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Skincare brand Sunday Riley admits posting fake Sephora reviews

MANILA, Philippines – In the highly competitive and sometimes, downright confusing new world that is the skincare industry, it's often real, authentic reviews that many consumers rely on to figure out if a hot new release would work for them. 

So it was upsetting for consumers to find out this week that Sunday Riley, a skincare brand best known for Good Genes (a lactic or glycolic acid treatment) and Luna (an oil with retinol), had encouraged employees to post positive reviews on cosmetics retailer Sephora. 

The tea first spilled when someone who claimed to be a former Sunday Riley employee said on a skincare-centric Reddit thread that they were encouraged to register as Sephora users and write positive reviews for acne-targeted products, Saturn and Space Race (a bundle of several products).

"It even went so far as to offer instructions on how to change VPNs so the reviews wouldn't get linked back to their actual IP addresses," Refinery29 reported. 

View this post on Instagram acne never stood a chance#clearskinisouthere #trendingatsephora A post shared by Sunday Riley (@sundayriley) on Jun 8, 2018 at 2:00pm PDT

 

Hours later, Sunday Riley confirmed the email was legitimate and defended this action by saying they were only telling employees to post comments based on their own positive experience and to fight off negative reviews by "competitors." 

Why do reviews on Sephora matter? As Refinery29 pointed out, scientific studies have proven that customers are more likely to trust products that have a lot of positive reviews.

Sunday Riley products aren't cheap.

Over on Sephora Philippines, the popular Luna Sleeping Oil retails for P2,990 for the smaller bottle. Good Genes is a whopping P5,660 for the small bottle as well. Sunday Riley started in 2009 and is named after its founder, a cosmetic chemist and product formulator.

The practice of posting fake positive reviews – be it for a brand, a service, or even a restaurant – is nothing new, of course.

Back in 2017, Racked in a report highlighted the problem of brands offering free products in exchange for "honest" reviews, putting into question the authenticity of the said reviews. But Vox also pointed out that it's the first time a major brand has been caught doing it. – Rappler.com