This is me. At 35 I am probably 10+ years older than most beauty ‘influencers’ (can we stop using that term in 2019 BTW? ‘k thanks). I don’t have a Pinterest-worthy apartment, and my Instagram feed isn’t countless shots of me posing against graffiti murals in designer clothing.
For 5 years I’ve written about products that spark something, good or bad. I feel that I write genuinely and thoughtfully, and yet in 2018, I have doubted my place in the beauty world more than ever. I refuse to waver on my authenticity and yet time and time again in 2018 we saw exactly that happen. The year was rife with undisclosed paid partnerships, glamorous brand trips to not so subtly promote product launches and the Instagram community catching on that the swipe up function in stories can be used to sell shit (hello, affiliate link disclaimer please!).
It’s been a strange adjustment as a blogger; Brands care more and more about unboxing products rather than actual reviews of said products. I’ve been denied blog campaigns based on my Instagram following, even though the campaign is for my blog audience. It’s no wonder that the world of fraudulent followings and paid for likes has spiralled out of control so much. Companies like Unilever have publically denounced working with influencers who are caught fraudulently inflating numbers. In an attempt to reinstate trust and transparency to a still very young influencer marketing world, it was refreshing to see. Instagram themselves claimed they would crack down on bots and paid-for followings, but we’ve yet to see the fruits of that.
So this leaves me asking – am I redundant?
Personally, I know I have a whole hell of a lot to say about beauty, life, love and beyond. But do I have the audience for it? At 35, I feel exponentially more experienced than I did at 25, but I know a younger, trendy influencer seems to attract a larger audience. Not to sound arrogant, but at 20-something, pretty much anything looked great on my skin and face; Be it blue eyeshadow, 3 layers of foundation or none at all. It was rare a skincare product was anything more/less than good because my skin didn’t have the concerns it does now. I also probably would have gotten wrapped up in the drama and glitz and glam of the beauty influencer world significantly more perhaps maybe wouldn’t have had the good mindset to be as genuine as I am (without or without realizing it, honestly). I do cringe when I see a 20-something blogger post reviews on skin care when I know we all received the same PR package only a week prior. I remind myself, that at that age I probably would have tried it, immediately thought it was great and written about it to be first in a google search too. In the last few years though, I’ve learned that skincare can turn on you, you can have a love at first try, or hate at first try, and 30 days later can be of a completely different mindset. I have fine lines, and pigmentation and hormonal post-baby breakouts to deal with. I know and care more about ingredients than I did 10-15 years ago. And you know what? I know there are readers out there that appreciate that.
Now listen, I’m not writing off young beauty influencers. If anything, I’m a bit in awe; They are changing the way the world gets their information! At 20 years old I had to rely on my Allure magazine. Do you think I knew that most of the products in those pages were paid to be placed? Or that beauty journos were being whisked off on tropical vacays by brands? Hell no. In 2018 we became even more aware of the brand trips and product placement because young beauty influencers across multiple platforms made it incredibly apparent. We saw trips to Ibiza and Bali to launch mascaras, we saw brand-themed hotel rooms decked out in brand swag. We also saw audiences clapping back because it became all so very glossy and out of touch, again.
But wait, aren’t beauty influencers supposed to be more in touch with their following and readership?
Aren’t the collective ‘we’ supposed to have 1-1 direct connections that nurture genuine, authentic discussion about makeup, skincare, parenting, lifestyle etc? Where did it all go wrong? Brands caught on that it was more affordable with a higher return of interest to partner with YouTubers vs celebs. Celebrity endorsements meant just putting a pretty face to a product (I mean, do we really think Jennifer Aniston only uses Aveeno?). Youtubers, Bloggers and Instagrammers built their own following out of a genuine love for the industry. It started as girls and boys sitting in their bedrooms or living rooms, usually on the floor, talking about the products they loved that month. It was so honest, and pure and free of bias. I LOVE that brands have recognized the power of social media influence, and are working with influencers, but 2018 seemed to be the year it spiralled out of control don’t you think?
In 2018 we saw influencers making 6 figure contracts and a clear division between large influencers and the newly coined ‘micro-influencer. It became apparent that the rich get richer, and it’s still hard out here for the little guy. The gap between consumer and brand is a canyon again instead of a crack in the sidewalk. With some influencers skyrocketing to celebrity status at a very young age, there seems to be a gap once again in the market when it comes providing YOU (yes you, the consumer, the reader, the scroller and video watcher) with authentic, genuine, experienced voice.
So, am I – the 35-year-old new mom blogger with a whole load of life experience, redundant in the social media beauty industry? My voice is most certainly there, but is it valid over the 20-year-old with perfect skin and a following in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands? I would like to hope so, but I am not sure.
What I do know is, that 2019 will continue to be about me writing my authentic, genuine voice. I don’t love everything and think everything is ‘omg so gorgeous’. I am still forever enthusiastic about makeup and skincare, but I won’t be blowing smoke up any brands you-know-whats to stay on their lists.
I have hope for 2019.
I hope more brands recognize that a constructive negative review is a tool they’ve been given to do better.
I hope that paid partnership is not treated as a dirty word. We all deserve to get paid for our craft, but not disclosing sponsored collaborations gives it a tough hole to dig out of.
I hope that Instagrammer’s are held accountable more for disguised affiliate links and #ad hashtags on stories so tiny they are illegible to the naked eye. With Instagram being the newest, fasted growing influencer platform, we need to get the rights and wrongs sorted without so much grey area.
I hope brands support smaller, ‘micro’ influencers who might not have a massive ‘sell-Sephora-out-of-this-product” influence, but rather might have a loyal, trusted influence.
Mostly I hope that I still have a voice here. I hope that there is still enough of you out there reading this blog for me to continue to invest the amount of love it in that I do. I sometimes wonder if I am talking to myself, regardless of what Google Analytics says. I don’t write Girl Loves Gloss for the audience or the PR samples of the sponsored collaborations. I write because of why I started this blog in the first place: I have way too much makeup for one face and I genuinely really love talking about it.
If you’ve been reading forever long or short of a time, if you’ve clicked on my (disclosed, of course!) affiliate links to support me, or liked a sponsored Instagram post: I forever thank you.
You’re all kind of wonderful, each and every one of you.
Happy New Year – Bring on 2019!