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Influencers find loopholes in FTC guidelines to hide their brand sponsorships

If people wanted to buy a makeup product, the first thing they would do is watch a review by their favourite makeup influencer. This is to see if the product is worth investing in and to filter out any makeup product that doesn’t suit their taste or budget. 


The beauty/makeup influencer market has increased over the years. Reports suggest TikTok beauty influencers have an average engagement rate of 7.52%, whereas Instagram influencers only have an average of 1.87%, and YouTube influencers only have an average of 0.56%.


This is due to the rise of the makeup industry and several brands launching their unique line of products which cater to different audiences. Brands would roll out frequent themed makeup launches such as Valentine's Day launches and makeup advent calendars for the Christmas holidays.


Beauty influencers mainly exist to try out makeup products and give honest opinions about them. This urged beauty brands to send out PR (Public Relations) to these influencers in the hopes of them giving a positive review and promoting their products. It became a sort of give-and-take situation. The more famous the influencer is the more PR boxes they receive from various brands. 


Source: Laura Lee


Beauty influencers have shifted their platform to TikTok due to the app's popularity and the ability to give reviews in less than 30 seconds. 


Over the years, these exchanges between beauty influencers and beauty brands became more monetary, causing the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to release guidelines to disclose any monetary advertisements posted by beauty influencers. 


The FTC guideline states “The FTC guidelines say that influencers must transparently make it known whenever a post or statement they make is in a material relationship with the owner of the endorsed product.” The partnership should be mentioned in the video as ‘Brand Partner’ or ‘Sponsored’ and also in the video description.


However recently this guidance has been breached by several beauty influencers who have found loopholes around these rules.


The most famous case is Makayla Nogueira, a beauty influencer on TikTok who initially gained fame due to her unique accent. She caught the attention of several users for not only her accent but also her precise and detailed makeup skills. 


According to several users, Makayla was not discussing her partnership with brands to keep her reputation as an ‘honest reviewer’.


On January 25, 2023, Makayla reviewed the $14.99 L'Oréal telescopic extending mascara in a video that she uploaded on her TikTok account. The abrupt cut in the video occurred after Makayla applied it on her lashes, which suddenly had more length and volume than her lashes before the cut which were short. 


Source: @/makaylanogueira


This confused several users causing a massive debate on the platform about Makayla having applied false lashes in between cuts to make the review more appealing to L'Oréal so they keep sponsoring her in the future. 


Makayla failed to reveal that L'Oréal was paying her to market these lashes. The hashtag for brand partnership was buried behind numerous other hashtags, making it necessary for the user to click the more button to video these hashtags. The word "Loreal Paris Partner" was placed behind her username or filter name. 


Source: @/makaylanogueira


Source: @/makaylanogueira


Even after the backlash, Makayla continues to follow up with the habits of covering her brand partnerships. 


This caused her audience to not trust her reviews or her opinion anymore. 


Another incident involving Makayla had her reviewing a product negatively but swiftly changing her mind after receiving sponsorship. 

Source: @/beautibliss


In a recently removed video that other users have shared, Makayla utilises goods from the brand essence, but her initial opinion of the company is not entirely positive, she states, “the darkness is still coming through even though I did two layers, for the concealer I’m gonna pass I think it's just like a whatever concealer it didn’t cover what I like a concealer to cover and it’s just like whatever there is way better affordable concealers in my opinion” 


But when sponsored by Essence, she backtracked on her previous comments now calling the concealer, she said “Full coverage, it’s crazy essence is affordable, high quality all at the drugstore. You don’t need high end makeup babe you need essence”.


Influencers don’t realise that audiences have educated themselves on these matters and have constantly been tracking down these influencers and reporting them to the FTC. 


FTC has started taking action against micro-influencers and changing laws so that it is impossible for influencers to hide their brand sponsorships and beauty reviews in the future. These still however will take time to be approved and implemented. 

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