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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Face value: Estee Laundry is an anti-influencer account that exposes the ugly side of the beauty industry 

Estee Laundry airs out the beauty industry's dirty laundry

The campaign shot for Huda Easy Bake was compared to  the work done by small American brand Beauty Bakerie. 
The campaign shot for Huda Easy Bake was compared to  the work done by small American brand Beauty Bakerie. 

If you’ve had enough of social media influencers constantly pushing products, often hopping from one brand to another claiming it changed their lives, you are going to love Estee Laundry. Essentially modelled on Diet Prada (which exposes copycats in the fashion industry), this anonymous Instagram account does that and more. It is committed to calling out the less-than-­glamorous goings- on behind the scenes or, as it puts it, “airing out the beauty industry’s dirty laundry”.

Take, for instance, the drama surrounding skincare brand The Ordinary a couple of months ago, which ended with the removal of loose-canon chief executive Brandon Truaxe. Not one to take it sitting down, he reacted with nasty emails to his employees, and has taken the drama to his personal account. All of this has been brought to the attention of a larger audience through Estee Laundry.

Then there were cases such as Sunday Riley getting its employees to write fake glowing reviews for its products on Instagram; L’Oreal suing skincare brand Drunk Elephant for infringing its vitamin C patent; Herbivore offering its customers incentives for positive reviews; smaller brands replicating the designs of bigger, more successful lines; and a well-known skincare brand copying the concept and packaging of a certain Insta-famous gold-flecked face oil. There’s also talk about airbrushed-beyond-­recognition magazine covers, the weirdest new products, a peek at celebrity beauty shelves, ingredients in the spotlight and latest trends.

Estee Laundry has got its eye on the Middle East, too – from posting views on accusations that Huda Beauty borrowed a concept from indie brand Beauty Bakerie, to calling out a huge fashion house, which also has a make-up brand, for inviting controversial Kuwaiti blogger Sondos Al Qattan to one of its international shows.

In an article on Fashionmagazine.com, it was revealed that Estee Laundry is run by a small group of friends who started the page due to a lack of honesty and transparency in the industry. They cited Banksy and Martin Margiela as inspiration and claimed that: “Being an anonymous collective gives us the power to stand up against beauty entities with infinite resources.”

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What I particularly enjoy is the community-like feel on the page. Estee Laundry is open to submissions about goings-on that they may not be aware of, and encourage healthy discussions about various aspects of the beauty industry – from potentially dangerous treatments to fly-by-night brands. A couple of my favourites include a discussion about eyelash extensions, which included inputs from various groups of people – such as those who have had both positive and horrific experiences, and those who either run salons or are professionals who have been trained to perform those services.

Another discussion that I followed closely was about the infamous 10-step Korean beauty regime – which, as it turns out, isn’t Korean at all, and is mostly a marketing gimmick. Followers of the page who are either Korean or have lived in the country commented saying that they don’t know anyone who uses the 10-step routine. There are a number of Korean YouTubers who have been posting videos about their minimalistic routine and giving opinions on this crazy regime. And now, through this account, the message has reached a wider platform.

The most recent conversation that caught my attention is about the “pink tax”. A popular skincare brand sells two products with exactly the same ingredients, one marketed to men and the other to women, yet the former is sold for a cheaper price, sparking a debate about why women are made to pay a higher price.

As someone who is interested in different aspects of beauty – the discussions on inclusivity, tall claims, problematic campaigns and even the occasional drama – this is fast becoming a go-to account. I’m hooked, and just one of 30,000-plus “laundrites” who are curious about the hidden face of the beauty industry.