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Beauty & Ethics | When Should We Stop Supporting a Brand?


I've realised in recent years that we live in a world where the past is never buried thanks to the internet and pretty much none of the brands out there are squeaky-clean. As a blogger, that puts us a bit of a tricky position. Sadly there are very few companies I can say the words 'I love the brand and what they stand for' about. And gone are the days when you could wander through the beauty aisles, pick up an intriguing-looking product from a brand you've never heard of and go home to review it in a post. Now it's almost as though you have to do a full background check on Google before appearing to promote anything or anyone.  And that's not a bad thing - people and companies are finally forced to be accountable for their actions! Today I thought I'd venture into this sticky topic in a pretty chatty post that I hope will explore the issue, even if we don't come to any firm conclusion...


I think in the age of the internet we all feel this pressure for moral perfection - if we don't live up to that, people aren't going to forget it in a rush. I know there are opinions I've had in the past that I'm thoroughly ashamed of, but luckily I didn't Tweet those and I'm not famous! Maybe I'll look back in a few more years as the moral paradigm shifts and I'll feel that way about present me. All we can do is own up and apologise unreservedly and without making excuses. However, what about when it comes to brands? One social media misstep could easily land them in hot water. But where do we draw the line? I think sadly most brands have done something questionable at some point and it's hard to know when you're doing the right thing. Especially as it's so difficult to find out when something has 'gone down' (I try not to involve myself in online drama as a general rule). Often it's only through indirect references that you start to get the impression that something's wrong and it then takes a seriously in-depth Google search for the issue to come to light, by which time you might already have handed over your cash or given the brand an Instagram post.

When the Jeffree Star drama surfaced, I didn't dramatically throw out my liquid lipsticks from him but over time I found myself reaching for them less and the thought of featuring them on my blog just left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. That's something that's personal to me and I don't judge other people's feelings on the topic. However his bullying and racist behaviour wasn't missguided or ignorant or a bad joke or a momentary lapse in judgement - it seemed out and out hatred to me. As he's the face and name of his brand, I couldn't help but associate him and his products with those actions - it wasn't just one idiot who shouldn't have been given the Twitter password... I don't begrudge anyone who saw his apology and gave him the benefit of the doubt but there are some things I think are far outside the realms of acceptable behaviour, so I personally don't forgive him.

What about rubbish customer service and unprofessional behaviour on social media? I find this difficult to make a judgement on. From my perspective, I wouldn't boycott a brand because of this but I would use my platform and my voice as a blogger to call them out and to talk about my experience with them. At the end of the day they're only digging their own grave if they build this sort of reputation for themselves and social media gives us (both as bloggers and consumers) the power to force their hand.

I've spoken a lot about the lack of inclusivity shown by beauty brands and this is possibly the most difficult part of the discussion for me. I like to write about products at an affordable price-point, however this often means rubbish shade selections. Just because I've (by some miracle) found a match doesn't make it ok that a brand totally excludes most Women of Colour. Again, I think this is an area where we can use our collective power as the blogging community to affect change in our little sphere of influence. Whilst I can understand the idea behind a boycott ('hitting them where it hurts'), I think we have the influence to actually make brands change their ways as a customer or former fan of theirs. We can challenge the brand directly through our contacts, we can mention it in posts as much as possible and we can praise brands that do cater to a wide spectrum of makeup-wearers. The point at which I totally give up on a brand is when they're just tone-deaf to the feedback they've been getting for years on the topic! (I'm looking at you, Chanel and Bourjois...) If a brand isn't inclusive with base products, does that mean we should avoid them as a whole? I don't think it's as intentional of a decision as the question implies, but if a brand consistently doesn't cater to my skin tone then I'm probably going to conclude that they don't want my money in general. However my answer would change again if it was one foundation out of five they offer that came in a bit of a rubbish selection.

As I alluded to earlier; there are no clear answers here but we all have a voice and we should use it! I firmly believe in calling out brands when they're in the wrong but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're dead to me forever. Though, as I mentioned with the Jeffree Star situation and brands that always have (and probably always will) pretend Women of Colour don't exist, my patience isn't infinite. It's an imprecise science but once it reaches a point where I can't pick up a product without the controversy drowning out all other thoughts then I probably won't want to buy from that brand any more. I don't think things are black and white - after all you can dislike an action someone takes without completely giving up on them as a person - it's a very nuanced topic that we're all still figuring out (and I'm totally open to the idea that my opinion could change on this in the future). I guess in part, I just want you guys to know that if you see a brand on my blog, please do not assume that I wholly support every Tweet they've ever sent because it isn't accompanied with a long disclaimer! 

In the end we all have to work out what we are and aren't comfortable with. I personally don't see buying a product as being an advocate of the brand or as being some sort of a 'supporter' of them. I tend to prefer trying to change things from within wherever possible (as opposed to totally removing myself from the conversation) - whether that's asking a PR contact a difficult question, talking about the issue in a review or calling out a brand on Twitter. But there will be times when the controversy drowns out everything else or there is a string of blatant misdemeanors with no attempt to apologise or make amends going forwards. This is where my patience wears thin and I'll probably stop giving them a chance to change their ways... I can appreciate that everyone approaches things differently and I'm not going to judge anyone else and I hope not to be judged for my own stance, however I hope this gave to an insight into how I feel right now about this ever-evolving topic.


Are there any brands you refuse to support? Where do you draw the line? 



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28 comments

  1. Loved the post Jasmine. As you said it's a sticky topic but we need to speak about it. I see all the drama on Social media and have been trying to understand what's wrong with these brands. Why they act so weirdly and affecting their reputation? I read about JS racism and unprofessional behaviour earlier, Tarte not being inclusive and now Deciem unprofessional behaviour and attitude problems from the CEO.
    I have seen even worse...brands/distribution companies sending products for review and not accepting genuine feedback. They think Bloggers' reviews are sold if the products were provided by them and if you don't post what they like, they try to threaten going legal about 'Sabotaging the brand'. Not only this, they won't stop stalking on social media and start cyber-bullying. This is when the blogger has given them 1 negative review out of 50 reviews. How can a product work for every skin, hair type of any age? Glad to see 2.5/5 star rating on Google and retailer sites for that particular product. But its such a shame that they did this but that made me stay more firm on the topic!

    Ash | https://www.mstantrum.com

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  2. This was such an interesting read! I have to admit I’ve not fully boycotted any brands however I haven’t actually tried anything from too faced and don’t plan on doing any time soon! I just feel like the owners are to full of drama! Although if there was a product I really loved I would be willing to give them the benefit of the doing and give it a go! I have to admit I have Jeffree the benefit of the doubt and at the moment I’m glad I did but I suppose we will have to wait and see! Xx

    Www.coleoftheball.com

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  3. I think my thoughts are along the same lines as you Jasmine. I love beauty, I love makeup and skincare, and quite often I won't even consider the drama or ethics of a brand when I am looking at a shiny swatch. (Like Too Faced) But I do TRY to consider it all. I am definitely not Jeffree Star's fan, but I do have and enjoy his Androgyny palette, but I try not to feature it all that much, because I don't like him - its a hard one, I wish makeup could be detatched from their source sometimes.

    As for inclusion, I know I definitely have it ok, but a lot of brands do not cater for the pale either. So I find myself supporting brands which have more inclusion for all - which is something I am really OK with! :) I am loving how brands are expanding their range, especially at the drugstore. Maybelline have added more concealer shades and included a pale within it too, its fab to see - and something I will support 100% - I don't think anyone should be excluded from MakeUp! :)

    Erin || MakeErinOver

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  4. It’s about picking your battles ... We can’t be aware of everything, but if there are issues we really think are important, then stay informed and buy accordingly.

    Tell the ones you’re buying from why you’re purchasing from them - inclusivity, cruelty-free, green - to encourage them to keep at it. Tell the others why you’re not as it may prompt a change of heart.

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  5. If a brand doesn't have a super-pale foundation to match me, I find I'm much less likely to buy any of their other products. (I'm talking about Bourjois as well, seriously what are they thinking?) I'll also avoid brands if I hear horror stories about their customer service (like Kylie Cosmetics), and I'm not eager to try anything from Jeffrey Star, either.

    alicered.co.uk

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  6. Such a fab post, I know exactly what you mean. When it comes to Jeffrey Star I never owned any of his products but his actions definitely put me off purchasing and now I have no interest what so ever! It is a bit of a tricky situation though, when I think about my holy grail products I'm not sure how I would feel if the brands did something that didn't sit well with me x

    jodiemelissa.com

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  7. Loved this post Jasmine! I've been having similar feelings about a lot of brands, especially Tarte with their recent Shape Tape debacle. As someone with a lighter skin tone, I almost always have a shade that will work for me and I would like to avoid base products that only cater to people like me, but then I wonder if I should be giving my money to brands like that at all with their other products, too. It's a hard line because you don't want to feel like a hypocrite if an issue is important to you, but like you said, you also want to give people the benefit of the doubt!

    www.beautyfromkatie.blogspot.com

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  8. I never bought any Jeffree Star products and don't ever intend to. No brand is perfect or squeaky clean (or I just don't have the time and energy to research the background of every brand I buy from) but I have to draw the line with Tarte after reading Mili's post. The lack of diversity in shades is one thing but the memes and tweets in her post really shocked me. I don't judge other people for buying from them - they have some really amazing products (I'm using a skincare product from them at the moment that is brilliant and I'm almost finished the concealer), but I just won't repurchase them and I don't really get pleasure from using them.

    Great post! xx

    Beautylymin| CharlotteTilburyBlush&BronzeGiveaway

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  9. I loved this post! I find that it's really difficult for me to articulate my feelings about, and then to acknowledge that my feelings aren't always going to be right (if there even is a 'right'). I'm not sure how effective boycotting is, but I did stop buying from Jeffree Star as soon as I found out about his hateful behavior. I do want to put more focus on showcasing inclusive brands, and I do want to make a point to mention the brands that aren't. I'm really hoping that all of the conversations happening will help bring change.

    Billie | www.othersummers.com

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  10. Ash you need to call out the brands/distribution companies. Call their names.

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  11. Great post, Jasmine! If I hear about a brand being problematic (a great example that you've used is Jeffree Star) I always ask myself "Do I want my money to go to this person's pocket?" I find this really helps if I'm not sure if I want to continue to support this brand (and therefore the person behind it).

    I actually won a JS palette in a giveaway but I ended up getting rid of it as I didn't feel comfortable answering people that it was Jeffree Star if they asked what eye palette I was using. It's fair enough to keep using what you've already purchased (sort of like some that go vegan keeping their leather goods, but not purchasing any more) but as I didn't actually pay anything for this, it wasn't any skin off my nose to get rid of it.

    A xx
    alexisadrienne.net

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  12. Such a great post, and it definitely brings the attention to some things that need to be pointed out. One thing I always notice, which you mentioned, is when I brand doesn't have a great shade range. Everyone has a different skin tone and it would be near impossible to cater for a large amount of people when there's only 5-ish shades. I also tend to stay away from drama online and I don't tend to post anything controversial because I get way too anxious. My blog isn't where I will will talk about controversial topics, that's where I post everything lovely and pretty hahah. I like that you don't judge others for their approach. It was interesting to read your stance on this. Sometimes people including me aren't aware of every issue, but if there's something I'm well aware of and am passionate about I will always make a conscious effort in whether I support it or not. I know I can think of one brand that I absolutely love, not only for their products but also their company values, it's Frank Body!

    -Sophie xx | Cherries & Perfume

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  13. Great post! I love how objective you were about this as well. For me as black woman, if I have to look at you’re Instagram and not find even one black woman featured, then clearly My skin tone isn’t one you care about. I have looked through brands page and haven’t seen any black woman featured for over a year. And we are expected to still spend our money helping you grow brand? I think not.

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  14. I experienced the same thing, I had to pull down my post because I got threatened by a legal action. My husband broke out in painful rash after using the deodorant but the company refused to accept that and demanded I change my post to a positive experience or I will get sued. I said no, will not post a lie so in the end I pulled down the whole post.

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  15. What a beautifully written post, I didn't sense any judgement nor resentment from you, just disappointment. I don't support JS, anything by the Kardashians, Tarte and now Deciem but that's my personal choice and I don't judge anyone who does because. Many have asked me why I am boycotting Tarte as they are not the only brand who is not inclusive but that's not the reason why I turned my back on them. Tarte lack of acknowledgement towards their actions and pathetic attempts at apologies are what ticked me off. They will never get a penny from me, ever again.

    Shireen⎜Reflection of Sanity

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  16. That's a good & important post! I usually stop buying items from one brand if they do something bad and after the whole situation with Deciem lately I've decided not to suggest them to my friends or buy them. If I've got one product from a brand I do not support it doesn't mean that I'm going to throw away this item - I'll just not buy anything from them or I'll give the product to my friends or family.

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  17. As I am unaware of most of the drama happening, I have no brands that I really shun at the moment. But then again, Jeffree Starr isn't a person (or a brand) I gravitate towards anyway, and Tarte isn't available where I live, and that surely helps.
    I agree with you on being informed and listening to how you feel inside after you read up a little, but I also agree that there is a difference between buying a product from a brand and being an advocate. In the end we have to look ourselves in the eye and be proud.

    Anne - Linda, Libra, Loca

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  18. I feel like we live in an age where people, just in general, are quick to jump at almost everything which negates the times where people are truly and wholly in the wrong because everyone makes a big deal about everything which means the real stuff, this is just my opinion, often gets brushed under the carpet and forgotten about quite quickly. I have differing opinions on this topic, for me racism and lack of inclusiveness and general respect are something I don't want to support, I do however try to keep my blog as objective as I can which can be difficult sometimes. Thoughtful post Jasmine, enjoyed hearing your take on this x

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

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  19. I don’t really base my product choices off the public image of brands or owners, because I think some of that comes down to gossip. But I do try to buy from brands who support sustainable initiatives, who source ethically (e.g. no child labor) and who are committed to eradicating animal testing.

    http://thebookwormbeauty.com

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  20. Just like you, I usually don't like to take part in the whole drama. I generally just buy whatever I like or think I'll get on with, and just because a brand has gone in the wrong somewhere (let it be inclusiveness, animal testing or anything like that)doesn't mean I won't ever buy anything from them again. I know Mac does (or did?) a lot of animal testing and I know it's an awful thing to do, but that doesn't mean I'll never buy a Mac lipstick ever again. If I ever think of buying a Jeffree Star product, I will and I know he's very controversial in everything he says and does, but I'm very able to separate a brand from a person. A lot of people have a different on the topic and that's great. It's just not something that bothers me a whole lot.

    Interesting read though, and such a different blog post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this and starting the conversation.

    Love, Charline | Charline Has a Blog

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  21. Yeah it's such a tricky line and people don't always appreciate that it's a complicated area x

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  22. I can't believe this happened to you! It makes my blood boil... I'd name and shame ;) x

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  23. Yeah I saw some people had literally burnt their products from a particular brand as a knee-jerk reaction to something that has since had doubt cast over it... Like everyone has to go way overboard before they even know what's going on x

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  24. It really sucks... I feel like their photos should be spammed with 'but where are the black women?' to be honest and then they'll be forced to answer! x

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  25. I know what you mean, I prefer my blog to be escapism. though of course I feel a moral responsibility to feel that I'm doing the right thing with this platform x

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  26. Yeah the thing with Jeffree is that he's right at the forefront of his brand - he is his brand really - so it's very hard not to associate his behaviour with him and therefore with his persona and company x

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  27. Yes - finally! Small steps...haha. And yeah it's so tricky when you already had and loved the product x

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  28. I loved reading this post Jasmine. You are so right, blogging has changed in relation to how we talk about brands. Though I try to stay neutral on controversial matters and focus on a product and my thoughts, it does make it difficult to talk about products that have done such awful things. With the tarte debacle, now Deciem everday it seems a new brand is doing something awful. I typically remain neutral and just focus on blogging and creating content as often those situations are so voltaile and rapidly changing you don't know in a few weeks time, changes could be made 'such as changes within the company that place them on the road to forgivness & change'. It can all be so confusing.

    www.themakeupaficionado.com

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