What Fake Reviews Mean For Beauty Lovers | Clozette

You’ve probably heard about the accusations skincare brand Sunday Riley received regarding the reviews of their products on Sephora. The rumours all started with a Reddit post from their former employee detailing email instructions from the company on how to post fake reviews without being detected. And now, almost exactly a year later, the cult-favourite brand has finally settled an investigation conducted by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but the result is not exactly helping solve the issue on authenticity.

The Jury

Despite almost basically admitting in a statement that they “[encouraged] people to post positive reviews” when the whole issue blew up last year, Sunday Riley neither admitted nor denied any of the allegations in the settlement. After the FTC filed the complaint, the skincare company simply agreed not to break the law again in the future. It’s a small step in the right direction, but not everyone’s happy with the settled outcome. After all, they weren’t given any form of punishment nor were they sanctioned to give their consumers refunds. For two of FTC’s commissioners, the settlement won’t really “deter other would-be wrongdoers” and therefore does not solve the growing problem.

On the fake and the authentic

For some companies, an increase in ratings directly impacts their sales. So such an act can hurt honest businesses, and worse, even encourage them to do the same. But more than that, fake reviews cheat us consumers of our hard-earned money. According to Pew Research Center, in 2016, “half of adults under 50 routinely check online reviews before buying new items.” For #TeamClozette’s Evon Toh, reading through reviews is a must-do, especially when she’s buying products for the first time. So imagine if a product has garnered tons of positive but made-up reviews — that’s fooling someone to buy something that may not be what’s really best for their needs. 

Dealing with care

This sort of fake allegation isn’t new in the beauty industry. Rumours of fake accounts, fake followers, and fake reviews have been rampant especially in the age of social media and the internet. So it’s understandable that we’ve all grown to have trust issues when it comes to these sorts of things. 

Sunday Riley settles agains FTC's accusing them of posting fake reviews

A few ladies of #TeamClozette has offered their views on the issue. For Jamie Lee, it has become an accepted fact that all these reviews we see online won’t be 100 per cent real. According to her, “We have to listen, digest, and try out for ourselves” whether the product is worth it or not. If you spot a number of reviews that have similarity in wording, it might be best to hold off your decision on buying. Abby Gabriel says it’s a must to read through a lot of reviews. Aside from checking official sites, watch vlogs and read blogs before you decide. Granted, it’s quite difficult to discern what’s real from not, so Dhivya Latha says to follow reviews that show before and after photos for proof.

While there’s a lack of trustworthy action on the part of companies and organisations that govern over them, we consumers are left to our own devices when it comes to purchasing beauty products we can trust. Research is always key, and don’t just settle for one source before choosing once and for all. 



Our “I Am Her” series features the female movers and shakers of the industry to learn how femininity and power coincide beautifully and seamlessly together.

For a woman who's always on the go, finding time to attract and inject positivity into the most tedious tasks can be challenging. But for Mary Kay Philippines' General Manager Sobee Dueñas Choa, a busy schedule and a pile of responsibilities don't stop her from channelling optimism and using it as a tool to encourage and empower those around her, even in the toughest of times. Read on as she shares her journey in building legacies, seeing motivational mantras come to life, and navigating her many roles as a superwoman.

Mary Kay Philippines Sobee Duenas Choa 

Fill in the blank: I am a woman, a marketer and ___________. 

"...a legacy builder.

To break things down, first as a woman, it’s the same for all of us — we are daughters, we are wives, we are sisters, we are friends, we are also mums. There are many roles we play.

Next, I think I’m one of the very few people who actually practice the course that they took in college. Mine was Asian Studies and Marketing and I ended up in a regional marketing role. And I can even say that Marketing is my first love. At the end of the day, I believe that no matter what product you’re trying to market, you’re also marketing yourself and your skills and the impression you leave in the world. Which leads me to be a legacy builder.

No matter which company you’re in, I think we all wonder what, once we’re gone, would we leave in order to make the world a better place?"

How and when did you realise that marketing is the ‘thing’ for you?

"Marketing wasn’t actually the first thing I took. It was Accounting because my dad recommended it. I only lasted one term. So I looked at what’s interesting to me because, at the end of the day, you have to look at where your heart is. It should be something that doesn’t make you pull yourself up from bed but rather ignite that fire in your belly. And so I looked at Marketing as an all-encompassing industry. It’s about understanding what people want, what consumers need, how you're going to communicate with them — and that’s what made me decide to pursue Marketing. I also thought that there’s a world outside of the Philippines and I want to explore that so I also took Asian Studies."

What’s the best thing about working in beauty? What’s the most challenging? 

"The best thing is that I’ve been in this industry for decades — and I’d like to think that I don’t look my age given that there’s access to a lot of good products and technology. But on a more serious note, I think when you’re younger and you think about beauty, you see it as something superficial. But after being in this industry, I realised that beauty goes beyond that. There are ‘physical’ products that are dedicated to the aesthetic or getting a presentable appearance. But at the end of the day, people use skincare and makeup to feel better. When you look good, you feel good. With all the means at our disposal now, anyone can be beautiful as long as you make an effort. It’s always about this sense of self-worth and self-respect. You don’t have to go out there looking like Miss Universe. You just want to look the best you that you can be. There’s that outer aspect but there’s also that inner aspect because it’s up to you to define your personal representation of what beauty is."

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and the best advice you’ve given someone? 

"In terms of the best advice I’ve been given, it actually comes from my mum. My mum is a retired nurse and housewife and I remember telling her that I have so much on my plate. Before I moved back here I was juggling two jobs at the same time — I still had my regional marketing role and every two weeks I was in Manila managing the business in the Philippines. I kept wondering, 'How am I going to do this?' And so my mum just looked at me and said, 'Walang hindi kaya (Nothing’s impossible).' I was like, 'Knowing that you’ve birthed me and all the things you’ve done for me, as a superwoman in your own spirit, I believe you.'

Sobee Duenas Choa on positivity

As for the best advice I’ve given to anyone that I’ve seen come into action is probably towards my team here in Manila. In 2015, the situation here isn’t exactly the most positive. There were many challenges that were making the business decline. And I told them, 'We need to have a positive mindset. If we believe we can, then we can. But we have to work together.' And of course, as a leader, I had to firmly believe in that. So we created a mantra at the time: 'Higher, smarter, stronger, together, we can!' And it became like our battle cry. 

I believe in positive vibes, positive energy. And it’s haloed where we are now because of that mantra. It’s our fourth year living and breathing these words and we’re on a positive space right now and we aim to continue doing that."

Sobee Duenas Choa on attracting positive vibes

Can you tell us your five Clozette essentials?   

"On a daily basis, what I do first is to always start and end my day with a grateful heart. During mornings, I pray, set affirmations and expectations for the day. And at the end of it, I do Bible readings and share my day-to-day positivity with my husband. I also think about what I want to do and accomplish throughout the week and this month. I believe if you expect things, they come to you — and it works wonders. How things go is all in our mind and how we set our intentions. Out of the five, those are my top two: how you begin and how you end your day. 

Then of course, in this industry, there are products. And if there are two products any girl should not live without, one, it’s SPF. You should have amazing sun protection — a broad-spectrum sunscreen — to deal with UVA, UVB, and other ageing factors. Second is lipstick. If you have no time, just swipe it on and it immediately brightens your face.

And the last one on my list would be a positive mindset. Like attracts like. So we should all have this positivity, this enthusiasm, this strong faith to stay grounded."

What’s next for you and Mary Kay in Southeast Asia?

"We have big dreams for this company. We’re celebrating 20 years next year and I envision that in the next 20 years, we’ll be bigger than where we are now. We are looking at sales and looking at the people we’re working with but more than that, I’d like to measure our success with all the lives we are able to touch. As our founder loved to say, 'There are so many lives out there. Our work is never going to be over. We can just keep on reaching and growing.'"

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

For more stories on inspiring women, read more of our I Am Her features here




While not necessarily new to the medical industry as a supplement, Shilajit is still quite unknown to most consumers. It is a sticky, tar-like brown resin that comes from the gradual decomposition of Himalayan rocks that happened over thousands of years. With Taiwanese brand Dakini Déesse introducing Shilajit to the Asian beauty industry, let’s delve into the main ingredient of this unique material.

It can only be found in Asia


Shilajit, also called mumijo, is primarily found in the Tibet and Bhutan areas of the Himalayan mountain range, but can also be found in areas of Mongolia, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan. It is said to be found oozing from the cracks of the earth’s surface during warmer seasons.

It’s been used in Ayurvedic practices

Shilajit has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. Used primarily for anti-ageing and rejuvenation, this ingredient contains over 80 types of minerals that all serve multiple purposes. It acts as an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory, and a mood booster. It is also used to enhance the effects of other herbs, so it's used in ancient practice by including it in tonics.

Great for anti-ageing

Shilajit is rich in fulvic acid, a rare and strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory electrolyte. Fulvic acid contains an assortment of fatty acids, hormones, vitamins, minerals, ketones, and flavonoids, which are nutrients needed for healthy cell and body development. When used in skincare, it protects your skin from free radicals and cellular damage.

It’s a superfood

Spices on Spoons

Because of its mineral-rich properties, people use shilajit to detoxify, rejuvenate, and strengthen their bodies. It contains amino acids, vitamins, and trace elements. Ancient Ayurvedic texts consider it as a “cure-all” for a lot of diseases known at that time.

What’s the catch?

Since the process for naturally occurring shilajit takes thousands of years, Bhutan considers shilajit as a national treasure. The harvesting and exporting of Shilajit are strictly monitored by the country of Bhutan, and the area where it is harvested is not accessible for the considerable majority. Because of its therapeutic properties, its natural reserves continue to be depleted as time goes on. While scientists are trying to replicate Shilajit production in labs by producing the numerous minerals present in it, it still takes a few years to make and is incomparable to the real thing. Dakini Déese uses Shilajit collected through proper processes, carried out by licensed collectors only under forest police’s supervision.

For other anti-ageing options, try these instead.