Valeria Fride is very easily influenced — especially when it comes to buying makeup.
It’s never taken much more than a TikTok tastemaker’s endorsement of a viral cream, gloss or powder to send the Gen Z groping for her wallet.
But after years of repeatedly succumbing to the virtual nudges to shop, shelling out hundreds of dollars on products touted as must-haves — from the Charlotte Tilbury highlighter wand to Olaplex No. 4 shampoo — she’s found that most of the products didn’t live up to the influencer hype.
So in late January, Fride decided to flip the influencer world upside down and become a “deinfluencer” — candidly proclaiming on social media that some products just aren’t worth it. She’s not alone. On TikTok, #DeInfluencer has 13 million views.
“Deinfluencing offers honesty and transparency about viral products that have been promoted by influencers, who are usually paid [or incentivized] to advertise the items,” Fride, 22, a senior communications student at the University of Illinois Chicago, told The Post.
Her posts, dedicated to telling harsh-truths about products such as Kosas brightening concealer and vegan collagen spray-on serum ($78) or Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs hybrid lip oil ($24), have fetched upwards of 1.1 million views from audiences who are grateful for her candor.
“I’ve spent a lot of money trying the different things influencers promote,” she told The Post. “Then, after using them, I realized I didn’t I need them and they weren’t that great … I want to help other people avoid wasting a bunch of money.”
The push for more truth-telling in TikTok campaigns came largely in response to the #MascaraGate controversy spurred by makeup artist Mikayla Nogueira, 24. In January, she was accused of attempting to mislead her more than by 14.4 million followers by wearing fake eyelashes in a sponsored ad for L’Oréal’s telescopic lift mascara.
And although the deinfluencing movement is only a few weeks old, it may ultimately pose a threat to the once-formidable influencer marketing industry, which reached a staggering $16.4 billion in 2022. Some influencer-backed companies such as makeup retailer Morphe, which shuttered its 27 brick-and-mortar locations in the U.S. and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, are struggling to survive.
But for Manhattan-based beauty trendsetter Emira D’Spain, deinfluencing isn’t about obliterating influencer marketing.
Instead, she told The Post that her mission is to help minimize the stress that viewers often endure when trying to keep up with their favorite social media stars.
“I want people to be more mindful about their purchases,” said D’Spain, 26, who lives in TriBeCa and is Victoria’s Secret’s first-ever black transgender model. “The average person does not need as many beauty products as the influencers that they see online…and they shouldn’t feel pressured to try something new just because it’s viral.”
Her recent deinfluencing hot takes on Sephora collection powder blushes ($14) and the Tatcha silk canvas powder ($49) have raked in over a half-million views.
And as the deinfluencing trend expands, D’Spain hopes cosmetic companies embrace the criticisms as user feedback in order to improve their products.
“As an influencer, you want to still have good relationships with brands,” she said, “but at the same time if something doesn’t work with you, you should still be able to speak about it.”
Although this $42 highlighter is meant to enhance the look of skin luminosity by adding a shimmering glow to the cheeks, detractors like Fride have deemed it entirely “too glittery.” Others complained that the application process is “a disaster,” claiming the makeup brush gets dry and sticky after each use. Fride says that the $10 Elf Putty primer and $23 Rare Beauty pinch blush are not only less expensive alternatives to the Tilbury wand, but they also “blend like a dream.”
After seeing TikTok influencers praise the pricey haircare products, Fride feared that she’d never achieve #HairGoals without them. But after using the $30 shampoo and $30 conditioner for over two years, she claims her tresses remained damaged, frizzy and had stopped growing all together. Another user agreed, alleging that she experienced hair loss after using the cleansers that are purported to work on “all hair types.” Instead, Fride says a much better buy is OUAI fine hair shampoo and conditioner, each priced at $32. She raves that the products “smell incredible” and have given her hair a soft feel.
The $46 foundation has become a widely disliked product amongst deinfluencers who say the cream-based coverup is overpriced, creates “texture” on their skin and emphasizes their facial pores. “I stop using this, and my makeup has never looked better,” D’Spain told The Post. Many online are hailing $14 the Elf halo glow liquid filter as a more affordable and effectual alternative.
“I hate it,” said Tess Zolly, deinfluencer and licensed esthetician, of the $20 sponge that’s widely used to apply makeup to the face. “I would rather you not wash your pillowcase for two weeks than use one of these on a regular basis,” said critic, claiming the porous tool can house mold and bacteria. Others like D’Spain have called the sponge “trash,” telling The Post that the sponge doesn’t blend makeup well, has left her skin looking “patchy” and comes at too high of a price point. She prefers the$6.99 Juno & Co. microfiber rosé sponge, owing to its velvety-soft bristles that act as both a sponge and brush for evenly applying foundations and concealers.
As a duplicated version of fashion imprint Verse’s makeup headband, the Amazon bands, meant to keep hair out of the face while cosmetics are being applied, has been labeled “fugly,” or “f- -king ugly,” and poorly made by TikTok deinfluencers.
“You do not need to buy one of those puffy headbands,” said disparager Chloe Chapdelaine, in part, of the gear that ranges in price on Amazon $6 to $26. “You can literally get any headband from the [dollar store].