Man, do you guys remember the halcyon days of the beauty community when the biggest controversies were how much RoseRoseShop charged for shipping and that Kim Kardashian had no idea how to swatch her own makeup products? Everything was simpler then.
Now it seems like there’s some new, explosive drama every few weeks, especially in the beauty corner of YouTube. Between the lawsuits, blackface accusations, bad products, and an endless stream of cringe-worthy “apology videos,” I don’t know whether to laugh or figure out how to stage an industry-wide intervention.
Anyway, since we all enjoy a little bit of hot tea now and then, I’ll recap a few of the more recent controversies in the beauty community.
1. Tati Westbrook’s Halo Beauty Lawsuit
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t think a YouTube beauty personality should be trying to sell you vitamins for anything. I know that she’s basically just sticking her name on a formula that someone else created, but that doesn’t really make it less obnoxious to me.
Halo Beauty hadn’t been on the shelves long before Tati and her husband James ended up embroiled in a lawsuit with their business partner. While the drama is ongoing, the basic issue is this:
Their business partner, Clark Swanson, is suing Tati and James for fraud, negligence, and “breach of fiduciary duty.” He claims that the Westbrooks have gone back on their promises and cost him (as well as Halo Beauty) a lot of money.
This is what feels like the millionth scandal that Tati has been involved in over the past couple of years, and at this point, I’m just kind of wondering how long a grown woman can act like an irresponsible teenager and still have fans?
2. Sephora’s Mass Layoffs
This was another major beauty scandal that blew up online around April. Sephora already has a bad track record when it comes to business practices, so I wasn’t as surprised by this as some people. After we found out that they were manipulating product reviews and bullying their employees (which they don’t seem to have ever truly addressed), hearing about the abrupt firing of thousands of employees in one fell swoop seems pretty on-brand.
When the first discussions about COVID-19 measures were happening, Sephora pledged to take care of its employees during the pandemic. Barely two weeks later, they abruptly announced a conference call in which they fired thousands of employees with no warning. They allowed nobody to respond, and then later released a halfhearted statement to cover their actions.
While I’m not really into #cancelculture, I have to say that I can’t imagine ever spending money in Sephora again.
3. Korean Sunscreengate 2020
I think it’s important to address this scandal in particular because of the strange paranoia about counterfeit products that permeates the Asian beauty sphere.
Recently, the founder of INCIDecoder, which is an ingredient database website, shared test results from labs that showed that the Purito Centella Green Level sunscreen was actually measured at SPF19 rather than the marketed SPF50+. This is a huge deal for two reasons.
First, the Purito sunscreen in question had become a massive cult favorite in the beauty community. People were raving about it for months, and I know more than a few friends who had multiple backup tubes in their stash. The skincare community is especially serious about sun protection, so finding out that a beloved product is providing less than half the amount of sun protection advertised was devastating.
Second, this set off a ripple effect of questioning dozens of other Asian sunscreens. Some people (rashly) decided to stop using Asian sunscreens entirely because of this incident. Given the never-ending paranoia about “getting fake products” from Asian brands, this is the kind of scandal that could negatively affect the success of Asian beauty brands if it gets blown up any more than it already is.
The good news is that all of the affected brands that I’ve seen have been quick to respond, and they’re all taking customer care seriously as far as I can tell). While the whole situation feels a bit off to me (namely because the founder of INCIDecoder is gearing up to launch her own sunscreen), I appreciate the abundance of caution and what appears to be a genuine commitment to fixing the issue on the part of Purito.
While the whole situation feels a bit off to me, I appreciate the abundance of caution and what appears to be Purito’s genuine commitment to fixing the issue.
Do I think this was intentional deception by Purito? No. Mistakes happen. Manufacturing labs can have problems. That’s not an issue that’s specific to Asian brands. Things like this have happened in Australia and the United States, too.
And yet, the drama persists. The situation is still unfolding, so I’m curious to see how everything pans out.
Sip That Hot Tea, But Carefully
I love a good dramatic beauty scandal as much as the next girl. I will never get tired of the terrible acting and over-the-top, staged nonsense of “influencer apology videos.” Spilling the tea is fun, but I also think it’s worth noting that real people are being affected by these beauty controversies! So, slurp that spicy tea, but try not to get addicted.