Opinion On Trial: Do You Need To Be An Expert To Be A Beauty Blogger?

Beauty advice is sought everywhere. It's not just limited to the makeup counters in department stores, or the girls in Boots, but with the growth of the internet it's increasingly available on everywhere from Instagram and Snapchat, to YouTube and Periscope. With the growth of blogs and social media platforms, beauty has once again become democratic: it's accessible to all, no matter your socio-economics, location or demographics. Ten years ago beauty was somewhat elitist, being only available to those that could afford professional advice or spent their weekends chatting to counter girls in Selfridges; fast forward to 2016 and it's never been more democratic, with everyone from your next door neighbour to world class celebrities sharing their top tips for looking and feeling great. However, does that make the advice any less valid? Does not having a degree in cosmetic science or training in administering botox mean your opinions and learnings don't have value? Increasingly the bloggersphere has come under fire for offering up 'incorrect' or 'unsubstantiated' recommendations and advice, with recent conversations on certain threads accusing those with 5, 10, 20 years experience in the field of being a phoney - simply because they've 'learned on the job' rather than undergoing formal training. So the question is, do you really need to be an expert to be a beauty blogger... Or does the whole concept explode the notion of being an expert at all?

It's vitally important to understand that blogs provide individual opinion and insight, not necessarily fact. The very nature of these online hubs provides a vast array of accessible information and personal experience, versus the corporate messaging and often glossy-magazine-edited versions we would see otherwise. If you want to know whether that new shampoo really does what it says, or whether it's worth investing in a £28 lipstick, a blogger will undoubtedly give you an unfiltered and honest opinion. However, when it comes to advice about skincare or ridding yourself of acne, it's worth understanding the credentials of the blogger and their background before you trust them implicitly. I think there's a huge difference between recommending a lipstick and dishing out advice on battling a skin condition, but equally it's about finding bloggers with whom you can build trust and relate. Which leads onto my next point...

I like to think that you come to LBQ for a dose of opinion, insight and raw honesty; I have a background in product development, advertising and in-store promotion and continue to work with a lot of brands on their marketing efforts. I know what I'm talking about. A young girl with a passion for nail polish and lipstick absolutely has her place, but it's a very different offering to mine. Similarly, makeup artists or dermatologists-turned-digital-influencers provide insight that I can't compete with. Put simply, different sites provide different roles within your overall beauty information repertoire - it's just about understanding how they all slot together.

If an electrician undergoes an apprenticeship and learns on the job, does that make his experience and knowledge any less valuable than someone who has spent three years studying at University? Blogs are written by those absolutely passionate about their subject; they've often spent years testing and playing with products, doing their research or working practically in stores or with customers. Years of experience (whether that's just learning from books, spending all your money on eyeshadow or working as a nail technician) counts for something. I'm no makeup artist and I don't have a degree in science, but I have worked in the beauty industry for over ten years - writing the backs of shampoo bottles and working on European ingredient legislation, amongst other things. I may not know everything, but I bring something different to the table that I hope can help others. 

Like anything you find online, you don't read one article and take it as gospel. You do your reseaarch, read varying opinions and make an informed decision off the back of that. The internet and social media makes beauty accessible, aids discovery and allows those with a similar passion to connect; it's not about preaching what's right and wrong, it's about providing advice to those who may want or need it in the hope it can make a positive difference. The key is to never believe what one person alone has to say, in the same way you wouldn't believe a random person walking up to you in the street and saying the moon had imploded. Use your information wisely and you will be all powerful.

What do you think: do you need to be an expert to be a beauty blogger?

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  1. I don't think you do (but then I am probably biased haha), because whether it is a makeup artist or a "non-professional" what you're reading is still opinion. You need to be a smart reader and based on their critiques figure out whether that product would work for you. Some of the best makeup artists in the world are self-taught, so I don't think you need professional training to share your opinion on something. I think writing style is much more important, but that might just be me. I also have a certain pet peeve of people passing themselves off as the gospel on certain things, when no-one really is, if that makes sense?? Great post, really made me think xxx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

  2. I would say no. I agree it depends on what you have to offer or are offering. A person who loves beauty can simply blog about what products they like, why they like them and how they make him/her look and feel. A blogger with more knowledge or expertise in an aspect of the beauty industry can give information about product design, formula composition, retail price point, etc. When it comes to product reviews the level of information will differ based upon the blogger's expertise. There is something for everybody, I feel.

  3. I like to think that anyone can write about whatever they want in their space, but you are absolutely right - context matters, and we should not discount something just because it's not like something else. There is a temptation in any industry to stick to a set plan, or idea, or a strategy because it's easier; but when innovation works, it WORKS.

    That said, I do sometimes wish blogs were more transparent. In that respect, they are miles better than industry, but still... so many people don't disclose paid content or the blogger's background, or dispense advice on medical matters (like diet and exercise) without a caveat for who that might work. It's not something we talk about enough, I feel.

  4. I don't think you necessarily need to be an expert, but I do think that every beauty blogger owes it to their readers to learn as much as they can about the products they write about. We especially need to know about the wider issues, such as common allergens and ingredients that may cause skin problems. I think it's useful to the reader if you can point out that a product contains, say, dimethicone or citrus oils, since many people are allergic to those and will want to actively avoid them.

    I also think that beauty bloggers need to be far more questioning of the marketing guff that tends to accompany the products we review. Just because the PR is claiming that it's the best thing since sliced bread doesn't mean it is. Do your research, look at what people buying the product are saying and be honest about what you find.

  5. im not an expert, I just write about what I like! If I want an honest opinion, I definitely find my way to your blog :p
    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

  6. I definitely don't think you need to be an expert to have an opinion, which is what most people want from most blogs - obviously sometimes we'll seek out an expert opinion, but I think we all know better than to take anyone's opinion online as gospel :)
    Like you say, it's about getting a range of opinions, with everyone offering something different!

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

  7. Hopefully not, otherwise the Blog Police will be coming for most of us. It's important to be honest with readers about where you're coming from - industry expertise gathered via experience, training or enthusiasm etc - so they know what you bring to the party.

    All bloggers, whatever their background, offer is an opinion. Some opinions are more informed than others, but it's still an opinion not holy writ. Look at the products they suggest, test them and then buy them if you think they'll work for you. But don't buy stuff just because someone says so. Whoever they are ;).

  8. No I don't think you have to be an expert, but I do think you have to be careful what advice you take from blogs. I knew very little when I first started blogging, I just had a passion, but I've learnt an awful lot from other blogs and more importantly people like Caroline Hirons. I see some 'advice' on blogs or sometimes on places like Pinterest and I cringe because I know it's an awful piece of advice and nobody should be doing it. I mention in my about me section that I'm definitely not an expert in any way and I'm always careful about what I write in case I'm actually wrong about something x

    Becky @ The Little Blog of Beauty

  9. I don't think you have to be an expert at all - just have a passion - and I'm now experiencing the reverse funnily enough. I'm being accused of not being qualified and having zero experience and I'm like 'Erm, I think my insurance company, who have to legally vet your qualifications, would disagree matey.' In some cases I look at their bios and I've been in the industry longer than they've been alive. That puts it into perspective. But if you have a passion, that will shine through in all you do.

    1. Haha love that: "I've been in the industry longer than they've been alive." People are so quick to judge and make accusations, without foundation. What credentials does a beauty editor have, other than a degree in writing? But they're not held to the same scrutiny. I remember coming under fire when I launched an e-book years ago, but I'd done my research and spent 6 years working on EU ingredient legislation and packaging! It's just another thing for people to moan about.


  10. Personally I don't think you need to be an expert! There is a place for everyone and everything! Just as long as bloggers etc don't get carried away and start diagnosing all sorts lol which hopefully wouldn't happen, I turn to bloggers for item reviews and the more experienced for whatever info i need there. There is defo space for both on the scene x

  11. No I don't think you do. I was 13 when I started to slap make-up, and I mean slap, on my face. That gives me *cries* 32 years worth of experience of which I have formed opinions. BUT I'm not a make-up artist and I'd never tell someone how to actually put their make-up on because I wouldn't know where to start on other people. Hence why there are never tutorials on my blog. That said I've been a qualified nurse for 21 years, and I worked a long time in Dermatology and I'd think twice about giving skin advice.

  12. I am just a lover of beauty and I'm not a proper expert. I blog like I'm chatting to friends and give real advice. I think bloggers are better than going to the counter because as a reader, you feel no pressure to buy! Every time I stop by the counter, I love obligated to make a purchase...

    Mel | www.thegossipdarling.com

  13. Oh I hope not. I'm just starting a blog about being 29 and re-entering the beauty world after a few years off. So I'm basically sharing my experience about how I'm learning all over again about new makeup, new techniques, and different things I'm doing to combat the changes in my aging skin. No skincare advice, just my opinions and reviews of products. Skincare is touchy and something that is totally different for everyone and I'd never claim to be an expert in anything. Except maybe reviewing, lol. I love bloggers that are not professional, just beauty junkies and makeup lovers. Reading reviews are a huge part of how I buy things so I want to help others with the same obsession. 😃

  14. I definitely don't think you need to be an expert BUT the beauty blogosphere is so saturated with non-expert/non-qualified/non-industry experienced bloggers that I think if you want to have an edge on the sheer mass of competition, educating yourself professionally help.

  15. You don't have to be an expert but you do have to be honest and I think there's a problem relating to the advice given in sponsored posts sometimes where the blogger feels pressured into keeping the brand happy. If your advice is sending people to the shops to invest their hard earned cash in a product you've recommended, you'll only get away with a less than truthful review once I suppose though


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