Does social media do more harm than good in the beauty industry?

I am torn; there are some good aspects, like when we collectively voice to brands that a shade range is poorly done or that we see through misogynistic and pandering marketing campaigns, because our voices are louder together and it’s easier to tweet than it is to write a letter into corporate. The former also alerts news publications or larger influencers/celebrities and can get them involved, regardless of whether it’s on a surface only or because it’s a genuine issue for them. I do think it humanizes people and gives fans access to people (from actors to scientists to artists) and can help build more connections to each other. It is also a great way to share behind-the-scenes information, ask questions, and interact with people that are similar to us or that we admire that we can’t in person.

On the other hand, much of social media, particularly the image-based platforms, reinforces the idea that we selectively share only the very best parts of our lives. Even when we see “real life” sharing, it can sometimes feel as curated as the good stuff. There is also wide use of filters and editing, which I have conflicting feelings on.

— Christine
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Pros: Living in a very small town, I rely on social media to educate myself. Our small town publishes a newspaper once a week and is mainly focused on local news. Yes, I do have a TV but since I am on social media for other reasons, I might as well use it to know what is happening. I have to rely on social media to stay current with makeup products, skin care, etc. My little drugstore carried Almay and Cover Girl products and not even their full range of products until about 2 months ago. We just got a couple of ELF products in so woo-woo! I really rely on social media for relationships with others who love makeup and current makeup trends as much as I do. Many times I learn about questionable practices, PR, etc. via social media and likely would be ignorant of these things without those platforms that I subscribe to and check on an almost daily basis. I really don’t want to support brands with these types of issues. I love the fact that as a collective we can have an impact on brands for the better. I love that there is a movement on social media to support body positivity and individualism but that is a double edge sword because the opposite is also there.

Cons: There are a lot of cons but probably the one that bothers me the most is the ability for people to say and do terrible things and then hide behind the anonymity that social media affords them. I am seeing whole generations of young people growing up using terrible, foul language, very hurtful comments and feeling validated by others like them. The one-up mentality is pervasive and seriously damaging to lives of young people. I don’t know where it will end but just recently saw a news article, (on social media!), that placed the onus of this problem squarely on the founders of social media platforms. The article called on people such as Mark Zuckerberg to clean up their platforms. I am not the morality police but I don’t see this trend going in a positive direction. There are websites, YT channels, IG sites that support very radical ideas and behaviors. People bond together over their common really questionable practices, racism, sexism, consumerism, just all of the isms! They encourage each other to commit suicide, murder, etc. They certainly have the right under freedom of speech but sometimes the negative is louder than the positive. I know the opposite is true also so I don’t have any brilliant answers.

You summed up everything so very much on point, Deborah. Especially the “Cons”. Radicalism is a pervasive DISEASE on all social media outlets, and it goes in BOTH directions. No one is allowed to express their thoughts or personal values anymore, unless those are 100% “politically correct” in one direction or the other. Not allowed to be somewhere in between. Nope. God forbid you take offense at some type of radical thinking coming from a group of people on one side or the other! They will seriously come for you. Because of my deeply held Bible based beliefs, as well as the fact that I refuse to hate the actual person or group of people, only the behavior, I’ve sometimes felt like a complete outcast by those on both sides of several issues. And, oh goodness, yes, to what you said about foul or disgusting language!

I agree, nuance is struggling to stay alive on social media. Good on you for refusing to partake in the online hate mobs. It’s sad, but sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the demographics of social media skewing younger. I know I used to think things were way more black and white when I was a teen.

Valid point, Sarah! I believe you are correct when it comes to younger demographics. Then again, I’m closing in on the big 6-0 in March, so I’m “old”. Another factor is that the “rules” keep changing as to how to say things. One may not even realize something did, either!

There are some great things about social media that I love. Body positivity, body diversity, and challenging beauty and gender norms being chief among them! I love that I can generally find swatches of products on someone of my skintone, although I still wish for more Native American content creators period. I love that social media allows us to quickly search for dupes. I love that we can still find humor and relate to each other, even when the beauty industry is mired in drama and controversy. I love to celebrate the creativity of content creators.

On the flip-side, I do think social media promotes rigid beauty ideals – although these may shift over time. This makes it hard to wade through to find the diversity and acceptance of all body types, skin tones, abilities, etc. I think social media encourages us (and by us I mean the general public, influencers, and brands!) to speak before we think, which causes hurt feelings and embarrassment. While I appreciate the opportunity to check out new products before or as soon as they’re released, I think social media encourages unabashed capitalism and materialism that I find myself having to challenge, constantly! If I get tempted to spend too much on makeup products, I find myself needing to unfollow beauty and brand accounts to take a break.

Pros : Transparency. We now know so much more about a brand and their owners than those of my generation ever did. Perhaps, too much. Back in the day, makeup had a mystique and allure to it based on ads and store displays /testers alone. Some things do need to be outed, though. SM has proven to be effective at doing that when it comes to deceptive promo pics, limited foundation ranges, corporate racism, misogyny and shady business practices /customer service, plus poor product quality.

Cons: OH,

Cons: Oh, I could write a novel on this subject! Instead, I will sum it all up with this abbreviated phrase: TMI. Just too much. Add to this all the SM negativity, sometimes in direct response to the “all out there” TMI! I feel that SM has become a very hostile place proliferated with gang-like mentalities, filthy language and the like. It can kill a business that creates marvelous products but has an unhinged owner. Conversely, it can build up unwarranted hype for a brand that hasn’t truly earned it. The comment sections are a literal toxic battlefield. If one expresses an unpopular, non-PC opinion or thought, all hell will rain down upon them! No one will ask them to clarify what they meant. No one will ask why. No. They will get jumped on HARD. And that person may not have even meant it the way it was interpreted, possibly because the person used a term with no malicious intentions, but not well clarified. Anyways, I think I’ll just stick with Facebook and IG now.

Hard to say…if you’d asked me this like seven years ago I would’ve definitely said it was more of a net good. It was so fun to learn about makeup through youtube/blog tutorials. Yeah, they weren’t always the most experienced makeup artists, but for a beginner like me that was totally fine and even welcome…it kind of made it more relatable. Also reading reviews and looking up swatches was a real game-changer, as it made making informed purchases a lot easier (especially for a relative makeup newbie).

But now…idk whether it’s a net bad, but there’s definitely more toxicity which I guess comes with the territory of a rapidly growing community that’s become heavily intertwined with all aspects of social media. I’ve definitely had to re-evaluate how I interact with makeup-related social media. There’s a lot of youtubers that I don’t watch anymore, since their feed has basically turned into nonstop product-pushing and advertisements. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people trying to make money/a career out of this, but I gotta look out for myself (more specifically, my wallet) first and foremost.

And the toxicity from online commenters…ugh it’s such a headache. There’s so much fighting and drama and trolling and bots and baiting. I’m just over it. I’d rather to talk to people irl in makeup, even though it’s harder to find people who share the interest as much as I do. At this point, I barely read/interact with any online commenters outside of this site.

I don’t use social media much, and when someone comes out with a product that some famous You-Tuber has “designed”, I generally don’t have a clue who it is. If I look her up I’m usually disappointed and sad to see what she looks like because so many of these young women pack on makeup until they look like if they smile their faces will crack! CONTOUR! FOUNDATION! POWDER! HEAVY EYE MAKEUP! ENORMOUS LIPSTICK! It’s just so much – too much for me. Pretty soon they all look alike with all that overdone makeup on their faces.
You, Christine, manage to show lovely makeup looks every day without looking like a made up doll. You smile, your face looks fresh and not like you put makeup on with a trowel, and the looks you show are always gorgeous.
So my vote is that social media does some harm by making younger women think that a super-heavily made up look is what you need to have, either on youtube or IRL just to look “normal”.
I’m not even going to go there to address what I think about the social influence of other social media platforms – suffice it to say I’m not on Facebook and never was and never will be, and am not on Twitter, either.

Generally I think social media is positve in relation to new products and up coming collections. But the downside is the multiple youtubers whose opinions match that of the brand’s they are supporting.
I am not influences by any instagram etc comments, but prefer blogs like yours Christine, that objectively assesses the merits or otherwise of products reviewed.

I think it’s done a lot of good to educate the mass on makeup and it’s application (of course you do have to filter) and the variety and selection of products, but it’s done great harm to building addictions and spending money. Of course as related to the beauty industry, they are VERY happy with the results, as it’s an industry that booms even during recession. So, like you I’m mixed.

For me, it’s been amazing. Since I know no one who shares or even understands my beauty obsession (okay, one friend), it’s been a whole new world to me discovering YouTube channels, Insta accounts, and facebook groups where others are avid collectors and users. Even there, the groups I mean, I often feel judged because many of those members are either not as into it as I am or are beauty snobs and harshly critical of many new launches, particularly drugstore.

So I guess that would be a con, feeling judged, but it’s no more than irl. Online, at least, I get to interact with others who are obsessed like me, and I get the inside track on new launches.

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