Why do beauty editors don´t have to disclose their freebies? #transparency


"the buzz" in the Instyle magazine- no disclosure that these products are freebies send to beauty editors

OK- this is a little- or maybe long- rant! I don´t understand, why beauty editors of magazines don´t have to disclose their freebies. I mean, I don´t know, if you are aware that the FTC requires bloggers (or Instagrammers, YouTubers etc) to always disclose, if they have received freebies ("press samples") or if they have been paid for their post ("sponsored"). Well, the FTC is pretty strict about that and mailed in 2017 90 letters to popular Instagrammers (such as the Kardashians) that they weren´t in compliance with the disclosure rules.

The FTC rules- written truly complicated with never ending additional press releases- are actually quite simple: if an influencer received a product for free or got paid (aka sponsored) it has to be disclosed and it should not be hidden somewhere and clearly visible. I usually have a little disclaimer at the top of my post (such as "PR Sample" or "Sponsored Post") and a more detailed disclaimer at the end of the post and I also disclose on all my social media channels if I received a freebie or was paid. On social media you are allowed to use #prsample or #sponsored (or #ad) - but it should not be hidden somewhere in the hashtags and clearly visible, preferably at the beginning of the post.

Am I complaining about these rules? Definitely NOT! Transparency has always been my goal as I find it highly important to know for my readers, that I disclose any connection I might have with a brand. I will never ever hide that from you. And I highly encourage every blogger to do so. I find the rules of the FTC completely fine and also needed.

Women´s magazines are full of non-disclosed freebies

Ironically enough I just found this ad in my Instyle with the title:


"Are all experts worth believing?"


"When it comes to influencers, magazine editors are the originals. No one knows their stuff-or YOU-better. Their authentic, authorative content makes magazine media more trusted than any other. No wonder its print, online, mobile and video audience has grown to 1.8 billion. Experts you can trust. That´s something to believe in."


This ad is claiming that beauty editors are authentic and trustworthy- found in my Instyle magazine.


Does this ad suggest to not trust bloggers but instead beauty editors? And why do magazines feel the need to publish this ad or even spend money on this? Are they afraid of bloggers? But are beauty editors really trustworthy or even more trustworthy than bloggers?

Because why the hell do beauty editors don´t have to disclose their freebies like us bloggers? 

I absolutely don´t agree on this and I have to tell you: all these beauty awards from magazines such as InStyle, Allure, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, you name it... are written by beauty editors that received all these products for free and are also paid to write about them! It is their job to advertise these brands! And I see not the tiniest disclosure in any of the magazines for that! I find that really very sneaky and dishonest!

The regular consumer and magazine reader has absolutely no clue that the editor/s received all that stuff for free- or that they got paid to mention a certain brand. In many cases these beauty editors have not even tried the products at all!

On the other hand: bloggers test products to see if they are really working and write about their real opinions!

The Beauty Awards by Instyle and their foundation winners: all non-disclosed freebies


Michelle Villett, a former Elle beauty editor writes on her blog (so she knows both sides: as an beauty editor and blogger):

"I'm sure you know this, but just because a product is featured in a magazine, it doesn't necessarily mean the editor has tested it or even likes it. Usually, products are chosen because they represent a trend, have pretty packaging, are a certain color or happened to be in the beauty closet that day (because mags are so deadline-oriented and calling things in takes too much time). Magazines are about what is NEW, not what is "the best. 

Fashion magazines make most of their money from advertising (after that, subscriptions). Who are the advertisers? Beauty companies, primarily. When I was on staff, we always used to joke that L'Oréal was paying our salaries. For this reason, you'll never read anything negative about an advertiser in the editorial pages of a magazine. (Newspapers have a lot more freedom, on the other hand, because their advertisers are not usually beauty companies.) 

When I was a beauty editor, it was understood that I needed to include mentions of our advertisers wherever possible, and to give their spokespeople the opportunity to be interviewed for relevant feature stories. If, say, Dior bought several ads, you simply couldn't run the issue without having some Dior somewhere."


Instyle Beauty Awards picks: all non-disclosed freebies send to beauty editors

And truly: everything in a women´s magazine just screams to me: Advertisement!!! And nowhere a disclosure to find!

Now that I am blogging since almost 5 years, I can also see that the brands that send their stuff to beauty editors are mostly the exact same brands that work with bloggers. Bloggers receive basically the exact same products that beauty editors receive- so every magazine article is so easy to see through for me- but not so for the regular reader of a magazine!

Also: beauty editors receive much larger amounts of free stuff than us bloggers. Racked editors reported to receive a whopping $95,000 worth of products for free (read the original article) in just six months!!! While I have to give it up to Racked that they always (voluntarily) disclose their freebies, I find it also quite strange, that they openly admit that they sell their freebies to their own (Vox Media) employees at a discount. What? Is that ethical? To sell press samples? I always thought that is a big no no! They donate the proceeds to Dress for Success, but still...not sure what to think of this.

Products that Racked received within 6 month! Image source: Racked.com 

Racked asked Hearst (owner of magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, Harper´s Bazaar, O the Oprah Magazine, or Seventeen) why they don´t disclose freebies, but they did not reply to multiple requests sent via email.

A rep for Condé Nast (owner of magazines such as Allure, Vogue, Glamour, Vanity Fair) asked who else would be involved in the story, then did not reply again. Condé Nast also declined to discuss its policy on gifts to employees. "We are a privately held company, and one of our policies is not to comment on our policies," said Maurie Perl, the company's chief communications officer.

The Skin Care picks for the Instyle Beauty Awards: all non-disclosed freebies

Marissa Smith, a freelance editor and former employee of NYLON Magazine says: "Our marketing team was selling editors as a part of branded content.We weren't compensated for doing those things, but we were having to do them. It wasn't a choice. It was just like, 'Oh yeah, we sold you. You're going to star in this branded content thing.'"

Ms. Godfrey-June, a former Lucky magazine editor, wrote a book called: "Free Gift With Purchase: My Improbable Career in Magazines and Makeup". She writes in the book that she received 50 to 250 product samples daily, "most of them just some dull cream purporting to moisturize some portion of your body." Along with the cosmetics is swag, from Pucci scarves to yoga mats to novelty chocolates. And at Christmas beauty editors have received "entire Prada outfits, Cartier watches, that sort of thing," she writes. The book baldly states that "nothing from the cosmetics counter is going to erase your wrinkles" or dispose of cellulite.

Jean Godrey-June, a former beauty editor for Lucky Magazine. is spilling the beans in her book!
 

Ms. Godfrey-June writes: "All the gifts and the three-day press trips where they take you somewhere exotic just to tell you about a single new product don't increase their chances of getting in the magazine. At the end of the day it's about whether the product fits into the story or not."

And while we are at it: those "What´s in my bag" articles are also full of non-disclosed freebies that celebrities received or they have even signed contracts as spokesperson and get paid for ambassadorships and such for mentioning the brands. We think celebrity bla bla bla carries around a YSL lipstick but she is actually the ambassador of the company and get´s paid for saying that! And no disclosure to find!

My verdict:


All I want is that beauty editors have to disclose their freebies according to the FTC rules- just like us bloggers (or other influencers) do.

Beauty awards in magazines are simply non-disclosed freebies that editors received. Even further: they are often NOT tested!

I think if you find a trustworthy blogger (because of course some bloggers don´t disclose either and are not trustworthy therefor either lol), you will find much better information on there, then from a beauty editor that is paid to do their job.

From my perspective beauty editors are just marketing directors: they are paid for writing articles that include (undisclosed) freebies that they received.

Or have you ever seen a negative review from an beauty editor about a product? No? Thought so, cause you will see negative reviews from trustworthy bloggers, because they tell you the truth! Just my 2 cents. ;-)




Contains Affiliate link. Read my full disclosure.
SaveSave