The Skinny.

Posted by Lipglossiping On February - 17 - 2010

With a title like that, I’m obviously referring to myself.  I thought I’d share my motives, aspirations and whatever else emerges from writing this post, which will no doubt at some point turn into a mild rant and an incredibly long ramble.

You may be aware of an ‘article’ (I want to say ‘post’, but that would suggest it was written by a blogger – heaven forbid) that has been causing a bit of a stir in the beauty blogging community.  Somewhere underneath the cloud of ridicule directed at a blog the writer has singled out for attack, she raises some interesting points.

She recognises a clear distinction between The Media (her capitalisation) and bloggers and never the twain shall meet.  Not a problem, it’s a word I don’t feel comfortable using to describe myself or this blog anyway.  You can also add ‘writer’, ‘press’ and a host of other professional sounding terms to the ‘makes me feel like a phony list’.

She sees beauty bloggers as consumers who are not qualified to give reviews on products.  She believes that beauty bloggers have too much influence over your buying trends.  It appears that as a consumer, you’re obviously not capable of reading my blog with any modicum of original thought.  You simply absorb what I tell you like some kind of foundation-fuelled osmosis.

One of her main criticisms of bloggers, is the writing style they use to feature a product or talk about the latest release.  I’m assuming she dislikes the anecdotal nature of blogging and the way we often eschew traditional journalistic methods of reviewing.

Good.  It would bore me to tears to write to you in a regimented albeit precise way.  To be fair, I don’t have the writing skillz to do so anyway.  I talk to you like you’re my friends because you are.  Don’t reach for the sick bucket just yet, I’m not arranging a sleepover, but it’s like this…

I have a passion.  A lot of you come back here day after day to share my passion and you understand why I would get excited about finding another perfect taupe eyeshadow to add to my ever-growing collection of perfect taupe eyeshadows.  I know that when I write, I’m sharing my experiences with you in an undiluted, raw way.  But as a blog reader myself, I embrace that because it’s pure and it’s true.

I write this blog because I love to see you come and read it.  I get a thrill if I notice my email subscribers jump up.  If I get linked from a forum ‘cos I’ve written something that interests you enough to come and stay awhile, my pride swells.  That’s my motivation.  PR freebies are a recent thing… probably from the end of last summer onwards.  They help me keep my content fresh and up to date and I love them.  I love playing with them, I love opening them and I love being invited to consider them for review.  Do they affect my honesty in delivering content to you?  You only have to read my negative reviews on PR acquired goodies to see that it takes more than a free sample of lipgloss to compromise myself.  Try a week in the Maldives next time nice PR lady.

I do try not to trash products, although I have on ocassion.  If I dislike something, there is usually some positives that I can include… not because it makes linking back to the PR any easier (although it does) but because I’m well aware that I’m only one person and what doesn’t work for me may be your next HG.

I do have a slight issue with PR that I’m struggling to find my feet with… perhaps the blogger/reader relationship should dictate that I keep it to myself… but being the chronic oversharer that I am…

In the article (or comments, I can’t remember which) someone raises the point about bloggers being a little sheep-like, reviewing the same thing at the same time.  It’s true.  And it’s the one aspect of this brave new world that I’m uncomfortable with.  I desperately want to come up with the goods for me, for you, for my blog.  Quality, independent features that no-one else has access to.  Why do you think I damn near peed myself when I got the Urban Decay Alice in Wonderland Palette?  Well… apart from getting to play with it before you suckers.  The problem is, I’m one of many beauty bloggers out there.  Not only that, but there are far better writers and reviewers out there too.  Until the dust settles and PRs learn how to ask bloggers for their pageviews and stats (why is that never done?) – I guess we all have to review Liz Earle at the same time.  Heck, I could turn it down if I’m so altruistic and concerned about your reading experience couldn’t I?  But I REALLY WANT TO TRY IT!  However, I am becoming much more selective nowadays.  It was only yesterday I turned down the opportunity to review the latest in nail fungal cream. (I jest…)

I accepted it. (ok, I jest again… sorry).

There is another genuine problem with the whole consumer turned reviewer aspect.  We’re fickle.  Sam raises this point in her article.  It’s a fair one.  In the past I have given you a crappy review of a product, only to fall in love with it weeks down the line.   If this happens, my intention is to go back to my initial review and update.  You may come across some of these haphazard updates in my archives.  Vice versa, we all get infatuated by a new product only for the shine to rub off a few weeks later and whilst we don’t suddenly dislike the product, newer shinier ones take precedence.  But does this make my initial review any less valid?  Of course not.  I’m a consumer and I’m doing exactly what you, Sam or anyone does.

If you’re looking for the perfect review that promises you will be as thrilled with the product as the reviewer.  Tell me when you find one.  I know I don’t need to tell you to check out lots of reviews and articles written by a variety of makeup lovers: MUAs, Consumers like me and Journos – looking at the combined picture will probably bring you closer to the perfect review than anyone can alone.

If you want shared experiences, a bit of banter and someone who lives to buy and play with makeup and beauty shit as much as you do.  Pull up a chair ‘cos I’ve just bought/been sent (delete as appropriate) this bloody gorgeous looking coral lipstick.  It pongs like grannies though.

Wow. 1110 words. 2 hours in the making.  If only I’d put that much effort into my Media & Cultural Studies degree *dons Mickey Mouse ears* then maybe I’d have those Journalistic qualifications I need to have an opinion.  Doh!

27 Responses to “The Skinny.”

  1. hear hear! Well-said! I could go on and on as well. I”m tired though so going to bed now. Am going to link to your post from my own thoughts on the issue that I posted too.

  2. Heather says:

    That was well said :) I have found that reading your blog and others, that I feel more confident when I go shopping for makeup. I feel that I am able to know what to look for, as well as what to be weary of–basically I feel more knowledgable of makeup brands I have come do adore and covet (unfortunately 😉 ).

    I want to thank you for all your hard work on this blog. I appreciate all the time it takes you. It’s nice to know you think of us as friends, cause oddly enough–I’ve become to think of you as a friend as well :)

  3. *applauds* Sam completely missed the fact that we dont WANT impersonal journalistic pieces, we want anecdotal experiences and things we can relate to. We want reviews we can trust, from people we can trust, in terms that we can understand.

    I dont know what blogs she’s been reading, but I’ve never come across a review that’s just said ‘this product is crap’ without justifying it further like ‘it didnt work on my oily skin but might be better suited for dry skin’.

    I’ll take the opinion of a credible blogger over a random ~professional MUA any day. I dont want to know if a foundation works well on 50 clients’ faces, I want to know if it’s going to work well on MY face. I want to know the coverage, staying power, if it oxidises, if it’ll work with my oily skin, and how it works for the average person.

    If I wanted to know how it worked for a professional MUA in their job, I would source my reviews from outlets targeted at MUAs.

  4. Oh god, I already just made a really long rant comment about this article on another blog xD This really pissed me off to no end. It’s pompous and insulting, in my opinion. So much I should say but you already said it quite well :)

  5. Lady Gray says:

    :) Good post. I was worrying a bit because I have a shiny package of Liz Earle stuff here waiting to be reviewed but you know, they sent it to me to review and I can’t wait to try it so, thats what I’ll do. If people don’t like it they can always not read right? x

  6. Gemma says:

    Great writeup! Like you, I agree that Sam did have a few worthy points in her “article”, but unfortunately they were drowned out by the vitriol aimed at Sarah and I.

    The lines are becoming blurred between how brands and PR react to blogs vs magazines/traditional media, and as far as I’m concerned, anything that provides more info to the consumer so that she/he can make a more informed choice before purchase is a good thing.

  7. sarah smith says:

    Hear hear. Agree with all of it.

    I found that ‘article’ or whatever it was mildly amusing, it just came across as rather….jealous. Jealous that people got to do things that she wanted to do or free stuff she got but she didn’t think other people deserved it or hadn’t worked hard enough for it.

    She just didn’t seem to realise that If I wanted to read a magazine I would buy one, I can read The Sun online but I would still prefer to buy the paper. Therefore if I want a review I would rather read it on a blog. That’s just my opinion and (no offence to anyone) but I don’t just read 1 person blog about something and think O EM Gee like i totally must have this, without swatching it or anything or like reading any other reviews, cos derr im such an airhead. Jesus wept. I read more than 1 review on something, look at pics online etc. etc. I am not a [complete] moron!

    The article also portrayed makeup ‘professionals’ as being holier than thou. Well I certainly get treated badly at a lot of beauty counters so why would I take any notice of those so called professionals? For example my local Clarins counter – I was matched as the third shade of foundation (their new foundation). I could not be any more obviously the first shade, and in fact the first shade is a bit dark for me anyway, so as the trained ‘professional’ she should according to that ‘article’ have known more than me, but she didn’t, neither do a lot of laminated face Estee Lauder professionals, I love their makeup but the SA’s scare me away, and then on to Space NK – jebus I feel like I am on one side of a makeup missile attack, thanks but I don’t have £400 to spend at By Terry today its the week before payday and I can just about afford a lipstick. The brilliant makeup artists are few and far between, and the good ones are working on fashion shows and for magazines, they aren’t usually the ones that the everyday public comes into contact with on a regular basis – we come into contact with the scary orange faced loons who are trying to insist we part with the best part of a mortgage payment for some stuff we don’t want THAT is why blogs and youtube tutorials are popular, becuase at the end of the tutorial/video you click the red x button and make your own decision.

    Hmm anyway rant over lol, i will get down off the soapbox and hand it back 😉

  8. Jo says:

    Very well said Char. This is one of the main reason why people love real women giving real reviews, because its not full of all technical talk, its enjoyable and fun to read, plus informative at the same time.

    I so can’t be arsed with reading straight down the line reviews from magazine journalist on say the latest hair care product or skincare product, when its most probably the first of the type (type meaning say a Serum or whatever) they’ve tried anyway and have fuck all to compare it to. I love blogs because I want to see real pics, I want to see real women in action. I’m not going to buy a certain type of make up because a beauty editor says its good, let me see it on your face first and then I’ll decide it if looks good.

    One comment that really pissed me off on that article was when someone commented and said ” you all follow each other and all reply on each other’s blogs and all say the same thing over and over again. And woe betide anyone who doesn’t agree with the ‘main’ ones”. Now where the fuck has she got that impression from, that we have some sort of top dog and if we disagree and state that a certain product they are raving about didn’t work too well for ourselves, we’ll be shot down or something. If anything, we’ll be glad that the product in question worked well for that person and they haven’t wasted their money like ourselves. Were all wise enough to know what works for one person doesn’t work for another and we’d have to be pretty damn childish to get annoyed and start slagging a person off just because they got on well with a product that didn’;t work too well for ourselves.

    Anyway Im going now ha, because I get really worked up annoyed over things Im passionate about and so many people got trolley bashed in Asda yesterday because I was in a foul mood after reading that article. So Im not getting worked up again, or someone will probably ending up losing some teeth or sumat and I’ll be sampling a night in a cell. Not good.

  9. Rebecca says:

    Ahh I love you, in a non lady loving lady way. You speak such sense.

    I too couldn’t decide whether to call it article or post when I posted about it… it’s the little things that amuse me!

    I agree, I too feel uncomfortable with the idea that I am any more than a ‘blogger’. But, like I said on my post, she thinks it is us calling us that but it’s not, it’s the involvement of PR in the blogging world that has created that idea of ‘writer’, ‘journalist’ and ‘press’. I think that, is the main thing she is very bitter about.

    I also agree, that she made some perfectly valid points, some of which I would agree however she presented it so poorly that in my opinion she lost any credibility she was due.

    Oh, and let me know which coral lippie that is, I love granny smell.

  10. liloo says:

    What a lovely post. Did not understand all the words but I think I got the gist. I am glad you tackled the topic up, I was not aware of the ‘article’ in question. I am pretty new to the world of beauty blog reading. To start with I has fears it would drive me to consume more, but I am happy to say that it has an opposite effect: instead of buying every new foundation popping up at boots all the time, I am ever so grateful, there is someone out there who went out there, bought it and tried it for me. Beauty blogger reading is like a trip advisor for holidays. I might not like the product even after a glorified review, but I feel I was in a position about to make a judicious informed opinion before purchasing a product.
    re: “writing style” >> so refreshing, that’s the best thing about beauty blogs.
    As for integrity of beauty bloggers, we are dealing with individuals here. If we don’t like reviews of a particular individual, then we don’t have to follow them. Each one to their own. It’s a shame this article puts the beauty bloggers in the same basket.
    Thank you for sharing your passion with us.x

  11. Rosa says:

    i loved reading this! i think your great, and i absolutely love your writing style…

    If im perfectly honest, i’d rather read a review by you over some so called professional who does nothing but throw boring facts at me.

  12. Lisa says:

    I don’t want to see you ever write journalistic style reviews, I adore the way you write, it’s honest and refreshing and it makes me chuckle with every single post.

    Beauty bloggers are like a circle of friends sharing their opinions on products, we’re not going to be agreed with every step of the way but it does give us a chance to make more informed choices, especially with high end products.

    Keep up the good work Charlotte!

  13. I’m pretty new to this blog but I love it and would defend it and the style of it to the hilt primarily because you’re not a MUA who might have some sort of hidden agenda. You’re a woman with a passion and it shows in every single post you make. I love reading them all, even for products I don’t really use (bright nail polish being a major one). I find your reviews balanced and consistently fair – you’ve developed a wealth of knowledge for the subject and it shows. I’ve not read the other post but I think beauty bloggers are a credit to the industry – I can’t remember the number of times I’ve been intimidated by a MUA in a glossy department store and felt as if I’ve been taking up her valuable time with my stupid rookie questions. Having a site such as this to refer to a) makes me feel like less of a rookie and b) sometimes means I can avoid talking to the MUA at all hahah 😉

    Seriously though, sounds like some sour grapes about beauty bloggers – ignore and keep up the good work! xxx

  14. Janie says:

    I’d much rather read everyday peoples’ opinions on beauty products rather than make up artists who get to put make-up on models all day. We don’t all have model skin or the expertise to apply these products.
    Just because a make up artist can apply a product well, doesn’t mean the rest of us will have the same luck!
    I want to know what Miss Bloggs (like the pun?) thinks, not what an expert thinks.

    Keep blogging girls!


  15. Phoebe says:

    I agree with her on the fickle points, but i’d much rather read an honest review from a blogger, giving all the goods and the bads, rather than a full praise for a product in a magazine, only to find it’s rubbish.

    I think there are sheep like tendancies, notably in certain products that aren’t sent out, but do the rounds on blogger, like Asda nail varnish and the collection 2000 nail varnish, but i think that’s up to each individual reader and how they react to each post.

    I really enjoyed reading your opinions on it though.
    Keep up the blogging, i’m one that checks back daily!

  16. thiamere says:

    I couldn’t get over this topic. Ever since i read this last night, im still affected up until now that i had to also do a write-up (ooppppssss!i not a professional journalist so i guess is shouldn’t use that word -__-“) on my blog as well..

    I tried to be objective as i can, but i can’t…

    that article made my day seem sooooooooo long!

  17. lyn says:

    I hardly buy beauty magazines as I find most of their content biased. This is why I turn to beauty blogs because I find the writing to be a lot more interesting and “real”. Also, I don’t just read about makeup but skincare, haircare, accessories, etc. I don’t go out and buy or dismiss something just because a beauty blogger said so. Being a new blogger (beauty-wise, that is), I have come to find that blogging is fun and therapeutic to a certain degree. I honestly do not wish for freebies or to belong to any clique. I blog as an outlet to share my views. Oh, and I love your blog because you are honest, witty and too cute! Your photography rocks too :-)

  18. Ashwini says:

    Terrific write up (and a hilarious one. You had me chuckling a coupla times!). I posted about this article on my blog and commented on the original article as well. I think all beauty bloggers who care should give her a piece of their mind.

  19. I have been trying my very best to bite my tongue on this but I’ve had it. Instead of the lengthy rant I wrote last night then decided not to post, here are my bullet points on why I prefer blogs over a site such as Sam’s:

    1. Regular content updates – I follow hundreds of blogs for fresh updates – from what I see over there the last product review was early Feb.

    2. Friendly interaction between bloggers and readers – if you comment on an online magazine or leave a question it’s very unlikely that you’re going to get a response. On that note, I have yet to see a quality online magazine such as Claire/ Cosmo posting condescending rants targetting bloggers. I doubt we will.

    3. I want genuine opinions, experiences – I like a bit of banter thrown in. I don’t want to read regurgitated press releases. I wonder what Sam thinks of MUA – are blogs not an extension of independent consumer reviews? Furthermore look at amazing online resources such as KarlaSugar – there is no other media outlet that can provide that, for want of a better word, service for consumers.

    That’s all I’m going to say on this. There is no specific formula on what makes a good blog – if I like someone’s chat, I’ll read. I know which ones I won’t be reading.


  20. Glamoured says:

    I am like Johnny five from the film Short Circuit. I need input. I used to get bored waiting four weeks in between glossy magazine beauty fixes and then even more bored when I realised all the reviews seemd to be linked to the magazin’s major advertisers. I understand why that is, but I’n neither interested nor gullible, so I no longer purchase glossies.

    When I discovered blogs, I felt my cravings for input might finally be sated. Every day I can find myriad new posts including reviews, faces of the day, recommendations, gossip and rants as well as reassurances that my face is not abnormal because the makeup looks different on the model in the airbrushed magazine photoshoot.

    I also love beauty blogs as none of them contain the words that make my blood boil: ‘styled with lash inserts’. Grrrr.

    It is tedious in the extreme that there are *still* people mocking ‘WebLogs’ and how there’s this pointless little thing called the internet. People used to get their news delivered to them on horseback. Things change.

    Anyway, I’m a fairly new reader of your blog. I enjoy it because of your gorgeous photographs, the sparky and intelligent writing and because you have similar colouring to me and I like to steal make-up ideas! Yesterday was the first time I’d even heard of sam’s online magazine. I had a look and I won’t be going back.

  21. Sarah says:

    Damn, you can write!

    And you make me laugh.

  22. Sarah says:

    In a good way, obviously.

  23. Megan says:

    I try to strike a balance between reading magazines (though I mostly peruse them for pictures for makeup inspiration) and beauty blogs. Truth be told, I much prefer beauty blogs as they are written by real women who simply have a passion for something that they humbly want to share with the world. I mean, with a magazine, how do we know that the “stellar review” they gave a certain product had nothing to do with the two-page ad on the next page?
    I have yet to come across a blog that gave a strictly negative review on any product. They point out the good and bad points, sometimes giving tips on how to make it work a little better, or suggestions on who it’s more suited for. I resent the fact that she basically grouped all beauty bloggers in together (she even said as much). Having just started my own beauty blog, reading this article gets me slightly discouraged, but I don’t plan on stopping. I love makeup and beauty too much to let some high-on-her-horse “journalist” tell me that I can’t have an opinion.

  24. Rachael says:

    Here’s the thing – everything that gets sent to journalists is by PRs as well, so as long as there is full disclosure on free products then I don’t see the problem. Journalists have integrity to sample free cosmetics fairly so I don’t see why they assume bloggers don’t.

  25. I am sorry I unleashed Liz Earle on you all… I wrote to them months ago to blog about their products. I guess they decided one blog wasn’t enough coverage… They shot themselves in the foot then as I haven’t reviewed it but mentioned one of the products I used as a fave – it is pretty good – and am doing a giveaway.

  26. Redtiger21 says:

    I’m actually feeling quite cross, having just read Sam’s article! I’m not a blogger myself, but I really enjoy your blog, I read it every day if i can, and I appreciate your opinion of the products you try. I was annoyed at the slight snobbery she showed towards “non-professionals” giving their reviews about products…are the products only for professional use???!!! These products are on the market for anyone to use, not just makeup artists, and therefore if non-pros have issue with, say, the application, then it’s not doing its job as a products for “the masses”, and deserves the criticism. Also, she seems to have an issue with biased reviews, but my argument is, if a person doesn’t have the brain to realise that a blogger will give their OWN opinion, rather than try to advertise the product for the company, then it doesn’t really matter if the person reads a blog or a magazine, as they will believe the first thing they read anyway. Also, magazines aren’t always impartial!!! They get sent these products, then advertise them for the companies that send them! How is that so much different???

  27. Lizzard says:

    i just posted a commnet on that stupid woman’s “post” ugh i’m so upset i could just scream, but its’ fine, she should be ASHAMED of herself for acting so terribly snotty and taking advantage of her job title. bitch. ugh! *appologize for the vulgar language,but its so called for.*

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