Sketchfactor: Free Beauty Samples. Influenster. Free Stuffz.

Free stuff is nice but fake recommendations are uncool. You-can’t-sit-with-me-at-lunch uncool. I guess I need to state in this post that any product I say I like anywhere at all, I like it’s not because it was free or expensive but because it’s just friggin sweet.

That said, I’ve found this company called Influenster. It’s a website you sign up for membership or be invited by a friend. This company then periodically sends boxes of beauty & lifestyle sample(s) for you to try. You do not get products all the time nor are any promised at sign-up; they have specific rules about who gets what, based on your personal profile and lifestyle. I’ve actually gotten emails from them asking for further information regarding a potential sample and been turned down to participate due to my responses. I guess I can’t blame them. If the sample was chili pepper flavored lip gloss and I despise chilis, I’m notย the right gal.

About a year ago when I had become a “member” of Influenster after a friends’ recommendation, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Truly, I get as excited when I receive an Influenster box in the mail the same as I do as if I ordered from Sephora. I just like getting packages. I am most pleasantly surprised by full sized, name brand products. Some are awesome new things, some things I don’t keep (i.e. nail polish in a terrible color). I happily fill out the -unrequired- little survey and hope that my testing helps improve the product {fyi, to date I have gotten 3 boxes in said time}. I love filling out forms and surveys. I am lame. Anyway. If the tester choses to share the product on social media, Influenster kindly reminds sample recipients to lawfully disclose that the product was provided by Influenster for sampling purposes, in case the person has forgotten how to be a decent human being.

There are products I’ve never even mentioned here (…or on my other internetz) that I absolutely love or even hate that I’ve gotten for free, and Influenster does not “punish” you or specifically praise you for doing either; I would never sign up to be a member of a sample company that made or guilted me into giving false positive reviews and I quite like that. I’m not one to tell my friends I like something when I really don’t, for the sake of getting a $3 eyeliner for free; it’s never worth it. And I’m a terrible liar.

I read/watch beauty bloggers and YouTubers who receive free samples to review and while I can appreciate the fact these beauty gurus promise the reviews are honest, I still wonder what the contractual obligations are, if any. I’m new to all of this beauty blogging and so I suppose I’m just inexperienced as far as samples and sponsorships go, but it weirds me out a bit. Usually viewers can figure out if the post/video is sponsored anyway so my opinion is just be upfront – don’t insult me and take your viewing audience for stupid. I love trying new stuff as much as the next product junkie, but I’m not interested in being dishonest for money. For some reason that makes me think of mobsters. I’d be a beauty mobster. I’d have a tv documentary after my stint in jail. I’d smuggle in lip balm… I think this is where I should stop.

So that’s my minimalย experience with free stuffz. Thoughts, advice, or opinions on sponsorships or free products?