If you’re into the world of beauty and makeup, there’s a chance that your Instagram feed is flooded with makeup artists and beauty experts. You like and comment on their posts, you screenshot them to show your friends, and may even buy the products that they just can’t stop talking about. And sometimes, you’re very disappointed with the results.
So how can you tell which products will actually work, and which products are scams? How can you tell if you’re going to have stunning vixen lashes or spend the next four days with itchy, irritated eyes? Sometimes it can be harder than looking at reviews or in the comments sections, especially since many of these influencers delete any negative comments they receive.
To make finding that perfect beauty product just a little easier, we’ve put together a list of tips to keep you from falling into the Instagram Influencer trap and tell the real products apart from the bogus scams.
MLMs, or multi-level marketing companies, are everywhere. From leggings to makeup to toothpaste to dog beds, if it exists, there’s probably an MLM company that sells a version of it. However, these products are typically not ethically sourced, not FDA-approved (or use ingredients that are not FDA approved), and cost far more than they are worth. MLMs tend to prey on young women and mothers in need of supplemental income, promising huge bonuses but rarely paying out. The best way to tell if a product is being marketed by an MLM influencer is if they don’t refuse to tell you the product’s brand unless you contact them. They’ll reply with “DM me for more information!” or “Message me if you’d like to know the brand”, which gets them into your inbox and gives them the opportunity to pitch their product. These influencers often call themselves “girl bosses” or their “own boss” and sing the praises of the “small business” that they work for, but they are not their own bosses, and these are not small businesses.
Google the Website
While clicking the link in an influencer’s bio can be the fastest way to get to a brand’s website, these links are often landing pages created by the brand that filter out bad reviews, negative comments, or unwanted press. Rather than simply clicking their link, pull up your phone’s browser and Google their site. You can also add keywords like “reviews” or “scam” to your search to bring up more specific results. If your Google search doesn’t bring up any definitive results or everything about the company just seems sketchy, run. Or at least switch back to Instagram and report the company so someone else doesn’t fall prey to their gimmicks.
Pay Attention to Ads
If you view an ad for a product and then get a message from the company a few minutes later asking if you’d like to collaborate with them or if you’re interested in their products, there’s a chance that they’re watching who views their accounts stories to poach potential customers. This is not how companies go about finding collaborators or affiliates, and doing so raises a bid red flag.
Low Image Quality
Regardless of how new a brand is or where they are in their marketing process, if they are using an image-based social media app, their images need to be top-notch. If their profile is full of pictures that are low quality or don’t really tell you what the product is outright, it’s likely because they’re hiding something and want you to come to them to ask questions. Additionally, if their videos are low-quality or look like they were snagged from other users and don’t give the product name, they’re a chance that they are not authentic.
Play it Safe
While wanting to support small brands and small businesses is great, and something that we should all do a little more often, there are so many fake companies out there looking to make a quick buck off of this exact point of view. If you have a bad gut feeling about a product or company, do your research. Ask around. Google them. It’s better to be extra-cautious than to fall victim to an Instagram scam.