I know that I’ll get some backlash from this thought piece, as I am going to name the sites and I have even worked with one of them before. RubyBox started as a beauty box subscription brand, there was also a Glambox. You would pay (with your own money) a subscription fee monthly and receive a lucky packet of beauty products. I loved that I was able to sample new products each month and would save to purchase it. Beauty Bulletin became a sort of South African version of MakeupAlley. Except, both local sites have now transformed into something that I feel is quite insidious to the beauty industry.

Beauty Brand XYZ pays a large advertising fee to these websites AND sends out a large number of products for them to send to their “community”. If you receive these products then you are asked to give a review on them. Now if the average person receives a free product and knows that they are more likely to be selected for the next round of free products then chances are they’ll give a highly positive review. This distorts a consumers perception of a brand. Beauty Brand XYZ doesn’t care because they received a large number of positive reviews and what appears to be a fantastic ROI.

The members of these communities are now calling themselves influencers, look I have nothing against these beauty lovers, but more against the mechanism of basically paying for positive reviews, most of which are along the lines of “fantastic product”. Okay, but what does it contain? What makes it unique? Can those with sensitive skin use it? This is why the advertising approach of “spray and pray” doesn’t work and one that at the end of the day is of no value to the brand and its reputation. The reason why MakeupAlley is still such a formidable force globally is that it is peer-based reviews and advice, not want-to-be influencers. I am a blogger who has studied a lot, especially when it comes to skincare, I wouldn’t say I’m an expert but I do my research before trying ANY product and will decline sponsorships when I feel a product isn’t good. The beauty of bloggers and consumers is that it was always a peer-based review except with one peer having more access to newer products and experience.

When one starts to try to create instant “influencers” just because they tried a product that was sent to them is why the lines are now blurred. Just like using celebrities as brand ambassadors don’t hold nearly as much weight as it did 15 years ago. The other issue is that it is annoying when 50+ people all post at once on one product, all with glowing reviews. It clogs up timelines and causes distrust in those who follow a number of beauty lovers as well as established bloggers.

What are your thoughts on these sites?


  1. Oh my word yes! I have felt the same way about the whole Beauty Bulletin thing. I have yet to read a critique by any of the reviewer’s. It also just happens to be the same people over and over again? Or is it just me.

  2. I feel like these sites also expect the world from these “I fluencers” in exchange for a product of a very nominal value. After the Bio oil trial I unsubscribed… It was rediculous.

  3. I used to love Beauty Bulletin about 7 years ago. It was fun to chat to like minded women and make connections but since I feel that they’ve changed so much that actually requested my blog be removed from their site (no answer tho)

    With RubyBox I feel like it’s a ‘scam’ of sort using its users to grow their email database. It’s total insanity to except one person to add 9 friend’s details. And then if you end up getting chosen the couriers fees fall upon you to get these samples to your friends.

  4. Glad I’m not the only feeling this… I signed up for a recent campaign .. Wasn’t selected but its not a case of sour grapes… After I saw what happened in terms of feed flooding it made me realise that I didn’t want to do that.. I’d rather pay for the product… And have a unique set of reviews as such… Also I feel unsettled with pages whose content is 90% reviews.. I want genuine human perspectives I guess.

  5. A brand I was planning to work with asked me with full sincerity “Why would you need to test the product before featuring a review on it?!”. They were stunned when I said I needed to know if it worked first and a bit more thorough than a single page press release. They said they get “excellent” feedbakc from BB. I was like sure…. and declined the review.

  6. *feedback

  7. Wow so they actually expect you to pay for the courier costs to friends too? As I’ve said I used to be a Rubybox subscription box subscriber back in the day. I was then “promoted” to being a part of their Beauty Blogger Database and have dabbled here and there before realizing these brands aren’t actually respecting the effort the bloggers and definitely not the time the reviewers put in. They are trying to take over the magazine budgets whilst exploiting innocent readers.

  8. [col3_2]YAY!!!! For people like you aren’t willing to sacrifice your own value for someone else! It’s extremely sad when they use brands which I love and feature on my own accord but then this blog is my platform. No one can force me to say something I don’t truly believe in!

  9. Hi I’m so glad that you have written this post, as I could pre empt the instant influencer scenario way back when these Beauty review sites appeared on the scene. The reviews are so predictable . The demands and time frames by which the reviews must be written, especially for skincare products, are totally unreasonable. And the cherry on the top..all this work for a free lip balm or deodorant spray.My advice – buy your own products and review them truthfully., as I’m far more likely to respect and trust what a beauty blogger has to say when they’ve spent their own money on a product,. However I do understand that many bloggers have to pay their bills and there lies the dilemma.

  10. They send all 10 products to you, so if you live far from your friends you end up having to ship. And personally my mental health doesn’t appreciate choosing 10 friends, I don’t have 10 female friends that are into reviewing and beauty. For someone with anxiety this could be a trigger. (I know a bit off topic but that’s how the domino’s fall)

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