A new Instagram watchdog is calling for transparency in beauty.
Estée Laundry, a play on beauty giant Estée Lauder, is an Instagram account “airing out the beauty industry’s dirty laundry,” as its bio reads. The account, which shared its first post in April, is run by a worldwide network of “beauty insiders” who met each other via social media, according to one member, who wished to remain anonymous.
“We’re a small international group of beauty industry insiders who decided to start the account because we’re tired of the lack of transparency in the beauty industry,” the member said. Her background, she said, is in marketing, and her fellow members have worked in marketing, finance and operations. All of them still lead full-time jobs outside of the account.
“We have worked with a lot of brands — big ones and small ones,” she said. “We’ve also run beauty social media accounts in the past and we’ve worked as influencers.”
Estée Laundry is similar in concept to Diet Prada, which ballooned in popularity over the past year as it called out copycats, sparring with some designers while becoming friendly with others. Founders Tony Liu and Lindsey Schuyler eventually outed themselves in May, and the account has remained relatively out of the media spotlight since.
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“Diet Prada plays a vital role as a fashion watchdog and we think of ourselves as the beauty industry’s watchdog,” said Estée Laundry’s anonymous member. “Over the years they’ve become less objective. We want to be completely neutral and have no favorites or enemies. We [don’t] attack any brands or person or influencer. We just call out actions that we find unethical on a case-by-case basis.”
While Diet Prada has nearly 800,000 followers, Estée Laundry has little more than 5,000. It has risen in popularity over the past week for shedding light on a fake review saga involving Sunday Riley.
On Monday, Estée Laundry posted what appeared to be a leaked e-mail directing Sunday Riley employees to post positive reviews of the brand’s products. Sunday Riley eventually responded to the post, confirming that the e-mail was sent by a former employee to several members of the company.
“At one point, we did encourage people to post positive reviews at the launch of this product, consistent with their experiences,” Sunday Riley’s response read, in part. “We have hundreds of thousands of reviews across platforms around the globe and it would be physically impossible for us to have posted even a fraction of these reviews. Client word-of-mouth, sharing how our products have changed their skin, has been the cornerstone of our success. In the end, our products and their results stand for themselves.”
Asked for Estée Laundry’s thoughts on fake reviews in the industry, the anonymous member said, “It seems like an ongoing issue. Supposedly it’s an industrywide practice. We’ve heard from people that other brands do the same thing, but obviously there’s no real proof. It’s unethical, but in the grand scheme of things, Sunday Riley’s considered small versus Estée Lauder or Lancôme. They might take some measures to boost their popularity, their sales, whatever it is. In our eyes, we find that’s unethical. It’s not helping the customers.”
She said that, unlike Diet Prada, Estée Laundry will remain anonymous for the foreseeable future so as to remain “objective” in consumers’ eyes. She and her fellow members share the ultimate goal of increasing transparency in the industry.
“The main point we want to get across is we’re for the people and we want to be a voice for the consumer, the customers,” she said. “[We’re not interested in] making money or collaborating with brands or influencers. We just want to be the beauty industry watchdog and be there for everyone.”
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