Let’s get right into it. All of this started when a TikTok Makeup reviewer namedMikayla posted a sponsored post with L’Oreal. She’s done many sponsorships before, but she’s gotten criticism in the past for things such as filtering her skin when doing makeup looks or even changing the shape of her body. But, at the same time, people still love Mikayla for her body positivity and openness. She has openly shared with her personal journey with her audience, and people have grown to love her. But now, she's fallen under criticism for one specific video. In the video, she shows her audience how to apply the L'Oreal mascara. But, upon showing the end result, she seems to be wearing fake lashes.
People were very confused as to why she photoshopped her eyelashes or used falsies – so much so that it looked like they became longer and more numerous. But, within the comments, Mikayla reassures her audience, “That it’s just mascara and no falsies were used.”
Some people defended her, but other OG makeup influencers like Raw Beauty Kristi came out and expressed how disheartening this was. Even Jeffree Star, who stopped posting makeup reviews, took this as an opportunity to start posting again. A lot of beauty YouTubers spoke out, and many described how instances such as these give them a bad name. Raw Beauty Kristi stated, “I think it’s our responsibility and duty as influencers to keep our authenticity. These types of things are really unfortunate because then everybody starts to think everybody’s a liar.”
When it comes to beauty, transparency and honesty are super important to Cassandra as well even though her primary focus is on skincare, anatomy, biology, and how it relates to our beauty. This topic is still really personal to Cassandra because she spent quite a bit of time in the modeling industry. In fact, Cassandra started her career as a model with acne, and she can remember when she felt horrible looking in the mirror.
Moreover, she was also struggling to accept her acne-prone skin. But, when she looked at her photos for magazines, billboards, and catalogs, they had edited all of her acne out. And as she gazed at the photographs, she felt like she was looking at a stranger and herself at the same time. To her dismay, she couldn’t do anything about it because she didn’t have the right to the images. But amazingly enough, it was this experience that started her journey back in 2010. After being photoshopped beyond recognition in many advertisements, she decided to make an skin positive impact within the beauty space.
But even with the skin positivity movement, photoshop is still rampant. And L’Oreal, the same beauty brand that sponsored Mikayla, actually got in trouble for photoshopping advertisements back in 2007. Allegedly, L’Oreal tried to photoshop eyelashes onto print and video ads, and they were subsequently taken down in the UK due to false advertising. Even though they received a lawsuit, L’Oreal didn’t disclose whether the ads contain false eyelashes. And since then, mascara ads have had to disclose whether or not fake eyelashes are being used.
Years later, a makeup artist that works with L'Oreal came out and shared her experience and said, “We are not allowed to use any false lashes or any photoshop or editing.” However, what about when an influencer takes the liberty of using Photoshop on a sponsored post?
As an influencer, Cassandra completely understands that Mikayla is getting paid for this advertisement, and of course, not all advertisements and sponsorships are bad. Cassandra even believes a lot of Mikayla's reviews, but unfortunately, this post about this mascara is a blatant lie. Mikayla even went as far as to say that no false eyelashes were used. But, when Cassandra pulls the original image into Photoshop and enhances it, it looks like the exact lashes that she was using.
In turn, people are mad because they trusted her. At the same time though, what what about L’Oreal? Why aren't they catching any of the criticism? Well, the people feeling betrayed have followed Mikayla's life journey and trusted her reviews. So, it feels like a stab in the back. Given her following, there are around 14 million plus people who might feel misled.
On the other hand, some people are countering with, “Who cares? Advertisements lie all the time. Let her get her coin. She’s trying to pay for a wedding. She’s 23! Give the girl a break.” In fact, there were a good amount of influencers who asked, “Why is it a problem?”
Well, it’s a problem because it’s dishonest, and just because TV commercials do it does not make it okay for anyone else to do so. On top of that, what about the blatant degradation of trust? It’s exploitative of the relationship followers have with the influencer. Yes, she’s only 23, but at the same time, she's an adult who knows good from bad. Adults know truthful advertising apart from deceptive advertising, and it's not okay. Everyone has bills to pay, and many people are spending their own money on products based on influencers' recommendations. So, lying about a product is inconsiderate, and like Raw Beauty Kristi said, “It’s a betrayal of trust.”
Cassandra loves Mikayla's content, and she used to trust her reviews. But now, she questions it because the credibility has been messed up. It is true that sometimes influencers may feel tempted to overhype products because indifferent reviews don't perform as well. But, you have a duty to be responsible, honest, and loyal. At any rate, it's your audience's trust that built you and gave you this opportunity in the first place. It's the audience members who come to you when they feel lost. Cassandra can still remember being16 with massive amounts of acne and spending her whole check on a product that didn’t work and looking for advice. Cassandra knows how hard you have to work to earn the money just to buy skincare. But, unfortunately for others, this is easy to forget,
Influencers cannot forget what it’s like to be a consumer. And even though Cassandra is in skincare and aesthetics now, she actually has a monthly budget where she allows herself to go into stores and buy products. This helps her to truly determine if a product is worth the money or not. Because if a product is recommended, it better be worth it or at least worth it for someone else. Again, it's so important to be ethical when making sponsored posts. Of course, sponsored posts don't make a review inherently bad, but it's important to be critical thinkers when we see them.
On the positive side, partnerships can truly do a lot of good. They allow creators to be full-time and make content that is free and accessible. So, it's not that Mikayla should be poorly regarded. We just wish she would have taken steps to reconnect with her audience after this happened.
How could she have fixed the situation?
If Cassandra were Mikayla, she would come to terms with the fact that the content was unfair. Granted, it's not going to feel very good because the individual is always assigned more responsibility than the sponsor company. But speaking up, taking responsibility, and avoiding deflection is still the best option At the same time, don’t beg for forgiveness because not everyone will forgive you. But, those who do forgive should be treated like gold. Ask them what you can do better. As for L'Oreal, they can use this opportunity to connect with customers too, especially since they probably don't approve of the post.
Cassandra thinks L’Oreal should make a statement, address what happened, sympathize with its customers, and state whether or not it aligns with the company. Then, it would be best to internally create a new review process Once that's developed, communicate what you're doing to prevent this from reoccurring. When you've done this, ask the audience for feedback, ask them what kind of advertisements they enjoyed, and strengthen your connection with them. Events like this can be an opportunity to do something good for the people that are paying you.
Consumers are the ones who pay brands, and as a customer, you can research the brands you support and empower yourself with knowledge. Every single dollar you have has power, and you don’t have to put your dollars with companies or individuals that don’t align with you.