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Of Selling Knock-Offs on Instagram and Responsible Blogging

The ad that piqued my interest. Really, just 200 bucks for this?

I don’t know how to start this. I’ve been staring at my screen for a good 10 minutes before I was even able to start this paragraph. So I figured I’ll just start with a walkthrough on how I went to discover this disappointing fact about beauty blogging/review blogging/blogging in general that a lot of readers may be unknowingly caught up with.

I was browsing through my Instagram feed when a recent upload caught my eye. It was an ad for a MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation from one of the many stores that I follow. I don’t usually read ads in my Instagram, or read everything in my newsfeed in general (that’s why I often miss the more important updates because I follow so many accounts) but this particular ad caught my eye because the said product was being sold for PHP 200. Yep. You read that one right. 200 bucks or just about USD 4.3 if you use PHP 46 = USD 1 conversion rate. I was stumped. I thought the seller just made a mistake so I clarified if what I read was correct. She confirmed that she’s selling it very cheap. So cheap that it’s not even half the price of one being sold at the official MAC website.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation being sold at USD 27 at MAC website.

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation being sold at USD 27 at the MAC website. Image taken from the MAC website.

I believe the saying: “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.” So I asked the most obvious follow-up one was to ask: “Oh, so it’s fake you mean?” To which the seller readily explained that the item was made in Singapore and that “she uses them herself, so does a lot of celebrities and clients and that they’re safe to use.” For one, I’m a doctor, a pediatrician at that, and I take the word “safety” with a lot of consideration. Not having breakouts nor lying down dead at once after using a fake lipstick for a day or applying a fake MAC powder doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe to use as their long-term effects have not been established. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that cosmetic products from reputable make-up brands are expensive because there’s a lot of research that goes into the final product and a lot of monitoring for adverse reactions whether mild or severe, instant or long-term, long after they’ve launched them. Sadly, fake products are not backed up by research or at least, made of ingredients that are known not cause harm. They’re often made in factories that scrimp in labor and ingredients so they can sell them cheap to the consumers. But that’s really not my point.

When asked if she was selling fakes, she admitted they were “Singapore-made”. Oh, so that is the new name for fakes!

I don’t have a problem with people selling fake cosmetics as long as they are aware that selling fake products have legal repercussions once caught. I also don’t have a problem with people who knowingly buy cheap, fake cosmetics and use them. I mean, they’re using it on themselves and as long as they’re not involving me nor any of my friends and family… again, to each his own, and I respect their decision to do so. You know what I’m annoyed with? Bloggers who review cosmetics bought from questionable stores and publishing them as if they’ve used the real ones for their reviews.

While waiting for the reply of the accommodating seller to my queries, I browsed through her feed and saw that she not only sells fake MAC, but also sells other brands such as Benefit, Urban Decay and Too Faced to name a few. Sad to see how some celebrities are endorsing her fake products by sharing their pictures, the goods they received from the store and tagging the said online store. I know how most sellers would send items to celebrities in exchange for an endorsement (that’s how it works). But I do hope these celebrities are aware that what they’ve received are knock-offs and should always think twice about endorsing fakes.

What was even more bothersome was how one Filipina blogger even featured one of her Urban Decay products in her blog. I don’t know this blogger personally but I think I’ve visited her blog once or twice while hopping from one blog to another in the past so her domain name sounded familiar. I paid a visit to her blog, searched for the entry which was posted early this year and read through it. Sure, she did say that the product she was reviewing was from an online sponsor but there was nothing in the whole article where she mentioned how her online sponsor is actually selling knock-offs (she did say that “the price here is less but have the same quality”, a subtle hint to readers that it was fake perhaps?) What bothers me more is that the review was written as if the actual product that was tested was an original and not fake. Yes. Complete with a link to Urban Decay’s website at the end of the review.

Celebrities are even endorsing the shop. I wonder if they know they are promoting fakes.


Really,what has become of responsible content publishing?

Things have changed tremendously if you compare the past and the present in terms of reach of online content. I know this blog barely has content itself and I am virtually a nobody compared to the famous names in the blogging industry. But for starters, I would like to say that I am not new to blogging. In fact, I’ve been online way before Friendster came into the picture, when blogs then were called online diaries, when blogspot first rolled out and way before the bloggers of today were finding their niche in the blogging industry. That’s why it saddens me that the power of online media is continuously being abused or misused because the internet has become so powerful that we can now easily reach millions of people across the globe. We really don’t have a good idea now on how many people we are influencing with the things we post and say online these days.

One blogger reviewed the product on her blog. The problem is, the review was written as if the product was original.

Anyway, this is a friendly reminder to everyone who reads this, whether a content publisher/blogger like me or one who consumes the content on the internet/reader to always think before we click and to scrutinize what we read because there are always some people who will  be irresponsible enough to propagate a skewed idea, endorse fakes and similar situations online.

For content publishers, please make sure that what we’re publishing, especially when it comes to reviews of products and experiences, that our words have been well-thought of and have been scrutinized the same way we scrutinize other people’s work before we hit that publish button. Transparency is key especially when we make our reviews. If you’re given a free sample of a product and you’re questioning the authenticity of that product, be able to say “no” or refuse the offer nicely. Ask questions if you must before deciding on giving your end of the deal (works especially where we are given products and someone is asking us to review it for them). It can overwhelm anyone especially the most-sought after bloggers (unfortunately, I am not one of them :P), but we have to remember that at the end of the day it is always our reputation that is at stake in every article that we publish.

And yes there are no exceptions.

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