If you’re following a collection of stars, reality TV stars, aspiring stars, and used-to-be-bigger stars on Instagram, you might have noticed a pattern: Lots of posts promoting “detox teas,” or “teatoxes,” which promise to fight bloat and help you lose weight fast. They’re suddenly everywhere. Why?
Racked did a deep dive into the phenomenon, which is weirdly large and only growing larger. They say teatox companies will shell out between $3,000 and $250,000 for an Instagram endorsement, depending on how many followers you’ve got. The overhead on one of these businesses is fairly low, leaving plenty of money to spend on marketing. It’s not just fitness selfie randos, either—promoters have included various Kardashians, Nicki Minaj, Lindsey Lohan, and Hilary Duff.
In fact the business is so driven by celebrity endorsements that all these brands are now in an arms race. “We are waiting to see who will spend the most money on influencers so they can become the number one tea,” explained Thomas Rankin of Dash Hudson, which works with brands that want to grow their Instagram followings.
Although sometimes they don’t have to pay. Behold, a perfect microcosm of the economy in 2016:
Cisero doesn’t get paid by Teami Blends, but instead struck a deal where she gets free tea in exchange for her posts. This is in fact the case for many teatox ambassadors that were interviewed for this story but did not wish to be quoted, for fear of losing their partnerships. The appeal is not necessarily getting freebies as much as it is appearing to be big enough to post sponsored content.
These would-be social media stars hope their gratis teatox posts will trigger other brands, those who will offer money and help seriously kickstart their Instagram careers, to get in touch.
But how do those teas—which you generally drink in the morning and at night for something like two weeks—actually work? Well, according to Racked: “The primary ingredient in nearly every single evening “detoxifying” tea is senna, an FDA-approved plant found in Ex-Lax and a number of its stimulant laxative competitors.” Needless to say, doctors don’t recommend using laxatives like this.
Anyway, don’t make dietary decisions based on whatever Kylie Jenner is doing.