October 22, 2019

Sunday Riley Gets Positive Ruling from FTC After Two Years of False Reviews

beauty news

Sunday Riley has been posting positive reviews on websites for the last two years but there will be no FTC consequences. Surprised? So am I. News broke last year that Sunday Riley was asking employees to post fake positive reviews on websites like Sephora. In two years, not only did Sunday Riley’s employees falsify reviews at the request of management ut also the namesake founder was posting them as well.

Things were pretty technical with these reviews as employees of the brand not only created fake accounts to write these reviews but also, used a virtual private network to do so which would conceal their real IP address. To make things seem legit employees were instructed to leave reviews on other products such as makeup and other items. Employees were also instructed to dislike negative reviews on any Sunday Riley products as when enough dislikes are left Sephora removes the negative review. After the brand was exposed they issued a statement on Instagram but made no apology for their wrong doing instead blaming the fact they are a small brand that’s trying to make it.

Eventually the FTC ended up entangled in the Sunday Riley web and found them guilty of two violations for making false reviews and failing to disclose that those reviews were written by employees. But happy days for Sunday Riley as they face absolutely no consequences for their heinous behavior as the FTC simply banned from making any false reviews in the future. And if they do leave any reviews on their own products or others they need to disclose they are employees of the brand.

How do you feel about the FTC’s ruling against Sunday Riley?

I find it unjust and I think it sends the wrong messages to other brands, bloggers, and even influencers as it basically says you can pretty much get away with tricking consumers and lying to them without fear or serious consequences.

I don’t think the scandal has hurt Sunday Riley’s sales oddly enough as I still see that people get pretty excited about their latest launches.

Do share your thoughts on the topic!


About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Eraser

    I’ve been studying some FTC decisions in the process of historical research on department stores and one thing I’ve learned is that the agency’s process is inconsistent at best and incomprehensible at worst. It leads me to believe that it’s the federal agency that’s most susceptible to lobbying, and that’s saying something. What’s even more puzzling is that retailers still carry the line and consumers totally overlook the deception.

    • Isabella Muse

      You are 200% correct! They are completely inconsistent with the way they deal with things!

  • Mary Brenner

    I find it mind blowing that they weren’t dealt harsher consequences for their lying,deceitful, sneaky b.s. personally for me when that story first broke a couple years ago I wasn’t surprised because I’m sure they aren’t the only company doing it. However because they were caught red handed I made the choice that I would no longer support them and I haven’t. I’m aware that my boycott against them is meaningless on the bigger picture however it makes me feel better !

    • Isabella Muse

      I agree completely. I’m shocked they didn’t at least get some sort of fine. And no, they aren’t the only one doing it. Even beyond the beauty world there are so many false reviews on amazon my head hurts! You can’t tell who is real and who isn’t because people are given gift certs to buy the product and review it so they are a “verified buyer” when technically they really aren’t. it’s a shame 🙁

  • Denise

    I’ve never purchased any Sunday Riley products, but having heard about this behavior last year, I don’t plan to buy any in the future either.

  • MDW

    Sounds like FTC reluctant to step into this. Right now social media being a juggernaut. But I’ve had similar opinions on the general topic. Interesting how a company’s culture is just as influential as the quality of their products. But, ya, odd that Sunday Riley is using this approach. It does not make me want to buy their products.

  • Carol G

    Yes, this is a shame because it opens the flood gates for others to do it as well since there aren’t any consequences. Boy, the beauty industry is in a strange place these days. Too many companies popping up – pretty much on a daily basis – and the competition is fierce. I guess that’s why they needed to make up these reviews. I have never bought any of this brand’s products simply because I wasn’t interested in any of them and found them over priced. However, it is a cautionary tale for all of us consumers that we need to do more research before spending our hard earned dollars on something that has been “hyped” up. I know my habits have changed just over the past few years. I used to enjoy makeup but now it is leaving a sour taste in my mouth because all these companies seem to do is start up and then sell to a mega-conglomerate for billions or make up fake reviews or collaborate with celebrities and faux celebrities (influencers – ugh I HATE that word) or churn out palette after palette after palette until you can’t keep up with what is new and what’s not. My makeup spending has gone way down in the past two years. I’m at a point where I’m using what I have. I rarely buy anything new. My last purchase was the UD Naked Honey palette and it’s only because I had a 20% off at Ulta. That’s another sore subject: palettes come out, people hype them, then two-three weeks later they go on sale. That NEVER used to happen. Makeup rarely went on sale. I think there is way too much competition out there so the companies have no choice but to put the stuff on sale just to get rid of the product for the next one they are bringing out…

    • Isabella Muse

      100% agreed. It pretty much tells people, it’s ok, go ahead and lie, you likely won’t be fined by the FTC if you do. Great. I remember when makeup rarely went on sale! I remember those days very well! it boggles my mind to see so many sales where as back in the day a sale was like “HOLY COW!” Not it’s like, oh new palette, I’ll wait it’ll be 75% off next week! The beauty world is in a sad state!

    • Jennifer F

      I feel the SAME way and I WORK in the beauty industry! The dishonesty is shocking. The money that gets paid out to “reviewers” is shocking! That’s why some brands’ products are so expensive! Not because they’re of higher quality necessarily but because they have to pay for “marketing”! I will still read reviews, because there are real ones in there, but I always go and try the tester myself or ask for a sample to take home. My skincare and makeup junkie friends and I share what we find I also trust people like The Muse to share their HONEST opinions. I was asked my opinion so much that I recently started sharing my random thoughts on Instagram so friends don’t fall for the hype and so they could just spend more wisely on quality products that work. If you care to take a peek it’s jennifer.refinedbeauty. Please share your thoughts with me! Anyway…Muse: love your blog and your community of readers! Thanks for sharing and keeping it real!

      • Isabella Muse

        I agree 100%! Some of the figures that have been disclosed that influencers get for just mentioning a product, not even reviewing it, just saying hey this stuff is good check it out, astounds me! Thank You Jennifer I’m very very flattered <3! I'm going to look you up now ;-D good luck with your Instagram! I can't wait to read some of your thoughts! LOVE you back <3! thank you!

    • Penny

      Amen Carol! I also hate the word Influencer…My makeup buying has also slowed way down. The only brand I buy from these days is bareMinerals…love their makeup and every time I stray and try something else I always end up going back to BM…no more straying for me. 🙂

  • yel

    WTF. as if it was not hard enough to get real reviews online!
    that is BS. they should be fined. heavily.

    • Isabella Muse

      I agree. There should be some fine attached to this. It would also be a lesson learned for everyone!

  • Nicole

    This is so interesting – and distressing! Thank you for sharing this. I rely on Sephora reviews, and I’ve always assumed some were “sponsored”, but not at this level! This does explain the glowing reviews of Sunday Riley products I’ve sampled that definitely have not wowed me! Thanks for giving us YOUR honest opinion! (You inspired me to make my own (tiny) IG account to tell my friends what products I’ve tried, what works and what doesn’t. 🙂 )

    • Isabella Muse

      Sehora has been infiltrated by Influenster. Most reviews lately are by Influenster reviewers who get free product. I find Influenster users are very positive to keep the products rolling in. Some users are very honest, others not so much 🙁 That’s awesome! Share your Instagram account here if you like ;-D maybe others would like to visit it!!!!!!! Good luck ;D

      • Nicole

        Thanks! I’m @redlikejungle on IG. Named after Jungle Red nail polish in the movie “The Women”, and Cat People by David Bowie. Both major style influences on me! You rock – keep it up!!

  • Wendy Sue

    Just like our political leaders, lying is just accepted. I, for one, will never buy a SR product. I don’t allow liars into my personal life, I’m sure as “F” ain’t going to hand over my hard earned money to known liars.

    • Isabella Muse

      Lying leads to so much more imho! I totally agree it seems like it’s just accepted and that sucks!

  • MN Diamond Girl

    If the owners of Sunday Riley feel they need to have their employees post fake reviews for their products, does that mean they don’t believe in their own product? Do they think their products are sub-par or average and feel they need to boost their image with fake positive reviews? As a person that reads product reviews on Sephora and Ulta, I now question if the reviews are legit. I wonder how many other brands are engaging in the same shady behavior?

  • kjh

    The no consequences is just WRONG. I never would have thought that SR had the clout to influence that outcome. It would be interesting to hear how their (Big Gun) lawyers defended them. Almost everyone who follows the industry has written off SR. Out of ethics. I was looking for reviews on Ulta about a product , Pur, maybe…checking every day. So, 2 weeks of nothing, and then 65 in one day, by very obvious fakes, like Carmen from Miranda, and Ethel from Mertz. And if you had a mind for linguistics, you could totally tell which ones were written by the same person. About three persons wrote all 65. I was so disgusted I wrote Ulta an email, and they took them all down. IDK who commissioned the writing, but OMG. Totally obvious fakes. And no, would not buy that Pur product, any more than i would SR.

  • Soup

    If they are so hard up for publicity that their BS ends up in court in front of the FTC they are surely lying about other things including employee issues and their products for instance. I hope they end up bankrupt some day.

  • Joy

    Let’s not forget Sephora’s deplorable behavior of removing negative comments. It’s happened to one of my reviews. It’s just wrong.

  • skincareaddict

    We all know Drunk Elephant is doing this. They send out ridiculous PR packages to people using their products, and the reviews are all 5 star, when most of their products are nothing special

  • Lisa I

    I read about the ruling yesterday and thought, what a sleaze ball joke this all is. Seems like it’s becoming the norm to behave badly then cop to it by saying so what? Yeah, we did that. Big deal. And why not? No repercussions coming their way. Shameful.

  • genevieve

    Absolutely disgraceful that the brand wasn’t even fined or suffered any real, meaningful consequences. Honestly…..you can’t believe a word that is written on those websites.

  • Kimmyyy

    I can’t say I’m really surprised about the outcome. If this were about a smaller brand, I’m sure they would have been wiped out, but not a bigger brand like this. The really annoying thing is that a large percentage of consumers may not even know about this and will continue to purchase from them. I’ve personally never purchased anything from the brand because nothing caught my eye or seemed worth the investment, but I know I certainly never will now and will be spreading the news to people I know. I agree with others that they definitely should have been heavily fined and should have lost business with places like Sephora. I guess there aren’t any consequences for lying!