On Tuesday, a Redditor claiming to be a former Sunday Riley employee posted what appeared to be a leaked internal email from the company in the SkincareAddition SubReddit thread. In the email, a company employee asked their team to "write at least 3 reviews" of a Sunday Riley product on the Sephora website — essentially, falsifying reviews to boost the company's online rating and drive up sales.
"I'm sharing this because I'm no longer an employee there and they are one of the most awful places to work, but especially for the people who shop us at Sephora, because a lot of the really great reviews you read are fake," the Redditor writes.
The alleged email's subject line read: "Homework time – Sephora.com reviews," and it included instructions on how to hide IP addresses so the fake reviews wouldn't get traced back to the company's HQ.
The email also included tips on how to create a convincing reviewer profile ("write a couple reviews on a makeup, hair or nail product to build a profile history"), as well as how to structure the review itself ("it helps to make yourself seem relatable"). The post went viral within the r/SkincareAddiction community, where commenters noted that Sunday Riley very likely isn't the only brand to allegedly fake (or "encourage") reviews.
Sunday Riley responded to the email in question with an Instagram comment on the @esteelaundry account, which was created to "air out the beauty industry's dirty laundry." The comment, posted by Sunday Riley's official Instagram account, admits to asking its staff to post fake reviews.
The full text of the comment is below:
"As many of you may know, we are making an effort to bring more transparency to our clients. The simple and official answer to this Reddit post is that yes, this email was sent by a former employee to several members of our company. At one point, we did encourage people to post positive reviews at the launch of this product, consistent with their experiences. There are a lot of reasons for doing that, including the fact that competitors will often post negative reviews of products to swing opinion. It doesn’t really matter what the reasoning was. We have hundreds of thousands of reviews across platforms around the globe and it would be physically impossible for us to have posted even a fraction of these reviews. Client word-of-mouth, sharing how our products have changed their skin, has been the cornerstone of our success. In the end, our products and their results stand for themselves."
Beauty fans in the @esteelaundry comment section note that the statement seems to minimize the role the company played in asking employees to post reviews. "It does matter what the reasoning was and other competitors is not an excuse. Just Bc [sic] there aren't thousands of fake reviews doesn't justify the ones you are responsible for making," writes one commenter.
Allure has reached out to Sunday Riley, as well as Sephora, for further comment. We will update this post as more information becomes available.
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