News & Media

Insta Teeth Whitening Warning: How To Spot The Sneaky Social Media Marketing Tactics The Cosmetics Industry Uses To Fool You

By Studio 10

A leading expert in dentistry and facial aesthetics has warned social media users to be cautious of accounts spruiking DIY teeth whitening products and procedures amid an explosion of online cosmetics and beauty posts in recent months.

 Director of the Australasian Academy of Dento Facial Aesthetics, Dr Myles Holt, said a downturn in business in the beauty and cosmetics industry this year due to COVID-19 restrictions had resulted in social media being flooded with cosmetics information and advice and teeth whitening was one of the biggest areas of concern.

 “I’m seeing more and more posts on Instagram and Facebook for inappropriate and potentially harmful products, procedures and DIY cosmetics remedies relating to teeth whitening from companies and individuals trying to get more sales and make a name for themselves,” Dr Holt said.

 “This includes acid and charcoal-based teeth whitening products for use at home that are quite frankly frightening, as well as treatments being performed in beauty clinics and shopping centres by people who are not dentists,” he said.

“It is illegal for non-dentists to perform procedures that cause permanent changes to teeth like whitening does and I’m urging regulators to take a closer look at these behaviours and practices.”

 Dr Holt said he was aware of patients who had fallen for sneaky marketing tactics promoting quick fixes and miracle makeovers.

 “They have seen ads and posts on social media and either bought teeth whitening products to use at home or have gone to see someone who is not a dentist for treatment, only to have one of our member dentists try to fix the damage that has been caused to their teeth and mouth.” 

Dr Holt warned consumers that they should only use online dental and cosmetics information as a guide and seek advice from qualified and registered health professionals.

 Some of the sneaky marketing tactics to look out for include:

  • Fake followers – having a large following on social media is not necessarily a sign that an account is legitimate or the individual is an ‘expert’. Followers are being bought to artificially establish credibility quickly in an attempt to create the illusion of an online ‘expert’ persona, allowing them to compete against other accounts and garner business.

How do you spot an account with fake followers?

You can use tools like Social Blade to look for abnormalities like a huge spike in new followers or check if Instagram has shadowbanned the account (IG will do this with even 1 fake follower). If an account has suddenly jumped 500-1000 or more followers in a day, it’s likely they paid for those new followers. Simply scroll through the follower list of your potential practitioner to ensure you are not being duped!

  • Misleading images – some accounts use heavily photoshopped images or photos of young models with pearly white teeth and clear skin to create an illusion that their products and treatments work. Look for accounts that use real ‘before and after’ photos, but also be aware they may be claiming them as their own patients when they may not be.
  • Inexpert endorsements - be weary of anyone endorsing teeth whitening products and services, regardless of who they are. A high-profile person or a seemingly average consumer is not an expert and they are more often than not paid to spruik.
  • Lack of qualifications – investigate or ask about the level of training and expertise of those posting information. Have a look at their website or ring them to find out if they are accredited to do dental and cosmetic work. AADFA members are listed here

“People need to remember that social media is still largely unregulated and difficult to police and it’s actually a really easy and cheap way for the cosmetics industry to promote themselves,” Dr Holt said.

“It can be extremely difficult for the average person to work out who or what is legitimate.”

Dr Holt said a face-to-face appointment with a qualified practitioner is still the safest approach to getting the most suitable dental and cosmetics advice and treatment for your individual needs.

“It’s one thing to be sucked in by photos and influencers on social media and quite another to get expert advice from someone who takes the time to work out whether a product or treatment is right for you,” Dr Holt said.