The Dark Side of Influencers Nail Art and Allegations of Malicious Behavior | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Dark Side of Influencers Nail Art and Allegations of Malicious Behavior

The author, an active influencer, reveals the "occupational disease of today. ......

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A photo taken by the author, Sasaki, with “reflection” in mind. The world of influencers looks sparkling, but in reality, it is different | (Photo: courtesy of the author.)

“If I don’t have my nails done, I have no human rights.”

That tweet came from a friend of mine who is an influencer, primarily active on Instagram, with over 100,000 followers. When she mentions human rights, she’s not referring to the societal norm but rather to the world of influencers in which she lives.

The influencer world is diverse, spanning various genres just like in the realm of YouTubers, where you find entertainment, gaming commentary, cooking, and business. Similarly, within the realm of social media influencers, there exist a multitude of genres.

Among these, I’m specifically focusing on the world of influencers who primarily use platforms like Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) to share selfies, daily life, cosmetics, beauty, and fashion.

As for myself, I’m an influencer who shares daily fashion and makeup looks. Besides the nail art mentioned earlier, there are other unwritten rules and hierarchies within the influencer community that might seem like common sense to insiders, but are quite unusual to outsiders. I want to shed some light on these aspects of the seemingly glamorous world behind the scenes.

Nails are the initial equipment of influencers

Firstly, regarding my friend’s statement, “Without nail art, there’s no human rights,” I must admit that I can somewhat understand it. In gatherings of influencers, such as events hosted by cosmetics or fashion brands, or reception parties, attendees are almost always impeccably dressed from head to toe, and it’s rare to find someone without well-groomed nails.

Indeed, nail art seems to be a standard accessory for influencers. Just like saying, “It’s nice weather today,” their initial conversations often revolve around compliments like, “Your nails look cute.” Then they might exchange details like, “Oh, I’m going to a live event today, so I chose the same color as my favorite artist,” or “Your nails are cute too! Where did you get them done?” as they discuss each other’s preferences.

For influencers, if you don’t have nail art, it’s like missing the first topic of conversation. So, it’s understandable why my friend, who navigates the influencer world, would be convinced by the idea of changing her nail art within a month. In such circles, going out with grown-out gel nails is considered a breach of etiquette.

For context, I don’t wear nail art, so people often ask me, “Why don’t you do your nails?” The reason is that gel nails require monthly maintenance, and the cost of a single session at a nail salon can range from 5,000 to 10,000 yen, which I find excessive. However, for my influencer friends, it’s considered a necessary expense, not something to skimp on. So, it’s wise not to make a big deal out of it and simply respond with a vague, “I’m thinking about getting my nails done. Do you know any good salons?”

I have clothes in my closet, but I don’t have anything to wear.

The necessity of nail art is just the tip of the iceberg. Influencers meticulously curate everything from their clothing, bags, to even the places they visit, all with the intention of creating a stock of photos to share on social media. They invest their time and money into creating a world that looks perfect in photos.

For instance, when it comes to bags, it’s almost always designer brands. In the influencer world, not having a designer bag isn’t seen as a lack of interest but rather a lack of funds. Even if someone uses one designer bag extensively, they might still be asked, “Don’t you have any other bags?” It’s a never-ending cycle.

Among the top-tier brands favored by influencers are Hermes and Chanel, followed by Dior, Celine, and Louis Vuitton. There’s a perception that Coach and Michael Kors are for college students, so hardly anyone in this circle owns them. Brands like Maison Margiela, Loewe, Prada, and Gucci are occasionally spotted.

What once was a genuine desire and aspiration to own something has now been replaced by the desire for validation from others, thinking, “Everyone else has it,” or “It’s cool to have it.” The criteria for what’s desirable keep shifting.

As for clothing, many influencers shop at brands found in department stores like Lumine or Marui. Among the influencer-favorite brands, SNIDEL is perhaps the most popular. They often buy three to four dresses priced over ¥10,000 each per season and wear them to afternoon teas or reception parties.

*Apparel brands with many light-colored products and elegant taste.

Apart from that, influencers often buy clothes in bulk from budget shopping sites like SHEIN and GRL. They aim to wear these clothes and post about them on social media, hoping to create buzz with captions like “My latest SHEIN haul” or “GRL came through this time.” 

Interestingly, these clothes often don’t get featured on social media after being worn once. This is because influencers don’t want to be seen wearing the same outfit repeatedly. It’s common in influencer conversations to hear phrases like, “I wore this outfit last time, so I can’t wear it again.” As a result, their closets are filled with clothes, but they feel like they have nothing to wear.

Perhaps due to this, many influencers are heavy users of Mercari, a popular online marketplace.

To generate buzz, influencers often showcase friendly and intimate-looking couple shots even when meeting someone for the first time.

If they’re going to hang out, they’ll only go to places where they can take photos. They’ll spend around ¥7,000 to ¥8,000 per person for afternoon tea each season, have lunch at an Italian restaurant on a rooftop in Omotesando, and take pictures of each piece of sushi they eat at a counter sushi restaurant in Ginza to post on their stories.

Furthermore, when influential figures with many followers hang out together, fans are delighted to see them together and comment things like “Wow, it’s so nice to see you two getting along!” So, even if they’re meeting for the first time, they’ll take friendly-looking couple shots.

Influencers consider how much of their daily life they can leverage for social media and how they can avoid wasting any moments. If they’re dressed up to go out, it’s meaningless if they can’t take photos at fashionable places and post them on social media.

That’s why when influencers go out to eat, it takes quite a while before they actually start eating. If they’re having afternoon tea at a hotel, the process starts with shooting a video of their back as they enter the lobby. It’s for Instagram Reels.

Once they’re seated and a stylish tea stand and tea are brought to them, they’re not allowed to eat right away. First, they take photos and videos of just the food, followed by shots of themselves holding the tea cup or macarons on the tea stand from various angles.

They’ll also ask the staff to take a couple shot for them and finish with a selfie. If everything goes smoothly, it takes about 30 minutes. But if they start fussing about their appearance or the angles, or if they’re not satisfied with the cake placement, it can easily extend the time. Of course, the tea might get cold, but the photos are more important.

I often wonder how the staff feel about all this, but surprisingly, they’re often quite tolerant, perhaps because the influencers bring a lot of customers to the restaurant through their social media promotion. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

The Dior Cafe in Ginza, which many influencers visit for reflection. A drink and cake alone costs about 5,000 yen. (Photo: Courtesy of the owner)

Why they still didn’t stop being glitter influencers

The majority of glitter influencers do not exist. This is because the reality they put up is nothing more than a snippet of an ideal moment that they have created through hard work. Just as the Minato-ku girls do not live in Minato-ku, the influencers do not live in the city center, and sometimes they lie about having a fat family or a high-spec boyfriend.

In fact, a friend of mine who uploads photos of a townhouse as an office worker living in Tokyo has both her workplace and home in Saitama, and a friend of mine who claims to be a young lady with a fat family posts pictures of things bought for her by a customer at a cabaret club. Furthermore, the girlfriend of a woman who sells content on NOTE for women who are active in marriage, such as “How to become a woman chosen by high-spec men,” is married. The reality is completely different.

They carry high-brand bags, post miraculous photos taken in fashionable places, hide their real daily lives, and transmit their self-produced selves. Influencers are professionals who create their world as if it were real.


It may sound silly, but there is a reason why these women insist on the title of influencer. The more famous they become as influencers, the more they get to have the ideals they envisioned and created.

Until a few years ago, I was undeniably an ordinary person. Overnight, my number of followers exceeded 10,000, and it continued to grow steadily until it reached tens of thousands, at which point I was called an influencer.

What do you think? The skincare and cosmetics brands that he had been paying for began to send him large quantities of cosmetics and skincare products, asking him to “please use our products.” I was invited to high-brand events, and was even photographed in the same photo spot as celebrities.

Not only were we offered a variety of products such as shampoos, treatments, color contacts, clothes, skin care, and cosmetics, but we were even paid tens of thousands of yen, calculated as the number of followers x 1 yen, just for posting one PR on SNS.

Thanks to this, the income from SNS will quickly exceed the income from your main job. Furthermore, the more followers you have on social networking sites, the higher the unit price of your reward and the higher your income is, so there is no reason not to do it and no reason not to continue doing it.

Influencers are different from celebrities. They have different looks, real lives, and everything. But that is why the masses are attracted to influencers who have the intention of representing the general public. They are not above the clouds compared to celebrities, but they give us hope that we can be like them.

And the influencers themselves know this. That is why they try to make themselves look good so that they do not lose the ideal they have created. They know that this is the shortest way to get closer to the ideal they have created.


  • Text and Photographs Rika Sasaki

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