When it comes to any lifestyle topic, whether it’s beauty, health, fitness, or wellness, we all want the best advice and recommendations. Influencers have become our go-to experts for this kind of information.
Jaclyn Hill’s recent lipstick launch is an unfortunate cautionary tale. Hill was accused of selling contaminated products—lipsticks that had mold, hair, etc. While she offered an explanation to her fans, and issued refunds, the damage has been done. While this clearly an issue with the manufacturer (Hill isn’t trying to poison anyone), the scandal can make us question her integrity and intentions.
So who is really qualified to give advice? How do you measure the trustworthiness of an influencer?
Everyone’s an expert
Everyone is calling themselves an expert and as a result, the meaning of this word is in decline. Being an expert used to mean earning some sort of degree in a field. For example, if you earn a BA in Nutrition, you can legitimately call yourself a nutrition expert. However, many influencers will call themselves an expert in something simply by having done their own research. Sometimes it’s valid, and other times it is not.
You should always qualify anyone who is giving health, wellness or fitness information in particular. While a makeup expert may share less than stellar advice, the stakes for a bad contour method are far lower than someone who recommends supplements.
Try this: Look in their bio for relevant credentials. Fitness influencers may be certified by NASM or ACE in group fitness or personal training. A nutrition expert might be a registered dietitian (RDN), while the term “nutritionist” is less regulated. Do a little research on your own to learn what accreditations are valid in the area you want advice on, and then search for those terms in bios or on websites.
So what qualifies someone to be giving advice in the first place? This is somewhat subjective and really depends on your own standards. Former fashion stylist Luke Storey is a great example of an influencer worth trusting. His bio says, “He’s spent the past twenty-two years developing and refining the ultimate lifestyle, based on the most powerful principles of health and spirituality, while at the same time embracing the technology and modern conveniences of urban living.”
In other words, he’s tried thousands of different things from supplements, to devices, foods, routines, etc for a fairly long period of time. While what works for one person isn’t always appropriate for everyone, it’s fair enough to say Storey’s advice comes from a knowledgeable place. Furthermore, if you take the time to really listen to what he says, he knows the science behind things, degree or no degree.
Who do they align themselves with?
Before the government started cracking down on sponsored content, requiring #sponsored and #ad, etc, influencers could easily make paid recommendations look organic. While not everyone follows the rules, most legitimate influencers should at this point. If a post feels “salesy” or off-brand and it isn’t tagged appropriately, you might want to question what you’re reading.
The products that an influencer aligns themselves with also says a lot about who they are. There is a protein shake (I won’t say which one) that many influencers and especially reality television stars endorse. It doesn’t have the best reviews, but yet it is all over Instagram. While many of these influencers are in great shape (I would kill for the abs on most of them), it doesn’t speak highly when someone endorses something problematic. At the same time, if you choose to get your nutrition recommendations from someone with a Bravo show, that’s on you.
On the flip side, look at who else is interviewing these influencers. Are they regularly featured on Women’s Health or Shape? Do they get quoted in articles or get tapped for appearances on local television segments? If other reputable outlets are using these influencers as a go-to source, that speaks highly to their credibility.
Read the comments
Never judge an influencer on just one post, but rather, read the comments. Whether they have 10k followers or 1M+ followers, check out what their engagement is like. Quality over quantity.
Are they answering questions? Is there a conversation? Or just a whole lot of likes? Are the comments complaining about the influencer’s product or services, or are they complimentary? The recommendations of someone who has built a solid community should have a lot more clout than someone who hasn’t.
Take it all with a grain of salt
When it comes to nutrition, wellness, or fitness advice, a wrong move can be potentially harmful. So if you want to take the advice or use a product recommended by an influencer you aren’t entirely sure of, it’s best to spend a few minutes doing your own research. For beauty, keep in mind that a product that’s helpful for one person’s skin or hair may not work for another person.
And don’t forget, no matter how many followers someone has, your own instincts and research should influence you the most.