Monday, 10 May 2010

Reviewing Gurus

It's nothing new to speculate as to the ethical implications of a popular guru advising their minions to go buy a fabulous new item, yet here we are again. This article in the New York Times , crudely titled "Look What I Bought (or Got Free)" has exposed the trend further. 

The tone of the article is rather derogatory, as in this segment describing the narrative of a "haul":

“If you follow me on Twitter, you know I was Twittering about my dilemma,” she said earnestly to her audience. “Should I get the gray or should I get the black?” She held up a pair of black Uggs. Mystery solved.

Recently when the somewhat notorious "Elle" and "Blair" featured on Good Morning America, the TV hosts concluded, "Did I hear it right, this young girl had to quit school because she's so busy shopping?!" (this comment provoked ire from Blair, in the only video I've seen of hers, where she responded - but also included outtakes where she spoke about "putting on her voice" and how "no, I can't say that or they'll think..." which ironically added credence to the accusation of the sisters as a business enterprise controlling a huge, dumb audience.)

Celebrities front ad campaigns all the time (just ask disgruntled models!) but I don't think anyone accepts that a YouTube celebrity is afforded the same luxury. Whereas when Eva Longoria fronts a L'Oreal home dye we all know there is hardly a more unlikely scenario than her dyeing her own hair at home, with plastic gloves on - when a YouTube guru does the same pitch, we accept it as genuine. Afterall, invariably the reason a YouTube personality is embraced by so many, is because of their 'homeliness'.

So when emails were leaked (linked in the NYT article) which revealed the fact that once a Guru is popular, an agent will come along and poach them, and demand money for reviews... we feel betrayed. FTC rules only go so far; there is no reveal of how much consideration is given, let alone any bribes/"gifts".

The article speaks of a trend for "haulers" and avoids the heart of the makeup community, which is arguably makeup tutorials. The beauty community is described as having been fully absorbed into a shallow hauling frenzy. Perhaps it has, and perhaps, as the article suggests, it is a tonic for these recession hit times, "a voyeuristic thrill: seeing how other people spend money". 

I am unfamiliar with any of the Gurus profiled by the NYT, except Lauren Luke, who they describe as: "a role model to many haulers (she parlayed her YouTube videos into a career as a makeup artist with her own product line and TV show)". This does her a huge disservice, as she is in fact a prime example of a Guru who has got to her exalted position purely through tutorials.

I know the beauty community is insular, and we bond because we know most people would mock the way a certain tone of lipstick can make our day (!), but even so, I feel upset to see how the article denies any scope of intelligence, as it sums up: "Then she caught herself with a philosophical thought, which seems to be a rarity among haulers. 'When is it going to be enough stuff?' "

But some of the videos I watch are very articulate and informative. It's a shame to see the dumb airhead stereotype being reinforced like this. Having said that, dozens of Gurus enjoy nothing more than to be called Barbie, they revel in the shallowness. But in the main they do it self-effacingly and for effect, right? Right?? (just hope so.)

And if you can harness such a huge audience and companies approach you for a review, why should the company get away with free publicity? Some Gurus can rival a TV show audience, and what's more, an audience saturated with admiration and trust. So, in many ways, it is unfair that companies balk at paying for a spotlight review! On the other hand, viewers feel personally affronted to see that an honest review is inevitably compromised once sums change hands. Making money by becoming a partner is fine, making money with your own TV show, makeup line, T Shirt selling, website... all fine. But undermining the integrity of your channel is surely very different. Perhaps they could set up a different channel for paid reviews, would that be a solution? 

It is a fine line, and it's hard to argue that if your position allows you to cream off money with endless reviews, you wouldn't take it. YouTube is an unknown quantity, relatively new. Will a major Guru always retain their power or will it fade away? Should one seize the free money and assume that viewers should rely on their own judgement, 'a fool and their money, and so on?'

It is a tricky situation. I have been watching makeup videos for a while, and there is an argument to say that the mass of haul videos and review videos have corrupted YouTube. The Partnership programme has corrupted YouTube. But everything gets commercialised. 

Luckily when a blog or YouTube personality gets a great reputation, they can be loath to lose it. "Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial!"  Temptalia is the clearest example. As a long-standing blog resource, it has set its own pace and tone and is never compromised. I am grateful that when I'm considering a purchase, I can go there for an objective analysis. And the brands continue to send products whatever the review, because any self-respecting beauty company knows, blogs are the lifeblood of a true beauty consumer, and the only thing worse than being trashed, is being ignored.

I would like to review more makeup, but reviews take time and ultimately can lead to sales, so if it can be a gifted product, I would see no harm at all. And luckily many successful reviewers go by that maxim. I wish articles and news segments would focus more on well written blogs, or well executed YouTube reviews. That might allow makeup to be aligned with art, rather than tart. Or something. 

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Eyeko AMAZING new nail polishes - again!

Once again, Eyeko's polishes have left me VERY impressed. These are £3.50 for 8.5ml and  are "a nail friendly formula that is Toluene, Formaldehyde, DBP and Camphor FREE! No Colour fade thanks to UV absorbers and an amazing glossy, chip resistant finish which strengthens nails too!"
I think these are the BEST budget nail polishes out there - for instance, I find Barry M very thick and prone to streaking, also the Barry M smell horrible and cheap to me.

These polishes (I received three: Posh polish, Coral polish, and Vampire polish) go on very watery but as I explained in my last review, this enables them to create a glossy smooth finish. Indeed, I was on the verge of ordering a backup of the great MAC Blue India nail polish from Liberty of London when these arrived, but after loving these £3.50 bottles, suddenly £8 didn't seem as much of a bargain. And I think the Coral one looks a lot like the new MAC To The Beach from promo shots, so I'd say these are totally comparable and a lot more affordable!

Coral polish (above) is designed to "get your toes resort-ready". I love the Eyeko website and descriptions! They are so fun, yet very accurate - swatches are also completely on the mark. It's a lively very orange red that indeed would make a fabulous toe colour or look striking with a tan. Essentially, it's the ultimate holiday nail shade! This can be worn with just one coat, but two coats, with all of the Eyeko polishes, creates a true deluxe finish. They all look expensive on! Totally could be high end, seriously!! - Unbelieveable really, as most drugstore nail polishes betray their cheapness on some level. Not these. The only hint of their economical status is their runny texture - but as I said, I don't mind that aspect at all.

Then there is the famous Posh Polish. Taking their cue from Chanel as they did with the stunning Vintage Polish (now back in stock after being LE by the way)this one is Particuliere by another name. And seeing as the Chanel is waiting list only....


This one has to be my favourite. Like the green Chanel one, it's a shade I would never have been drawn to, for fear it would make my hands look corpse-like. But instead, as Eyeko explain: "For ladylike nails this chic taupe shade wins hands down." It simply is, well, a posh polish. And, best of all, this lasted SO well, even without a Top coat it just didn't chip all week! Wonderful stuff.

Next up is a rival to my former favourite, which was Cosmic (a stunning warm black with "firework sky" sparkles. Vampire polish is similarly a really glossy black, but with exclusivey red sparkles. It is indeed, vampire like. Not goth (well, black nails are so mainstream now they never are goth anymore are they) but something approaching goth. This polish has a very obvious red sparkle to it, and I wore it on all my nails except one, which I used the Coral for - it looked great! Very modern gothic chic. I still prefer Cosmic but as they are only £3.50, I would nevertheless say get both. For this one I suggest a base coat as it'll make removing it a lot easier. Also looks extra brilliant finished with Seche Vite for an uber glossy effect. These polishes are all limited edition but you can get a set of 5 for £14, making them even better value, at £2.80 each. Check out the newest releases here.



And I was also sent the Graffiti liner, which is limited edition too. The shade is Navy Blue. I noticed XSparkage using one of these pens in a recent tutorial. These are just like using a pen on your eye, which is either a good or a bad thing. I noticed the swatch on my hand just refused to budge - so I never used this on my eye, just too long wearing - can you imagine. But for anyone who needs help perfecting a winged eyeliner, this liner will be extremely easy - and it'll stay put. It definitely is smudge-proof and fade-proof for a long day's wear. It removes with an oil-based eye makeup remover such as Lancome Bi-Facil. The colour is a deep blackened teal. These are priced at £5 - so again, great price. Shipping to UK is free, and you currently get a free Fat Balm if you spend £10 or more. International shipping is very reasonable, only £3.50 or FREE if it's an order over £35. And it's sent fully tracked. Can't say fairer than that. I highly recommend these and will definitely be keen to try the other 3 limited colours next!!!

website here:

Thursday, 6 May 2010

I'm not on twitter, but if I was....

...I'd follow this hilarious and insightful makeup artist, Jenny Patinkin:

for gems such as:

If your eyes turn down at outer corners, try shortening the tail on your brow by a few hairs to give illusion of lift. Just don't overpluck! 

You know it's bad MU when: A 12-year-old girl comments on the color disparity in some random woman's face and neck. 

Lash extensions, I'm just not that into you. You're pricey, time consuming, needy & leave gaps when u shed. Don't call me, I'll call u

Dear Gray-Haired-Lady-with-Penciled-Eyebrows-in-Matching-Gray: Your brows look blue. Taupe is a more flattering shade. Use powder not wax. 

It's hard for me to think of @lancomeparis as anything but a dull mall line, but kinda like their Effacernes Waterproof Concealer. [-agreed!!]

If u attempt hot pink shadow, u gotta go all out or risk looking like you have conjunctivitis. Pink eyeshadow=trendy. Pink Eye=infectious.

Smokey eyes + office job = not being taken seriously. Would u hire anyone w/makeup like Kim Kardashian? Smokey is 2 distracting 4 work. [-hate to agree, but, agreed!]

Attn Sephora employee who pointed me to product with your foot: U just lost my business. Embarrassing customer service. Sheesh.

Equal parts hilarious and useful, her tips and insider opinions are well worth a follow. Her website shows some of her work, and this video I found gives great tips on foundation and concealer for everyday. And see this one for blue eyes to look electric.  

Twitter has never appealed to me because of the notorious spats, swearing, accusations, gloating, competetiveness and all manner of mindless chatter that beauty "gurus" seem to get absorbed into. And although as Kim Kardashian (!) or Michelle Phan show, Twitter is a great networking device, I can't avoid remembering people who have deleted their accounts because of some puerile Twitter fight, etc. I also find it so ridiculous that many high profile companies use Twitter as a personal account and really forget it is still on Google. I remember looking up a certain PR company  because I was being ignored, and finding all sorts of swearing and low brow humour revealing exactly who was in the office. It is so baffling how people think Twitter or any social network is a bubble where they can let loose.

However, if I knew it was aswash with makeup artists giving out entertaining pearls of wisdom...

For now I have bookmarked her Twitter feed, but I highly recommend it for any bona fide Twitter followers, if only to diversify the "beauty voice" out there! You won't regret it.