NY Times on Beauty Blogs, Let’s Talk

February 1, 2008 at 7:29 pm 6 comments

super woman Today my super-friend Bionic Beauty posted her response to a news article from the NY Times about a subject near and dear to both our hearts, beauty blogging.

I would love to have you read the NY Times article, BB’s post, Letter from Lancôme, my 2 cents, and then comment.  Interesting times Beauty Bloggers, interesting times!

The NY Times article that started all this commotion: 

Beauty Blogs Come of Age: Swag, Please!

 An email that was sent today from Lancôme:

Dear Beauty Bloggers,

By now, most of you have read today’s story in The New York Times. As you can imagine, we’re very upset by the story. We agreed to participate because the writer told us this would be a story about the growing influence of beauty blogs. We are very disappointed that this story was misrepresented to us. But we are even more disappointed at how Kayleen Schaefer chose to portray the beauty blogs. Most of you know that Lancôme has been working with the best blogs for a few years now and we very much respect the work that you do. Ms. Schaefer did a major disservice to everyone with her article.

We have never expected any quid pro quo for sending product or samples. We appreciate not only your honesty, but that of the readers who post on your sites. As many of you might remember, last year The New York Times wrote about how the beauty bloggers were posting candid comments about the Proenza Pink lipstick (which sold out in record time.) “…Proenza Pink has been inciting an unexpected backlash among bloggers, who alternately complain that the color is unwearable and unobtainable,” read the story dated April 12, 2007. We understand that when we send out product, we open ourselves up to honest reviews. This is something we made very clear to Ms. Schaefer and even gave her examples of honest critiques we’ve received from bloggers and their readers.

We look forward to continuing to work with you and keeping you updated on our latest news and products.


Kerry Diamond

Vice President, Public Relations & Communications, Lancôme

P.S. And just for the record, as most of you already know, we did not send out “dozens” of the Behnaz lipsticks. We sent out one!!  

And my 2 cents: 

I started my beauty blog because I am passionate about identifying great, effective beauty products.  I am constantly reading and gathering information about cosmetics, naturally curly hair care, organics, and skin care.  It is just what I love to do. Mythbuster Beauty was created because I saw a need, and wanted to bring to the Internet table something unique.

Beauty bloggers, like all bloggers pose a threat to professionally paid media sources. Because we accept free samples of beauty products, we are accused of being biased.  Clearly, the “swag” was flowing freely to the professional journalists long before we came along, and maybe those journalists aren’t very happy about spreading the wealth.  Perhaps they are resisting the shift of power, a shift of focus from their once monopolized audience.

Readers aren’t stupid. If a beauty blogger is transparently positive in all her reviews, readers will lose interest.  If she praises a product, and the reader purchases it and hates it, the blog will lose its credibility. 

Active participation by the readers via comments is one way to ensure honest reviewing. 

Any reader who disagrees or is disgruntled can come back to challenge a beauty blogger’s review. That is one very valuable asset that professional sources cannot provide, a genuine human being on the other side of the review.

Beauty Bloggers will continue to work for nothing, merely because we have a honest interest in the subject matter.  Kudos to the lucky few that can profit for their hard work.   Beauty Bloggers do what they do not because they were hired to write reviews, but because they love how blogging provides a way to share and gain valuable information. 

Viva Beauty Bloggers everywhere!

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mejojac  |  February 2, 2008 at 1:03 am

    I’m not much of a beauty gal… but when I do look for a product I look on the internet. I can’t afford to pick up all the beauty mags and see what they say. And I don’t take just one person’s opinion as gospel. If I find that MANY people have given something a good review, I’m more likely to try it. I think that’s why I like places like Amazon where you can review products 🙂

  • 2. bionicbeauty  |  February 2, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Well said Jen (stands up and applauds)!! I think my article was a bit random, since I was so upset I couldn’t even see my screen straight. lol. I’m a pretty emotional person. 🙂

    You make an excellent point about the threat and how blogs provide a means for the blogger AND the readers/commenters to review products. The community is what makes our blogs special.

    Kudos to you!
    All the best,
    Bionic Beauty

    P.S. I love, love, LOVE your new layout. Absolutely myth-bustingly beautiful!

  • 3. nenetteam  |  February 2, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Hi Jen,

    I certainly think that the implication that ALL beauty bloggers do it for the swag is preposterous and offensive. I’m sure there are the handful that do, but the author is planting suspicion and mistrust by lumping the good with the bad in a possible attempt at discrediting you all.
    I agree with you that beauty journalists/critics may not like “sharing the wealth” and/or no longer being considered the sole authority on beauty products. They just have to accept that beauty blogs are here to stay and are credible sources of advice and information… once you find the ones you can trust, that is.
    I, for one, check you and BB first before going to any magazine article for a product review/recommendation… 🙂


  • 4. kate2004rock  |  February 2, 2008 at 9:33 am

    Well said, Jen!

    What really makes me mad, is that the article is almost asking women to start their own blogs just to get free stuff! I’m really no bona fide expert – I’ve just done a lot of reading and tried a lot of things. But I do know a few things, and I DO really put a lot of time and effort into being accurate and objective. And just like you, I do it because I REALLY enjoy it. What I DON”T want to see is an influx of bloggers and their blogs who don’t know anything about anything perpetuating falsities just to get free stuff!


  • 5. momommy  |  February 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I, for one, was pleasantly shocked when Lancome decided to send product recently. That goes the same for other companies who have sent product. It’s not something I ever expected. In fact, I was expecting(and willing) to review products I had bought with my own money. I will still review the things I try for myself, whether the company sends them to me or I buy them in the store. Things I am sent for free just get bumped up on my schedule.
    Participating here has given me a chance to share my love of cosmetics with others, as well as an opportunity to sit down and spend some “me” time writing. Being a contributor has introduced me to many products I might not otherwise have used and it just so happens that I have that so far(3 reviews in) I have really liked them. I like the opportunity to interact with real women who share my everyday chaos and understand if something works in real life. And above all, opinions are so subjective! I may love something because of skin type or personality type that someone else won’t. That doesn’t mean I’m lying!
    Even Jen can tell you that I’m doing this because I love it, not for swag. Lancome happens to be one of the companies I am very passionate about , so I am glad they took the time to send out something setting the record straight!
    *whew* rant over

  • 6. bionicbeauty  |  February 2, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Everybody here has made such excellent and rational comments. Well done. 🙂

    And to Katie, I started worrying about the same thing this morning. And not that I mind new talent coming in to blog, the more the merrier, but people should be aware that blogging is a bit (that’s an understatement) more work than it looks to be on the surface. You fight spam, splogs, and copyright infringement daily. Tweak your layout constantly. Respond to reader questions, advertising inquiries, and constantly read articles on how to make your blog a better place. Monitor your feed to verify it’s working, post comments at your friends blogs (*waves* Hi Jen!) and yada yada yada. it can really add up quick.



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