Under the skin of beauty bloggers
Although I do not follow any particular beauty blogger, I have read and in some cases tried to follow the advice and recommendations of bloggers. The appeal of bloggers/vloggers is obvious. Getting the perfect smoky eye look takes practice and time. There are also some nuances, techniques and certain products that make it easier to achieve. It is also helpful to watch someone demonstrate how to do it step-by-step, pause the demo, and try the steps for yourself. Hearing someone explain the products that go along with creating the look is also useful; it certainly saves time and effort in perusing the make-up aisle at the department stores or beauty specialist stores.
When I had the idea of writing a ThinkBox piece about beauty bloggers, my daughter suggested that I check out Michelle Phan, a Vietnamese-American who became an entrepreneur by posting make-up how-to videos on YouTube. I find Phan's YouTube videos entertaining. They are short and the way that she does her make-up seems very simple, with dramatic results. Perhaps the reason why beauty bloggers have such a large following is because they have a unique image. Like Ms Phan, popular beauty bloggers are young. They are fresh faced and carry an easy-going attitude. Most seem very genuine about their love of fashion and make-up. They come across as regular gals, trying various beauty products, and making it work for them -- a very relatable persona.
I imagine that for some, looking at an advertisement billboard featuring a beautiful model or movie star with perfect skin attracts scepticism. Advertisers may want to send a message that by using their products, you too can be beautiful like a movie or television star. Since models, movie and television stars have good skin, if you are beautiful in the first place, how effective is the actual product?
Beauty bloggers such as Phan are almost the antithesis of the movie or television star line of advertising. I imagine that the draw of beauty bloggers/vloggers is the humble nature of their message.
A younger audience readily identifies more with someone closer to their age group, especially someone who is trying and mastering a product or a look that you are curious about or want to achieve. (Phan is 28 years old and there are other bloggers that are in their teens.) Being accessible on the internet is like having a beauty consultant at the touch of a button.
The added convenience of being at home and not being pressured by cosmetic representatives trying to close a sale makes the experimental process more relaxing, and even fun. The added product recommendations, when coupled with instructional videos, easily attracts anyone who is looking for a simple or a drastic change in how they wear their make-up.
What happens after a blogger hits it big? In the case of Phan, she became an entrepreneur by featuring various sponsored products on her instructional videos. She partnered with big brand cosmetic lines to launch her own make-up line, founded a cosmetic subscription company, and made it on the Forbes 2015 the 30 under 30 list; quite an accomplishment for a young lady. Now that Phan has crossed over into the mainstream, she has shed her home-made blogger/vlogger identity. The videos posted on her webpage are now edited with sets and themes.
The internet has opened doors and created new business opportunities just as the bloggers/vloggers have found a market niche between big brand cosmetics and young consumers. Although the internet has become the main business trading place, Thai laws and regulations remain inadequate to protect and shelter consumers from fraud and bad business. Bloggers/vloggers and others who operate on the internet do so under the premise of freedom of expression by offering opinions and recommendations. With so many bloggers/vloggers trying to achieve the Phan dream, some may resort to giving extreme advice or making claims for miracle skincare regimens that do more harm than good.
As friends, daughters, and relatives turn to the internet for beauty tips, I advise caution and remain mindful. For every well-intentioned beauty enthusiast on the internet who is more than willing to share honest tips and beauty secrets, there are many others who are trying to make quick cash by exploiting others. Criminals rarely suffer repercussions for offering bad beauty advice or for the sale of inferior cosmetic products on the internet.
Until there are consumer protection laws and adequate capacity to enforce these when possible, the best bet for your skin is to remain cautious. Go ahead, be fun and experiment with new techniques and products. Just don't believe the first thing that you hear.
Prapai Kraisornkovit is the editor of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.
Bangkok Post Life section Editor.