TikTok’s Eyelash Controversy Is Really About Truth in Advertising
There’s more drama in TikTok’s beauty community this week, and like all serious matters, it revolves around a new mascara.
On Tuesday, TikTok star and beauty guru Mikayla Nogueira posted a 44-second TikTok video reviewing the new L’Oreal Telescopic Lift mascara. After stitching another creator’s video, Nogueira tried the mascara for herself, before declaring that it would be hard for another mascara to compete. It’s unclear whether it was a paid post, but the video’s description contained the hashtag #LorealParisPartner.
“Look at the length,” she says in the video, turning so the camera displays the arch of her lashes. “Do you see that? I am speechless.”
But Nougueira’s fans and other members of the online beauty community had a lot to say, after noticing that something in the video didn’t add up. More specifically, they saw what appeared to be extra lashes added to Nogueira’s top eyelid. The video’s comments are filled with viewers asking if Nougueria added extensions or small “wispies” (individual lash extensions), which Nogueria denied in several now-deleted comments.
“Mikayala I’ve watched you for a long time now, ” reads a comment that has been liked 23,000 times. “Please don’t insult our intelligence like this…”
“Mikayala…” another top comment says, asking the influencer to “be fucking for real.”
Another asks “Are you lashlighting us rn?”
Nogueira has not responded to the controversy since posting the video and neither she nor the L’Oréal Group responded to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment. Many additional comments ask whether Nogueira was paid for the post, which would require disclosure (and a #ad) according to rules set by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC’s Truth In Advertising policies also mean Nogueira could potentially be fined if they find she was dishonest in a paid advertisement. But beyond the rules, the discussion has also frustrated fellow influencers, who have said Nogueira’s video could make people doubt the authenticity of their favorite creators.
“Stuff like this is why people do not trust influencers and it’s so upsetting,” popular beauty YouTuber Alissa Ashley posted in a TikTok Wednesday. “When you have such a big platform and you decide to use it to put a fabricated review up, that’s not ok.”
Longtime beauty YouTuber and makeup mogul Jeffree Star also seemed to weigh in on the news, posting on Twitter that he would be back to reviewing makeup products next week, a solution no one asked for.
The drama of whether a beauty influencer is using false lashes in a sponsored post might seem trivial or insular. But the backlash against Nogueira’s video speaks to a larger responsibility and expectation online users have for their influencers. Most of the people who consume beauty content know they’re being sold products. And in return for their continued support of an influencer or creator, they expect to be given reviews and opinions that are hopefully unclouded by the checks that person is receiving in the mail.
“This whole thing going on with Mikayla and the mascara really just shows me why I love TikTok as a platform,” one user posted in a video that has close to 400,000 views. “Because you’re not going to come on here as an influencer and insult our intelligence and just like think it’s gonna fly. Not anymore.”
As influencing has become a major part of how people monetize their free time, hobbies, lifestyles, high-paying jobs, children, and more, authenticity from creators has become less of a request and more of a demand. It’s an approach that can skyrocket influencers to fame in a landscape of aspirational content and often makes viewers feel like there’s a parasocial agreement to openness between themselves and their favorite beauty guru. And for a creator like Nogueira — who can attribute a large part of her success to her witty approach to beauty and candid reviews — when people feel that bond has been broken, there’s hell to pay.