The online reviews you rely on to guide your buying decisions may be phony.
A whistle blower claiming to be a former employee from popular skincare brand Sunday Riley posted an exposé on a popular skincare subreddit site “SkincareAddiction” titled “[PSA] Sunday Riley Employee: We Write Fake Sephora Reviews”
“I’m sharing this because I’m no longer an employee there and they are one of the most awful places to work, but especially for the people who shop us at Sephora, because a lot of the really great reviews you read are fake. We were forced to write fake reviews for our products on an ongoing basis, which came direct from Sunday Riley herself and her Head of Sales,” the author of the post writes.
In the post, the alleged ex-employee shared an e-mail that was sent out to employees that encouraged employees to post fake reviews onto Sephora’s website to artificially inflate the brand’s products product review ratings. In the email, employees were asked to download software to hide their IP addresses to avoid their reviews from being traced back to the company. Employees were also asked to to leave reviews for non-Sundary Riley products in order to establish a credible Sephora profile.
While the author of the post maintained anonymous in fear for their personal reputation, Sunday Riley confessed to these practices via a comment to an Instagram post by user @EsteeLaundry which according to their Instagram bio, seeks to “air out the beauty industry’s dirty laundry.”
In the response, the official Sunday Riley account writes:
“As many of you may know, we are making an effort to bring more transparency to our clients. 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 product, 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.”
While the company candidly admitted to the allegations from the Reddit post, @EsteeLaundry continued their investigation finding that Sephora may be at fault as well. In a post following their initial one about Sunday Riley, they found reports of Sephora deleting negative reviews about Sunday Riley’s Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask. Many users posted about experiences where the mask left “chemical burns” on their skin, to which their reviews were shortly removed thereafter.
Many beauty influencers went to Twitter to share their criticisms for the brand. B.C beauty influencer Samantha Ravndahl worked with the beauty company before and took to twitter to call for answers from the company.
“it makes you seem relatable, like you’ve tried everything for your acne”. From someone who WAS going through that and relied on reviews from others in terms of where to spend next, this is so disappointing if true. @sundayriley looking forward to hearing from you on this. https://t.co/qnf5FvRDMi
— Samantha Ravndahl (@SsssamanthaaMUA) October 16, 2018
Neither company has come forward to confirm or deny these latter allegations.