TikTok Mascara Drama Raises Questions About Authenticity

Jhe world of beauty influence has evolved. It used to be a healthy online environment where creators posted makeup tutorials, reviews, and recommendations. Now, it’s one of the most drama-filled communities online. Even those who try to stay away from drama are not immune. Latest example: the TikToker Mikayla Nogueira. Earlier this week, the 24-year-old beauty influencer uploaded a video reviewing a mascara. Soon after, she faced a tidal wave of backlash online as people accused her of wearing false eyelashes to amplify the effects of mascara, providing inauthentic advice.

In the video, Noguiera stitches together another creator’s video and records herself with L’Oreal Telescopic Life mascara on one eye, saying, “This literally just changed my life. It looks like fake eyelashes…” before stopping and saying, “How? What?” The words “L’Oréal Paris Partner” flash across the screen in the lower left corner before disappearing, and she demonstrates how to use the product. “I’m speechless and not sure anyone can ever compete with this product,” she says at the end of the video.

Then came the comments. “Girl, did you add fakes at the end?” one person commented. “We can see the length in the outside corner.” Nogueira assured her followers that was not the case, writing in the comments section, “Nooo, just three/four coats and my skintight liner.” In response to another comment about false eyelashes, she wrote, “Nooo omg L’Oreal would never allow this in a partnered post!!! But you all prove what I mean. In three days the video has exploded in popularity and received over 24.6 million views as debates over its authenticity continue.

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Representatives for Nogueira did not immediately respond to TIME’s request for comment.

A popular beauty YouTuber named Alissa Ashley posted a video on TikTok explaining what she saw as the main issue with Nogueira’s criticism (based on the unconfirmed assumption that the latter wore false eyelashes). “When you have such a big platform and you decide to use it to post a fabricated review, that’s not okay,” Ashley says in the video. She goes on to say that this not only affects Nogueira’s content, but the beauty community as a whole, as it further validates people’s skepticism when it comes to beauty influencers reviewing the products.

Videos with the hashtag #MikaylaNogueiradrama have racked up over 10.5 million views, and Nogueira has faced a barrage of criticism. So far, she has not responded other than in her first replies to comments on TikTok. Besides the drama on the lashes themselves, it’s also possible the influencer could be fined by the Federal Trade Commission for not including the usual “Paid Partnership” icon at the bottom of the video, like the usually does sponsored content. The FTC’s Truth in Advertising Policies require content creators to disclose when they have a “material connection” to a brand. This includes “a personal, family, or business relationship or financial relationship – such as the brand paying you or offering you free or discounted products or services.” The policy also requires that if the creator makes an endorsement in a video, they must put the disclosure in the video, which Nogueira did, by briefly putting “L’Oreal Paris Partner” on the screen and in a hashtag.

Other beauty influencers, including Bretman Rock and Kirsten Titus, made videos using the same product as Nogueira and gave it favorable reviews. They used the same hashtags and put “L’Oréal Paris Partner” in their videos. The reactions to their videos continued to fuel the drama, as users pointed out that their results were far less dramatic than Nogueira’s when they compared the videos. Embattled creators like James Charles (who admitted and later apologized for messaging and soliciting nude photos from minors) and Jeffree Star (who was the subject of a Initiated exposed and faced allegations of bullying, sexual assault and violence) took the opportunity to do their own mascara product reviews.

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We have yet to see where this particular drama will land when it comes to the authenticity of the mascara review. But whatever the outcome, the fallout is an example of how the beauty world has changed since many of its stars betrayed their followers’ trust. In one particularly notorious example, the case of YouTuber Jaclyn Hill’s messy lipstick launch, customers reportedly found hair and mold in their products, leading many today to be ready to sniff out the first scent of lipstick. an influencer who leads them astray. And that kind of mistrust extends beyond the beauty community; Last month, an “ancestral lifestyle” influencer called The Liver King faced backlash when he admitted to taking steroids, in addition to his raw meat diet, to shape his physique.

When it comes to Noguiera’s future, one should only look at past controversial issues. Although many creators in the beauty community have had their own dramas, disputes and controversies, they have largely managed to cross to the other side and have maintained a platform. Whether it’s shutting up after posting a heartfelt apology on their Notes app or a regular apology video on YouTube, or just continuing to post, it’s hard to waste a platform of millions. Ultimately, controversy or not, the real winner here is the brand that commissioned the sponsored post.

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com.


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