These occurrences are all-too-normal which is why this week, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK has decided to crack down on beauty ads and influencers who use reality-distorting filters when promoting a product on their social channels. The ASA’s ruling is in response to the #filterdrop campaign that was started by the beauty community, who was sick of seeing every advertisement feature Kardahian klones with big lips, cat eyes, and high cheekbones, and claim it was the result of insert beauty product here.
This behavior not only negatively impacts individual perceptions of beauty, but also causes consumers to lose hundreds of dollars on deceptive or disappointing beauty products chasing a look that does not exist without photo filtering or cosmetic surgery. But even as we see regional legislation and regulatory oversight attempt to curb this behavior, consumers are still left wondering where they can turn to for the truth about credible beauty products.
How we make decisions about beauty products and trends
Whether you're a devout makeup addict that enjoys discovering the newest and best cosmetics, or you’re simply interested in a natural skincare regimen, the way you find and discover beauty products has likely changed in recent years. Most of us have replaced flipping through glossy magazines with scrolling through our phones, which means advertisers have fewer obstacles to clear before firmly implanting their minimalist-packaged, “clean” beauty product into our feeds...and our brains.
And while most brands are required to abide by terms and conditions and are subject to some scrutiny from regional regulations when advertising on social media, beauty influencers often only have to snap a picture and post it on their feeds with “#ad” neatly hidden somewhere in their photo or at the end of a long caption waxing poetic about the “life changing” product that they are “addicted to.”
How we make our beauty decisions is ultimately influenced by this proliferation of content being pushed at us through every screen we engage with. That is, after all, the purpose of advertising.
However the newer danger with the ability to rapidly push content to beauty consumers is the lack of oversight and credibility of the content we are being shown, and the ability for advertisers (be it brands or influencers) to easily distort content through filters or photoshop, and claim it’s the magic of a product.
Putting social advertising and influencers under the microscope
Speaking of things that aren’t new, Photoshop has been a long employed (and criticized) tool of advertisers and magazine editors to sell images of perfection. But what was once reserved for photo editing professionals is now accessible to anyone with a phone and connection to an App Store.
The ease with which brands and influencers can manipulate imagery has caused widespread body image and beauty standard distortion, and also makes it harder to know if what we’re being sold is the result of an ingenious beauty product, photo manipulation, or actual manipulation (i.e. cosmetic surgery).
And while regulatory authorities like the FTC in the US have disclosure rules for influencers, such as revealing any financial relationship with a brand and requiring that you try any product you endorse, there aren’t requirements around disclosing additional help that may have been required to achieve a specific look in a photo.
For example, your favorite influencer may have partnered with a skincare brand to help fight their acne and after a month the results are noticeable. If that influencer is also paying for specialized, dermatological skin treatment, they may not reveal that information in their endorsement for this skincare brand. This doesn’t mean that they are falsely advertising a product, but it does skew the credibility of a product’s impact for everyday consumers also looking to treat acne.
Influencers can’t make unfounded scientific claims about a product, but the truth is that they can withhold information that may cause you to put your full faith (and money) in a beauty product or service that won’t give you the results you’re expecting.
Beauty reviews are more trustworthy than beauty advertisements
Because of all the scenarios listed above, consumers are fed up. If this isn’t apparent by the onslaught of negative comments that overly edited or filtered photos receive, then it’s certainly apparent by the rise of social accounts looking to expose influencer and celebrity photoshopped images.
But fed up doesn’t help consumers make informed decisions, which is why we need credible beauty reviews on an open platform. Reviews aggregate the experience of the masses so even if you’re unsure if that beauty product will really make your lashes look 10x fuller, you can read about the experience of your beauty peers on an open review platform like Trustpilot without concern that these beauty product and service reviews are cherry-picked.
That isn’t to say that every review experience will disavow products that are advertised or featured on social media. Oftentimes, we see that credible reviews validate, rather than contradict, the claims that brands make on social media and via their influencer endorsements.
The power of reading (and writing) reviews for beauty products and services on Trustpilot is that you don’t have to worry about the experience being censored or manipulated. If you’re looking to validate a new product or service, you can get clear expectations based on the experiences of those who’ve purchased the product or service and seen results. And whether you’re disappointed in a “miracle” product you bought from a targeted ad, or if you discovered a great skin care service that your favorite micro influencer shared on their feed, you can tell others about your experience honestly and authentically.
The beauty industry has a long way to go in achieving a universal state of honesty and transparency in it’s ads. But in a world of deceptive advertising practices and minimally regulated endorsements, you can find confidence in the fact that reading about and sharing personal experiences with beauty products and services on Trustpilot is filter free.