bad, the bleached and the dyed, the shaved and the roots.

One of my most prominent memories of my adolesence is the excitement of the first time I got my hair dyed – I got it done professionally at a fancy hairdressers, and as was en vogue in 2010, I got it in a cherry red like Cheryl Cole. I remember running out of the salon to my mum’s car after paying, my blow-dried hair bouncing on my back and the smell of ammonia filling my lungs as I panted.

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Thirteen year-old Kitty invents the selfie via a Nintendo DSi.

I’ve been dying my hair since I was thirteen, partially due to the heavy scene/emo influences in my childhood. I just love the excitement of drying the hair and watching it magically change colour from almost-black to a bright wash of colour. Of course, with my naturally dark brown hair, there’s not many bright options for me unless I jumped the shark and bleached it. For a while, I just sufficed with box dyes and relying on the sunlight to show off the colour as it progressively got darker from the build up of pigment.

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My natural colour really limited my creativity. Again, DSi photo.

After layering box dye after box dye, my hair started to become a colour that no one could accurately describe. Sometimes it looked red-brown, other times it look purple-black-brown, other times it just looked plain black. This is probably the time I hated my hair the most because I couldn’t experiment as much as I wanted to. Plus, the layered style was starting to get super dated. Then came my biggest mistake ever…

Ombré hair started to really catch on, and because I had little experimentation and a lot of naivety about bright hair colours, I asked my small-town hairdresser for an ombré that faded from my natural dark brown to bright pink – fade being the operative word. Although I showed a picture of EXACTLY what I wanted, I didn’t quite get what I asked for…

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I tried to pull it off, but I just couldn’t.

Yeah. So not only was my hair damaged beyond repair, but I paid ninety euro to look like I was too lazy to do my roots. Not to mention the colour faded super fast, so I ended up with frizzy orange hair and dark roots. That was probably the moment I hated my hair the most, I never went to a salon for hair dye after this. So I did the logical thing by chopping off my destroyed locks and going PLATINUM BLONDE. This is where my journey starts to get really fun.

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Colourful period, 2013 – 2014

I finally got my moment of experimentation! Not to mention, this period of my life did coincide with the time I was coming to terms with my bisexuality, and what coming out to people would mean. It’s such a common trope for women questioning their sexuality to cut and dye their hair, but it really did help me accept myself for who I was. I didn’t get the best attention from my small town though, I was called homophobic slurs almost every day I went out in public. As a result of this, I admitted defeat and dyed my hair back and began to grow it out so I didn’t have to feel so visible in public.

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I really wasn’t happy though. I mean, the natural colour was nice because there was very little maintenance and it went with all my clothes, but I definitely missed painting a thick mixture of pigment and conditioner onto my hair and watching it slowly change colour. So, yesterday, after two and a half years…

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I took the plunge and dyed it purple! I actually really love it a lot more than I was expecting to, I used Hot Purple by Crazy Colour all over my hair after bleaching it a bit with Bleach London’s Balayage Kit. I was really scared initially, but I’ve learned a lot since I began to do my hair at home.

My hair has always been important and essential to how I look, it’s a key form of self expression for me. What do you do with your hair? Have you been through a similar journey to me? Let me know down below!

 

Why Is Drugstore Makeup So Expensive?

Image credit: powderdoom.tumblr.com

I walked into my local pharmacy the other day to grab some false lashes for a night out, I left confused and searching my head for an answer as to why I just saw a L’Oréal foundation selling for above €17. I mean, MAC Studio Fix is €32 – it’s only half the price, but it’s a far cry from how affordable drugstore (as it’s called in the U.S., we don’t have a similar name) products used to be. I remember walking into Sam McCauley’s pharmacy as a twelve year old and buying Maybelline concealer for €5 at most, but their most expensive concealer now is around €10.50. What happened to the affordable products?

Refinery29 wrote a great article here for an explanation of the cost of mid-to-high end products a while ago which made me understand a lot more of the reasoning behind brand pricing, but I decided to write a post on why I think drugstore makeup has begun spiralling upwards in price.

The beauty industry is now faster paced and cut-throat than it has ever been before. Brands are pressured to churn out new products, create new colour combinations before the beauty gurus do, beat trends to death and make a profit before they’ve even emerged as properly mainstream. To keep up with that, brands need a lot of research and development, which unsurprisingly is a large cost to business – hence a price hike is needed to keep generating profit for the company. The advent of online affordable brands too has dented the market for drugstore makeup too – why buy that e.l.f. palette when you can order this 30-shadow palette from Morphe with this beauty guru’s discount code?

Not only that, but most teenagers and young adults are buying more mid-end brands like Too Faced and Urban Decay before they’ve touched a Rimmel lipstick. Many drugstore brands can’t compete with the image that mid-end brands put out, so they need to be able to compete on a quality standpoint instead. It’s true that drugstore makeup did used to cost less, but I also remember that I could barely get a proper swipe of colour from my L’Oréal eyeshadow quads – and makeup brands in the ‘80s and ‘90s were even worse, per my long-suffering makeup addict mother. It’s all an effect of being spoiled for choice.

An interesting theory that I learned about recently is called ‘the lipstick effect’, which basically states that consumers will spend more on ‘necessary luxuries’ during times of financial crisis, little stability or wartime. It’s a status symbol in society, so you can freely apply your Dior lipstick with a compact mirror in front of everyone else rather than use a cheap drugstore one in the bathroom mirror. Since our world hasn’t exactly been stable recently so I wouldn’t be surprised if drugstore companies were experiencing sale decreases as everyone rushes to buy mid-end to high-end products from this very effect.

It all makes sense to me now, but I’m still not over the fact that I saw a €17 foundation on a L’Oréal counter. Do you think this price hike will stop anytime soon? Or will it keep going indefinitely? Is €17 too much for a drugstore foundation? Let me know what you think of this down below or on my twitter!

My “Desert Island” Products

I’ve often considered the hypothetical apocalyptic scenario of suddenly ending up on a desert island with only my bare essentials – phone, makeup, moisturiser, and of course, a knife and combat boots for practicality. For my own sake, I decided to create a list of my absolute necessities for what I would consider my minimal full face. I hope this situation doesn’t become a reality because of how many products I would miss back at home!

Concealer/colour corrector: I just can’t live without it, I look almost dead without the brightness concealer adds to my face. Don’t get me wrong, I love foundation too but concealer is an essential purse item that I use every day. I would pack my two favourite Urban Decay concealers in Fair Neutral and Pink (for colour correcting my dark circles). However, nowadays I’m using the Collection Concealer in Fair because I’m on a student budget and I had to compromise with one of my re-purchases, but I find it amazing as a more affordable option.

Brow pomade: specifically, Anastasia Beverly Hills brow pomade in Ash Brown. My eyebrows have never looked better than they do with this product. Anastasia has really hit the jackpot with this creamy, waterproof formula with an amazing amount of pigment from a tiny scrape. This stuff just doesn’t come off unless you want it to. Plus, it could double as gel eyeliner since the shade I use is quite a dark brown.

Mascara: my natural lashes are similar to Asian lashes, dark, straight and can never hold a curl without some help. My daily routine involves around thirty seconds of a heated eyelash curler (at a reasonable temperature) before lashings of Benefit’s Rollerlash. I have other mascaras that I use, but Rollerlash is by far my favourite mascara. It lifts, holds a curl and separates like nothing I’ve tried before. Normally I would urge everyone not to spend more than twenty euro on mascara since it goes off after three months, but the Rollerlash is my guilty pleasure.

Highlighter: not a must for many others, but a must for me! I’m not exactly sure why, but contour always ends up looking like a muddy mess on my checks and forehead even when done professionally. I prefer the idea of exaggerating my high points by covering them in highlighting powder rather than carving and re-shaping what I might be insecure about to change my face entirely. For this purpose, I would take my Mary Lou-manizer by the Balm but I have two other highlighting kits at my disposal for real life situations. I love the pale champagne-gold sheen it gives my skin, although it’s super pigmented, it’s very difficult to go overboard with. Definitely packing a highlighter anyway!

Lipstick: if you’ve ever seen me without makeup, you already know why I wear lipstick every day. The natural colour of my lips is so light and skin-like, I constantly look like I forgot to wipe my concealer from them à la 2010. My holy grail lip colour is Faux by MAC, it’s moisturising enough to wear all day and the colour is exactly how my lips would look if I was blessed with natural pigmentation and sheen. It also has pretty amazing staying power for a satin lipstick, so it’s an all-around winner.

Setting spray: I mean, deserts are arid and heat plus makeup does not normally return a good result. My go-to for regular days in Ireland is Chill Setting Spray by Urban Decay as it locks my makeup in place without drying out my skin or compromising my highlighter. I’ve never experienced a desert island climate though, so maybe I’d have to swap out for the All Nighter.

So there are my six essential products for a disastrous situation! Do you have any products that you would take no matter what? Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet telling me!

Twitter: @kittyellenryan

Header image credit: Shutterstock

 

2017 Releases: Too Faced

After scouring what seems like dozens of press releases, blog posts, Instagram sneak peeks and beauty forums, I’ve come to the conclusion that the explosion of makeup as a consumer product is not slowing down anytime soon. Since there is such a pile of new releases coming for just this spring, I thought I’d shorten the list down to a few favorite brands of mine and collections that are really pumping me up for Spring/Summer 2017. This post will focus solely on Too Faced’s products this year.

Although Too Faced is a wonderful brand, I am not normally impressed by their newer releases aside from the Sweet Peach Palette, which I am begging for as my birthday gift. Anyhow, Too Faced recently advertised some new products hitting the shelves for the summer on their Instagram story, check them out!

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source: instagram.com/toofaced (story screenshot – this picture has since expired). Image via allure.com

I am immediately drawn to the packaging of the highlighters, which is basically their 16HR Love Flush packaging but chrome and metallic – sign me up for that rose gold shade at the top there anyway! I would have thought more colours would have come out though – the highlighter trend has already been beaten to death last year, what’s the difference with Too Faced’s basic looking version? I would have loved to see a true lavender or mint highlight that looked like a wet sheen rather than a glitter bomb. I would have spent my hard earned cash on a bubblegum blue and a candyfloss purple highlighter! I’m a bit disappointed at how basic the shades are for a unique and fun brand like Too Faced.

The next thing that draws me in is the liquid lipsticks – again, slightly late on the trend there, Too Faced. I really like that light nude shade in the middle, and the proceeding colours have a decent light to dark shade range – but what’s with the random dark teal and light fuschia? It doesn’t really fit with the other colours they’re releasing, it would have made more sense to release them with other fun shades like a neon raspberry and a vibrant orange. They just look out of place and uncoordinated with the spring mood of the picture. I’m sure the colours themselves are lovely, the fuschia says “festival” to me, but that teal does not scream “summer” – more like “the depths of the Atlantic during a Connemara winter”.

Now onto the palette – the outer packaging is appealing, it reminds me of my aunt who has a fabric couch with a similar floral pattern on it. However, I don’t judge a palette by it’s packaging, so let’s look at the preview that Too Faced creator, Jerrod Blandino posted on his Instagram.

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image source: instagram.com/jerrodblandino

I mean… it’s certainly natural.

Bland and boring, but apparently natural according to Too Faced. Allure’s article calls this palette a ‘mature moment’ for Too Faced, which I believe is code for nothing noteworthy. Allure also suggested greens and olives could have been a great addition to this palette, which I would have loved to see.

It seems like the only colours that exist naturally here are pinks, purples, golds and some dark browns with maybe some dark glitter shades which, if we go by Too Faced’s track records with dark glitter colours, will probably not have a whole lot of pigment to speak of – which in the world of Instagram makeup, kind of renders it useless for dramatic looks. I suppose that’s the point of the palette though. Saying that, it seems there’s only one type of “natural look” being marketed here. A lot of these shades would not flatter darker skin tones either, almost a third of the palette would look ashy on anyone deeper than a NC40 skintone.

I don’t see how you could get a lot of unique looks out of this that aren’t rosy, metallic, neutral or smokey – Pink Cheeks and Poodle basically look the same in the pan, so they most likely won’t look super different on the eye. With such a large amount of shades, you’d think they would be more creative. If neutral pinks and mauves are your jam, then you may like this, but this is almost an extended version of the “Tartelette: In Bloom” palette by Tarte, which is already a trusted cult favourite in the beauty world.

In conclusion, I’m not really excited for these products except for maybe that rose gold highlighter if it turns out to be shiny instead of glittery. I’ll be saving my money and my heartbreak for other more satisfying releases in the rest of the year.