Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday This and That

Thank you - all of you - for the many get well wishes! I'll catch you up quickly. I have a stress fracture in one or more metatarsal bones in my right foot. The orthopedic surgeon put me in a boot (walking cast), which I am supposed to wear until I see him in six weeks. It looks a lot like the one above. My foot still hurts a lot, but not as badly as it hurt a week ago.

I've had problems with the boot. First, I dropped it (accidentally, of course) on my barefoot right foot, leaving it swollen, black, and blue. Second, I can't walk well. It's throwing off my right knee (which I twisted badly yesterday while wearing the boot), my bad back, and my right hip. I have no shoes that will raise my other foot to the same level the boot does, so I'm stuck hobbling around until a pair of orthopedic walking shoes I ordered from Zappos arrives.

About five years ago, when I had a stress fracture in my left foot, my orthopedic surgeon told me to wear athletic shoes for the duration, and it did heal after about three months. I may have to resort to his old advice.

I have some good news. The latest hot topic among bloggers is the latest guidance from the Federal Trade Commission on .com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising. You would think the sky had fallen. Beauty bloggers are having conniptions about the ways the FTC suggests they must disclose gratis products (free), sponsored posts (advertising - remember what I told you recently?), and affiliate links clearly and conspicuously.

The FTC wants digital sites to make perfectly clear that the product being reviewed was received for free. The agency assumes (as I often do) that a glowing review was provided in trade for the free product. I think it's about time the FTC weighed in and clarified their expectations. My only regret is that they did not extend their guidelines to magazines. If you think Allure purchases what it glowingly features, think again.

The FTC make it clear that it's not adequate to leave a small print statement, such as "This product was provided for editorial consideration," at the bottom of a review. They want it disclosed in the review right away, and they want it equal in size to the content of the post. I have always tried to disclose early in my features (as long as I could make it flow) and will try even harder going forward. I have never resorted to the "editorial consideration" lingo because I believe the product was sent to me with an implicit expectation of a review. No one sending me free products expect me to enjoy them and "consider" reviewing them. I'm not that naive.

The FTC particularly does not approve of a disclosures section that says something like, "From time to time, companies send me products for free, but I always review them honestly." That was the "solution" of many beauty bloggers and now it's a no-no - as it should be. Additionally, bloggers paid to tweet about a product will be expected to add a hashtag, such as #ad to their tweet. 

If you are interested in this kind of thing, you should read the FTC document linked above. You won't find me bemoaning the new rules. I will write a Disclosures page this week, but I have very little to disclose because I routinely disclose if I was given a product right in my feature. Unfortunately, I make almost nothing on Best Things in Beauty. I purchase most of what I review. I am offered (dang) and accept relatively few gratis products. I do have advertisements (not affiliates) on my sidebar, and they are already clearly labeled. If you click on one and/or purchase something, I make a few cents - or I am paid six months at a time for the space. I have already disclosed that I never post paid links or sponsored posts, but I'll put that in my Disclosures so that newcomers here will be able to understand Best Things in Beauty. I'll determine over the next six months if my efforts are working.

You will see changes in the look and content of beauty and other blogs. Now you'll know why. What do you think?

Photos courtesy of wiki and


Nemo said...

Bravo to the FTC! I have always eschewed buying anything from some beauty blogs, but never yours. That's what makes you such a perfect enabler, haha! Meanwhile, I have seen people with an injured foot using a scooter to rest the bum foot on while walking. Is that an option for you?

Mara said...

Hi CG. I really hope you can see some improvement in your condition very very soon. It does sound you're having a very painful time, hopefully the orthopedic shoe will help. I get the impression you are a very active woman and maybe you would also benefit from some rest. Please take care of yourself!
About the issue with "free products" I think it is a very good idea to promote transparency. I am not against bloggers who give positive reviews of products they've received for free - I may be a little naive - but I try to see the overall picture about how a blogger writes about different brands and products and if positive reviews are suspiciously biased I just unsubscribe. But I understand that there is a more reliable objectivity when a person reviews items bought rather than received as presents sent by manufacturers. I hope all bloggers abide by these new rules and I wish they would extend worldwide! (wishful thinking...)

Deb said...

I don't necessarily have a big beef with the FTC issuing new or clarified guidelines; that's their job. But I have to be honest: is the advertising/buying/selling of beauty products that big of a deal considering all else that is going on? I mean really, we have such larger problems in government right now that this is a "thing"? If our elected representatives and government agencies would put this much concern and energy into real problems, then maybe we might get somewhere.

Nemo said...

Cg, I must tell you how much I am enjoying my LMDB Melange eye kit! I am using it per the LMDB charts that accompanied your feature. It is fun! And so easy!

Eileen said...

Three cheers for the FTC!!! So many blogs that started as a hobby have morphed into money making propositions of major proportion. They are no longer personal opinions honestly expressed; rather they are advertising platforms designed to get free products and make money. There is nothing inherently wrong with that so long as it is fully and conspicuously disclosed at the start. Then it is up to the consumer. Caveat emptor! Business is business and some of these blogs are no more reliable or honest than a paid magazine ad. We know an ad when we see one in a magazine, but it has been more difficult to spot in a blog when it is disguised as a review. Affiliate links have also often gone completely undisclosed. If a blogger is going to make money off of me, I want to know about it up front. So, yes, three cheers for the FTC! The only ones who will be grousing about the new guidelines are the shills.

Clarisse said...

Hi Charlestongirl! I'm glad to read your foot hurts a little less than last week...but still it's far from perfect: do you have to walk a lot? or can't you give your feet a very long rest which would enable the bad one to heal faster and the bruised one to recover its normal color? The boot seems rather formidable, I'm not surprised you are looking forward to receiving the shoes....Even so do take care and keep as quiet as possible, I'm sure Charlie will love that and cheer you up!!
Of course, I've no competent opinion about the FTC guidlines, but I think your blog is already a model as you've always made it clear how you purchase the items you feature and we all know you spend quite a little fortune buying all the new pieces of make-up, perfumes, skincare for your reviews: we all knowyou write what you think and feel and not to please the brand!

Amber Ehrlich said...

First off, I hope you find solutions to your foot problems. Having painful feet is simply the worst!

Second, I used to be a consumer of a great deal of beauty blogs. You are now the only one I read. You write well which is a rarity and I appreciate the consistency in your posts. You have a way with words and I feel as if I am shopping and getting fun new products when I check in with you over the week.

I have always appreciated your upfront disclosures and hope other bloggers follow the example you set pre-FTC rulings.

Most of all, thank you for your dedication to your followers. It is obvious you put a lot of time and effort and love into Best Things and Beauty and I, along with so many others, truly do appreciate the class, style and grace you bring to us each day.


Charlestongirl said...

Hi Nemo,

I appreciate.

I have seen those scooters, and I am lemming one. I'll bet they are expensive and that insurance won't pay for them.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Mara,

I have been forced to rest. :)

I think some (not all) bloggers hate these new rules because most of their posts are about gratis products. They don't like the idea of prominent disclosures all over their "blogs."

Charlestongirl said...


I have to ditto that. I don't understand why so many are making such a big deal, with lots of backroom chatter.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Clarisse,

Charlie has seemed to enjoy it, but he hates the boot. At least he gets out of the way when I'm coming. :) Advantage #1!

Charlestongirl said...

Thank you, Amber!

Nemo said...

I bet insurance would pay, or you could rent one, because the women I have seen with them are POOR!

Charlestongirl said...

I may look into it, Nemo, but when I think about it, where except in a mall would I scoot that far?

Claire said...

Hi CG,

Thanks to you, I'm now well-informed about the game between beauty companies and bloggers out there. Just a few years ago, I naively believed that many big beauty bloggers purchased all their cosmetics and reviewed them for our benefit, much like in or such. Not so. I will read the FTC document momentarily and educate myself so I can apply those on my blog -- not that I ever intend my blog to be a beauty blog or review blog in the first place.

I am glad that FTC started to do so. There are some well-known big blogger out there that never put a product rating below B, then I realized that almost ALL the product she received are actually gratis from PR. No wonder.. naive no more, I'm now very selective on what blog I follow. I'm glad that now they require to put the disclaimer out front.


P.S. I hope your foot is on the mend. Some medical supply company rent out the "scooter" perhaps there's one in your area?

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Teri,

Thanks for the introduction! NoVA is my home, but I think it has grown too fast, and I hate the crowds.

I haven't been interested in BB creams for a couple of reasons.

When they hit the market, the BB stood for blemish balm. When the brands realized they were onto something, they broadened it to beauty balm. Nonetheless, most of them are designed for younger skin than mine.

For most, they function as tinted moisturizers, although many have different properties. It's hard to generalize. I read the ingredients, and I don't see them working for me.

I am, however, very interested in the new CC creams, which are intended to correct skin tone. I'll be trying them with enthusiasm.

My advice would be to determine your objectives, including whether you will wear foundation over them, and then go look for one that should meet your objectives. See if you can get a sample and try it. Would a good moisturizer be better for you? Will you have to layer too many products? Only then will you know whether the genre is something you should invest in.

Eileen said...

Hi Charlestongirl,

I share your interest in CC creams. The BB cream fad never grabbed my attention because they're basically designed with a younger hide than mine in mind! LOL. The BB creams simply meant ending up with too many layers to get all my anti-aging concerns met. I have started reading about the CC creams, though, and my interest has definitely been piqued since they seem more focused on evening out the complexion and adding some anti-aging skin care to the mix. So far, Chanel seems to be getting favorable reviews and is evidentially intended for the woman who has aging concerns. We shall soon see. I'll be getting in line for a sample as soon as it arrives :-)

Makeupremastered said...

I was wondering how this would impact bloggers who do not live in the US as this is a law governing US digital advertising??
This should not affect me too much as I buy 99.999 percent of my products on review.I only have one affiliate link that has earned me a whopping $0.00 so far-lol -how do u disclose that!
Keep well

Christina said...

When you talk about problems with your legs, I can relate. I have issues and it can be difficult to walk at times, that I can't walk in those stylish shoes I see women wear at fashion shows and on the streets. My husband loves those shoes and since I can't wear them, I always feel less of a woman for that issue alone.

Orthopedic shoes help me walk normal and I wish they can be design more stylish with good rubber soles so that my knees don't feel all the pressure.

I hope your blog will influence shoe designers to make better shoes for our beautiful feet :)

Dovey said...

Hi Charleston,

Best wishes for a speedy recovery of your foot!

Thanks for linking the original document; it was helpful to see the text, as opposed to interpretations! Overall, I thought it was reasonable, though the magazine issue came to mind as well --- it seems like a double standard to not apply the rules to all print. Otherwise, it's a step in the right direction and I'll have to make sure I'm complying as well!

P.S. Apologies for the comment deletes! After submitting I noticed egregious grammatical errors; clearly I need more coffee this morning... :)

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Eileen,

Me too. Loyd and colleagues will let me know when they arrive.

Charlestongirl said...

Hi makeupremastered,

The FTC does not have jurisdiction over non-US companies - unless they are hosted here. So, for example, if a European blog were hosted on Google Blogger, I suspect (but don't know for sure) they would have to comply.

Charlestongirl said...

Aww, Christina, I am so sorry. I know how frustrating it is that you can't find nice shoes. I've come to the conclusion that comfort is more important than style, so wear well-cushioned flats (if you can) and enjoy them!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Dovey,

I think some bloggers are way to hysterical over the new guidelines. They are actually pretty easy to meet. I see Temptalia already added buttons. Almost all her posts add "Press Sample" and "Affiliate Links" at the top. Must be nice!

Anonymous said...

Too bad it is winter. I had a boot like that last summer and Fit Flops are the perfect height to match the boot.

saltilla said...

The FTC can go scratch. When they enforce the same rules on congress, the president and vp, of every single freebie they receive ( from flights on private jets to stock options in the names of their kids) and then they give a loophole or perk in return.....then maybe. Seriously do they not have anything better to do than persecute online bloggers that may not be so impartial when reviewing a free lipgloss? Bueller??

beano54 said...

So sorry to hear about your foot. I fractured mine a few years ago had it in plaster and this boot thing
Hope your feeling better

Charlestongirl said...

Oh Beano, my retroactive sympathy!

Charlestongirl said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for the Fit Flops tip. I can't wear flip flops. Can't handle something between my toes. I did find some great athletic shoes that has orthopedic inserts built in. I am wearing one of them on my left foot. Not fashionable, but very practical. :)