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Lies or Marketing? Can We Trust Natural Celebs When They Discuss Their Favorite Products?

Avatar • Mar 20, 2015

DISCLAIMER: Before I begin this post, I want to make it very clear that I am not bashing Tracee Ellis Ross or any other company spokesperson, in any way, shape, or form. My intention is to call out the practice of masked advertising and sponsored promotion as an educated consumer.

Tracee-Ellis-Ross-and-Johnny-Wright

I recall the first time I read about Tracee Ellis Ross’ hair routine and favorite products in the NY Times, calling out Kim Kimble, Bumble and Bumble, Aestelance, and Moraccanoil. Less than a year later, she was interviewed by Curly Nikki and listed Optimum Care 6‐in‐1 Oil and Moisturizer as her favorite products, which obviously caused a lot of discussion in the curly hair community since she is a frequently mentioned (and admired) curly idol for a lot of women. It wasn’t until I learned that she had recently become the latest spokesperson for Softsheen‐Carson/Optimum Care that this made sense as it was not mentioned at all in the previous interview. Fast forward to today — Glamour released an interview with Tracee Ellis Ross last week sharing her “favorite” curly hair products, which called out Optimum Care’s Amla line.

I’m sure you’re reading this like, okay, so what? Well, here’s the thing: it’s becoming more and more difficult to identify what is an ad and what isn’t. In the social media age, celebrities are constantly posting pictures of their lives online and brands are seeking quick publicity by paying them to post their products. And while the Federal Trade Commission has attempted to regulate this type of activity, it’s nearly impossible to prove that a celeb isn’t posting or mentioning a product simply because they like it. The same goes for interviews — it’s a classic public relations tactic to “pitch” products to celebrities’ management and send them for free or flat out pay for mentions.

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If you aren’t an informed consumer (and love buying the same products as your fave celebs), you may be misled to buy products that you otherwise would have never touched. I mean, look at the Optimum Care Amla Oil’s ingredients — the first two ingredients are cyclopentasiloxane and dimethicone and actual amla oil is towards the end — hardly impressive. Their Damage Antidote Oil Moisturizer lists mineral oil as the second ingredient. Yea, I’ll pass.

But hey, they really might be Tracee’s favorite products. I know that I’ve fallen in love with products after they were sent to me. Either way, I guess we’ll never know (definitely not trying to mess up her coins, lol), so make sure you are looking at ingredients when you’re looking for new products and not flocking to products just because your fave curly claims to love them. Even if their hair is absolutely gorgeous.

 

How do you think transparency should be enforced with celebrities?

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lecia pAdeola | www.coilsandglory.comCamilleTrish1112jjac401 Recent comment authors
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Ajah
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Ajah

I personally don’t see and issue with it. Everyone has to make a living. It’s when they are plugging stuff that 1 THEY DO NOT USE and 2 Are harmful to people. If they use it and like it great promote it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I would buy it. But if I do see a celeb with a product then I like to look online and see who else is using it ( the beauty of the internet). I also pay attention to the ingredients in things I have figured out certain things that even though others… Read more »

Lucie
Guest

I think this is where caveat emptor has to come into play. Buyer beware. The thing with Tracee (who I do like and am in no way judging) was so obviously a sponsorship that I would hope that most people would see it for what it was and proceed with caution (especially as the product probably wasn’t in existence a few years before). I would hope that people are educated enough consumers to know about the importance of the first five ingredients, how sponsorships work,and just general marketing practices to be aware of what’s going on but maybe not? I… Read more »

fancycoils
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fancycoils

I’ve noticed that many hair companies choose people with naturally slick/shiny hair to push their products. Hair like that already has the qualities (smooth, shiny) that the product promises to offer; so, the product doesn’t have to do much work. I will be the first to say that products with silicone don’t make my hair shine. They make my hair sticky then my hair catches all the lint in the universe and looks like a big, dusty, linty, cotton ball. Likewise for skin products…of course, the product looks like it works great for someone who naturally has flawless skin. Show… Read more »

Elle
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Elle

Transparency would be very nice, but extremely hard to enforce. Additionally celebrities and corporations will lobby against it and make sure the rules are watered down. The best solution is to be an alert consumer and realize that we are constantly being marketed to and many of those ads and marketing strategies are deceptive in some fashion.

April Caddell
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April Caddell

Great article! I’ll keep this in mind. I like when bloggers are honest about being sent products for free. That’s very important to know. And I also like that, even if they like the product that was gifted, they say whether or not they would buy it with their own money based on the performance and price tag.

Me
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Me

I don’t understand. If your purchasing choice depends on someone else promoting it, aren’t you expecting it to be an advertisement? Whether they mean what they say or not is no indication of whether the product will work for your hair. Any time someone mentions a brand product, it’s a commercial–whether they’ve been paid for it or not.

jjac401
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jjac401

I noticed that all of the sudden Tracee was promoting Optimum products as a new spokes person too! She might really like the product but it come across to me a bit less that honest. #sideeye

Bigantic
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Bigantic

No, I believe that when a celebrity endorses a product, it is never completely honest.
We cannot always trust the words of many popular youtubers, either.
This is happening a lot on Instagram, as well. People and pages I follow will rave about this magical “skinny” tea or this coffee scrub or whatever nonsense once per day.

The reviews that I do follow are the ones on Amazon or any other third party website that allows reviews after the product is bought. However, I do look out for the reviews that are obviously from the company directly, too. 😉

Ericca Brock
Guest

I never believe what a celebrity says. I see them as walking advertisements.Just like I see the beauty section in a magazine. These are sent for you to put in the magazine, yes it could be great but most likely it is done for profit.

Trish1112
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Trish1112

No they can’t be trusted. Celebrities are BRANDS, everything they do is for a price. Therefore, their “opinions” are bought.

LaNeshe @Nesheaholic.com
Guest

It’s not even just celebrities. Natural hair v/bloggers mention things for compensation as well. You just have to be cautious, and try products for yourself.

Cosita
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Cosita

I really don’t care. I don’t put much stock in product reviews done with celebrity endorsements. If you are being paid by the company then your opinion comes across to me as tainted. although you might be honest I don’t want to watch paid reviews period whether its Tracey or Taren “know your worth” guy. But I will say favorite products for me change during the year because of weather like my hair likes gel in warmer and hates in colder so it is not that far fetched someone’s favs changed..

Emprezz Abena
Guest

That kind of influence celebs has led to the ban of some celebs in Ghana from engaging in adverts detrimental to kids. Eg alcoholic drinks. This does indeed confirm that advertisers are aware of the impact these celebrities have on the general public. When celebrities seem to endorse a product, I’m careful not to buy into their hype.

LaaLaa Monroe
Guest

As a blogger myself in the UK we’re not told that we need to disclaim if it’s sent to us or not but I’ve done it for years as it’s fair to the readers to know and make their own judgement. Even though I dont think you should be bias just to keep on the good side of a company for money or freebies. I treat a PR review as if I puchased the item. Personally I think that’s how bloggers should look at it but a lot don’t. They’d rather just be that advertisement to gain future endendverous rather… Read more »

Cosita
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Cosita

Naturally Curly requires vloggers to read a disclaimer.

Jacky
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Jacky

Nice article! I’ve noticed this trend before and it’s probably why I don’t listen to Celebrities when they say that they like a product. Most of them are PAID to endorse products and endorse they shall… or the freebies and easy cash will stop coming. I only check actual reviews from a large number of people on sites like Amazon, Aliexpress and other online shopping websites and even then I still use my judgement. If I think that a detangler would rip out my hair, I’ll boycott it despite it’s having 5 star ratings and mostly positive reviews from thousands… Read more »

Camille
Guest
Camille

I’d use anything short of a Jheri Curl treatment if they payed me enough.

Sylvia
Guest
Sylvia

This is why I’m starting to not like watching YouTube videos. I used to trust the Youtuber’s so much because they were sharing products that worked for them, but now every video is sponsored. Their “Night Routines” and “What’s in my Bag” videos are all staged with products that they are paid to promote. I’m all for people earning money but most aren’t even honest enough to disclose that they aren’t true users of the products in real life.

Adeola | www.coilsandglory.com
Guest

It’s not just celebs. A lot of vloggers and bloggers with sponsored posts cant be trusted too.

Edith Spencer
Guest
Edith Spencer

This is an old hat in a new age. Previously, this was done with Hollywood and other celebrities‐ the fab products that they had JUST happened to be on your local Department store shelf!
However, AS WITH ANYTHING‐ caveat emptor has to be followed. Just because something is a favorite and works well DOES NOT THEN MEAN it will work for you.

lecia p
Guest
lecia p

I am suspect of product reviews from celebrities. I’ve noticed the trend of popular YouTube natural hair personalities who suddenly started introducing products they had never mentioned before. some of us are product junkie so I can totally understand how you come up with new products all the time .what I do expect of YouTube reviews is that they disclose whether or not they paid for the product or whether it was sent to them for free. I especially like YT “Denim Pixie” reviews because she discloses whether or not she paid for them and she’s honest about whether she… Read more »

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