The Pitfalls of Beauty Blogging

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I’m not a beauty blogger. Yes, I write about products that I have used and share my experiences but I don’t consider myself a beauty blogger. I don’t fit into any of the parameters that define beauty bloggers- I’m not obsessed with makeup or other beauty related things and neither do I claim to know a lot about them. I write because I love to write- about anything. Like most women, I have quite a stock of products on my dress and in my bathroom and am constantly trying out new ones. Since I enjoy writing, I though why not about these too?

As I spend more time on the net, surfing through various sites, including beauty sites, I’ve come to realise that beauty bloggers are a clique unto themselves, and sadly, very often misusing the apparent “power” they wield, defying not only all rules of the English language and grammar with impunity but also failing to give an objective review of a product. No one is expecting a Jane Austen masterpiece in a beauty blog, but if you are conveying yourself in a language, at least do so without defiling the language. At times, the meaning is also lost because of bad and incorrect language. But dare a reader point this out and in no time she’ll be told to go read a site on English language than a beauty blog! What am I missing here? Why this uncalled for haughtiness? And this is the attitude not only towards the reader but towards the beauty brands/companies as well. Not too long ago I came across a comment by some blogger on Kiehl’s Fb page saying something to the following effect – “Don’t take us bloggers for a ride”. Seems the company had not delivered some samples, they had promised. I’m sure Kiehl’s is quivering in their boots!!

And this brings me to the most important area that is, in fact, the sole reason for beauty blogs to exist- product/service review. Now I may not know much about makeup and beauty but I have studied English Literature long enough to know the “do’s and don’t do’s” of a good critical review. Does a good review mean that you have to praise the object of review? Definitely not. But what it does demand is a certain objectivity, a critical distance and should definitely not be a means to settle a personal vendetta or start a mutual admiration society. Extremes of emotion or sentiment do not make for a good review. I have mentioned this incident earlier also( read here) and I mention it again- I read a review of Forest Essentials Jasmine and Aloe Vera Toner that the reviewer said smelt like cow dung! If the use of such strong words isn’t a total lapse of good, objective judgement, I wonder what is.

However just yesterday I came across a review of handmade soaps that seems to have rolled all these potential pitfalls into one to become an explosive combination. While most have lauded it as “brutally honest”, all that I could find in that review was brutality sans the objective honesty, which should, in fact be the hallmark of any review. With a title like “One of the worst purchases of my life” I was expecting to find a product worth a couple of thousands gone wrong and giving the lady an irreparable rash or something similar in the process. But that a hapless soap worth around Rs 200/- that caused some dryness can evoke such strong emotions, I was surprised to find. May be the soap is as bad as the blogger says it is, may be the maker of this god forsaken soap needs to replace her supplier, mend her attitude as her soap, but what/who is the object of the review- the soap or the maker? And when this maker offers some clarification, everyone jumps on her for not taking the criticism in the “right, positive” spirit. Was the review in such a spirit, if I may dare ask? If one was to see the whole trail of comments, it’s a veritable fish market out there. And I thought we were all educated, balanced, reasonable women! If this was an Estee Lauder product gone wrong, would the reviewer still be as vicious in her review and in imputing motives? I don’t think so. Why the maker instead of the soap became the object of review, I failed to see. The funniest thing was when some FB group “banned” this soap maker for failing to take the review in right spirit! My response, as a reader, and not a blogger? ROFL !! I would love to see this “soap that launched a 1000 vicious attacks” ( A take on the famous quote – “Face that launched a thousand ships” for those who don’t get the context) What a pity that the soap has long ago melted and since gone down the drain !

I’m not here to defend the maker or the soap or criticise the reviewer but to highlight what seems to be the biggest pitfall of beauty industry as a whole and of beauty blogging- vanity. Pride of any kind has been the downfall of the high and mighty. Let us not delude ourselves that it will not be the same for us lesser mortals. None of us are going to make it to the annals of history- let us at least be a part of the current day with humility and objectivity.

 

Forest Essentials Ultra-Rich Body Lotion- Mashobra, Honey & Vanilla

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If I was writing this a month ago, I would have dismissed this body lotion as yet another Forest Essentials product that is overpriced and really not worth it. Yes, it smells absolutely divine and gives a nice matte and moisturised feel to the skin but Rs 875/- (now Rs 1075/-) for a bottle- that’s just obscene. In fact, I’m coming around to the opinion that most FE products are just overhyped not to mention overpriced. Yeah Luxurious Ayurveda and all that is fine but this kind of crazy pricing is bound to make one stop and think.

Coming back to this lotion, what changed in a month is that my son met with an accident (The Longest Night & Cheering up my 8 year old) and has been on bed rest since. In these initial 15 days, with zero movement and heavy dose of antibiotics, not to mention the hot, dry weather, his skin was all dry, scaly and itchy. I was sponging him using LUSH FUN Soaps followed with Forest Essentials Mashobra, Honey & Vanilla Lotion. I used the lotion primarily because it is natural and because of the fragrance, wanting to drown out all the unpleasant hospital, sick smells, since the lotion’s fragrance does linger on for a while. He let me use it as this was the only lotion that didn’t leave him feeling, what he calls “sticky”, which I interpret as instantaneous absorption with a gentle massage. To my surprise two days of using this lotion and his scaly, dry skin was much better. And that, to my mind, is the biggest advantage of this lotion – adequately moisturises dry, itchy skin without the “chip-chip” feeling and that too with the most divine fragrance that stays on for some time.

Forest Essentials says this about the lotion-

Product Benefits: Forest Essentials Body Lotion Mashobra Honey and Vanilla is enriched with cold pressed organic oils which make the skin soft, nourished and supple. Kokum butter along with burnt sugar and organic beeswax provide natural hydration and makes the skin smooth. Antioxidant properties of Vitamin E and Gokharu reduce the ill effects of free radicals and give luster to the skin with the warm sweet fragrance of Mashobra Honey and Vanilla.

How to use: For best results use on slightly damp skin just after a bath or shower.DSC08870

USP:• Burnt Sugar from Sugar Cane retains moisture in the skin • Oils are organic and cold pressed • High nutrient value with potent Ayurvedic ingredients • It is 100% natural and free from any Parabens, Petroleum, GMO, Formaldehyde, PEGS, artificial colour, synthetic fragrance and animal testing.

Ingredients includes- Burnt Cane Sugar, Olive Oil Derivatives, Kokum Butter, Cold Pressed Organic Almond Oil, Cold Pressed Organic Apricot Oil, Organic BeesWax, Gokharu, Vitamin E, Glycerin, Organic Honey, Vanilla Extract.

I picked up this lotion in some insane moment of feeling rich – can’t understand spending Rs 875/- (now Rs 1075/-) on a 200ml bottle of moisturising lotion otherwise but never used it since sanity dawned upon me. My poor Vaseline Aloe Vera Lotion performs quite as well for me. However, it has been very helpful with my son’s dry, postoperative skin and to that extent justifies this price tag. Whether some other lotion would have performed as well, I can’t say as he just doesn’t like to use any lotions but is thankfully using this. I will not pick it up again due to the price tag and because these days I’m sane, except if I need it for my son.

After having tried a lot of FE products, I’m coming to the conclusion that they are luxurious and ayurvedic alright but way too expensive. Many other humbler, less expensive alternates deliver as well. If you have some skin issues or just want to splurge on a definitely divine smelling lotion, go ahead. Otherwise save your money and stick to “sasta, sundar, tikaoo” options!

 

LUSH Hair Doctor

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I think LUSH has named this product incorrectly- instead of calling it hair doctor, it should have been called Scalp Doctor for this is a mask meant for the scalp and not hair per se. As you apply it on the scalp, it automatically benefits the hair as well. However unlike masks like say Jasmine and Henna Fluff Ease, that work on giving you frizz free hair, this mask is to be applied on the scalp and gives volume from the hair roots.

LUSH says – This mask of moisturising seaweed and cleansing Fuller’s earth is just the tonic for the hair and scalp. Smear this thick mask over dry hair, paying particular attention the scalp, and leave it for 20 minutes and let the Irish moss powder, peppermint and seaweed get to work before rinsing out and shampooing as normal. As it’s full of fresh, natural ingredients, this needs to be kept in the fridge and used within three weeks.

Ingredients includes – Fuller’s earth, Irish Moss Powder, Peppermint Oil, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Cold Pressed Organic Jojoba Oil, Almond Oil, Rosemary Absolute , Chamomile Blue Oil, Soya Lecithin , Glycerine , Yeast , Red Henna , Lanolin  and some “safe synthetics”( as LUSH calls them).

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I had picked up this mask for my husband who has a very troubled scalp but like all good men, he flatly refused to apply the “muck”, as he called it, on his scalp. Not the one to throw away a perfectly good product, I used it instead even though I don’t have any scalp issues. As I used it, I realised that it is way too thick to be applied on the hair length even after mixing it with some water. I mixed it with water to get slightly easier consistency to work with and applied it on my entire scalp covering hair roots as well. It has a pleasant peppermint smell and immediately gives a cooling sensation to the scalp, not only because you have to keep it refrigerated but because of the ingredients. I left it on for about half an hour and then shampooed with LUSH Curly Wurly. I thought it would pose some problem in washing out because of its thick nature but it came off quite easily.

While I don’t have a troubled scalp but whatever little irritations I did have it soothed them efficiently. My hair came out soft and bouncy too, squeaky clean. The 100 gm tub (cost approx Rs 560/-) was enough for just about 2 applications and after that LUSH disappeared from India 🙁 . Hopefully LUSH should be back in India ( read here) by the year end and all those with a troubled, sensitive scalp can pick this up. Even if you don’t have a troubled scalp, it is a good cleansing mask for the scalp and worth using occasionally especially if you have an oily scalp.