There are seven fundamental types of catastrophes. Beauty is not one of them.

Blog Talk: Questionable Product Reviews {Purity or Profit Driven}



Ten years ago, blogs weren’t really a thing and vlog was nothing more than a strange-sounding word. Gradually, as technology gained momentum among the savvy, young, and influential, style and beauty blogs crept up like vine, making their presence known. Eventually, a select few achieved editorial recognition in magazine features and published books.

Then a milestone was reached in the summer of 2010 when Forever 21 collaborated with fashion blogger  Rumi Neely,  making her the face of their new Times Square flagship, all 90,000 square feet. A huge move that quickly ushered her into a new space within the blogosphere, that of the hyper-visible-celebrity-blogger. It was the start of acknowledging the impact bloggers and vloggers have on consumerism and brand preference, which as it turns out, is pretty huge.

Nowadays, its common place to include the social media élite on the guest list of store openings, brand launch parties, and sneak previews before a product hits the shelves. Quite a few bloggers have agents now along with regular guest features in magazines and television appearances. Brands have figured out how to include the everyday blogger into their marketing strategy with positive results. It’s a win for the brand that benefits from tapping into the online audience and devoted subscribers who respect and spend based on blogger reviews. It’s a win for the blogger or vlogger who stands to make a pretty penny endorsing products on their site, traveling the world attending events (all paid for by the brand) and making appearances on the red carpet.

But is it a win for readers and subscribers?

I’ve started to notice a trend of apprehension from the blogging audience, particularly on the channels of popular You Tube vloggers, or as their commonly referred to by devoted fans – gurus. Viewers are starting to question the honesty of product reviews and aren’t afraid to express their suspicion via comments. The wave of concern stems from the recognizable signs of paid reviews:

  • a dozen or so vloggers all reviewing the same item around the same time
  • mostly similar & positive thoughts or opinions expressed
  • opposing reactions from the fans who then purchased said product only to overwhelmingly disagree with the original “rave review” posted by their beloved guru

Most recently, there was an incident where one {extremely popular male makeup artist} vlogger expressed disparaging thoughts on a beauty tool that seemed useless but somehow garnered an overall “thumbs up” by the other gurus that reviewed it. Viewers didn’t hesitate to call BS on the channels in question, while praising the one vlogger who told it like it was, commission be damned. But this is not the norm, leaving many to feel as if bloggers and vloggers are now joining the ranks of magazines, by drinking the advertising-for-profit kool-aid.

Personally, I don’t think lying to readers is worth the money to be made from brand endorsement. It’s not something I’m willing to do, and I’m speaking from personal experience. Since writing  this review,  I’ve yet to receive another pricey opportunity from that particular company {which wasn’t Lancome by the way} but I’m fine with that. I’d rather blog about things I truly love or just be honest if something didn’t work for me, than mislead my readers.

I spent too many years working for someone else, endorsing products I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in and following the corporate script to ensure I didn’t lose my role as a “team player”, or goodness forbid, my rank on the ladder. But this is my blog, where I’m the CEO, Editor-In-Chief, photographer, editor, writer and customer service specialist, so I refuse to compromise my voice or dilute my authenticity for profit. Having said that, if I happen to love a brand or product so much I can’t stand it, you will know as I’ll scream my praise to the heavens! Most of the products I truly adore are beloved by many, so the companies simply don’t advertise or bother to use outside sources because they don’t need to. I’ll probably never get the chance to endorse these products, but that won’t prevent me from talking about them as I have many times already – like  here  and  here  and  here.

And I’m not bashing or judging the decision to review for profit, it’s an awesome way to become familiar with new brands and products that often end up becoming a favorite. Plus, blogging is time-consuming, and although we do it because we love it, as subscribers increase, we are held accountable for producing quality content on a regular schedule. It really is and can become a full-time job and has for scores of professional bloggers regardless of topic, so why not get paid and make money for doing something you love right, isn’t that the ultimate goal for everyone? All I’m saying is, accepting payment in exchange for positive reviews is not cool, and does a great disservice to your readers and your blogging integrity.

I have no doubt the initial goal of every blogger or vlogger is to provide honest feedback for readers. But somewhere along the way, the desire to not disappoint the brand {even when their product fails to impress}, coupled with the money and fancy opportunities that lead to more exposure/opportunities dangling like a golden carrot on a stick, make it hard to constantly walk the line of honesty. It’s like the burden of singers to always make good music despite what the label wants, or an actor’s fight to not give into the demands of the studio to take certain roles they don’t agree with – there’s a pressure there that many succumb to despite knowing better. I get it! However, obstacles are part of every successful journey, it’s just a matter of which door you choose that ultimately determines your fate.

I urge all bloggers & vloggers to include an honesty clause in your Disclaimer, kinda like the one  I have here.  And don’t be afraid to reiterate it when negotiating partnerships and sponsorships with brands and manufacturers for inclusion on your blog or channel. There’s nothing wrong with accepting profit for reviews, as long as you have the final say in what that review entails and remember, just because a product didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you have to bash it…  there’s a way to say everything.

I also encourage readers and subscribers to be on the lookout for fishy reviews and if you have any questions/concerns, shoot the author an e-mail.

As bloggers, we have to work to earn our readership, so we owe you our honesty and straightforwardness when we’re posting recommendations and product suggestions.

Thanks for reading!


2 comments on “Blog Talk: Questionable Product Reviews {Purity or Profit Driven}

  1. addercatter
    March 26, 2013

    I am in Total agreement!!! A review isn’t even a review if it isn’t honest… it’s just false advertisement. Kat

  2. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really
    well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and
    come back to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the
    post. I’ll certainly return.


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