In today’s blog post we have the honour of interviewing Sarita Coren, the Godmother of Green Beauty. Sarita has been active in the health and wellness field for 20 years and is a well-known and respected beauty blogger. She has been running her Edible Facial blog since April 2013 and has readers in Australia, the UK, the Middle East, and of course, North America.
Many of our students and graduates often wonder how to approach and work with beauty bloggers, so we were delighted to be able to speak to Sarita about her experiences and expectations of working with beauty brands.
Hi Sarita, we’re seeing a huge increase in engagement with beauty bloggers in our community. What role do you feel beauty bloggers play in the overall cosmetics industry?
The written word is powerful, as are the vlogs now. Essentially blogs can become the voice for a brand. I think what people value when it comes to bloggers is honesty and integrity. Most truthful reviews about a product come from blogs. Consumers can find answers about the product’s efficacy in addition to a full profile that includes scent and texture too. Even comments left on Amazon can get spammy.
When a blogger endorses a product, particularly the influential bloggers, consumers take it seriously and will be quicker to buy it than from a paid ad. It does get more ambiguous when the blogger receives an exchange from the brand (and I’m struggling with this issue too), but you get a sense of a blogger after a while and can trust that they wouldn’t want to jeopardize their own reputation by sharing products they wouldn’t normally feel good about.
Some beauty brands struggle with knowing which beauty bloggers to approach. What do you think is the best way for a brand to find a beauty blogger that fits their ethos and target market?
It’s a good idea for brands to get to know their bloggers, and it doesn’t take long. Within a short amount of time that I started blogging, I found the blogs that I loved, connected with, and now we support one another.
If a brand creates products for babies and new mothers, then reaching out to the college-aged beauty blogger who is struggling through finals may not be as productive as the blogger juggling a couple of kids. If you know the blogger doesn’t react well to an ingredient in one of your formulas, look elsewhere.
Start with a simple hashtag search on Twitter or Instagram to see who is writing about #greenbeauty, #greenbbloggers, #ecofriendly, #cleanbeauty, and then read a few blog posts to get the gist of their style. You’ll know soon enough what they emphasize and what’s important to them. Find a blogger who has a tone and beat that resonates with yours. Chances are you’ll “get” each other faster too. Consider giving priority to local bloggers first and then branching out as a way to sort through the many blogs.
How do you feel a brand should approach a beauty blogger in order to maximise their chance of being featured?
This past summer, I took PR School with Angela Jia Kim and Savor the Success. It taught me a lot about pitching ideas to editors. Usually, a blogger leaves contact info on their blog so that brands can access them easily. That’s generally the best way to contact a blogger, but it’s the way that the brand pitches their idea that counts.
After a while, the seasoned bloggers won’t be as excited about another serum or another face cream as a newer blogger. It’s imperative to show what makes the product unique and why the brand owner is so excited about it. Sharing real stories about how it made a difference to someone’s skin is always a bonus. But keep the pitch short and helpful. Ask if the blogger would like to chat first to decide on what products would suit them best.
To me, creating the person-to-person contact is key to building a relationship because developing a devoted fan base starts right there. If the blogger and the brand owner have a good rapport, chances are high that the blogger won’t forget about you.
A note about private messaging: lots of bloggers don’t check them or see them. Did you know about the “other” folder on Facebook’s private messaging? Yeah. I found messages from years ago in that black hole. So don’t get nervous if you reach out through social media and don’t get a response.
What do you find most off-putting when a beauty brand approaches you?
I think some brands don’t realize how much “stuff” the beauty writers have to sort through every day. When a blogger wants to give a product a chance, it takes at least a good few weeks to a month of testing only one product in order to observe results. So it’s off-putting when a brand starts to pressure me to write a review when I’ve got a slew of other products that hit my desk first and have not had a chance to devote the time to their product, or I’m on the fence about it, or I need more time with it.
Lately, I’ve been asking brands to wait until my slate clears because I’ve only got one face and can’t test so many oils on it and expect them to work.
That said, a gentle nudge in a helpful way to follow up and ask if the blogger needs anything else or has any questions about the products is a great idea. Trust me, it’s hard to keep track of the different brands. Again, that’s straight up advice from PR School.
I like to take an attitude of gratitude. A brand that takes the approach of being helpful, constructive, and courteous will gain a stronger foothold than one who gets annoyed or belligerent and asks: why haven’t you written a review yet?
What do you prefer a brand to send you once you’ve agreed to do a review?
Full sizes please! Usually, the brand rep or owner and I talk or write first to reach a mutual agreement. However, having discussed this topic with other bloggers and from my own experience, we are more likely to have a better impression of a line when we receive full sized products. If a brand considers that bloggers are taking the place of expensive ads, the cost is worth the risk!
Also, photographs are a key element to the blog and if I receive a dinky vial, I can’t showcase a lovely bottle or jar for others to see on my social media handles, nor do I get a thorough feel of the experience of using it—including application method that may differ from the sample size (spray bottle vs. packet, pump vs. vial, etc.)
How long does it normally take you to review a product?
It depends what it is. A body scrub, soap, or body lotion can be an immediate hit or miss. A face serum, eye cream, or cream where I need to monitor changes to my skin will take longer. I give myself a few weeks usually. Also, I like to see if I naturally gravitate to a product or not. Sometimes the product can be awesome but have a bad smell and I won’t reach for it.
I think that if I won’t reach for it, neither will someone else who does not value green beauty. I want people to be turned on to cleaner options, not repelled by them. I can’t endorse something that won’t have larger appeal.
The length of time varies among bloggers and is a personal preference.
What do you do if you don’t like a product that’s been sent to you?
I’m always clear with the brands who contact me that I won’t write a review if it’s not positive. I have a few reasons for it. While people deserve to know the truth about a product (and I’m always honest about it), my one review can negatively impact a smaller company that will prevent others from trying a potentially decent product.It may not work for me or get me excited, but if it does not use harmful ingredients or greenwash, I see no reason to hurt the brand.
Another reason is that I’d feel bad saying something that will inevitably hurt a small company that’s invested in their creation. I’d rather give honest and constructive feedback privately.
If my issue is purely fragrance-related, since smell is so subjective, I’d probably mention something and still write about it because someone else may not find the scent as distasteful.
What are your 3 most important tips for any cosmetics brand looking to engage with a beauty blogger?
1. Be honest and real.
2. Get excited about what you have to offer.
3. Be yourself. You’re a person first. A blogger is a person first. Remember that there are people behind your screen and theirs. Your product and their blog.
Finally, what do you enjoy most about running your beauty blog?
I love that it has unexpectedly been the springboard to new channels of creativity at an unexpected but necessary time in my life. My kids were getting older (as in attending school until 4 pm), and I needed to rediscover my new self after 40. As a result, I’ve met some amazing, talented, and creative women through blogging who are now absolutely my friends.
It is mind-boggling, the genuine connections that can be made online. Blogging has also launched several side passions like photography (I didn’t even know I had skill!) and putting together small events for the bloggers. Evidently, I love hosting too.
So it has led to a great deal of inner-growth and outward expression, clearly two areas that begged exploration. I do find the search within oneself to be the greatest adventure of all and to hold boundless healing and lessons that affect many other areas of life (and impact other realms–but perhaps left for another discussion ;-).
All photography credits go to Sarita Coren.
Thank you to Sarita for sharing her insights into the relationships that beauty brands can develop with beauty bloggers. Here at Formula Botanica we’re big fans of Sarita and we thoroughly recommend you check out her blog at Edible Facial. Follow Sarita on Twitter at @SaritaCoren.
What are your experiences in working with beauty bloggers? Tell us in the comments below and share your biggest wins or challenges!
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Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Environmental Scientist and the Director of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.