At a time when Instagram is saturated with influencers touting the secrets to their perfect (potentially edited) skin and praising brands through thinly veiled ads, truth feels hard to find.
Influencers need to make a living somehow, and if that’s through ads and sponsored content, so be it. There’s nothing wrong with getting paid to promote products ― traditional marketers have been doing it for decades. But Instagram consumers crave transparency and want to know when something is an ad so they can form their own opinions. (Plus, it’s the law.) And if someone’s had their lips plumped or received Botox injections or edited their photo drastically, consumers would rather not be tricked into thinking it’s 100% natural.
Maybe that’s a lot to ask, but as it happens, there are a number of influencers on social media who really appear to be on the same page. Some of them, like Yana Sheptovetskaya, who runs @gelcream, don’t feature ads. Others, like Gloria Lu and Victoria Fu, the chemists behind @chemist.confessions, use science-based facts to present informed reviews.
“We believe it’s time for an industry makeover and transparency will only lead to better content and better products,” Lu told HuffPost via email. Lu and Fu dive into the science behind products and their ingredients. They don’t necessarily rave about products, but they will outline why they might or might not live up to their claims.
Speaking specifically in regard to skin care, Lu noted that with all the information out there, it has become “really difficult for people to figure out what skin care can work for them and their own skin quirks.”
Influencer Samantha Ravndahl, who goes by @ssssamanthaa on Instagram, said that she believes “with transparency comes representation.” One policy Ravndahl has for her posts is that she doesn’t edit her skin. She’s open about having acne, and she’s also admitted to getting Botox.
“I think that if we’re all a little bit more honest about it, we would all benefit from that,” Ravndahl added, “because there is a need for that transparency, there is a need for that kind of representation of different bodies, faces, conditions and all that, because we all deal with this stuff at some point or another for the most part.”
Both Lu, with her co-founder Fu, and Ravhndahl are among a group of influencers who seem to be injecting a little more transparency into their content. Below, check out a few others who keep it real on the social media platform:
If you want honest beauty product reviews, @gelcream is a great place to start. The account, run by Sheptovetskaya, is currently ad-free; the opinions shared are hers and hers alone, she confirmed to HuffPost. What we particularly like about her account is the fact that she’s not afraid to say when she doesn’t totally love a product, as was the case with Flesh Beauty’s stick foundation (seen in the photo above). She’s also very thorough in her captions, including everything from package descriptions to information about who makes each product.
Ravndahl is refreshingly honest on her Instagram page, particularly when it comes to her experience with acne. She told HuffPost that she fairly recently stopped editing her skin in photos, and we have to say, it’s nice to see actual skin on the social media platform that doesn’t look like it was FaceTuned to infinity and beyond. Ravndahl has also openly admitted to getting Botox, because in her opinion, neither acne nor Botox should be seen as taboo.
For those who like a more scientific approach to beauty and skin care products, we highly recommend checking @labmuffinbeautyscience, run by Michelle Wong, a chemistry Ph.D. graduate in Sydney, Australia. She presents science-based explanations in super easy terms, which helps followers better understand the ingredients (and how they work) in your favorite products. Her captions are sometimes lengthy but worth the read if you like learning about skin care.
Chemist Confessions, run by Lu and Fu, is another account that’s great for the science-minded beauty and skin care fans out there. As their Insta-bio states, “we’re just as tired of the bs as you are.” We especially love their “Decode that Ingredient List” series, in which they break down the purpose of different ingredients in various skin care products.
Caroline Hirons, a facialist and self-described skin care expert based in the U.K., offers witty, personal product reviews on her account, and she can be quite blunt. For example, she once described the smell of Biologique Recherche’s Creme Hydravit as being “so bad that it’s the skincare version of ‘I’ve got a headache’, meaning no-one is coming near you for a snog until the scent dissipates.” (She loves the actual product, though.) Hirons does receive product samples as gifts, but she tends to be up front about that in her captions, which we appreciate.
Stephen Alain Ko, the man behind @kindofstephen, is a cosmetic and skin care formulator. Like Lu and Fu of Chemist Confessions and Wong of Lab Muffin, he shares educational information about the science behind popular ingredients in our skin care. If you ask us, you can never be too informed about skin care.
On Gothamista, you’ll find thoughtful product reviews and recommendations, but what we really appreciate is the fact that account-runner Renée Chow notes when products were given to her free.
The Beauty Trooper, aka Stacey Elliot, promises “untouched, filter free and honest” posts that are free from ads. And she delivers. We particularly like her before and after-style posts, in which she outlines all the products she uses to achieve a look.