‘Lashlighting,’ ‘de-influencing’ and why beauty brands are failing Gen Z

Before the beauty community could even take a breath after the backlash against Tarte Cosmetics’ infamous influencer trip to Dubai, TikTok creator Mikayla Nogueira stepped up and said, “Hold my mascara.”

Nogueira, who is arguably one of the top beauty influencers on TikTok right now, posted a TikTok on Jan. 24 about L’Oréal’s telescopic lengthening mascara. The video was hashtagged with #LorealParisPartner, and Nogueira herself is no stranger to posting beauty product ads that are styled similarly to her genuine product review videos.

“These are the lashes of my dreams!” Nogueira captioned the video. Ironically, according to her followers, they are certainly lashes that don’t exist in reality.

Nogueira has been accused of wearing false lashes when advertising the strengths of the mascara. The ad, which is still up on Nogueira’s TikTok as of this writing, is being dubbed “lashlighting” — a play off of “gaslighting.”

Many, many other creators took to their platforms to break down why they thought Nogueira was wearing fake lashes. Ashley Gonzalez, a lash artist with her own line of lashes, pointed out what she thought was a separation between Nogueira’s real lashes and the alleged fake ones in the video.

“I just want to share my professional opinion, and let’s be 100%, there is no disputing that she used strips,” Gonzalez wrote in the caption.


DISCLAIMER: this isn’t a bashing post, it’s purely educational and informative. I just want to share my professional opinion, and let’s be 100%, there is no disputing that she used strips! Im not here to debate that, what I want to know if you have ever experienced something like this from an influencer before and if you will forgive her for lying or if this is a deal breaker for you ? #mikaylanogueira #loreal #lashgate #falsies #mascarareview #influencers #makeupartist #lashartist #lashextensions

♬ original sound – Lash Courses & Business Coach

A Reddit post speculated that Nogueira’s follower count has been fluctuating since Lashgate — which contradicted fan assumptions that she would only lose followers. The user included screenshots from TokCount, a live follower count tool that sources its data from TikTok, although it is not affiliated with the app or its owner, ByteDance.

Other users pointed to Social Blade, which is another tool that breaks down the analytics of social media accounts like YouTube and TikTok, and accused Nogueira of buying followers during the month of January. According to Social Blade’s findings, Nogueira’s TikTok account increased from 14.2 million to 14.4 million followers from Jan. 14 to Jan. 31.

Like TokCount, the platform is not part of YouTube or TikTok, and while Social Blade is pretty well known, its follow-count tracking has been found to not be 100% accurate.

Similar to with the Tarte Dubai trip, the backlash against Nogueira raises the question of whether L’Oréal actually benefited from the ad. The video — and, subsequently, the mascara — has been one of the top trending stories in the last week.

Does it work? It’s been proven that outrage drives clicks and profit, so could this have been some genius scheme to sell mascara?

Studies have found that this marketing tactic — of using influencers and their platforms to sell products, whether or not it aligns with their overall branding — does not work on the younger generation.

“Gen Z is aware of influencer marketing strategies adopted by brands; however, they expect the brands and influencers to behave responsibly while sharing information,” a Psychology & Marketing article reported. “Followers have avoided or unfollowed influencers because of disingenuous endorsements, the promotion of unrealistic or unsustainable lifestyles, and misrepresentation.”

The timing for L’Oréal and Nogueira couldn’t be worse, as searches and calls for “de-influencing” have skyrocketed across social platforms in response to users feeling overwhelmed with overconsumption and influencer inauthenticity. The hashtag for the movement currently has over 56 million views on TikTok.

De-influencing is intended to be a way to slow down the nonstop trend cycle nature of TikTok and encourage shoppers to be more sustainable and thoughtful when it comes to purchases. It’s intended to be about recognizing that influencers are in partnerships with the brands they’re praising and typically get the products for free.

But de-influencing is being conflated with bashing “bad products,” which is a subjective point of view and not the point of the movement.

Influencers and brands can and should be taking the opportunity to examine marketing strategies — because they are not working anymore. Nogueira, who used to be considered a legitimate beauty expert by her millions of followers, lost her credibility in just one 44-second video. Was it worth the L’Oréal partnership?

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