Cul­ture

Meet the future of beauty in­flu­encers: skin­care buffs who se­ri­ously know their prod­ucts.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Souzan Michael

Meet the “skin­flu­encers,” a new crop of In­sta­gram­mers who don’t just post pretty pho­tos; they’re se­ri­ous in­gre­di­ent buffs.

E ar­lier this year, like a chill par­ent who sud­denly takes on the role of bad cop, the U.S. Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion is­sued warn­ings about spon­sored con­tent on In­sta­gram need­ing to be clearly la­belled as an #ad or #spon. The concept is sim­ple: In­flu­encers and celebri­ties who are paid to pro­mote a prod­uct or ser­vice must be trans­par­ent about the fact that they’re mak­ing money off what they’re shar­ing with their fol­low­ers.

The new rule hasn’t been with­out reper­cus­sions. Beauty blog­gers, for one, have felt the backlash that comes with post­ing spon­sored post af­ter spon­sored post to such a de­gree that it has led to the birth of a new sub­sec­tion of beauty in­flu­encer: the skin­flu­encer. These new so­cial me­dia per­son­al­i­ties are gain­ing fol­low­ers by post­ing use­ful in­for­ma­tion about skin­care rou­tines and prod­ucts in­stead of over­styl­ized pho­tos paired with brief cap­tions that don’t say much at all. Their strat­egy is more along the lines of “re­search, re­search, re­search” than “snap, fil­ter, post.”

ADRI @SORTOFOBSESSED

“Once I get into some­thing, I want to know ev­ery­thing about it,” says South­ern Cal­i­for­nia-based stu­dent Adri. “The name ‘@sortofobsessed’ fits into that.” With her beau­ti­fully lit pho­tos shot on a mil­len­nial-pink back­drop, it’s safe to as­sume that her al­most 32,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers come for the vi­su­als but stay for the info. Each cap­tion in­cludes the name of ev­ery prod­uct, stand­out in­gre­di­ents, likes and dis­likes and whether or not she’d re­pur­chase. “I Google in­gre­di­ents in my down­time,” she says. “I want to know how things work.” Adri, whose In­sta­gram bio in­cludes her skin type (“Oily T-zone. Slightly dry else­where. Congested pores. Acne scars. Hor­monal break­outs.”), cites Jor­dan Sa­muel Skin as one of her favourite brands: “Ev­ery­one needs to try them!” And while she only fea­tures prod­ucts she ac­tu­ally uses (not­ing ei­ther her first im­pres­sions or even what she doesn’t like about a new prod­uct), she does ad­mit to hav­ing done two paid posts in the past. “I don’t have any­thing against them,” she says. “I just want to do ones I truly like, and so far there have only been two.”

SARAH BROOKS @HYDRATEDHO

“I can’t re­mem­ber the last time I bought a prod­uct with­out talk­ing to some­one who has used it be­fore,” says Sarah Brooks (a.k.a. @hydratedho). “I’ll walk around Sephora and look up prod­ucts on my phone. I’ve never pur­chased one with­out at least Googling it.” Only three months af­ter start­ing her ac­count, Brooks, a stu­dent in Bos­ton, has amassed over 6,000 fol­low­ers and an en­gaged com­ments sec­tion un­der her pho­tos, where she al­ways re­sponds. She cred­its the con­ver­sa­tion with the fact that con­sumers, like her, are be­com­ing in­gre­di­ent savvy. But un­der­stand­ing how to read the la­bel on a prod­uct is more than an In­sta­gram strat­egy. “Once I began read­ing about how cer­tain in­gre­di­ents can ben­e­fit skin, it made it eas­ier to nar­row down the prod­ucts that would work for me,” she says. She hopes to pass on that info—but only if it’s hon­est. While Brooks ac­cepts PR gifts oc­ca­sion­ally, it’s on tight terms. “I will def­i­nitely turn down of­fers if they re­quire a positive re­view or a cer­tain amount of posts about the prod­uct,” she says. Need­less to say, she’s quick to re­ject spon­sored posts. “I have a lot of re­spect for blog­gers who stay away from that kind of thing, so I’m hold­ing my­self to the same stan­dard.”

TRACY ROBEY @FANSERVICED

“I started out as a K-pop blog but even­tu­ally aban­doned it,” says New York-based beauty and his­tory jour­nal­ist Tracy Robey. Robey was strug­gling with cys­tic acne, which forced her to re­think her skin­care rou­tine. “Acne is a painful and highly in­di­vid­u­al­ized prob­lem,” she says. “I can help oth­ers with sim­i­lar skin is­sues on an emo­tional and phys­i­cal level.” These days her ac­count, @fanserviced, has over 12,000 fol­low­ers and com­prises no-non­sense prod­uct pho­tos paired with hon­est, funny re­views. (One mem­o­rable cap­tion be­gins with “With this prod­uct, I feel like the last per­son in the friend group to have sex, the per­son who fi­nally does what they’ve been hear­ing about all this time, and my re­sponse is...that’s it?”) That au­then­tic tone is the cor­ner­stone of @fanserviced. “I don’t ac­cept money for posts,” she says. In fact, Robey de­clines al­most all of­fered PR gifts. “I’d rather just buy stuff,” she says. “My ac­count de­pends on read­ers trust­ing what I say, and peo­ple might feel be­trayed by ad posts. I’m al­ways cu­ri­ous about whether the amount of money some­one re­ceives for [an ad] is enough to off­set the lost fol­low­ers and the loss of [trust] from peo­ple who stick with them. I just don’t think it’s worth it for smaller ac­counts like mine.”

NATALIE SMYTH @ROADTOGLOW

“I do con­stant re­search,” says Natalie Smyth, the blog­ger be­hind @roadtoglow, of her pre-post­ing method. “[I read] books and sci­en­tific jour­nals as well as ar­ti­cles on Fu­tureDerm and Paula’s Choice.” It’s ob­vi­ous that the skin­care buff—whose day­time job is at an ar­chi­tec­tural firm—doesn’t skimp on de­tails. “If I’m post­ing a some­what lengthy and in­for­ma­tive post, I spend days com­pil­ing re­search and then a couple of hours writ­ing the post [to make it] as eas­ily di­gestible as I can,” she says. While a couple of hours spent craft­ing an In­sta­gram post might seem lengthy, one look at her cap­tions, which can be para­graphs long, ex­plains it. Smyth, who is based in Manch­ester, Eng­land, is the first to ad­mit that @roadtoglow is more about facts than pretty pho­tos (her #RTGIn­gre­di­en­tSpot­light posts, in par­tic­u­lar, in­clude ev­ery­thing from his­tory to sci­en­tific stud­ies), and she’s to­tally fine with that. “I tend to fo­cus more on the in­for­ma­tion pro­vided than how it looks,” she says. “I still haven’t found my per­fect aes­thetic.” Her 10,900 fol­low­ers don’t seem to mind, how­ever, as ev­ery post gar­ners hun­dreds of likes and dozens of ques­tions and com­ments. “Most of the prod­ucts I use are prod­ucts I have bought my­self,” she says. “I feel like it would be a dis­ser­vice to my read­ers [other­wise].”

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