Dear Mr. Kovacoglu, Founder and CEO, Total Beauty Media, Inc.,
It was brought to my attention today that you're no longer even pretending to advocate for beauty bloggers anymore. Your recent newsletter to members of the TotalBeauty community was quite clear on that! I was stunned to read the title, "Beauty Brands Should Not be Working with Bloggers". When I saw the rest of that sentence,"...directly, anyway," all became clear! Life would be better if everyone filtered their business through yours, is that it?
Toward the beginning of the newsletter article, you state that some bloggers have readership rates that may rival printed beauty magazines. You continue:
Big numbers like this means [sic] big interest from ad/marketing/PR firms.
In their fervor to court bloggers to write about their products,
they're offering incentives -- from free products, to trips, to
outright compensation. It's at a fever pitch, drawing attention from
mass media who've labeled this phenomenon "Blogola" -- and even
drawing attention from the FTC (see article here); in the near future,
the government may mandate that bloggers disclose potential conflicts
of interest, like receiving incentives, free products or money for a
product they're covering.
I'd like to address that. I certainly field pitches from various ad/marketing/PR firms, and they often offer me samples of their products. Maybe when I began blogging I was impressed with the free products, and certainly even to this day certain packages give me a thrill. But I echo many other bloggers when I say that the implication that I am reduced to an unethical puddle at the site of a free product is absurd.
It's very openly stated by Beauty Editors in traditional media that one of the best perks in their jobs is that they get "swag". Free products line the shelves of these Beauty Editors, most of which don't even make the pages of their magazines. In contrast, I struggle to make sure that almost every item sent to me is mentioned or reviewed honestly in my pages. I will also point out that those Beauty Editors get paychecks to do their job, which is certainly a nice perk I do not get! I work long hours on my website while juggling all of the rigors of the rest of my life, all for no pay whatsoever. The occasional free lipstick or eyeshadow is a perk, yes, but not one I hide from my readers.
Many of the products I review, in fact, are items that I paid for out of my own pocket. I have yet to hear that from an editor or writer in "Allure", "Cosmo", or the like. I have no idea if some of the larger blogs receive money or other weighty incentives for accepting products for review, but I certainly do not.
Mr. Kovacoglu, I've yet to be offered money, trips, diamonds, drugs or
any other type of bribery for a review. In fact, most of the time I am
offered only a press release and maybe some high-resolution images.
Yes, this is quite the lavish life I live! I doubt I will ever
be desperate enough to sell my soul for some good product images. Do I
sometimes cringe when submitting a less-than favorable review? Yes, but
submit it I do. My readership is loyal, and I believe most of the
reason behind that is because they can trust me to tell them what I
really think about something I have had the opportunity to sample. I
would rather lose contact with 40 PR reps who are bitter about
unfavorable reviews than I would one single reader.
While insulting my ethics and calling me greedy is bad enough, then you imply that there's only one "right" way to conduct the business we're in.
"Professional mass-media journalists are bound to these standards:
objectivity, accuracy, truthfulness, fairness, public accountability,
and limitation of harm. They're bound to presentation standards such
as clarity, correct spelling, and formal dialect. But most bloggers
are not classically trained professional journalists; they are
individuals who had the guts to start talking publicly about an area
of passion that had. [sic]
I agree, mass-media journalists should consider themselves bound to certain standards. How dare you assume that I throw standards to the wind? I am completely objective when looking at products, and I struggle to be truthful, fair and accurate. I strive to use correct spelling and proper grammar, which is certainly "professional," though I'm sure we've all seen errors slide by in "mass-media" vehicles, just as I'm sure you'll occassionally spot them on my website.
You mention accountability. I can't imagine more public accountability than writing for the world while in friendly competition with all of the other beauty bloggers out there. If I drop the ball, my readers know it because they also read numerous other blogs every single day. As for "limitation of harm", I think I'm more responsible than even some of the "mass-media"; I have seen products mentioned in major magazines that should have had health-related disclaimers on them but did not. This does not happen on my website. I am not a "classically trained journalist" but I am not an unethical moron. I do consider myself to be a professional, albeit a very poorly paid one, and conduct myself as such.
The very next paragraph really burns me.
"Add in e-mail, texting, IM, Tweeting, etc., and the presentation
standards in blogging are blurred. As in, it's acceptable (sometimes
cool or funny) to misspell, cut corners, or not be as polished. That
is what establishes your authenticity."
Let me get something straight: you created TotalBeauty, right? In other words, you started a community of bloggers. Maybe you're confused, but we're referred to as "the new media" because we are not the traditional media. Puzzling, huh? In other words, my blog does not look like or sound like "Vogue" because it's a blog. Bloggers use a writing technique referred to as "voice," which is the way each writer employs his/her own tone, word choices, sentence structure, and so forth. The voice of each blogger is different, and most bloggers use a different voice from that heard in traditional media. This is how our readers like it! If you dislike slang, buzzwords, beauty fan jargon, creative punctuation, or other writing techniques employed by bloggers, maybe you should have started a community for mass-media magazine editors. Just a suggestion...
Let's get to the crux of your "concern" for journalistic integrity, shall we?
"Whether you are a
professional journalist or a blogger, publishers have a responsibility
to hold true to ethical standards in journalism. It's not worth
ruining a reputation or selling out in the short run for small amounts
of money or free products. Bloggers must stay true to their readers.
It's what will keep and grow the reader base -- and it's what drew
brands to work with them in the first place.
It is also the responsibility of brands, agencies, and companies like
Total Beauty to hold our bloggers true to those standards. It isn't
worth it for brands to force bloggers to post a positive review. This
only taints the world of blogging, and could end up killing the
marketing machine that has helped so many brands be able to reach a
Again: how dare you? I think you have a lot of nerve to think that we are not "staying true to our readers". I love what I do because I love beauty products and people. There is no point to blogging if I do not consider my readers, and so I think about them constantly. It's why we bloggers take pictures of makeup in the Sephora. It's why we wander around the mall with lipstick stripes on our arms looking for the perfect light to take swatch pictures. It's why we Twitter from vacation. It's why we spend our own money to buy the new "it" collection or to take trips that will make us better bloggers.
I would never tout a inferior product to please a brand. And while I'm throwing that word around, let's not blame "the brands", either. I have only been approached by one brand that I considered unethical, and when told I must submit my review to them "for approval" before posting, I told them to shove off. Judging from the fact that I never saw any of my blogger friends review that brand's product, I believe I'm not alone in refusing to "sell out". Any time I have expressed a less than favorable review, I have immediately been contacted by "the brand" and thanked for my honesty. I don't know what world you live in, but I'm actually surrounded by a lot of people who enjoy what they do and don't want to ruin it by tossing ethics to the curb.
Getting back to your newsletter, I believe this the point you were trying to make:
"One of the things we encourage our bloggers and brands to do is work through Total Beauty for product reviews via our Sneak Peek program.
The reason? We have developed a community of vetted bloggers who are
impactful, truthful, and not compensated for their posts/reviews --
and we continue to monitor that community. We guarantee to get your
products in the hands of the right bloggers, and that they will use
your product as recommended, post about it on their blog, and review
it on TotalBeauty.com."
That's it, isn't it? The real reason you stuck your foot into this mess. I believe you set out to share a convincing argument as to why bloggers and brands alike should be banging down your door. Joining the Sneak Peek program will solve all problems, and you're willing to stand up and take responsibility for maintaining journalisitic integrity. Talk about perks! Not only do you get to be the voice of responsibility and ethics, but you also get all of the revenue from brands and from adertising as we all click madly on your site reading and posting our reviews. Well played!
You pretend to be concerned with journalistic standards, but I believe your concern is actually directed to your own bottom line. Regardless, I fail to see how your education in electrical engineering gives you the right to defend the field of journalism. While I am not what you refer to as a "classically trained professional journalist," I am an intelligent person, a professional makeup artist, a devoted cosmetics fan, and a pretty fair writer. I write a small blog, and product reviews are only a part of what I do. I am proud of my work and my own "brand". I have never misrepresented myself or a product or my opinion of a product.
You started a network of bloggers or, as you refer to them, "citizen journalists," with the understanding that they would write for you and link to you and you would scratch their backs in return. Yet now you turn on them, which I find fascinating.
It's quite clear: you don't want brands to work with bloggers directly because you want to be
the go-between and reap the coins that click into the coffer. There's not much I can do to stop people from visiting your site, but I can certainly say I'm quite pleased to be independent and small if the other option is be part of your network.
Beauty School Blog
Full disclosure: Yes, I was a part of the TotalBeauty network. I joined when the network was quite small and I left earlier this year because I no longer saw the benefit in it. You, my readers, weren't finding me through them, and reviewing the occasional product for them under their guidelines was not something I felt I could commit to anymore once Lulu got here. Time is a premium for me, and I did not have time for TotalBeauty anymore. Now, I'm even more pleased to have severed those ties.
This is MILF, a nail varnish from British brand Illamasqua.
It looks like it could be a near-dupe of the Chanel color everyone's anticipating for Fall. Actually, I guess we should say that Chanel'sJade is a near-dupe of Illamasqua's MILF, snice MILF was around first!
These polishes are billed as "thick, solid varnishes that go on evenly and easily, they are hard-wearing, chip-resistant and stay colour-true".
Color: I think you can tell from the second pic, this is "Clinique green". I wish I had a piece of jade, because I'm quite certain it would be a match. The polish just glows - I can't deal with how gorgeous it is! Tiffany blue is much more blue than this - I consider this a soft green with a tiny bit of blue undertone, while Tiffany shades are blue with the slightest tint of green.
Application: Whoa! This is very thick, and gloopy. It even started to pool a bit. I was very frustrated when I was applying it, but then... miracle upon miracle, it all settled out evenly. I'm not that great at manipulating thick polishes, so my application is not perfect, but it's probably a good representation of how it will look for many folks. I used 2 coats for my application. You can see, though, that there was a bit of pull at the cuticle, probably from the lacquer's tango with my Seche Vite top coat. I'm going to experiment later with another top coat and see how that goes.
Wear: I can't believe how tough this stuff is. I've had it on for 3 days and there is NO tip wear, NO chipping. The color looks exactly the same as it did when I put it on. It's UNBELIEVABLE. I have not had a polish wear this well in...forever!
What I used: Base coat - Seche Vite Clear Base Coat followed by Orly Bonder; two coats of color; Seche Vite as top coats.
This will be the "it" color for Fall, but in my opinion it's perfect for summer! While I can see it working well with camel, brown and whatever else is going to be going on in Fall, it's screaming to be matched with bright Summer colors, too. I love it next to orange, and I think it would look sweet on tips with a yellow pedi down below! Dare to wear it the Illamasqua way: oval or even pointed tips with a nude half moon! For you nail art fans, I would love to see something done with this and a navy blue, silver, or even a bright pink/fuchsia.
Final points: I WILL be seeking out more Illamasqua, since I'm so damned impressed with the wear. I'd also like to try their base and (quick dry) top coats - wondering if that helps with the consistency of the polish? Colors on my radar- Lament, Phallic, Snap, Harsh, Grab... don't you love the names!?
This is my first hands-on with Illamasqua, and if it's any indication of the quality of the line (from other reviews, I think it is), I will be a die-hard fan. Can't wait to try more! Please check back here to see pics of the postcards I got from the company. They're stunning! I'll post them in a few days.
The "it" color for Fall is green - on eyes and on nails. It's one of the few unorthodox nail colors we haven't explored lately - last fall it was shades of grey ranging from dove to putty to nearly-taupe. If it wasn't grey, it was greyed-out and dusky. The year before, blue was the edgy shade. But now... it's completely easy being green!
It marched down the Fall '09 runways, and nail fanatics who spotted it haven't stopped dreaming of it since...
CHANEL's minty green polish, Jade, will hit counters as an LE offering in October! source
I, for one, will be right there buying it.
Next, we have a non-new release by Illamasqua, a brand that has just come to America via the interwebs. I got my hands on MILF (thank you, Alex!) and here's a sneak peek. It looks like it could be a dupe-ish match to Chanel's shade. I love it. I may never take it off. Review on its way!
By the way, I can't wait 'til my nails get a tad longer so I can do one of the great retro-nouveau manis shown on their site and pretend I'm a sexy Illamasqua diva!
Polish addict fave Nubar has just released their new collection, Going Green. It's STUNNING. I can't wait to dig my nails into it. (bad joke, I know)
Big-3 Free, so it's good for you!
You can buy the whole set, or get just the ones that catch your fancy. Not that I can choose just a few!
UDPP. You may not know what that means, but for millions of makeup junkies, it's an acronym close to the heart!
UDPP = Urban Decay Primer Potion, an eyeshadow primer that defines the word "cult classic". This is one of the - if not the - best selling products Urban Decay has, and its signature curvy purple packaging hits the "Best-Of" lists every single time.
Doesn't the UDDP package look like a genie's bottle? It truly is a magic product!
Is UDPP really that good? I think so. It's a thin (but not watery) cream meant to be applied with the product's flocked wand, though it works equally well dabbed on with fingers. UDPP dries-down to nearly invisible, and effectively keeps your shadow in place without creases for hours and hours without changing the shadows' appearance or texture. Well, that's sort of true- some shadows look even more vibrant over UDPP! I particularly like it under the lower lashline, where it keeps my liner from smudging or budging - and that's not easy!
Fans have been busy for years coming up with creative ways to make this product multi-purpose (and to get every tiny bit out of the package!). I, myself, have used this to prevent lipstick feathering - yes, it works! And others smooth some UDPP on cheeks to keep their blush/bronzer/highlighter creations in place. Tutorials and word-of-mouth have spread techniques for emptying the bottle, the one main and oft-spoken grudge against the product (some stays in the bottom where the wand can't reach). The other pet peeve is that folks want BIGGER bottles!
OK, enough babbling... WHAT'S THE NEWS!?!
You know I'm going to make you read past the jump, right? ;)
"Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics started out in November, 2004 with just two lip balms, cult-favorites Tarred & Feathered.
Ultra-sheer black and white tones respectively, they were designed to
either darken and define or lighten and prime the lips, created in
response to a über-natural trend in beauty, when even the most neutral
of lipsticks was considered too much color."
This balm is billed as pigmented, but sheer. HUH? Until you see it, this may not make sense... but look:
Kinda like a lip stain, but better. I don't love how drying most liquid lip stains are, nor how quickly they dry down, but this is smooth and slips on with no problem. It provides decent moisturization without tackiness or a greasy feel. And it stays put, too, without actually staining.
I tried Vintage, described accurately as "sheer but deep purplish wine." Sheer enough to not look too "done" but pigmented enough to stand alone.
The consistency is fairly firm - almost like one of those twist-up
style balms, but in a pot. If you like goopy, gooey lip products, you
won't love this. But I do!
PS: Looks great with a sheer or shimmer gloss on top!!
There are 5 other shades, including Tarred (black) and Feathered (white), the ones that started it all. All stand up to the Hi-Def test, too, so Pros: you need these!
Ingredients include Coconut Oil extract and Peppermint Oil (known for its antibacterial
properties). I don't care for strong peppermint scents,and thankfully this isn't one. I didn't notice a sting or tingle like I have with other products containing that oil.
Did I mention this? OCC products are 100% vegan and cruelty free. C'mon- I dare you not to buy some!
Remember my OCC Wasabi pedi?! Well, I absolutely love the color but it's not so great on me because of my skintone. It's pretty awesome, so I know I'll be hunting and gathering more of their polishes*, soon, but in the meantime I want to work with what I've got. So, I topped it with another fantastic polish and fell head-over-heels with the result!
*I'm lookin' at you, Rhythm Box, Grandma, and Spanglemaker!
Locavore is "a mélange of gold, silver, green and blue glitter" according to RBL, but dude --- I see purple (!?).
Here's a little peek, with apologies since my feet are a banged-up, three broken toes mess! I absolutely will pair these colors again - soon! - so a proper NOTD or TOTD will be coming.
**I had no idea that "Locavore" means "people who pay attention to where their food comes from and commit to eating local food as much as possible". source and sourceThanks, Jai for teaching me something new!
PS: Girls, you know I'm going to be getting RBL's peony pink polish, Lulu, right? I find myself drawn to anything with this name, now, especially this little sucker:
I was a bit tired of the whole light and bright nail thing, so despite it being hot and Summery, I busted out the dark blue nails. I absolutely love the depth of the aptly named Zoya Indigo. It's just about as dark as blue can go without looking black. This is one of my favorite shades.
Once I got it on, though, I realized it would probably look even more stunning with just a smidge more shimmer (it already has "multi-colored micro glitter"). I added a coat of ChanelAzur (LE), a very sheer polish with tiny blue shimmer. It actually lightened up Indigo just a smidge while adding a fab but subtle sparkle. VOILA! Just what I was craving!
I'm calling it "Starry Night" because it reminds me of the gorgeous Summer night skies I love!
Take a look:
Now, the only problem is that I find Zoya lacquers to be very chippy. What's with that!? Their site says they're "the longest wearing nail polishes available for natural nails." I have natural nails. Natural nails coated with chipped polish. Got suggestions for me? Please share, 'cause I always love Zoya's colors (I own a bunch), but am reluctant to buy more of them because of this chipping thing. :(
Many of these things I have heard straight from the mouth of a MAC MUA. Others are seen and heard around the web...
This Fall heralds a new back-to-our-origins theory behind the new
collections. MAC finally has realized that what worked so well in the
beginning was that artist-inspired style (hello, maybe because Illamasqua,Make Up For Ever, and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
are stealing the hearts of artists and hardcore makeup junkies!?). Read: bolder colors, getting back to more pro-like products, and basically taking it back to the ground level - where MAC began and set the standards for everything we know and love!
An all-black collection!
Nail lacquers are coming...
Dazzleglasses back... but for how long?
Another designer collaboration...
"Back to basics" - what does that mean?
If you love Kohl Power liners, you'll be happy!
Hullo - what's this? Bright pigments!?
Shiny black liner!
News on an insta-Cult Classic from last year... will we see it again?