22 February 2023

Deinfluencers: The TikTok creators that *don’t* want you to buy from them

HUNGER investigates de-influencers and whether their debunking of hype products is the opposite of what they set out to do in the first place.

“Do not get the UGG Minis. Do not get the Dyson Airwrap. Do not get the Charlotte Tilbury Wand. Do not get the Stanley Cup. Do not get Colleen Hoover’s books. Do not get the AirPods Max,” says one TikTok user, listing off all the most popular items on TikTok right now. This is a solid case of de-influencing: a reaction to overconsumption from social media creators where they tell their audiences what not to buy, especially when it comes to hyped beauty products. Essentially, de-influencing is social media creators flipping the strategies of major advertising corporations and companies to stop wasteful purchasing. 

Head to your own TikTok, and you will find that scrolling through the ‘For you page’ is like wading through an oversaturated sea of endless products. Music influencers are selling you Amazon must-haves, comedy influencers have partnered with energy drink brands; and worst of all, beauty influencers are paid to tell you their new expensive favourites by, well, everyone. 

The nightmare that is the TikTok Shop allows creators and brands to sell products directly to audiences, through in-feed videos, the product showcase tab, or LIVEs. It means you can purchase items without going through a third party, and creators earn commission by linking directly to the Shop in their videos. This quick-pace buying and selling process is a huge part of the issue, which de-influencers are looking to steer away from.

We are all partial to a bit of influencing now and then, of course, and the de-influencers take this into consideration. “All the brands I mentioned charge hundreds of pounds per item,” shares one user on TikTok. “I personally love the brands I showed. It’s more that I’m reminding my audience it’s actually not normal to have those things. It’s quite a privilege and a luxury.”


I thought I made good money but GIRL some of you are moving mad how does everyone just own expensive stuff now ? #deinfluencing #luxury

♬ Chill Vibes - Tollan Kim

Another de-influencer gave her “hot take” on Dior makeup products, claiming the best part about them is the packaging and the rest is “garbage.” The video garnered 264.2k likes. Compare this to a paid partnership by Dior with influencer Danielle Marcan, who said in her caption “my fav part is always the base. Super silky and hydrating [sic]” — the post got 23.1k likes. This current model means we are buying more than ever because of TikTok, but evidently, everyone is tired of being falsely sold products.

The industry has undoubtedly successfully moulded itself to social media in an effort to stay afloat. But on the flip side of the beauty coin are the consumers, who are sitting at home in their rooms with baskets of products they had to immediately purchase, that have been used once and discarded. And this is when de-influencing comes in; the movement of creators that are helping you decipher what works and what doesn’t, in an effort to help us all to become cost-efficient buyers and to lessen consumption.  

Olaplex, for example, has been another one of the brands to recently come under fire from de-influencers. The brand’s haircare products have been hailed as a beauty cult-fave, with the shampoo and conditioner priced at around the £50 mark. Considered a luxury item, the price is more than worth it according to many influencers. Unpaid consumers, however, are finding the haircare products to be ineffective and a waste of money. Many are coming forward with their own issues, which in worst-case scenarios, have caused hair loss. According to NPR, almost 30 women have filed a lawsuit against the brand.

But the movement is somehow a paradox in itself. De-influencers are targeting overconsumption by promoting other types of consumption, as they themselves are crossing the line from content creator to ‘influencer’. What is that line you may ask? Well, suggesting dupes and other desirable items that they will link in their bio. How handy. Therefore, doubling their followers and having a loyal band of fans ready to listen to what is actually worth the money, from someone who isn’t paid and isn’t afraid to speak badly on brands. This is, therefore, influencing. Confusing right?

But it is not just the lies that have people up in arms, as many anti-fans of brands are tracing back to the source of the advertisers and their methods of selling. Which is, ultimately, paying a professional to say they love it. As we face a cost of living crisis, we want a trustworthy opinion about where we invest our well-saved funds. Generally, the de-influencers are doing a world of good for the oversaturated market, especially on TikTok. But the point must be made that, if they recommend alternatives, are they using their influence still? It’s up to you to decide.  

  • Writer Ella Chadwick
  • Banner Image Credit Pexels

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