Why do beauty bloggers do what they do?

No. It’s not a rhetorical or sarcastic question. Neither is it meant to rub anyone the wrong way. I know what beauty bloggers do and why they do it- reviewing products, giving their opinion on it, giving product launch previews and alerts. And the past few years have seen a plethora of them helping consumers making informed choices which is great. But as I surf through these blogs, a few questions keep bugging me. So here I am shooting them off to all and sundry – anyone who would deign to read and reply.

First of all, WHY this overriding emphasis on “pictures” of the products? Yes I know the reader needs a visual but will anyone pick up a product solely based on the look of the product? If so, why bother reviewing it? Can anyone make out, say, the consistency of the cream or oil, the smell of a toner or a shampoo, or how well a foundation will blend or if an eye liner will not bleed just by looking at the pictures? I don’t think so. A general sort of an idea about the product is what even the best of pictures can give. The reader  has to take the writer’s word for it and use her own discretion. So , pray, what is the point of  so many pictures? Putting a picture to show that you actually used the product and are not putting up a fake review, that I understand and appreciate. But beyond that, it beats me. And horror of all horrors when a stray hair on the arm that one has swatched the lipstick on stands out, magnified manifold by the lovely DSLR camera .

While on the subject of pictures, lipstick swatches to show the colour range of a particular product line or give a comparison between two shades or variety thereof, I understand. However, I still have some doubts. The picture of the swatches on the arm may look very different than the real colours, depending where the picture was taken- indoors or outdoors, with flash, without flash. And why a picture of the writer wearing the lipstick on her? To take an example, I’m NC 40 in MAC. Reading a great review of MAC So Chaud and seeing pictures of the lady, also NC 40, wearing MAC So Chaud, I decided to give it a try. But imagine my horror when I tried it at the MAC store and it totally washed me out. My point, for the readers, simply is that pictures can do only so much. They are no substitute for actually trying the product out yourself.

Another thing that surprises me is when some strong words are used to describe a product, specially the fragrance. As a case point, I can recall a blogger talking of Forest Essentials Jasmine and Aloe Vera Facial Mist (toner) smelling like cow dung! I mean really now. I almost didn’t pick the product up reading this. Who wants cow dung on their face for god’s sake! But when I did try it out at the FE store, it was nothing remotely near cow dung- not to me in any case. Which is precisely my point- why use such strong words? Some may find the smell you drool over repulsive or vice versa. A simple “strong/ strange smelling, may not agree with everyone” would be more apt, no? And I say this not because it can adversely affect the product sale or something but because you are not being fair as a reviewer with such strong judgements.

And last of all, why does no Indian beauty blogger mention if the product is “cruelty free” or not? I know that in a country where human life is cheap, animal rights don’t matter but why not at least inform your reader? Why not provide her with the facts and then let her decide whether her gorgeous tresses are worth subjecting a few bunnies to cruelty or not? After all informed choices is what beauty blogging is all about, isn’t it?

I’m not a beauty blogger, not in the conventional, limited sense anyways. I do talk about products that I have tried and tested and mostly sans the pictures, except for one or two. And, as before I once again urge all the gorgeous women out there, aged 18 or 60, to not join the mad rush for beauty, fashion and makeup blindly- just read about something- a launch or trend or call it what you will and pick it up. Let us all use our own discretion and, more importantly, sense of perspective- do you “need” it or just “want” it. Nothing wrong with the latter either as long you make that choice consciously. And while it is all very well to look great but isn’t it as important walk out in payjamas and flip flops with the same confidence as you would in a Chanel dress? And while you are at it, how about being at peace with yourself – with your life, your body, your skin, the choices you’ve made, the buses you’ve missed and the jackpots you’ve won? I, for one, am trying.

22 Responses to “Why do beauty bloggers do what they do?”

  1. Srishti says:

    Totally agree to what you have written :)

  2. Richa Saxena says:

    You have put up some great points out there…I am a beauty blogger too & I am not in favor of Animal testing either…Its hard to not review products that are cruelty free bcoz sometimes you just dont know if they’re really cruelty free but I try to review brands more often that I know are cruelty free…Strange part is I have never included the cruelty free tag in my reviews..I guess I am going to make that a note of that & start doing that now… :) Great Post!

  3. You have put up some great points out there…I am a beauty blogger too & I am not in favor of Animal testing either…Its hard to not review products that are cruelty free bcoz sometimes you just dont know if they’re really cruelty free but I try to review brands more often that I know are cruelty free…Strange part is I have never included the cruelty free tag in my reviews..I guess I am going to make that a note of that & start doing that now… :) Great Post!

  4. Tamanna says:

    Thanks Richa. I know it is difficult to only review products that are cruelty free not simply because one can’t be sure whether they really are cruelty free or not but also because this really limits the brands one can review. L’Oreal, Maybelline, Clinique, Dove and so many of such top notch brands would be out if one was to decide not to review brands that test on animals. If one is strong and committed enough to do that- Great!! If not, one can at least mention if a product is cruelty free or not. And perhaps also state your personal views on animal testing. Let’s allow people to make informed choices.
    And you may like my post on same issue- http://madwomanintheatticblog.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/because-were-worth-it/

  5. Sonaluna says:

    Hey, some really good points here and nice to know that I’m not the only one bothered by the hair-on-the-arm swatch pictures :)
    To address your question about the large number of images – I think it’s pure eye candy, I don’t think it’s more functional than that. Packaging is designed to be pretty and sometimes, when done well, multiple angles of the product itself give a good sense of its colour/consistency/texture. I’ve seen some really good images where you can actually tell what a product must be like just from the photo. (Whether it suits the reader or not is a different story). That’s the trick though – getting good images and we know that it is really really hard to make products look good in photos. So some more effort towards that by bloggers might be worth it. Eventually it’s beauty, so it’s about fantasy and indulgence and if a pretty picture is nice to look at, that’s really just the basic point isn’t it? Kind of like window shopping :)
    Really good blog post Tamanna. I enjoyed reading it.

    • Tamanna says:

      Hey thx! Yes see your view point about the pictures..like the way you’ve put it-”kind of like window shopping”.
      Glad you liked the post…

  6. Shireen says:

    Loved this post Tamanna! Till some time back I was one of those ppl who’d take every word of the blogs I follow and use those products on my skin until I realized that too many products were actually harming my skin! not to mention, my bank balance too ;-) I am now much more in control of what goes in my skin care regimen and am happy with my light blemishes and imperfect hair.

    • Tamanna says:

      Thanks Shireen. I know exactly what you mean- read about a red lipstick and I would go-” i want it, I need it, I’m in hell until I get it!” But as all things, this too passed and today I’m trying to make my peace with myself- in all aspects.

  7. reshmi says:

    A great post, Tamanna.. I do agree on certain points. I for one, would love pictures in a blog just to give me an idea as to what I’m getting into..you see, i do not want my hard earned money going waste so I’d read not just one blog but multiple blogs so I can make an informed purchase.
    About testing on animals , I do mention cruelty free products if I’m very sure of it and see it on the bottles/ tubes. eg Biotique ..but yes, more often than not we might just forget to mention it as it might not be written anywhere on the tubes and bottles.
    It’s very true that we can get carried away and buy products blindly just because it worked for somebody !! And i guess, at the end of the day we need to make a conscious decision whether we really need the product or just want it !! :)

    • Tamanna says:

      Thx Reshmi. I too like pictures, but how many of those and to what end is what concerns me. As for cruelty free, yeah I know many times it’s difficult to be sure but as long as we all are trying, I’m sure we’ll get there! And conscious choices and decisions in life is what really is important- be it about buying a “lust” product or choosing the life you want to lead.

  8. Anisha says:

    Loved this post Tamanna. You brought out a lot of facets that I too have been wanting to point out as a part of my observations about Indian bloggers, especially beauty bloggers.

  9. Tamanna says:

    Thanks Anisha! i’m glad there are others out there who think and feel like me

  10. llewsoba says:

    Great post, I put pictures up because I like to see pictures of things that have been used, and not the stock photo from the company website!

    • Tamanna says:

      Thanks! I’m not against pictures per se but the over emphasis on them. After all, as someone has pointed out in her comment, beauty blogging is all about looks and presentation and pictures are required to that extent- eye candy, if you please. It’s when pictures replace the actual substance of a review that I start wondering…

      • llewsoba says:

        I agree with that… A picture of someone holding their nose and a product does not tell me whats wrong with it.

        • Tamanna says:

          Precisely my point. All that such a picture will tell me is that the reviewer did not like the smell of the product not how the product is. Glad we are on the same wavelength here ;-)

          • llewsoba says:

            Indeed, and thank for you this post. I will keep things like that in mind as I go to write things like ” Cow Dung” LOL!

  11. Shalini Srivastava says:

    Hey Tamanna I am new here. I know what youmean by posting dozen of photographs of a product and you know lots of bloggers will still explain how the packaging looks like !! Some beauty bloggers wanna look good so they play with photographs and adjust lights and contrast hence the reader may not get to see the real color of a makeup product.. sometimes a reader has to decide which blog is worth their time ..and providing them with correct info. Some bloggers write just for fun and some try to make readers a smart shopper ! I loved everything you have said above .

    • Tamanna says:

      Hi Shalini! I’m not against photographs per se but how many and to what end is my question. And yes one has to use one’s own discretion and not follow anyone blindly. Glad there are others who think the same

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