The United States beauty industry (made up of cosmetics and skincare) is currently valued at $62.46 billion, and there is no denying that the YouTube beauty community played a huge hand in this massive growth. Because beauty YouTubers normalized having a gargantuan cosmetic and skincare collection and wearing a full face of makeup every day, even for school and work, makeup became a massive trend in the past decade.
With the rise of makeup and skincare’s popularity also came the rise of these beauty gurus’ own brands. Many of them committed mistakes—and aspiring entrepreneurs and smaller indie brands would be wise to not follow their lead. Here are some beauty industry scandals of the past decade and how smaller indie brands can avoid the same fate.
Jaclyn Hill and her business blunders
Jaclyn Hill is one of the OG (read: original) beauty gurus, which means she found success just in the nick of time when beauty influencers were only starting to gain traction in the digital space. Because so many people trusted her for reviews and tutorials, many of her fans anticipated the launch of her own beauty brand. She started teasing a line of lipsticks even as early as 2015, but Jaclyn Cosmetics didn’t come out until 2019—after she has already had a slew of not scandal-free launches and collaborations with other brands.
When her much-awaited brand finally came out in 2019, her lipsticks were filled with strange hairs and mold-looking substances, completely turning her customers off. Needless to say, her first launch was a complete and utter failure, and her personal brand has suffered from it. Even if the lab or manufacturer she works with is at fault, the damage to her reputation as a brand owner has already been done.
What to do: Brand owners need to work with reputable laboratories whose track record is above reproach. They need to do their due diligence and ensure that the lab has the right certifications, skilled workers, and have access to companies that provide high-quality equipment like a bottle filling machine manufacturer. Beauty entrepreneurs cannot afford to take some shortcuts because we are dealing with the health and safety of customers when we try to launch our own line of beauty products.
Too Faced’s too-faced owner?
Too Faced owner Jerrod Blandino was faced with major backlash when he was given, and subsequently caught posing with, a “Rich Lives Matter” cake during a celebration. There are layers to this offense: For one, it downplays and trivializes the Black Lives Matter movement, which deserves to be treated with the gravitas it deserves. For another, it’s incredibly insensitive to people who are disadvantaged economically. He apologized, but once again, the damage has been done, especially since he already has a history of problematic and shady behavior.
What to do: Beauty entrepreneurs, especially if they are the faces of their brands, need to educate themselves on current issues. These issues don’t just exist in a vacuum; there are very real people who have been hurt, marginalized, and oppressed for a really long time by large systemic issues, and that is why these movements exist. Beauty brands need to be inclusive and a safe space for customers of all races, genders, and ages.
Susan Yara’s subterfuge
Skincare guru Susan Yara of Mixed Makeup suddenly promoted a new skincare brand called Naturium, and she spoke its praises for the brands and its products for about two months. Her followers trusted her opinions, so they of course brought the products from the brand. Not long after, she revealed that she was a part-owner of the brand, turning off her customers and losing their trust. She claimed that she wanted everyone to review the products without bias, and that was why she hid the fact that she was a part-owner, but once again, the damage was done.
What to do: What is most sad about this situation is that before this blunder, Susan Yara was a beloved and trusted part of the beauty community. She lost all that goodwill after one mistake. If beauty brands want to stay in the game for a long time, they need to bank on the goodwill of their customers and audience, and not do anything to lose that trust. Reputation is everything, and people’s good opinion, once lost is lost forever.
Aspiring beauty entrepreneurs need to look at these blunders, learn from them, and not commit the same mistakes. Hopefully, a new breed of beauty brand owners and gurus will emerge, and there will be a healthier relationship between consumers and brands sooner rather than later.