Honest Reviews Of Instagram-Hyped Products

By Lucy Harbron - 20:40

 It’s a running joke in my family that I’m an ‘advertisers dream’. When I was a kid, I’d see one advert and have to have whatever it was selling, embarrassingly fickle to the fantasy being sold to me about whatever the newest toy or hair product was. As I’ve got older, I’ve got a bit better, fully aware of all the manipulations in adverts, but still finding myself captivated by fix-all face masks that promise the world. It’s a whole new ballgame now as Instagram and Facebook become more shop than social platform, filled to the brim with adds customised just for you or reminders or that pair of shoes you were looking at 2 days ago, taunting you with all the things you don’t have. And that’s not even considering the influencers, people picked specifically by brands to sneakily push products into your life under the guise of a recommendation from a friend. I’d been very good at resisting, remaining cynical at the whole idea of shopping on socials, but after my last post about lockdown shopping, I realised I missed a major thing out; my new and embarrassing slip-slide into the world of being influenced.

Without shops to go to, changing rooms to try or even shop assistants to ask for advice, the influencer industry boomed. I saw it at work as influencers we worked with were pulling in way more money than ever before as people were scrambling for inspiration or guidance on what to buy. Without the chance to go out and browse, you start to realise how overwhelming online shopping is. You click onto the ASOS app and have absolutely no idea where to begin as you’re faced with thousands and thousands of options and a maze of categories and trends, so an influencer showing you the best bits and providing links is obviously going to become more tempting.

But for me, it was never clothes. While I’ve fallen for the industry a bit, I still definitely see the negatives, with the main one being the pressure to somehow have to live up to these casual model standards. Still, an influencer in a nice outfit does nothing for me, fulling aware that my weird proportions and mid-size will 100% not look like that in those trousers and nothing in their world could get me to pull on a pair of those bicycle shorts/overgrown boxers that everyone’s wearing. On a bad day it’s easy to feel shit about it. Social media is dangerous and manipulative as we spend our days despairing over why we don’t look like that, when these influencers themselves probably don’t even look like that. For this reason, when it comes to clothes, I still treat Instagram like Pinterest; a place to look but not touch for risk of spiralling myself into a crisis over a too-small tennis skirt.

But oh boy is skincare a whole other story...

Lockdown well and truly threw my skin under the bus. It’s been something I’ve always struggled with as a person who is genetically blessed with clear, glowing skin. But the lack of fresh air and sun, paired with the heatwaves, mixed in with a huge dose of stress, set my skin spiralling like never before. Lockdown saw me start taking anti-depressants again, and my skin was not happy about it, reacting to everything going on by breaking out and being stubborn towards my skincare routine.

Enter @skincarebyhyram. Hyram is a skincare influencer who makes TikToks and YouTube videos where he reacts to people’s skincare routines and suggests ways to improve it. He’s lovely and charming and his TikTok is full of people with newly glowing skin due to his recommendations, but he’s not a dermatologist. But did I, in the middle of a skin crisis, care about that? no. I went straight to boots and bought his favourite cleanser along with thousands and thousands of other people around the world as he manages to cause these products to sell out.

Hyram was a gateway drug as I then found myself caving into Instagram adds, taking recommendations as gospel and splashing out one a whole new skincare routine after even the slightest good promotion of it. Without Lush shop assistance to chat to or dermatologists to see, unqualified influencers became my guides. And then two weeks later I cried over why my skin wasn’t glowing.

My wise friend Emmie reminded me, again and again, to remember that everyone’s skin is different. There’s not quick fix-all for everyone, something which influencers and adverts never remind you of as they share their 5* reviews and bury the bad ones. The world of skincare is huge and slippery, designed to always make you feel like you need more with a new must-have ingredient introduced monthly. I can see all this now I’m back out of my insta-shopping hole, coming out of the other side of what I now recognise as a weird capitalist insecurity spiral. So, to help you out, here are some honest reviews of hyped up products that I’ve caved into.

#1 Starface

These little stars are everywhere, plastered all over your ads and Milly Bobby Brown’s face. These have been a temptation for a while, but the long makeup-free days at home spent battling with myself over face picking finally made me cave spontaneously one morning.

Starface stickers are pimple patches that promise to zap your spot away after wearing them overnight or for around 6+ hours. These little school-teacher-vibe stickers are infused with Hydrocolloid which is apparently ‘borrowed from surgical dressing that’s clinically proven to help flatten pimples by absorbing bacteria and fluid.’ However, the fact that step 4 of ‘how it works’ is simply that they make you feel cute, encouraging you to take a selfie and post it on insta, suggests that Starface definitely have a focus on creating hype, something apparent by the 10+ messages I got when I posted about having these.

On try one, I declared them magic, ridding of my spot after wearing one for 8 hours. But since I feel like I’ve become less and less impressed. Unless you catch the spot at the EXACT right moment as it’s coming to a head, these don’t seem to do anything. I haven’t noticed them do anything for ridding of redness, but instead, they almost seem to momentarily deflate a spot only for it to come back. However, they’re a godsend for skin pickers like me, especially while working from home. But without seeming to be the magic cure they promise, £16 for 32 single-use stickers that don’t do much but put off fidgeting fingers, I won’t be repurchasing. They’re cute, but not quite cute enough for my bank account.

#2 Fresh Rose Face Mask

Rumour has it Kim K herself uses this mask, which wouldn’t surprise me. The Fresh brand has that very typical ‘luxury’ vibe with its clean visuals, tiny white pots and rich people ingredients like lotus, peony and whatever ‘vitamin nectar’ is. At £21 for only 31ml, this was the most money I’d splashed out on one skincare item before, truly believing that this super simple but lux mask of rose petals suspended in a gel would heal me and make me beautiful. And I’ll admit, it’s lovely. It smells incredible and is packed full of really trustworthy ingredients of rose, aloe vera and cucumber, so it does make my skin feel hydrated and plump. 

But while giving me a nice glow for a couple of hours and making my skin feel soft, it doesn’t really do much. I think this is the kind of mask that’s made for people with perfect skin already and for £21 for a teeny half-empty pot, once again it’s not quite cute enough for my bank account. I’ve enjoyed using this for sure, but the sense of luxury doesn’t quite outweigh the cost and the stress each time you feel like you’re using too much.

#3 The Ordinary

The Ordinary is probably the most hyped brand around when it comes to skincare, seeing those little bottles scattered all over influencers bathrooms. It’s a weird one as with such a huge range, every influencer seems to preach the miracles made by a different product, making it way too easy to overdo it or get overwhelmed. I’ve been using The Ordinary stuff for 2 years now so I feel like I was lucky to miss this new onslaught of you-need-this hype. Some of the hype I completely understand. Their peeling solution mask is the best skincare item I own, being the one thing that I use and then wake up the next morning to a face that’s so much clearer and calmer. I’m also a huge fan of their niacinamide solution that Skincare by Hyram and pretty much every influencer on the planet urges you to buy. The prices of these items are so affordable, they last ages, have really simple ingredients and genuinely do seem to work for me.

However, caught up in the hype and the desperation to clear my skin up immediately, I fell victim to The Ordinary influencing on two levels. One was The Ordinary experts themselves. The brand offers a service where you send them your skin woes and they reply with a routine to follow. But looking back I feel like the advice was a bit questionable as they upgraded by already 4 step morning routine to a 6-product routine, suggesting I invest in 4 new products to be split between morning and night. They don’t share who is giving you this advice so who really knows. But I, of course, was influenced and invested in the Azelaic Acid Suspension, EUK 134 0.1%, Salicylic Masque and Retinol 0.2% in Squalane.

After a couple of weeks when my skin wasn’t improving, I’ve axed them all but the mask and the occasional use of the retinol. Who knows whether that was the right thing, but when I was heading out the other side of my skincare binge, I was realising that I actually had no idea what these things were or were supposed to be doing, so I had a little intervention with myself and said Lucy, you’re doing too much.

But I will admit… Hyram got me again the sneaky charming man. Raving all the time about a couple of The Ordinary products, Hyram is all about the Niacinamide, Hyaluronic acid, peeling solution and the Glycolic toner. So obviously I got the toner and the moisturiser which also gets his stamp of approval. And honestly, I have no regrets and complaints here. The toner again is super affordable for a big bottle and is great for a deeper clean of the skin every other day, and the moisturiser is stripped back to the simplest ingredients and does what it says on the tin.

#4 Cerave Cleansers

I really hope these brands give Hyram money, because he’s making them millions. As you can tell, during the depths of my influencer-skincare spiral, I clocked hours on Hyram’s TikTok, seeing him recommend the Cerave cleaners over and over until I finally caved.

Previously I used The Ordinary squalane cleanser, which is amazing for getting your makeup off but I was starting to feel like it might be too oily. So, I was influenced all the way to boots and picked up the Cerave Foaming Cleanser, armed with Hyram’s enthusiasm and the reviews that told me over and over that this was dermatologist recommended. And I like it! I’m going to withhold a full review until later on as I’ve only been using it for about a month, but my skin has cleared a lot and this cleanser is definitely nice and gentle but leaves my face feeling clean. If you want a cleanser to remove your makeup, this one isn’t really for you, but for acne-prone skin, so far, I’m really liking it.

#5 Face Halo

I’ve seen these loads, on YouTube videos, eco-influencers pages, TikToks, everywhere, and I was honestly so dubious cause I don’t understand the magic. These reusable cotton pad things take off your whole face of makeup just with water, no product, meaning you don’t have to use harsh makeup wipes or add another cleanser into your routine.

I caved and picked up a pack of 3 when I saw them in Oliver Bonas and honestly, I am now influencing you to buy them. Buy them. They work. I feel like they’re going to be amazing for travelling and are obviously so good for the environment as you just wash them and use them over and over. Since using these then cleaning with my Cerave, I feel like my skin has been really happy and cleared up a lot, being treated way gentler than a rough double cleanse. Huge fan, will be talking to anyone who will listen about these.


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