The Legal Take: Tanning Business Owner Says He’s $10K in the Hole After TikToker Mikayla Nogueira Broke a Promise to Promote His Product. Is She Liable?

Pearly Design/Shutterstock, @mvstevens/TikTok, @mikaylanogueira/TikTok, Remix by Caterina Cox

Matthew Stevens, owner of Illusion Bronze, accused mega beauty influencer Mikayla Nogueira of costing him $10,000 as a result of “[Nogueira’s] lies.” In a video published on Jan. 10, 2024, Stevens went on to talk about how, after months of back and forth with Nogueira, he secured a loan for $10,000 to purchase additional products in anticipation of a review video she promised to make. However, after months of waiting, the video never came. 

So, Stevens took it to TikTok and put Nogueira on blast. But who’s in the (legal) right here? 

Illusion Bronze Tan Vs. Mikayla Nogueira

@mvstevens

i’m sorry mikayla, i tried to handle this privately. but you don’t care. i never would have spent all of this money had you not told me you were posting the next day. if you tell someone you’re going to do something, you do it. my mental health has been s*** this last month because of this. #smallbusiness #selftan #mikaylanogueira #beautyreview

♬ Karma – Taylor Swift

In the fall of 2023, Illusion Bronze’s owner Matthew Stevens started making videos requesting Nogueira make a review video about their revolutionary product. Illusion Bronze sells custom self-tanner based on a customer’s skin tone, hair, and eye color. 

Eventually, Nogueira reached out to Stevens privately over Instagram. According to screenshots in Stevens’ video published on Jan. 10, she confirmed that she previously received free Illusion Bronze products in PR, but would also purchase products from Illusion Bronze herself. According to Stevens, during a phone conversation, Nogueira allegedly promised to create the video ASAP but never did.

Stevens claimed that numerous followers continued to request updates on Nogueira’s review on his TikTok Live. He also said he told his followers to let it go, but allegedly, many of them disregarded this request and went to Nogueira’s account to demand an Illusion Bronze Review. According to Stevens’ screenshots, Nogueira sent him a text about this on Dec. 7, 2023, and said that she would post a video the following day. 

mvstevens/TikTok

That day, Stevens took out a loan for $10,000 via Shopify to buy more inventory. In anticipation of Nogueira’s viral review, Stevens wanted to “avoid embarrassing [himself], [his] business or [Nogueira].” 

The next day, Nogueira published content with what appeared to be a tan, but no review of the Illusion Bronze products. Stevens mentioned that the tan appeared orange in her videos. Stevens later followed up with Nogueira, stating that he could have provided some advice regarding application, but didn’t want to bombard her. Nogueira claimed she loved the product and that the reason for the orange coloring was likely because she decided to let the self-tanner process overnight.

Stevens later stated that he believed Nogueira lied about using the product and stated she got a spray tan based on the appearance of her tan in her videos that day (this tidbit will be relevant later on). 

Weeks later, Stevens contacted Nogueira again. explaining that he took out a $10,000 loan to purchase product in anticipation of her review video. While he acknowledged that Nogueira didn’t owe him anything, he requested a video review “sometime soon” because he was a “little stressed.”

According to Stevens’ screenshots, Nogueira replied and said that she didn’t have time to post a review after all. She said that she didn’t want to rush it, but that she would film a review after using the product again when she had more time.

mvstevens/TikTok

New Year’s came and went with no review video. Stevens observed that Nogueira did appear to have time for another self-tan that day but accused Nogueira of choosing to not review his products despite knowing that he placed a large order. Another wave of Illusion Bronze followers flooded the comments sections of Nogueira’s videos, demanding an Illusion Bronze review. According to Stevens, Nogueira did not respond politely and in some instances even blocked people.

This inevitably brings us to the now-viral video, published on Jan. 10. Stevens opens the video with “Mikayla’s lies cost [him] $10,000,” then doubles down, claiming, “Yes, I am $10,000 in debt because of her lies.” 

On Jan. 11, Nogueira posted a response video calling Stevens out for “fabricating a lie to prove a point.” Nogueira acknowledged that she was wrong for not posting a review video and that she should have posted the review sooner. She also addressed Stevens’ allegations that she lied about using the Illusion Bronze product and got a spray tan. 

Nogueira emphatically denied ever having a spray tan. She claimed that she uses color grading in her videos, causing her skin tone to look more orange. In her response video, Nogueira stated that she was wearing Illusion Bronze self-tanner and demonstrated how the color grading appeared.

While she acknowledged “being in the wrong” for failing to publish the review video when she said she would, she claimed she was going to get to it. She talked about how Stevens’ decision to obtain the $10,000 loan was his business decision. She ended the video with, “I don’t know what to do in this situation, but I’m sorry.”

Stevens later responded to Nogueira’s video and walked back a few of his statements. He acknowledged that Nogueira did not tell him to spend $10,000 on product, and that he was not going to double down on accusing her of getting a spray tan. He clarified that Nogueira never followed up with him about not being able to get to it or that she would eventually get around to reviewing his product. 

Does Illusion Bronze have a legally binding agreement with Mikayla Nogueira?

One of the looming questions around this situation is whether Illusion Bronze had a legally binding contract with Nogueira—the short answer is no.

A legally binding contract requires three things: offer, acceptance, and consideration. In this scenario, you could argue that Stevens’ offered Nogueira to create a self-tanner review video, and she accepted by stating that she would do it (at some point). The issue here that I (and basically anyone on legaltok) would tell you is that there was zero consideration here. 

What is consideration? 

In the legal world, consideration is described as a “bargained-for exchange.” However, this needs to be mutual. It’s not enough that one person stands to benefit from an agreement, both parties must have something to gain from this.

To put it in brand deal terms, consideration in that context is either a creator getting paid or free product in exchange for the brand receiving social media content about its product or service. For some of you, that may have triggered you, considering the predatory deals and contracts that are out there…but that’s an article for another day.

In this case, the only person or party who may have benefited from Nogueira’s review is Illusion Bronze. As Stevens acknowledged in his text to Nogueira and videos, he acknowledged that she didn’t owe him anything and that she didn’t tell him to spend $10,000 on product. That’s because there was no “bargained-for exchange” here. 

So it’s 0 for Illusion Bronze and 1 for Nogueira. The law may be on her side, but given the circumstances, the court of public opinion may not be. This also is not the first time Mikayla Nogueira has been accused of dishonesty; “Mikayla Nogueira lashes” became a trending topic on TikTok last year after viewers accused her of using false eyelashes in a video advertising a specific mascara.

What do you think? 

The content discussed in this article is for educational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between Curator Counsel PLLC and you. The material and information presented should not be relied upon or construed as professional advice. You should not take action based on this information without consulting legal counsel.

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