Sunday Chat: Disclosures, Blogging, And More

Disclaimer: Cat was purchased with my own money (Just kidding, lol! P.S. She was rescued)
Hi, lovelies! Today I just wanted to candidly chat about a few random beauty/blogging things. (It's a long one so feel free to go grab a drink!) As you may have noticed, I recently started adding a disclosure at the beginning of my posts. This is because the FTC regulations for blogs were updated on March 2013. This only affects U.S. blogs. Here's what it's all about:

What does that mean for U.S. bloggers? What is the new disclosure policy?
Well, there were a few changes. I recommend reading this post if you're interested in the full details. I'll go over the most important ones here: 1. Affiliate links are now considered advertising. This means you must disclose when a post includes affiliate links or if your blog uses them. 2. Disclosures/disclaimers must now be placed before links. This means that if your post contains any links, your disclosure must be visible before those links. The FTC requires this because they don't want the reader to leave the blog before finding out if the post was sponsored or if the blogger received the product for free. Here's an excerpt from the post linked above:
"In the example, a blogger received a product for review and disclosed that at the end of her post. The FTC noted that the disclosure was insufficient because several links appeared before the disclosure. Because those links could distract the reader to another source before he or she read the disclosure, the disclosure was insufficient. To remedy the matter the blogger should move the disclosure to a more prominent position in the post, before the links."
The FTC also says that scrolling shouldn't be necessary to see a disclosure (which is why they favor disclosures at the beginning of posts). 

How do I go about disclosures and PR samples on The Beauty Milk?
Honesty and transparency are important aspects for my blog. So far, I have only posted about products I've received from companies twice (my Neutrogena post and my SkincareRx post). In my opinion, it shouldn't matter if the blogger got the product for free or not, that doesn't make the product any better or any worse. Reviews should be honest. Sadly, I see the necessity for disclosure regulations because some bloggers are afraid to say negative things about a product for fear of not being sent anything else from the company. (I'm not saying all bloggers or most bloggers do this and I am not calling anyone out.)

What do I think about the new FTC disclosure guidelines?
I won't judge anyone else's choices. I won't stop reading a blog just because they knowingly don't follow FTC guidelines or because most of their posts are sponsored. I won't hold it against them either. I just want to read about new beauty products or makeup looks. Everyone discloses in their own way,  it's not something that would make me un-follow them. However, if every single post is sponsored and products never have any negative qualities, I will become wary of that person's recommendations. 

Are the new FTC disclosure guidelines exaggerated? 
In my opinion, they're a bit much. I understand they're important because they're meant to protect the consumer. We should have the right to know if someone was paid to mention a product on Twitter, YouTube or a blog post. Also, there are ones who try to hide or "go around" disclosures. To me, that's dishonest. However, I see nothing wrong with disclaimers at the end or marked with asterisk annotations. Consumers (myself included) would benefit from making informed purchases. I think it's our responsibility (not the bloggers') to read disclosures and reviews thoroughly. I think that it's my own problem if I click away from a post before reaching the disclosure. As long as they're visible, it's fine with me.

Why does this make me feel uncomfortable?
I feel like the new FTC guidelines make blogging too serious and business-like for me. To me blogging is about fun, I don't want to be worrying about whether or not I'm complying with the law! I know FTC regulations on a blog aren't that serious, they're not going to hunt down every site that isn't properly disclosing, lol. Yet they're still important, especially for full-time/part-time bloggers, people who want to work in the beauty industry, people who want to monetize their blog, etc.


Why is this required for bloggers/websites and not other media like magazines?
While reading a few posts on the topic of the new FTC disclosures, I read that the FTC requires disclosures for bloggers and not for magazines because "bloggers are expected to be honest." So, magazines can recommend a bunch of makeup just because the company paid them to simply because they're expected to be full of product placements? It's no secret that a magazine's "hot list", "get the look" or "editor's picks" articles are full of paid mentions and press samples they haven't even tried. (This generalization doesn't include all magazine, mainly the "bigger" ones.) Yet when I first started buying magazine's as a teenager, I naively believed the products shown were honest recommendations by people who actually tested them out. I think magazines should also be expected to be honest but that's a whole different story that involves many social aspects. 


Other random bits:
+ Sometimes I'm secretly afraid that someone will try a product I raved about and think it sucks, haha! Then I remind myself that makeup can be subjective. Especially foundation, primers, and skincare. They work differently on everyone. 

+ Do any of you remember when the brand Hard Candy used to be high-end and sold at Sephora?! Did you get to try their products before they moved to Walmart? I was thinking about that recently, haha.


+ Reading comments is one of my favorite aspects of blogging! I've wanted to implement more reader interaction on my blog but I don't know if it's something you would respond to (or be interested in). I really want to do a weekly beauty question (like a beauty survey question) because I love reading your opinions and experiences. Please let me know if that's something you'd like to participate in :).


If you read this entire post you deserve a medal and some cookies! Also, let me know your thoughts on blog disclosures and FTC guidelines below. Do you agree with the new guidelines? Or are you indifferent to them and disclosing in general?



                               Please check out the lovely Grace from The Grace of Beauty! (Advertising).

63 comments

  1. This post was really interesting to read, and I completely agree with your last point about magazines! If bloggers are expected to be honest then magazines should be too, in some ways I'd say magazines have more influence than bloggers so its even more important that they are honest!
    Great post:) x

    www.thebeautymist.com

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    1. Definitely! I think they should be even more regulated because they're being paid to test out beauty products and write beauty articles. It's their job! In the end it comes down to money, media, advertisements, etc. I stopped buying beauty magazines years ago.
      xx

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  2. I agree with you that the new FTC dislosure for US bloggers is a bit excessive. I really could not care less whether a blogger is sent something as long as its an honest review. Who cares how they actually got it?
    I think its a bit unfair that magazines dont have to as personally I think blogs are like online magazines.

    Oh and I think the beauty survey is a great idea! Its nice to get a whole range of opinions!

    efxo - Beauty | Fashion | Life

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  3. What a nice share Coco, i just know that disclosure / disclaimers must be placed before the link in UK, sorry i'm newbie in blogger but not sure that the statement is used in my country, i'm going to find out

    xxx

    aboutbeautyandcosmetics.blogspot.com

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  4. Really great, informative post! I find the new regulations a bit much, I'm glad that it doesn't affect Canadian bloggers to be honest! An asterisk or mention at the end of a post works fine for me!

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  5. I think those guidelines are a bit excessive! If you're going to buy a product because of a review, you should be reading the whole post, thus reading a disclaimer at the moment. I like knowing if someone got the product free, but sometimes if its made really obvious I feel like the blogger is bragging a bit.
    It's also a good point about magazines and I've never actually thought about the fact they're paid to promote products regardless of wether they're good or not, and it makes me glad I don't spend my money to read them, I read bloggers reviews instead!

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    1. I know bloggers that like to disclose and ones that don't. It's usually not meant in a bragging way but more so to keep the blog transparent or because it's required by law. I think if it looks obvious it's because they're not afraid to say they got it for free. Some people get unfomfortable with PR samples and sponsorships so I don't think it's something most bloggers want to flaunt.
      xx

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  6. I think reader participation would definitely be fun!

    Hmmm not too sure about this disclosure thing.
    It's absolutely ridiculous that magazine which we pay for aren't expected to be honest, whereas blogs, which can be setup by anyone and read by anyone for free (which for the record I think is great) have to be more careful!
    Silly silly laws haha


    Emily x - prettypleaseprettyplease.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha, it is funny!! Something you access for free gets regulated but something that costs and makes money doesn't!
      Thank you for your input ;)
      xx

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  7. Informative post! Im from the UK so it doesn't effect me but I still like reading your posts haha :)

    Jo xx
    http://a-hint-of-glitter.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Haha, thanks for having a look! x

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  8. I JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF YOUR BLOG! AMAZING, DARLING! <3

    XOXO
    HOLYKATTA

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  9. I do think they're exaggerated, stating if the product is an PR sample at the end of the post seems enough to me, it isn't the blogger's fault if a reader doesn't feel like reading or scrolling 'til the end of the post.
    I do dislike when someone doesn't clearly state that the product is a press sample. If you're being completely objetive, why not say that it was a sample? Another thing that makes me lose credibility in a blogger it's if in every single review they post they rave about the product without mentioning a single bad thing about it. I understand that a blogger might not want to write negative reviews, but I doubt that someone can love every single product they receive and can't find a single fault.

    Yes to the reader interaction!

    PD: you look great in that picture and your cat is adorable! What's her name?

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    1. Thank you, Nesita!!
      Her name is Missy :)

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  10. Adorable pic and kittie cat.

    I like the disclosures. I have noticed there are some blogs I frequent that do not make it obvious that there are sponsored posts, or posts where the products were given freely. I purchased a rather expensive niche acne care product from two blog rave only to realize that one of the persons had been given the product for free and the other blogger was friends with the brand owner. I was MIFFED. It doesn't mean I wouldn't have bought it but it would have factored into my considerations. Now, I don't really read these blogs as frequently because I feel they could be more direct about their connections and they aren't. I don't have a problem getting recommendations from whatever source but I like to factor in compensation as a factor of credibility.

    When disclosures are out prominent it is helpful. For instance, I am annoyed when some bloggers try to allude to having purchased something, but then later you'll read it was sent to them as a PR sample. This happens frequently with some blogs. How about mentioning it was a PR Sample in the first place and not trying to create a purchasing story out of it. In the end, I wanted to see the product, the swatch, the way it looks regardless of how you got it. When I catch those slips it just knocks down someone's credibility.

    I have yet to feature two press samples I have received and these are all things I have to consider. Including how to feature an item that I purchased with my own money the first time, but then received as a press sample after. Reading this post makes me realize it will be better if I just keep it separate to not commingle press samples with products purchased with my own money.

    Great post by the way. :)

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I actually had a similar experience (a while ago) when I was seeing a lot of raves about a certain small-ish beauty company and their products. I was happy that bloggers/vloggers where supporting small business so fervently, then I found out they were all sponsored but didn't properly disclose. :/ I felt miffed too, in a way.

      Prominent disclosures aren't very aesthetic in terms of blog design or post "flow" but they're the most effective way to let people know. I wouldn't feel comfortable weaving a disclosure into a long winded story. Like you said, it makes reader credibility waver.

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  11. A very comprehensive post on this, one of the best I've read so far. It's a complicated issue, but honestly if a blog does not clearly state something is from a press sample, I won't continue to read it in the future. It's the blogger's responsibility to clearly state where they got the product and if they paid for it or not. However, I don't see an issue with the FTC disclosure at the bottom of posts. The reader takes some responsibility too - it's a two way street.

    Don't even get me started on magazines though...I could rant for days about their blatant product placement lol.

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    1. Definitely a two way street. As long as it's clear I don't mind if it's small print, an image, on top, at the end or an asterisk. It shouldn't be the FTC's problem if someone doesn't read the entire post.

      Haha, I know. It's quite disappointing and unhelpful. I don't purchase magazines anymore. x

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  12. Thanks for posting this! Didn’t knew about the changes, now I’m informed =D

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  13. I would like those cookies now :)
    I think those guidelines are a tad excessive. A simple banner or bolded sentence in the beginning of the post should be enough, I think. You only really need one indication. Having to then notify that links in a already realized 'sponsored/advertised post' is a bit redundant. You're right, it makes it was to business like and would take away from the blogger's own writing to have to write "Hey guys I found out about this great new product that is just amazeballs" only to right after right "(LINK) This is an affiliate link". I don't know, I don't mind it, but there could be better ways!

    And I'd love the reader interaction! I visit your blog a lot Coco, so I'd be willing to participate! :)

    - Jess
    The Mod Mermaid

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    1. Hahaha, I'll need to go find some virtual ones.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Jessica!
      <3

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  14. this is a great post! :) I agree with you and the others who commented - it is the reader's responsibility to be aware BUT the blogger should make it clear for the reader. I do think it is excessive to have to post it everywhere, and I've made sure that I always start a post with "X Brand sent me this" as well as the usual disclosure at the end or asterisks, etc. I am bummed that magazines don't have to do disclosures and things, because I used to think the magazines were personal recommendations too! oh well. anyway! I like your "random bits" and would love to see your beauty survey/questions :)

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  15. Where's my medal and cookies Coco??? I'll be waiting...
    Anyways I think the new FTC guidelines are excessive (for those well submerged in the online beauty community) but important (for those new to this community). Like you said honesty is very important to me when it comes to a blog (YouTube, etc) so when the post is sponsored I'm generally going to be wary of the impressions written/spoken about. I love learning about new products but when a blogger does nothing but sponsored/PR samplent to the posts I have to question the product their reviewing; would they have picked out said product if it wasn't sem? How much of their opinion is biased? Do they ever actually repurchase the product even though they said they love it oh-so-much? Usually the answer is no because they're moving onto the next thing that's sent to them. Also a lot of times the items being sent to very popular bloggers are quite high end and it makes them become un-relatable because I (and a lot of other bloggers/readers) can't afford to be using nothing but really expensive items.
    Sigh, I don't know, it's a bunch of hubbub but I definitely see its importance in the blogosphere when more and more bloggers' posts become saturated with free stuff =__=;

    Anyways I'd love some reader interaction every week!! I think you know I love your blog and would love to come back and visit a post multiple times for a bit of chit chat ^__^

    Cassie
    thriftthick.blogspot.com

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    1. WOW, I should have read through that before submitting; Galileo was on my lap and pushing some keys and what not... haha sorry about all the typos. And by the way your kitty is adorable!! So great that you rescued her :)

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    2. Hahaha, I'm in the process of finding some medals.
      That's actually a really good point because when I first started reading blogs (or actually, when I first started seeing *asterisks next to products) I didn't know what this * meant. I thought products with asterisks next to them meant that they were extra awesome or the blogger's favorite. LOL!! So funny in hindsight. They do seem redundant for bloggers but they have their importance for more "casual" browsers.

      Aww, Galileo :)

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  16. I am following the new FTC rules but I feel they are a bit to strict. I am trying to find a way to work around them, in the mean time they'll have to deal with my ugly disclaimers.

    I did tried Hard Candy way back, I think their quality is better now then before.

    :)

    Saludos

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    1. Surprisingly their quality is better now, I agree. I thought they were so overpriced when they were sold at Sephora.
      xx

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  17. This seems like some uncool changes, hope it doesn´t stop you from blogging :)
    xx
    www.clothesandcamera.com

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  18. I didn't know anything about FTC rules :O Thank you for sharing and it's very informative! Thank you Thank you Thank you Coco! I'm going to follow the rules now on :)xx

    Grace of Beauty

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    1. Glad this post helped out, Grace! :) The FTC changes weren't as publicized or didn't make as much waves as Google Reader getting axed (for example) so a lot of people didn't find out about them.
      xx

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  19. I think these regulations should be equal to everyone, if blogs have to comply, so should magazines, tv shows and whatnot do as well. It's a bit too much to have to state that at the beggining and it's the blogger responsibility to put a target "_blank" in the code so the reader doesn't leave the original post. I'm not affected by these regulations but it's important for everyone in this blogosphere to clearly state whether they got something for free or if they're receiving a payment for a review. It should be unnecessary to disclose anything if the product was purchased by us or if it was a gift from a friend or relative : / Reviews should be unbiased no matter what! Thanks a lot for sharing this Coco, it's important to know, even if not all of us are affected by it : ) xx
    noiredame

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    1. No problem, Lau! :) Sadly it's all about business and money and a lot of people believe the "recommendations" on tv, print, and magazines (and websites even!) given by people who have never even tried the product or were just paid to say good things about it.
      xx

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  20. Great post! I echo the sentiment that it's really ridiculous for blogs to be regulated while magazines and other forms of communication about beauty products don't. More people are going to read a national magazine about a product than may stumble upon an independent beauty blog. Also, most bloggers are doing it for free because they have a passion for beauty, whereas other forms of media are getting paid and yet the FTC feels that they don't have to place disclosures at the beginning of their articles. It's totally crazy!

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  21. AWESOME post Coco! I can totally agree with the whole ftc making things to serious-like. I mean, blogging is about fun, and it honestly makes it feel like a business when their are so many rules. Oh and you're kitty is SO cute! And you are GORGEOUS!! (I know I always tell you that!)

    xo, aly

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    1. Ahhh thank you so much, Aly! <333

      Delete
  22. I understand and I'm not totally against this policy but some aspects of it are ridiculous. The majority of us bloggers do it for the love of it and for free and only very few receive free samples or even get paid. Even if we monetize our blog, most of us only earn pennies in a day. That sure won't pay the bills.
    Whether or not the blogger properly disclose information about the product I don't really care, what really matters to me is how honest the review is. Blogging is a social network and most of us are smart enough to learn whose reviews we can trust.

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    1. Quite literally pennies a day yet it takes up a lot of time and effort. Blogging is an enjoyable hobby for most. Honesty should definitely be the most important thing!
      xx

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  23. I never knew Hard Candy was sold at Sephora!!! Thats interesting! And cute cat =)

    Simple Charm Beauty

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  24. I think these new rules are kind of ridiculous, and take a lot of 'relaxed fun' out of blogging. I don't really get any free products or live in the US, so I guess I don't have to worry about these stuff, but yeah, it's a bit too much. Regarding the surveys, I'm totally up for it! My favourite thing about blogging is interaction with like-minded people, so I love such stuff. :)

    P.S. Where are those cookies you're talking about? You promised some, haha!

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    1. Hahaha thank you for reading everything. I'm working on it!
      xx

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  25. I think it's a bit unfair that only bloggers are required to follow these guidelines. And what irks me is that magazines don't have to - even though many magazines have their own websites where they recommend stuff! Shape and Cosmo sure as heck do not have disclosures before their recommendations. xoVain doesn't have any either. It bugs me and I feel the FTC is only going after the "little" guys, aka bloggers.

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  26. Honestly the FTC guidelines are there to 'do more good' in terms of informed decisions for consumers, but I could probably use my own judgement on whether a blogger was being dishonest. I don't plan on monetizing my blog until I buy my own domain - then that money would be used on the upkeep of the blog. Agh. I guess we'll have to grin and bear it, huh?

    The kitty is totally adorable btw. I love how my favorite beauty bloggers all are cat ladies - I have a cat too hehe :) xx

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  27. First of all, I love your cat and I love your face in this picture. This is such a good and beautiful picture. Second of all, I find the FTC thing pose and I'm lazy as hell in my reviews and I keep forgetting to say, "Yeah, I bought this FTC blah blah blah." Hahahaha. Third of all, I didn't hear of Hard Candy AT ALL until it was sold in Wal-Mart!

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    1. My cat says thank you! :) I feel you. Disclosing so meticulously is an added hassle. They're making it a bit redundant. It's like, yes I bought this myself, and this, and this..

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  28. Wow, that's all a bit to go through in my head. I like how you went over some points like letting readers know about affiliate links before they click on it - seems very fair and honest. That's something that never went through my head before, though I've seen blogs place asteriks or other symbols right after an affiliate link or a product provided by a company. I always thought it was their own way of letting others know. At the same time I feel like it's silly, because having a disclaimer at the beginning of the post... just seems to ruin the flow/layout for me haha. Thanks for the insight though, I'll be letting readers know of affiliate links and whatnot in the post instead of my silly "disclaimer" link in the sidebar ;) Hopefully putting a symbol at the end of an affiliate/product link is close enough!

    I also agree that the new guidelines make blogging too serious, almost job-like. It was only recently that I found out about magazines and some bloggers/YouTubers raving about certain products because they're paid to do so. (A bit irrelevant, but I really like Rachel Whitehurst on YouTube, she's one of the most honest people on YouTube when it comes to doing product reviews even if it was sent by a company.)

    I'm secretly afraid that someone will try a product that I love, but they end up hating it. I'm also afraid of TOTALLY RAVING ABOUT A PRODUCT (meaning a product that I say that I really love/cannot live without/etc) and having that change with weather changes. One of my favorite mascara smudges terribly when it's humid, and that was the mascara I've been wearing primarily on dry winter days. Boo!

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    1. The type of disclaiming the FTC favors is a bit unaesthetic, I agree. I don't mind affiliate links at all. I actually like clicking them to help the blogger :) I don't mind disclosing them either because I like following the rules but it does feel redundant.
      I like Rachel's videos too, she's very transparent.
      Hahaha I always wonder if I should tone it down when it comes to products I LOVE. Is it really amazing or do I have some kind of weird attachment to it?

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  29. The FTC regulations are a bit much in my opinion as well, like you said it makes everything too serious. I don't see anything wrong with sponsored posts, as long as the opinions are 100% honest! I love reading your reviews because you give positive & negative feedback on products.

    BTW, I always wonder if people will hate products I raveeeee about, but that is the beauty of it, one man's trash is another man's treasure! It's all about trying stuff out & seeing what really works for you!!

    Xox, Cat
    MaybeBabyXo.com

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  30. u have a nice blog and cute cat :D
    This disclosure thing is kinda funny, & btw weekly beauty question sounds nice !


    www.beautylicious08.blogspot.com

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  31. Very interesting post. The rules and regulations here are less strict, but in the end I think it all comes down to the same thing and that is being honest and writing honest reviews.

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  32. I always appreciate your honesty when it comes to products sent for review. It never really bothers me either way whether something was free or not, but I think disclosing it makes me more inclined to trust the review. I think the new rules are a bit strict, but I can see where they're coming from. I think it's totally unfair that the same rules don't apply to magazines though!

    Jennie xo | sailorjennie.com

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  33. Fantastic post, especially seeing what the regulations are there compared to here in Ireland!

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  34. This was a great post!! I loved your thoughts on it, especially the points about magazine or even tv shows for that matter!

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  35. Great post! I'm not a huge blogger- So I agree, I feel quite silly having to do disclosures, since this is something I do for fun, it's an outlet for me. but I fully understand they have do it for some youtubers, etc. I wisdom used to purchase magazines for their "must haves" and never really thought about them recieving freebies.
    I remember buying Hard Candy at Nordstroms years ago- when I recommend it to friends, they always ask, at walmart? can I get it at target? :)

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  36. While I do my best to abide by the guidelines, I do think it's unfair that magazines don't have to follow the same guidelines. It makes it seem like magazines are getting some special form of treatment! Also, I actually did have some of the old Hard Candy makeup when it was being sold at Sephora! I had a palette, and some lip glosses (which were the same ones sold at Sephora, but my mom found them on the cheap at Marshall's/TJ Max. That was probably a good sign that they were being discontinued from Sephora, but what did I know back then? lol).

    http://beautyinthebreakdown4.blogspot.com

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    1. Ahh so nice to hear you were a Hard Candy costumer. :) A lot of people don't remember that it was sold at Sephora xx

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  37. In the UK we don't have such strict rules but I like to state that items where gifted if they were as its best to be honest and I always like to state if I do not like a product as like you mentioned different cosmetics work for different skin types so not everything will work for you :) I would love to answer surveys as I feel this may be a good idea to interact more and get peoples views on certain beauty related topics :D, great post and blogging should be fun after all so the strict guidelines do make it more serious and magazines should be put under the same category I think x

    www.krystelcouture.com
    Designer Dress Hire Giveaway

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  38. Thanks for the review of the new guidelines- even though I'm not a U.S. blogger and I agree they're a bit much, it is still a nice reminder to be at transparent as possible!

    And I loooved Hard Candy when they were a high-end brand! I picked up a Hard Candy eye shadow quad (they were amazing!) at my first-ever trip to Sephora in 2000, so the brand will always hold a special place in my heart :) And still loving them as a drugstore brand!

    And I'd really like more interactive posts in the future :)

    -Jen

    www.vibrantbeautyblog.com

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    1. I kinda liked Hard Candy's old packaging better than the new one. The old one was kitschy cute. The new one is too Ed Hardy inspired for me. xx

      Delete
  39. Wow this is a bit too much, thing are getting really serious in the US, I am kinda glad I do not live there cause I would go a bit nuts but I think its very nice of you to inform all bloggers about this. I bet most people had no idea (like me)!

    x

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  40. I'm going to be honest, I've never heard about the whole "blog disclosures and FTC guidelines" thing cause I'm kind of new blogger (shame on meh) its time to do some research lol.
    That was really helpful And thank you for your tips! <3

    www.beautylish-life.com

    ReplyDelete

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