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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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!