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On Sunday, Riley asked the staff to write fake reviews on Sephora's website

The FTC on Sunday prevented Riley from misrepresenting the status of a person reporting products. The commission also ruled Sunday that Riley must instruct its employees and agents to reveal the affiliation with the company in some endorsements, according to the order.

Neither the company nor Sunday Riley, its name managing director, admitted or denied wrongdoing, which drew a strong rebuke from FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter.

"Today's proposed settlement includes no redress, no condemnation of bad profits, no notice to consumers and no admission of wrongdoing," they said in a statement. "Sunday Riley and the CEO have clearly broken the law, and the commission has ordered them not to break the law again."

The findings of the Sunday Riley settlement are intended to send a strong message. But the two dissenting commissioners noted that the FTC's decision would hardly deter anyone else who would be unjust.

Questions about Sunday Riley's ethical practice swirled around last year when a former employee went to Reddit and blew the whistle about the company's business. [1[ads1]9659002] "We were forced to write fake reviews for our products continuously, which came directly from Sunday Riley herself and her sales manager," wrote the Reddit user, attached a copy of an email showing instructions on how to post fake reviews.

The FTC said the investigation of Riley and her company confirmed the notifier's claim.

In July 2016, Riley published a nine-step guide on how to create three accounts that are registered as different identities to write positive. reviews for the products according to the complaint's claims. Some of the instructions asked employees to review products every other day to build up history and only review makeup, colors and hair.

At the end of the July 2016 note to the staff, she asked them not to like negative reviews because enough dislikes will remove the negative reviews. She wrote, "directly translated for sale!"

"Tides and good genes are 4.2, and I would like to see them at 4.8+," she wrote of some of her most popular products. "UFO and Martian are at 4.9 – let's keep it that way!"

Similar reminders were sent to employees and other executives by the company's account manager for Sephora as other products launched in December 2016 and August 2017.

"Credibility is the key to the review," wrote Sunday's Riley Skincare account manager for Sephora, according to the complaint. The Account Manager also pointed out how powerful reviews are when people look at what others are saying to "persuade them and answer potential questions they may have."

After Sephora removed fake reviews written by skin care brand employees, the company used a virtual private network to hide the reviewers' IP addresses and locations, the FTC found.

Neither Sunday Riley nor Sephora responded to requests for comment.

Sunday Riley and her company tricked consumers for their own benefit, said David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown University and former director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The agency's dual purpose is to protect consumers and protect competition in the market, and it has set strict guidelines for companies, he said.

"This is the kind of thing the FTC does because the FTC doesn't have the resources to go after everyone," he said. "When they follow people, they follow people who are market players and have been violent in the market."

Sunday's Riley revenue is estimated at between $ 50 million to $ 100 million, according to Glassdoor.

The brand has received a dedicated following thanks in part to major retailers such as Nordstrom and Bergdof Goodman offering their products. In April, United Airlines teamed up with skin care company to provide business class and other elite passengers Sunday Riley sets, the company said Sunday Riley products will also be available in shower facilities in various lounges and clubs of United Airlines.

The brand's prominent role has also increased as more celebrities have gave it a stamp of approval, along with beauty influencers, but the news came as no surprise to influencers in the science and skincare field. [19659002] Comments about the undeniable practice of Sunday Riley have been swirling for some years, says Victoria Fu, co-founder and chemist for Chemist Confessions, which provides ingredient distributions for followers who want to know about the science of skin care.

"It would be nice if the FTC could make Sunday Riley an example, but on the flip side, they're not the only one," she said.

Cosmetics formulator and skincare expert Stephen Alain Ko also has a loyal following of skincare and science enthusiasts. He drew a picture of a Sunday Riley product featuring the FTC's findings and a lyric of the Foo Fighters hit "Best Of You."

The company has had marketing clarity issues before, he said, but he is more surprised that the CEO of One Company will write explicit instructions to employees.

If influencers have approved the brand lately, they should stand by these statements – as long as what they said was true, Ko said.

"They have to go ahead and just be patient," he said of Sunday Riley's ability to recover. "If the product is good and the company's good, it will come back."

If it doesn't come out as authentic, he said, the road back to consumer confidence will be much more difficult.

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