Can you trust the products advertised to you on Instagram?
We tried a bunch of products that constantly show up in our Instagram feeds—here's what happened.
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We at Reviewed are just as curious about those flashy products we see in our Instagram feeds as you are. For our 'As Seen On IG' series, our writers buy them and put them through their paces to find out if they're actually as good as they look online—or too good to be true. Spot one that we've missed? Email us at AsSeenOn@reviewed.com.
At this point, you know the truth about your Instagram feed: It’s basically a personalized online mall. Sure, it has the images that brought you there in the first place—the selfies, group photos, sunset shots, and "influencer" dramas—but interspersed among them are ads for brands that seem to exist solely on the internet. If you’ve ever bought an item from one of these ads, you know that it’s just as likely to be a good-quality, worthwhile investment as a disappointing, cheaply-made sham.
At Reviewed, we consider ourselves to be highly discerning shoppers and scrollers alike, which makes us qualified to evaluate the quality of the products that keep popping up on our Instagram feeds. Here’s what our staffers have to say about the Instagram products we’ve bought for ourselves.
FabFitFun: good-quality products, misleading advertising
Fans of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise will be familiar with FabFitFun, a subscription box sent out four times a year, that is beloved—and heavily promoted—by many influencers, particularly those who were once contestants on a reality competition to find love. Each box contains an assortment of eight full-sized beauty, skincare, and fitness products that subscribers can choose among or let FabFitFun select for you.
Reviewed’s audience development manager, Rachel Moskowitz, says she recently “caved” and signed up for a box using an influencer promotion code, bringing her cost to $39.99 (the box is usually $49.99). She liked what was in her package—which included, among other things, a full-sized Ouai leave-in conditioner, a Korres sleeping face mask, Dr. Brandt eye depuffing gel, and an eleVen by Venus jump rope ($131 for just those items and a $289.95 value in total)—but found its advertising slightly misleading.
“The contents of the box were pretty good quality, but when they show you the FabFitFun boxes online, they show you all 10 of the possible products you can get, when in reality you're only going to get eight of them when you order a box,” she says. “That was a bit of a letdown, but I did enjoy the contents that I did receive.”
And, as is the case with many subscription-based products, Rachel found that she signed up for more than she bargained for by ordering a box—even though she thought she only ordered a single package, she later received a notification from her bank saying she was being automatically charged for another at $49.99. (She ended up loving the box that came, but still.) So, if you decide to spring for FabFitFun, make sure to read the fine print.
Mejuri: stylish earrings, questionable quality, great customer service
Mejuri aims to make fine jewelry more accessible by working directly with jewelers to eliminate handling fees and provide rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets at what it says is a fraction of the cost of other labels.
Kitchen and cooking editor Cassidy Olsen gave it a try. She got the Editor Hoops ($69) and Mini Hoops ($29 each) for herself, and the Duo Hoops ($69) as a Mother’s Day present for her mom. At first, Cassidy had only praise for Mejuri, saying she had “no regrets” and the Mini Hoops “permanently live” in her second piercing.
But a few days later, Cassidy gave me an update—after just 10 days of wearing them, her Editor Hoops broke. “The small, all-gold pair I have seem great, but the plated pair was so thin that the wire closure part snapped off,” she says. The company refunded her, so, in the end, her verdict on Mejuri is “good customer service, not sketchy, but quality isn't 100 percent.”
MeUndies: Sweatpants that make it easy to transition from lounging to errands
MeUndies is a direct-to-consumer company that, understandably, is best known for its underwear. While I cannot speak to those, I can endorse MeUndies sweatpants. I got a pair a few years ago for $50 ($60, plus a first-time purchase discount) and fell in love. They’re comfortable—remarkably so—but also tailored enough for me to go straight from my couch to the grocery store without being too worried about running into anyone I know.
The sweatpants I adore were redesigned in 2017—mine are in a jogger style (meaning they have a tight-ish cuff around the ankle) and the current ones on the site have a looser straight leg—but they have a similar fabric composition and should be just as comfortable and easy to style.
Menlo Club: Easy, subscription-based style for men
Reviewed’s general manager Chris Lloyd loves Menlo Club, a monthly shoe and clothing subscription service for men. It keeps prices relatively low ($60 per delivery) by using in-house brands, which are delivered to subscribers once a month based on a style quiz taken upon signing up. Boxes typically contain two or three items, such as shoes, pants, shirts, or hats.
“I’m always excited to get shoes in my delivery,” Chris says. “They have a shoe brand called New Republic and of the four or five pairs I’ve received, all are great.”
One potential downside—or, at the very least, something to be aware of—is that there isn’t a return service if you don’t like something in your selection. “You get what you get,” Chris says. “But once you understand the policy, it’s no big deal.”
Réalisation Par: Well-made clothing essentials that ship astonishingly fast
Australian company Réalisation Par makes flowy clothes with a specific hook: Everything on its site is made from 100% silk (and looks like something the character Jessa on the HBO series Girls would have worn). Kitchen and cooking staff writer Valerie Li gave some of its items a try, in particular the Naomi midi skirt, which comes in floral, tie-dye, and leopard print patterns for $180.
“They ship fast and apparently they're based in Hong Kong, so they actually cover the international shipping cost, which is nice,” she says. “I didn't hold high expectations but I was so amazed by how well-made the clothes are. I will definitely recommend the brand to my friends or anyone who is looking for some quality fashion staple pieces.”
Zaful: Inexpensive, cute swimsuits that take a while to arrive
Zaful is one of those brands that, based on its Instagram ads alone, simply seems too good to be true. It sells colorful, stylish bathing suits at eye-poppingly cheap prices—as in, $10 to $15 each, with the most expensive suit, a crochet bikini, capping at $26.50. Ecommerce writer Isabelle Kagan tried out several of the suits—eight styles including a striped tie front bikini set, a bandeau bikini and a colorful one-piece. For the most part, she was pleased.
“They took about a month to arrive in the mail which was a bit worrisome, but overall I was pretty happy with my purchases,” she says. “They were decent quality and fit relatively well, and I got eight swimsuits for less than $100, which to me is way better than getting one well-made but super-expensive suit.”
That said, there are several caveats that go along with Zaful. In 2016, Buzzfeed reported that it was advertising items on its site that actually came from an entirely different (and much more expensive) brand, like Free People. Isabelle did actually receive what she paid for, she warns Zaful’s sizing can vary “wildly,” so she never buys a suit that doesn’t have a lot of reviews and photos from other shoppers. This way, it’s easier to find out if the item does, in fact, exist, and see how it looks on someone with a similar body type.
If you decide to buy from Zaful, it’s probably in your best interest to do this, too—though it is possible to return things from Zaful, judging by their return policy page, it’s not simple. To return an item, customers must first submit a ticket explaining why they want to return it. If the reason is determined to be Zaful’s fault (which includes sending a damaged item, wrong item, or an item in the wrong color or size), you can get a refund or exchange. If the suit doesn’t fit, it’s technically the customer’s fault, which means you can only get a partial refund.
Maison Miru: Affordable crystal stud earrings that won’t irritate sensitive skin
Last January, a friend told me about a deal she had spotted in a suspiciously great-sounding ad on Instagram: A jewelry company called Maison Miru promised to send a pair of stud earrings for free to anyone who ordered them within a certain timeframe.
I risked the shipping fee of $7 and ordered a pair. About a week later, these tiny, perfect crystal studs arrived at my doorstep, looking identical to the photo I had seen in the ad. Best of all, when I put them in my ears, the earrings didn’t turn them green, which can sometimes happen when my sensitive skin encounters any cheap, off-brand jewelry.
This deal is still ongoing, should you want to partake. I can also say that, more than a year later, my earrings are still in great shape, and would be worth it either for mostly free (duh) or their list price of $29 a pair (or $14.50 for a single earring). I'm bullish about recommending them to anyone who’s in the market for some tiny studs.
Camp Collection: Laid-back 70s-style clothes with some quality issues
Camp Collection sells casual loungewear at mid-range prices, with shirts for about $40, shorts for about $20, jumpsuits for about $100, plus a 15% discount if you use a code from an Instagram ad. Their clothes feel just as suitable for the couch as they might for a music festival or skate park in the 1970s (if you managed to get a time machine to get there).
I own its popular Sun Valley t-shirt, for which I paid about $35, accounting for shipping and the discount I received. I love it, despite having a minor complaint about the shirt’s fabric: It’s made of thin, tissue-like material, making it tricky to pick a bra that doesn’t show through or leave weird lines. But, paired with some high-waist, light-wash jeans, it makes me feel like the coolest girl at Woodstock.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
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