IF YOU KNOW anything about skincare, you will be familar with the brand Sunday Riley.
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Be it their U.F.O. face oil, their Blue Moon Tranquility cleansing balm or their C.E.O. moisturiser, people have been raving about their products for years. (Not to mention its Good Genes face acid, which is a best-seller at Sephora.)
But just how authentic have those rave reviews been, though? Not very, apparently – earlier this week, a person claiming to be a former employee shared an email on Reddit in which the brand ordered them write fake reviews of specific products on the Sephora website.
In a thread on the site, the person posted what appeared to be an internal email from Sunday Riley’s head of sales, with the title “Homework time — Sephora.com Reviews,” instructing employees to write reviews of two new acne treatment products just released—”at least 3 reviews for Saturn over the next week, and some for Space Race the week after.”
The email, which was shared in the ‘skincare addiction’ subreddit, gave employees guidance on what to write in their reviews, how to hide their IP address so the reviews could not be traced back to them, well as encouraging employees to set up profiles with reviews on other products in order to “build a profile history”.
An extract from the email reads:
“When reviewing Saturn please address things like how cooling it felt, the green color, the non-drying mask effect, radiance-boosting, got rid of your acne after a couple uses.
As reviews come in, read them too. If you notice someone saying things like I didn’t like “x” about it, write a review that says the opposite. The power of reviews is mighty, people look to what others are saying to persuade them and answer potential questions they have.”
In a statement to Cosmopolitan, Sunday Riley admitted to the practice and apologised, blaming competitors for posting negative reviews “to swing opinion”.
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So @SundayRiley has admitted to posting #FakeReviews on @Sephora. #Laundrites, what do you think of this response? Do you think this is an ethical way to address potential negative reviews from competitors? We don’t think so. 🙅🏼♀️ Do you? 🤔#SundayRiley #FakeSephoraReviews #Sephora #CanWeTrustSundayRiley
“As many of you may know, we are making an effort to bring more transparency to our clients,” the brand said. “The simple and official answer to this Reddit post is that yes, this email was sent by a former employee to several members of our company.
At one point, we did encourage people to post positive reviews at the launch of this products, consistent with their experiences. There are a lot of reasons for doing that, including the fact that competitors will often post negative reviews of products to swing opinion.
It doesn’t really matter what the reasoning was. We have hundreds of thousands of reviews across platforms around the globe and it would be physically impossible for us to have posted even a fraction of these reviews.
“Client word-of-mouth, sharing how our products have changed their skin, has been the cornerstone of our success. In the end, our products and their results stand for themselves,” the statement concluded.
The news comes as questions surrounding influencer marketing and authenticity within the beauty community seem to be more plentiful than ever.
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