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101 Comments

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I think the biggest mistake a brand can make is compromising the health of their customers (such as selling soap dyes as eyeshadows). Worse yet: selling them to children or teenagers. Or the absolute worst: Doing all of the above and refusing to take responsibility, playing victim instead.

An indie company called GlitterSniffer is widely infamous for pulling all of the above and more (“more” here includes stealing and harassment). There are others, definitely, but this company never seem to run out of scandals to write about.

Christine, I’m very sorry to name names in comments, but I also think it’s important to warn others about the shady nature of this company, especially now that they’re back in business. :/ If you’re not okay with it, feel free to delete my comment.

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When there is a legitimate concern about product safety – when it’s not just surface drama – it is absolutely OK to name names. It is no different than when we talk about Urban Decay talking about going to China, or Jack Black not having the real ingredient list on their product. Sometimes indie brands have drama, and sometimes it’s drama that’s really related to growing pains – not understanding how to run a business initially (because not everyone is born a business-person), unavailability of stock, etc. – those learning mistakes can be forgiven and understood, but it’s when brands knowingly use unsafe ingredients, or when confronted with an issue, never tell the truth or go to great lengths to tell lies (or prove their lie) that they should be known and talked about.

A lot of indie brands had bleeding, curling, etc. glitter – but ultimately, more a part of the learning process (IMO) than a complete disregard for quality or their customers. I know NOW that after so many have entered the sphere, and that so many were able to learn from some of the original creators’ mistakes, the standards across the board have gone up. Those kinds of things I think we can move past. When an indie creator whines on their Facebook or reacts badly to a customer complaint, but then moves on and learns to take criticism? I can get behind that, too. When any brand plays with a customer’s personal safety, starts stealing money, and the like – we absolutely need to name names.

I remember falling down the rabbit hole learning about GlitterSniffer – I can’t believe they’re back.

Thank you for the understanding, Christine. Some bloggers prefer to keep their blog completely drama-free, which I completely understand. I know some of them do so in order to protect their readers, since certain companies are a bit sue-happy about ANY negative comment about them. Ultimately, this is your blog, and you have every right to decide what goes up. As a reader, I fully respect that, just thought you should know. 🙂

I completely agree with you, the ability to take criticism is often what separates good customer service from horrible customer service. Sometimes we can’t really learn until we’ve made the mistake, but how one handles the situation is what set them apart from the rest.

I really can’t believe that GlitterSniffer is back, either — Or worse, that they still have supporters at all. :/ I just really hope a bunch of bad apples wouldn’t turn people away from small companies, because there are SO many fantastic ones out there!

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Thanks for the support, Ryou! 🙂

The world of “indie” and small business can be tough – for all involved – and it’s so true that one (or more) bad apples can spoil it. I had a bad experience on Etsy (not beauty related), but luckily I had many great experiences prior to that, so it didn’t turn me off, but I know if it had been my first experience, it would have been a lot harder. Even as is, that one experience has made it so I only purchase from people with a TON of feedback.

Oh, I remember this! Glittersniffer was probably the biggest controversy, since it was the best documented case and just grew steadily worse as more and more information became available. BellaSugar had the rundown here: http://www.bellasugar.com/Glittersniffer-Cosmetics-Causes-Cosmetics-Safety-Controversy-14593575

Bitchslap Cosmetics has also had a fair share of controversy surrounding it, with multiple people coming forward to state that their product ingredients and pigments are unsafe for eye use.

Without a doubt it would be if a brand doesn’t stay true to their core values. Case in point would be Urban Decay wanting to sell in China, knowingly abandoning their anti-animal cruelty stance. It isn’t all about animal rights though. If a brand starts off being all about eco-friendly packaging and only using ingredients from sustainable resources than they should stick to that no matter how big the demand gets. You can still turn a profit and grow your business without abandoning your core principles.

I am starting to turn my life cruelty free. I know it’s not popular but the more I know about animal testing the more I just can’t stand the thought of it for the sake of my vanity(medicine is a different ball game). For me a brand deciding to test on animals, especially one that was previously cruelty free will lose me as a customer no matter how loyal I’ve been, I’m looking at you Mac, Clinique, yes to, and Mary Kay. But what’s the worst for me is being dishonest and shady about these changes.

Heidi, I agree with you and commend you for going cruelty-free. Anytime I post something on Twitter about MAC they reply to my tweet with a generic letter about all they have done in the past. I have emailed some companies directly and their answers seem vague and misleading at times. Benefit was one of the worst responses I ever got saying something like all companies who claim they don’t test are lying because they can’t be sure what the vendors do. This is untrue as many truly cruelty free companies also make sure they are only using cruelty free vendors as well. This makes it really hard and confusing for some people, so much so that they give up on the whole cruelty free thing. I only buy cruelty free now and only use synthetic brushes. I just want companies to be honest about what they are doing.

I agree
I think they have been so dishonest with their customers and everything was handled really poorly. They were my favorite brand and I am just completely turned off

I don’t buy UD because I’m not a fan of their products, but I wouldn’t consider buying from them in the future because they have sold out to L’Oreal. I won’t buy from The Body Shop anymore for the same reason – a brand that abandons its principles is not a brand I want to buy from.

Totally agreed. I’m not even 100% devoted to buying cruelty-free products and I don’t think I’ll be purchasing any more Urban Decay. A brand that abandons its principles is pretty offputting.

I totally agree with you. Core values are not to be changed for financial reasons. When a brand is cruelty-free ( and pledges to be officially CF ) it must be forever. Thinking of Urban Decay of course, was it : selling to China or selling ( its soul in both cases ) to l’Oréal I really wonder…

THIS! First of all, they were the ones who made the claim. Then they’re all okay with it because China is a big market? The press release was patronizing as well.

Their products never really impressed me, I think MUFE puts out way better quality, but after the whole China fiasco, I’m never spending another dime on them.

Discontinuing excellent products in favour of introducing mediocre products. Also, too many limited edition collections too often. That really turns me off. Why not just offer a few really great LE collections instead of a bunch that are just average or worse?

Agree agree agree!

So many times I have seen brands discontinue incredible products only to come out with mediocre ones soon after, and it’s SO annoying.

And yes the frequent LE collections that have sub par quality are just as annoying. Some of the collaborations have potential to be SO cool if the products perform well, but then they just look pretty and fall flat upon application.

I would take 2 great ones over 20 bad ones any day!

I agree as well with the constant LE collections! I try to avoid LE collections at all cost for fear of falling in love with a great product that I can’t buy leisurely in the future! I hate that companies put so much time and energy into products that will only be around temporarily, instead of channeling that energy into developing wonderful products to add to permanent collections!

I agree with what you’re saying, Christine, but I would also add in: Getting a reputation for poor customer service. If I’ve been treated rudely by a brand, I’m not likely to go back, even if the products are decent quality. If they don’t want my business, there are many brands who do.

I was “discovered” as a cosmetics devotee in college over 20 years ago and began a good, steady career selling Mary Kay products. Later as I got older I started following certain beauty blogs (I’m 41 so they were few for a long time) and then I found yours and started really reading reviews left and right. I started making good cosmetic desisions rather than impulse desisions. So for e, their (cosmetic co.s) biggest error is putting out inferior crud for loyal followers. Yes, MAC’s always been hit or miss but last couple of years their product is junk. We all know it.They reel us in with the “limited collection” crap. Shame on them.

I think the biggest mistake a brand can make is putting out a poor product at a high price point. Especially so if the brand is known for excellence. And it is an even bigger mistake if the brand releases a whole slew of failures. (NARS, I’m looking at you and your Andy Warhol collection).

I don’t think anyone was more disappointed in the NARS/Warhol fiasco than myself, but I think it was truly an honest mistake. NARS has put out alot of consistently great product over the years, so the fact this collection was an epic FAIL, I can personally forgive it. As for the price hike, it was due to the cost of licensing; NARS had to pay a large fee to the Warhol Foundation, who in turn doles art scholarships and the like.

* Also, with all the apparent time & effort that went into creating a potentially amazing collection, I don’t really feel quality control was neglected or ignored. I also feel it was unique & innovative, overall, and not just a rehashing of shades that have already been done (or close enough) with simply a name-change.

I agree with the poor customer service. This is more applicable to brands in department stores or with their own shops. I can list four or five brands off the top of my head who I won’t visit because of this. If a brand gives great service, they’ve got me for life.

As far as drugstore brands, I think high prices would have to be the worst. I don’t mind trying product that turns out to be crap if it only cost me a few dollars, but if I pay upwards of $15 for a product, I expect it to be decent quality.

I too am a stickler for customer service. One bad run in with a brand’s customer service, and I’m threw with them for life!

I won’t buy Armani for this reason; I realize it’s not the fault of the brand, but rather Nordstrom, which is the one local counter I have access to that carries the brand. I don’t shop online, as a matter of choice, but at least I can stay loyal to brands that are more readily available.

two things, already mentioned in the other comments:

-beating the LE horse to death. I simply don’t buy MAC any more because I have no idea what is permanent or not and, if it is permanent, how long it will stay there. I wish brands would get back to more routine LE collections. Pushing LE on us is gimmicky and a rather blatant way to try to get more money.
– discontinuing or reformulating cult items in a line. Brands need to pay attention to blogs and places like MUA more when they think of changing stuff. Chanel Dragon, anyone? Lancome Erika F?

Consistently overcharging for an inferior product. But a less common one that would be a deal-breaker for me: endangering the safety of their customers. We put a lot of trust in cosmetic companies to allow them so close to our eyes.

Definately releasing poor quality products and rising prices. It is so disappointing, when you buy a product and can’t work with it easily. A no-go for me is also a sales person, who doesn’t know their products or recommend products I’m not looking for.

I think the worst thing a brand can do is be inconsistent. There are some brands that are always hit or miss. It’s makes you want to not even bother buying from them. I like brands that in general put out a good product, like MUFE and Bobbi Brown.

I think that the worst thing that a brand could do is not to promote diversity in the marketing of its brands. The world is reflective of many shades of skin and cosmetic companies need to embrace this and reflect it in their marketing campaigns as well as the colors and the textures of their products. I am an NW45. For many years, many of the drugstore lines did not cater to my hue.

Yes, yes, yes! As a woman of color (NC50), I must chime in on this mistake. Nothing annoys me more than going to a drugstore, make up store, or counter to try out products only to find out that the deepest shade (which is always named “Dark”) is catered to someone who is an NC40-44 at best! Even today, I’ve come across both HE and drugstore companies that still do this. You’d think that a make up company would want to reach as many people as possible in order to increase their revenue. Bottom line is, it’s just plain insulting.

I too agree that it is a turn off when companies don’t acknowledge that people come in different colors. Benefit is one of the worst companies for women of color. I don’t even bother to browse their products.

Favoring gimmicks over quality. I don’t care how cool your new packaging is or how awesomely your new collection is named if the product is getting bad reviews. Quality first, everything else second.

For me it is when a brand releases subpar products in LE or holiday kits. I have tried tarte eyeshadows once in a kit and they were so terrible I have never been tempted to buy another eyeshadow or kit from them. I know companys can cut costs on kits but it makes no sense to me.

Yeah, the same thing happened to me back when I was just starting to build my make-up collection. I bought a holiday kit that looked beautiful but everything in it was so unpigmented and chalky. I’ve never bought another thing from that brand.

….assuming I’ll drink their Kool-Aid when it comes to repackaging poorly selling shades of blush or eye shadow into a “exclusive limited edition holiday collection palette”.

YOu have the best answer, and I am sorry but I truly believe this is the case with Bobbi Brown’s pot cheek/lip stain thing. It was a dud compared to Nars re Penny Lane or Stila re Lithium, etc. and I’m not buying that it is one bit better. How long something lasts on you is not a issue with BB, she doesn’t even make a primer.

Poor customer service. A business should always be client driven and ought to take the health and feedback of its intended audience into account

To me, releasing a ton of limited edition products is one of the greatest turnoffs, and it’s for a few reasons. First of all, If it is a great product, I get super bummed out knowing I will not likely get to repurchase it, unless it’s re-released. That in it of itself if a problem because I either have to purchase back-ups or find an accessible dupe. There’s also the fact that LE items are oftentimes a miss. I don’t know what ever happened to MAC’s quality control, because their LE stuff lately has been mediocre and crappy (few spectacular items). There’s also the NARS Andy Warhol Collection, and the L’Oreal Project Runway collaboration. There are also a ton of LE items that are super easily dupe-able, so they’re not even worth the purchase. Another reason I hate LE items is the hype they create. The HYPE was one of the main reasons I’d succumb to LE collections, but I’ve learned to wean myself from that way of thinking. As a whole, I truly despise LE collections.

I completely agree that companies need to limit LE items. I also don’t understand why the quality can be so poor with LE items. I usually love L’oreal True Match blush. It’s one of the best drugstore blushes. They are normally well pigmented. I bought one of the Project Runway blushes and I can’t even pick up the product on the brush. I have good quality natural hair brushes and they won’t work. I just don’t understand it.

The MAC HYPE has killed any love I had for collections they launch. Even with Marilyn Monroe the products where good but the hype and uncreative palette killed it for me. MAC and other Brands need to prove to me this hype is worth it but I find myself buy more permanent items now instead.

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