Friday, March 08, 2013

Full Disclosure


I'm taking a leaf out of my friend CharlestonGirl's book who explained her blogging philosophy last week (scroll down to the last part of the post). Long time readers probably already know how I work, but between the  many newcomers and the subtle shift in the blogsphere, I figured it's time to talk about these issues and how they pertain to my blog. Some of this is a repeat of things I've said in the past here and here, some may be new.

  • My blog is first and foremost personal. I blog about things that interest me and are at least vaguely related to beauty, perfume, and fashion. Sometimes it's brand new items that were just released (or about to be released), sometimes it's discoveries that are new to me, occasionally it's a perennial favorite. It's fun to chase the newest and hottest, but I can only be bothered up to a certain point.
  • I don't buy items that I suspect are going to suck and I don't accept them for consideration. The same goes for colors and textures that clearly aren't a good match for me. This keeps the good/bad reviews ratio pretty high, which might be a bit boring. But I have only so much money and skin space at my disposal and I'd rather use them on good stuff.
  • When I come across a product that disappoints me I make an effort to figure out the problem and really try to make it work to avoid user errors that result in injustice. I test makeup over several primers and use different brushes and techniques. I've learned a lot in this process, and can make almost everything perform reasonably well (truly crappy products notwithstanding). Sometimes it isn't worth the hassle. That's where "meh" and "too high maintenance" reviews come in.
  • I buy a lot of cosmetics. Much more than I would have if I weren't blogging about beauty. Still, I can't buy e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g and frankly, I don't want to. I only buy products that I think I'll put into good use. That's also my rule when a brand offers me products and asks that I put in my color requests.
  • Speaking of which, yes, I accept press samples and products for consideration, but I never ever seek out a brand, chase PR people or pitch myself and my blog to anyone. There's nothing wrong with doing that, and  putting myself out there more would have been a smart move. But that's not who I am and not what this blog is about. I have great relationships with several brands, but I make a point in maintaining a certain balance in which things are offered and I consider them.
  • There's always a question of how objective a blogger can be when the product was provided free of charge. I can only talk about myself here, so in no way does it apply to anyone else other than me:  Obviously, when a brand (or a PR company) keeps in touch, provides ample of accurate info ahead of time and, yes, sends packages of items I want to try, it gives me a certain fuzzy feeling towards them.  But it can't make a bad or mediocre mascara good all of a sudden, and I make sure to tell you about it. Just as I report about any product's strengths and weaknesses, whether I paid for them or not. Furthermore, considering the amount of stuff I already own and have at my disposal,  a free lipgloss cannot and will not make me gush about crappy products. They say that everyone has a price, but I hope it's clear that mine is a bit higher than a lipstick.
  • When a product or a service were given to me free of charge I always disclose it. End of story.
  • The one thing I occasionally register for/request is a press pass for relevant events (Elements Showcase, IMATS, The Makeup Show).
  • I don't cover and review every brand, not even every luxury brand. Usually it's due to lack of interest in the concept, aesthetics or color story. I also avoid companies when I object to their business practices. Long time readers know exactly what I'm talking about. 
  • I sell ad space. Mostly through Google and occasionally directly to stores or brands that are a good fit for my audience and are willing to pay my rates. Other than Google AdSense I don't belong to any ad  network and do not serve any agenda other than my own.
  • I don't sell anything else. Not posts or links, not products. I'm not sponsored by anyone, I'm not affiliated with anyone and I don't sell products directly or indirectly. I don't accept content (="guest posts") from commercial entities. I feature articles written by my husband or my friends when it's relevant, all of it  original  and independent content that complies with my terms of service.
  • I don't work with brands or for them, I don't participate in campaigns, I don't promote anything.
    This policy has made me not very popular with companies that see bloggers as nothing but a channel for their press releases. I'm also a persona non grata with those who seek 100% control over what's written about them. I don't care because a) I can still afford to buy my own perfume and mascara, and b) there are enough brands that respect my policy.
  • I get terrifying amounts of spam comments. That's why I had to bring back that dreadful captcha. I hate it, you hate it, but we all hate links to porn, Viagra, and fake Louboutins even more.
  • I moderate comments mostly for spam and people who think my comment page is their free promotional space. I'm fairly liberal in what I allow, excluding a) profanity, and b) personal attacks on my readers. I think of myself as more or less fair game and have no problem with comments disagreeing with me, even when they're less than polite.  I publish legit comments even when they make me cringe. I only ask that you remember that my mom reads this blog (and your comments). Please try not to hurt her feelings, ok?

I think that covers the important points, but you're more than welcome to tell me what you think, ask questions and make requests. Keep your feet warm and enjoy your weekend.



Photo of Amelita Galli-Curci typing while wearing a hat and a fur coat (the equivalent of  my yoga pants and slippers) via Wikemedia Commons.

48 comments:

  1. Gaia, I appreciate all of the above and especially applaud your decision to devote more energy and space to great products. Occasional snark is fun, and it's a public service to let us know when something is overhyped or not up to the standard of a usually reliable brand. Nonetheless, I mainly need to know what's worth buying.

    Also, this is a shout out to your mother - you must be a cool person, too, to have given us Gaia! ~~nozknoz

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    1. Thank you, ~~noz! That's so lovely of you.
      I try to keep the snark where appropriate and fun.

      Delete
  2. As one of your most loyal reader, I always trust your posts and never ever felt that you are giving your opinion influenced by any kind of "exterior" power... Quite the opposite, I think you write about things that you really are passioned about. Personally I don't care about makeup brushes and sometimes I think you spend too much time talk about them but it doesn't stop me reading your blog every day. Love your reviews about lipsticks, skincare, foundations etc...

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    1. It really is about passion, and yes, the brush geekery is part of that. I try to keep a good mix, though, as I do know not every reader is interested in 100% of the topics.
      Thanks you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it very much.

      Delete
  3. This is a really well written post, and I appreciate your frankness.

    Too often, bloggers aren't frank enough about their policies, and I find it really offputting. I try to be open about my own policies, but your example in this post demonstrates that I could discuss more openly not only my policies (i.e. I use/ disclose affiliate links), but the results of those policies on my blog (i.e., the use of affiliate links does not affect what products I blog about, but it does affect what retailers I choose to link to in my reviews).

    Thank you for this post!

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    1. Emi, we all do things differently and I find your disclosure policy very clear and honest. You're right, though, there's a twilight zone on some blogs where a random reader will not be able to tell if they're getting a personal blog or an infomercial. That's the stuff that irritates me (well, that and being grouped with these people under the general "beauty blogger" title).

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  4. Every once in a while..I feel bad about not getting free products and not having a "successful blog." Just typing it out here and reading it makes me feel really stupid, but that's the truth. And then, every once in a while, I read articles like this that make me feel much better about myself and my blog..so thank you!

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    1. Don't feel bad about it and there's certainly no need to feel stupid about expressing this feeling. I'm very critical of myself at times, questioning my goals, work and level of success.

      Delete
  5. Gaia, my first reaction to this is what cheesewad was attacking you! Made me sad for you and a little pissed that someone or someones were making you feel the need to defend YOUR opinions. (I suspect insecurity driving critiques--not constructive criticism driven comments!)

    I subscribe to 4 blogs--I sort of stumbled across them and liked what I found. They are all different in content and topic but share similar qualities: they are smartly written, make me think, entertain me, edgy, and a bit cheeky or irreverent. I may not always agree with or be interested in the particular topic but I don't want someone who spews back at me exactly what I think!!

    Thank you for your blog--I enjoy :-) and drool over some of the products, wrinkle my nose at some (haha pun intended) and like most women (and you) I don't use just one line of beauty product and expect quality for my money. But most importantly, I recognize and appreciate your blog for what it is--your point of view.

    Karen

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    1. Thank you, Karen!
      Writing a public blogs means that there will be criticism. You put yourself out there to some extent and not everyone is going to like you; that's perfectly fine. The thing that kind of gets to me is being grouped, judged and criticized harshly for things some so-called bloggers do. I felt it was time to restate where I stand on some of these issues.

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  6. I enjoy your blog Gaia, and trust that it is well-balanced and honest. It always has been, and I look forward to the daily postings about things I might like to try. Yes, they are your opinions, but that is why I come here: to see what you think of the products and how they might benefit one. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thanks, Hopflower. I appreciate your comments very much because you always speak your mind.

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  7. Back in the day (LOL), blogs were primarily personal musings. If you read a review, you knew you were reading someone's personal opinion. Then, someone decided blogs could be money makers and the whole blogging landscape began to change: Bloggers for hire, sponsored posts, affiliate links, paid advertising, free products in exchange for reviews, etc. It became harder and harder to separate the honest bloggers from the shills. Fortunately for us, we do have bloggers such as you and Charlestongirl who are honest, personable, perceptive, and discriminating. We might not always share the same opinion or have the same taste, but that doesn't matter because we know we are getting your opinion and not the sponsored spiel from some company. You are a woman of substance, Gaia, and your blogging integrity is truly valued.

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    1. Eileen, it's so funny to think about "back in the day"-- yes, eight years ago is eternity in Internet time. Seven years ago when I started blogging I could already smell a certain shift. It wasn't so much about monetizing the way it is today, but there were certain blogs that published even the most ridiculous press releases in order to get on the good side of the brands hoping for certain perks-- from full color collections to Fashion Week backstage passes. They bored me to tears.
      I want to thank you for this and all your other comments. You're exactly the kind of reader I hoped to reach. Knowing that you visit regularly and enjoy this blog even if write about stuff you won't be trying means the world to me.

      Delete
  8. I think your independence from commercial interests is fairly obvious. I've followed a number of blogs for a long time, and I've seen several of them slowly degenerate into little more than advertorials. You have a strong sense of what you want this blog to be, and I admire you for sticking to that. You also acknowledge and respect that your readers are smart people, and I high-five you for that.

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    1. Thanks, Beck. My readers are the best and I've made some wonderful friendships through blogging. It's worth those moments I wake up in the middle of the night realizing I made a typo or forgot to list perfume notes :).

      Delete
  9. I enjoy your blog very much, I'm really here just to read your thoughts on the products you try and perhaps learn about things I hadn't really considered before such as perfumes (oh it's a whole new world out there for me!). If I wanted the rote PR description about stuff I could read the company website. I see that there are a few of us above who read the same blogs, obviously women of great discernment! :) Please keep on sharing your and The Blonde's thoughts, I'm always happy to hear them.

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    1. Thanks, Evelyn. I'm so glad to be part of your perfume journey! You're another example of the awesomeness of my readers.

      Delete
  10. Pink ProvocateurMarch 09, 2013 8:04 PM

    Honestly? I would have been willing to bet that ^those were your policies, even without your stating them. Your philosophy and integrity come through in your posts and writings... it's why I pop in here every day. I have found that I can rely on your advice for a number of things... brushes, for example, so your recommendation for the Morphe badger fan brush was much appreciated because I do want the Louise Young Super Fan, but am unwilling to pay shipping from the UK (even though I had no trouble paying for the Tom Ford bronzer brush!).

    Keep it up, Gaia... and I'll keep turning up to read. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you, PP!
      I have my own weirdnesses about paying for shipping from various places and I get annoyed with others who charge tax on online orders etc.. I know I'm being silly about it, especially when I'm already paying through the nose for something.

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  11. This is why I trust all your recommendations. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Adele. It's always lovely to "see" you here.

      Delete
  12. Where is that pic from? Does she have a name? It's wonderful and hilarious.

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    1. She's an opera star with the voice of an angel - you can buy her recordings. Amelita Gall-Curci.

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    2. Galli! Jeez I should read before posting I guess.

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    3. Galli-Curci...sorry.

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    4. Yes, this is opera soprano Amelita Galli-Curci. She was born in Italy and moved to the US. I saw the photo a couple of years ago and have been waiting for the right time to use it. It's a great one, for sure. After discovering AGC I looked for other photos of her and was quite mused to see that she and I look... related. Her nose is obviously longer and pointier than mine, but there's an uncanny resemblance. Weird, since as far as I know she wasn't Jewish and my ancestor who moved all over Europe managed to skip Italy.

      Delete
  13. This is why I've read your blog for years. Im not a blogger... Just a shopper. But each and every time I think about investing in something, be it a new Serge Lutens for myself or new makeup brushes, I spend extra time on your blog

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    1. Hey, I try stuff so you don't have to ;)
      Thank you, and I'm always thrilled to know my reviews are helpful (seriously, it never gets old).

      Delete
  14. Galli-Curci!!

    Say no more, this blog is the BEES KNEES. :)

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    1. ...and also the cat's pajamas, I hope :)

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  15. "Yoga-pants"

    Fortuitously, Galli-Curci was heavily into yoga, linked to a famous Yogi, and even wrote the forward to his book, all in the 1920s!

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    1. Pretty amazing, isn't it? That's even before B.K.S. Iyengar made yoga more accessible to westerners.

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  16. Hi Gaia,
    I've enjoyed reading your blog for a few years. I've learned so much about makeup, brushes and beauty brands like Le Metier de Beaute'. I agree with others, your integrity speaks for itself.

    I enjoy reading your blog because while it's nice to read about the latest nude lipstick or pink blush, I'm far from being a blue-eyed blonde with straight hair, it's nice to see reviews about products I would wear myself.

    And last but not least, your kitty cat pics give me the warm fuzzies.

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    1. Liz, that's exactly why I was driven to start this blog. There were a bunch of awesome bloggers with different tastes and coloring than mine and while I couldn't find recommendations that were right for me, I felt that I had quite a bit of shopping experience and a lot to say.
      Purrs and smooches from my kitties.

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  17. This is why I love to read your blog :)

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    1. Thank you! From one Jicky lover to another :)

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  18. Gaia,

    I read your blog daily for your honest insight into beauty products. While our colouring is different, your reviews do help me determine whether a product is worth consideration. I prefer bloggers who are not influenced by a company's desire or push for a good review. That is straight up advertising, which is not helpful to the consumer.

    Thank you for the effort and time you take to share your opinion with your readers.

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    1. Thank you, Maureen. You're right-- when a "review" is actually disguised advertising the end result is not only a disservice to readers but also not necessarily in the best interest of the company (eventually). People who research product reviews aren't stupid, so if they end up feeling cheated it will reflect negatively on the brand (or so I hope).

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  19. I've been an avid reader of your blog for several years and frankly, your clear-headed no-bullshit approach, honesty and integrity were pretty obvious from the very beginning :) Being a mad perfume geek and collector, I mostly come here for perfume reviews, especially rare and hard-to-find ones. I won't necessarily end up trying everything you write about, but it sure is refreshing to read honest opinions about beauty products and perfumes. I think too many bloggers forget that their unbiased personal opinion is what makes a blog interesting and worth visiting again and again. Thank you and keep up the good work!

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    1. I'm so delighted to meet another perfume geek! I have to say that I'm always happy to know that my approach and no-bullshitness are seen favorably. Sometimes I worry it's taken as being too snarky or negative. I write plenty of positive reviews but I rarely tell readers "go and buy it right now!", and many people are seeking out a certain level of enabling.

      Delete
  20. Let's face it: if you were doing PR, you'd be doing a terrible job, praising all these long lost perfumes and makeup not available in the States! Now seriously, I read your blog every day and hour honesty is clear, I always research here (and chez CG) before buying makeup. As a side note, I love the personal voice that shines through your posts, your cats and your exquisite taste for perfume. Congrats to your mom! :-)

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    1. This was probably the most amusing comment here... Yes, my weekly reviews of vintage perfumes are probably the least lucrative way to use ad space (unless you're an antique dealer). Right now I'm wearing a brand new find of a really old perfume I just got at an antique mall. It's something incredibly obscure by Bruyère, a couture and perfume brand that seems to have disappeared in the 1950s. I'll post about it at some point, but I doubt any brand or PR are going to take interest in that.

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    2. I love your reviews of old perfumes. Keep it rockin' Gaia!

      Delete
  21. ....and all of this is why you are still one of my favourite and most-trusted blogs on the planet. x

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    1. L., you're still one of the reasons I really really (really!) want to get to London later this year (or maybe next year).

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  22. This is why your blog is one of only about 2-3 I frequent these days. Keep on keepin' on dear Gaia!

    XOXO,
    T

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  23. I'm another one of your faithful daily readers. I especially love your perfume posts and brush reviews (could you do a "bare basics" brush recommendation guide?), and always enjoy your comments --good and bad--about celebrities. Thanks so much for all the effort you put into this blog!

    ReplyDelete

I love comments and appreciate the time you take to connect with me, but please do not insert links to your blog or store. Those will be deleted. The comment feature is not intended to provide an advertising venue for your blog or your commercial site.

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