Like Diet Prada before it, the wonderfully named anti-influencer Instagram account Estee Laundry is causing a social media storm, but it’s not the fashion industry that it has in its sights, rather the beauty one. With no ads or sponsored content, Estee Laundry promises “power to the people” while “airing out the beauty industry’s dirty laundry”.
“It was formed by a small group of friends who are passionate about beauty,” says a spokesperson from the anonymous page. “We started the page because we saw a lack of honesty and transparency in the industry. Our ultimate aim is to raise awareness and start conversations that can bring about change in the industry.”
With 31,000 followers and counting at the time of writing—along with features in leading publications around the world—I ask if they expected to find such success.
“Not at all. It was a side project for us and we didn’t think that anyone would be interested in what we had to say. We think there’s been a lot of interest because the beauty industry hasn’t really had a watchdog so far.”
Have you had feedback from the industry?
“Yes, we receive very passionate messages from brands defending their actions after we post about their questionable behaviour. We also get messages from brands that have had their ideas stolen by other brands.”
The group, who cite Banksy as an influence, say anonymity gives them “the power to stand up against beauty entities with infinite resources”. They tell me that they consider the current most worrying trends to be blatant copying, trolling and fake reviews. Thanks to the power of “clever marketing”, adults, they say can, alas, be just as impressionable as children.
With the images of some magazine spreads and advertising campaigns being so clearly airbrushed or photoshopped almost beyond perfection, I wonder if there is also an element of wilful ignorance among some of the public.
“Unfortunately, people do tend to believe magazines and the media in their portrayal of certain looks as the beauty ideal. We are so glad that this is changing thanks to digital and social media.”
I ask how they go about discovering who and what to cover.
“We do get a lot of submissions from our followers and are always keeping an eye out for any new stories. We also have regular features like ‘Ask the Expert’, which requires much intercontinental planning and coordination.”
Much work has been done since April, and Estee Laundry have repeatedly demonstrated that they’re unafraid to take on superstar targets with bottomless purses and an equally infinite number of Instagram followers. Topics highlighted include Kim Kardashian’s Body fragrance bottle bearing an uncanny resemblance to Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic Classique, as well as the reality TV show star’s Flashing Light’s packaging’s striking similarity to Rodin Olio Lusso’s. In October, it was revealed that Sunday Riley had encouraged employees to leave fake, glowing online reviews of their products.
While Diet Prada, often humorously, concentrates on calling out the fashion industry’s faux pas, Estee Laundry also seeks to cultivate a community with healthy online discourse, a notable example being a discussion about ‘pink tax’—the tendency of skincare brands to inflate the price of women’s products over men’s, even if the ingredients are identical.
It’s also not just about calling out the beauty industry’s dark side, just as powerful, say Estee Laundry, is to promote those who are going about their business ethically.
“We do try to strike a balance,” they say. “But our controversial stories just seem to garner more attention. We love talking about people who are making a difference in the world of beauty.”
Words — Jamie Christian Desplaces
Follow Estee Laundry on Instagram @EsteeLaundry