Do Beauty Blogs Really Make Navigating Counters Easier?

I read quite a few beauty blogs, and although I do make an effort to seek out bloggers who are just finding their feet, a chunk of my Bloglovin' feed contains posts from Internet megastars like Tanya Burr and Zoe Sugg. Blogs with large readerships draw lots of PR samples and sponsors, so I'm always seeing an influx of posts about one product around its launch date. Seeing all of the coverage on Benefit's new Push-Up Liner made me start to think about the effect that this subtle form of advertising has on my purchasing habits. While I have more knowledge about what's available across many different brands and know much more about applying makeup than the average female, I still wonder: am I really better off than a woman who relies on sales associates at makeup counters to give her the 411 on all things makeup?

Cons of online beauty research

1. Sometimes I don't register that I'm being marketed to online.

Working with sponsors allows a lot of my favorite bloggers to make content creation their full time jobs, so I'm most definitely in support of the practice. However, I find it difficult to decipher vague disclosure policies. Most bloggers and YouTubers mark press samples and sponsored posts clearly, but sometimes you'll encounter a blog or channel that only reveals that there may be sponsored content in the posts or videos that they create. When that type of vague disclosure policy is put at the end of every post or video, it can be hard to determine exactly which products the person was provided with or paid to mention.

My Solution: I'm a skeptic, so I always check the bottom bars of the videos I watch and the end of posts to make sure I'm not reading a biased review. I don't rely as heavily on the opinions of bloggers as I used to, making sure to check customer review websites such as Makeupalley before I purchase a product.

2. I'm often influenced by the hype.

I'm sure that we all have those products that we bought on the heels of the release date that we wish we hadn't (I'm looking at you, Naked 3). Limited edition Mac lipsticks are beautiful and Urban Decay's palettes are awesome values for $50, but I could've survived without them. That 'I-must-have-you' feeling subsides all too quickly and then the harsh reality sets in - I've wasted a lot of money on products that I don't need because I didn't take the time to consider the purchase and acted upon those first impulses.

My Solution: As a general rule, I avoid limited edition collections because I think that they contain some of the most unduly raved about products. If I were really interested in having Maleficent from Mac's Venomous Villains Collection on my makeup compact, the place where I would go to figure out if the product inside is worth the cash is Temptalia. If a product that has just been launched will be in the company's permanent collection, I wait it out. When a product shows up in many people's monthly favorites videos months after it's been released, it's a much better choice than a product that was raved about once and pushed to the back of everyone's makeup drawers.

Pros of online beauty research

1. If I focus on the sensory descriptions that are included in reviews and keep my own makeup preferences (learned through trial and error) in mind, I'll have a pretty good idea of whether or not the product will work for me.

I'll also have an easier time knocking those purple tinged gray shades that give me a black eye rather than a smokey eye off of my list.

2. I go to the counter as a destination shopper, and am less likely to be convinced to buy other items by sales associates working there.

I go to a department store with my mom to find a serum and end up coming out with a Clarisonic and a bag full of my mom's new skincare products...
I think it happens to the best of us.

The great thing about finding recommendations for products online is that you don't have to say much more to the consultant than 'I'd like to purchase that eyeshadow, please' and 'No, that's it for tonight, thank you.'

3. I have products from a variety of brands instead of one line because I don't go to one counter to buy all of my makeup.

I think that each brand has a different set of strengths, and I make an effort to purchase only the products that have been given the best ratings by consumers.

4. I don't take advice from consultants who may be making commission or are exclusively selling products from one brand.

Although I may have fallen into the trap of buying a product based on a blogger's paid recommendations, I haven't fallen into this one!

Do you think that shopping at department stores is easier because of the online resources available? Let me know in the comments section below - thanks for reading!


  1. I think because of being able to shop online and get online recommendations I've been able to -avoid- department stores beauty counters! I am not a fan of how aggressive some beauty department sales strategies can be, and I avoid them like the plague, occasionally stealing a glance when I see them unmaned. Blogger reviews however, you can take them or leave them. If you don't trust their opinion, you can look for another blogger's opinion - you can't really say to the beauty consultant "I think you're just trying to earn a comission so I'm doubtful this eye cream really works"

    Plus, I find you can tell when PR products have been given to bloggers because they'll all suddenly be raving about it ahead of a launch, but once the launch date has long passed and people are still talking about it, it could be worth checking out (eg. The Body Shop Instablur Primer which is AMAZING). Plus some brands just know how to hype, and it's not the bloggers' fault (Benefit Push Up Liner was in ELLE UK magazine saying it was Britain's Most Loved Mascara).

    I don't know. I just think if you trust your instinct, you won't go wrong.

    Ornella @ EUHNELLA

    1. Everything you've said is very true! I do think that you need to do some detective work yourself to come out with the best product. Recently, though, I've been leaning towards making my own products. I'm taking an independent study at my high school on Cosmetic Chemistry, and at the end of it, I'll know how to make my own safe and effective skincare products. It's a lot easier than I thought originally, you just have to be careful about sanitizing things as you'll be making your products in a kitchen and not a sterile lab. Reading labels is important, I've come to learn. You'll pay a lot more for a product than you need to if you buy into unfounded claims about what certain trendy ingredients can do. The resources online are great. I think that in 2015, consumers have the power, we just have to unlock it by being informed.