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Last week, I got a note from a reader who had a burning question for me: Why had so many influencers turned on Billie razors?
At first, I wasn’t sure what they were talking about. Billie, which markets itself as a razor company for women, has been an influencer marketing mainstay for years. It is one of those direct-to-consumer brands that influencers always rave about — one of many similar companies that has found success through this business model (according to one report, 60% of Billie’s customers bought after seeing the company on social media.) The brand offers convenience (a subscription sends new blades every month or so, depending on your preference), a stylish aesthetic, and, influencers have raved, a great shave.
Once I started looking around, though, I realized that this reader was right. Some influencers had begun to say they no longer liked their Billie razors, with one, Courtney Kerr, saying via Instagram story last week that they “suck now.”
Courtney, in a series of stories, said she had loved her Billie razor, but she thinks they are now different. She speculated the company had changed ownership.
“Billie shit the bed,” she said. “He’s really not doing it for me anymore.”
Courtney told me she is disappointed in the way her relationship with Billie, with which she has parted ways, ended.
“The biggest disappointment looking back at this dissolved partnership... is feeling like I’ve asked my followers, who trust me, to spend their hard earned money on a product over the past couple of years and to now be left with a 'WELL WHAT SHOULD I USE??' feeling,” she said.
Had Billie razors actually changed in quality? Or, had the company just ended or changed the terms of its contracts with influencers, who are now no longer supporting the brand because of that?
A spokesperson for Billie told me there was no truth to the online chatter.
"Our only response would be that Billie has been making the same great razor since launch four years ago, with no changes to the blade. Billie has always prided itself on delivering an excellent product – we closely monitor customer feedback and sentiment and our data does not align with this anecdote," they said.
I have found that a lot of readers are really interested in this. They want to know if influencers are being real with them and whether they are truly willing to be honest about a product, even if the company had once paid them to shill for it.
Some people DM'd me to say they were suspicious of those who no longer liked Billie because of the fact that one of the first people to claim Billie had changed was Daryl-Ann Denner, who said on her Instagram story in August that she felt the razor heads had changed. However, this came around the same time as her massive COVID-19 scandal.
I decided to ask my Instagram followers for their thoughts, and I honestly was a little shocked at the results. I got dozens of DMs from readers who told me they also thought the Billie razor had changed, despite the company's denials. Some said they felt the shave was not as close as it used to be, while others said they got razor burn from the razor after previously having no issues. Still more people told me the coating on the razor head seemed off.
There were other readers who told me they had noticed no difference and still liked their Billie, and some users also pointed out that Billie had raised its prices recently by $1 per refill. But still, the dozens of people who insisted to me that something was off kind of blew me away.
Influencers are also taking pains to show their readers what they mean about no longer supporting Billie. One, Brittany Vasseur of @VasseurBeauty, posted stories of her legs after shaving one with a “new” Billie, and another with an “old” Billie. She reported that her leg shaved with the “new” Billie had red bumps.
“I had several hundred DMs of people saying they felt it has changed as well,” she told me.
I have been surprised by how many people have been engaged with this topic. I think it’s because of the relationship influencers have with their audiences. If you buy something solely based on an influencer’s recommendation, it can feel jarring for them to suddenly say they no longer like or use it. Since people can sometimes be suspicious about some influencers’ ulterior motives — this felt like a test of the “reality” of influencer endorsements.
And many influencers have passed this test by honestly reporting how they feel about a product. Courtney said the trust her community has in her is everything, and she wants to maintain it.
“My top priority as an influencer is having this community where I can share products that I believe in, so it was important to me to disclose that I no longer stood by this recommendation and that I would no longer be a brand partner,” she said.
We will see if this is just a fluke in the product, or if these influencers will be ditching their Billie for good.