A word on Affiliate Links

I posted a picture on Instagram this week with reference to an article that ran on Into The Gloss. In the comments underneath an eagle-eyed reader noticed that all of the links in the piece were affiliated to US retailers, some of them charging a premium for products that are available much cheaper elsewhere.

As I’m asked quite frequently what I mean at the bottom of posts when I state ‘this post contains affiliate links’ or ‘no affiliate links’, I thought a quick post would be helpful to clear things up and also to highlight the difference – some would say unfair difference – between blogs and ‘websites’.

The blogger world is held to this:

‘As an affiliate marketing to UK consumers you are a “trader” for the purposes of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. Under the Regulations, it is an offence to:

1. Falsely claim or create the impression that you are not acting for purposes relating to your trade, business, craft or profession, or to falsely representing yourself as a consumer.

2. Put text on your website to promote a product where you receive a commission for promoting that product without making that clear. ‘Clear’ means clearly, obvious and easily understood, and identifiable by the visitor.’*

An affiliate link – put simply – is a link that basically tells the retailer that I sent you to them – it means that if you purchase a product based on my recommendation, I get a small % as commission on the sale. It’s usually anything from 4-12%, but some higher-end fashion brands and retailers will pay much more.
I only started using them last year, probably missing out on a lot of commission over the previous 5 years, but I try not to think about it. 😉

For me, especially now that Mode media have gone under (owing a lot of us money), using affiliate links is the only way the blog generates direct income. If I want to spend the amount of time on this site that I do, it needs to pay for itself.  The blog moved way past the ‘hobby’ stage a couple of years ago.

The reason I’m talking about them is because the guideline that applies to bloggers doesn’t seem to apply to beauty ‘websites’. Or online newspapers/magazines. Basically any other online entity can use them, and not worry about telling you what you’re clicking on, short of ‘this site uses cookies, click here to accept’.

In some cases, this means some unethical people/sites will link to the highest price they can find, raising their income if you proceed to purchase.
In the case of the post highlighted by a reader, the site was linking to Amazon to buy Pixi’s Glow Tonic – for over $50.00! – they sent their readers here: Amazon/Pixi Glow Tonic (I have un-affiliated the link – you can click happily). The problem? Glow Tonic is available in the USA from Target and online from PixiBeauty.com for $15.00. FIFTEEN DOLLARS. How is that ethical?
*As an aside, I know for a fact that Pixi do not sell to Amazon, therefore this is also an unauthorised reseller, but that’s for another post. Don’t get me started on the grey market.

So where does that leave you the reader? Well I can only speak for myself and this site – so here are a few of my guidelines for how I set up links:

  • I link to the easiest retailers for the UK and the USA.
  • I try and use retailers that ship worldwide, otherwise the Australians get really angry. 😉
  • If there is an offer on, I will link to that offer, even if it is not affiliated.
  • I never use affiliate links when I am talking about brands that I have a working relationship with. That keeps the boundaries really clear for me, and prevents any (untrue) talk of bias. So if one of my brands releases a brilliant product and I rave about it, I don’t benefit financially from the blog post.
  • I do not affiliate link my Cult Beauty boxes, or any posts where I talk abut what’s in them.
  • I am extremely careful when recommending high-end products, and although I know I have a reputation for using ‘pricey’ products, when I do recommend them, it’s because I genuinely think they work. I have never (and don’t think I would ever) recommended a £500+ product – 1. because they don’t bloody work better than the £150 product and 2. because that’s an insane amount of money.

If I were to link to something that costly, it would have to come with a side order of a TV and a really nice handbag. I might talk about them, but rarely do I suggest the average-income household actually part with that much of their hard earned money.

You will have seen affiliate links all around you online. The Sidebar of Shame on the Daily Mail online is full of them. In the middle of an article about Victoria Beckham there will be a small sub-section entitled ‘Shop the Look!’ – that’s all affiliates. Click on it, buy the scarf/outfit/dress and the DM get paid.

Similarly, Vogue.com, Glamour online, Cosmo, all of the beauty mags use affiliates. Refinery29, Into the Gloss, Get the Gloss, The Pool, Buzzfeed, Reddit, all use affiliates. And there’s nothing wrong with that. They just don’t have to tell you that they do so. We do. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of bloggers still don’t disclose affiliates or sponsored posts, but that’s for them and their conscience.

I am constantly trying to update the blog and keep it relevant and up-to-date, so if you have any questions related to any of my previous recommendations, just ask. And mind where you click out there. 😉