If you’ve been on TikTok in the past week, you might have heard something about a scandal involving beauty influencer Mikayla Noguiera and some false eyelashes. Apparently, Mikayla used false eyelashes during an ad for the new L’Oréal Telescopic Lift mascara to her 14.4 million followers, much to the outrage of the internet, who claimed she was falsely advertising a product and thus lying. Everyone has a different opinion on whether she used false lashes or not, and content creators from James Charles to Jeffree Star are (perhaps unnecessarily) weighing in on the topic and exposing how truthful makeup reviews really are. As a result, there has been an outpouring of videos of people on the app sharing their experiences with products they were influenced to buy that failed to live up to the hype – spawning the term ‘de-influencing’.
But what is ‘de-influencing’, and has its era officially dawned?
You’ll be more than familiar with influencing – TikTok is filled with beauty gurus and lifestyle influencers promoting a different product each week, swearing that this foundation or that cleanser is the solution to all your problems. De-influencing is effectively the reverse: telling the truth about products, and actually saying why you shouldn’t drop everything to buy them. Radical, right?
A quick search of the term ‘De-influencing’ on TikTok uncovers a flood of videos of influencers breaking down the products that, despite the hype, just didn’t work for them, from the iconic beauty blender to the Madison Beer-approved Nars liquid blush. Instead of waxing lyrical about the life-changing effects of these products or trying to convince their followers to buy them (use code James for 10% off), ‘de-influencers’ are actually revealing their true experiences with ‘holy grail’ products, much to the delight of viewers. Take beauty ‘XOXOEMIRA’, whose viral video delves into the products she regrets buying, from the viral Charlotte Tilbury flawless filter that simply “did not work”, to the Dior backstage beauty concealer that is “so not it”.
And I, for one, am a fan of this new era of beauty TikTok. It’s hard to believe when an influencer is flogging a different moisturiser each week that they swear they live by. These days, TikTok is starting to feel less like a fun social media app and more like a sales pitch, and with half the posts on my For You Page seeming to be sponsored ones, it’s easy to feel more like a target market than a follower. What’s that saying – ‘if you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product’.
But for once, influencers are talking about the negative side of products – and I’m happy to hear it. I want to know if a product has poor coverage or that the bottle leaks every time you use it. Surely the point of beauty influencing is to tell us the truth about products – if we’re supposed to be spending our cash on makeup that we’re being told to buy, it should at least come with an honest review. I think most consumers would agree they don’t like being lied to – and even our frustration is being used against us, with all this publicity probably benefitting L’Oréal even more than if there had been no scandal at all. After all, all publicity is good publicity.
So, whether Mikayla used falsies or not is really beside the point – but what the outrage has caused is ultimately a good thing. Bring on the Age of the De-Influencer.