What makes you uncomfortable purchasing a product?

These days, it has more to do with problematic brands/brand owners than individual products, though a collection that is problematic would make me uncomfortable purchasing as well.

— Christine


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Chelsea Avatar

When a brand caters to a more mature clientele and uses a brand ambassador that doesn’t fit the demographic. Cleu de peau using Amanda Seyfreid (nothing against her!)when the products are geared for mature skin needs. Also Charlotte Tilbury and NARS over sexualizing everything. It gets old fast.

DVa Avatar

This is a good question.
I’ve become increasingly aware of ethical brands. I also know there’s a lot of false hype around many “ethical” brands.
Animal testing is a no-go for me.
I’ve found a lot of your readers/contributors are more knowledgeable than I am, so I like to listen to what others have to say and then do a bit of my own research.
I’ve purchased items from brand owners/influencers in the past that since, due to their (let’s say) theatrics, have made it easy for me to decide I’m not going to support them with my money, especially when there are so many other good brands out there.

kjh Avatar

As with your pic, blatant and inappropriate exploitation. That might not have been so culturally tone deaf, if they used a Native American collaborator, who could guide the development. And made a donation to MMIW/G. (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.) Same goes for gender communities, although Pride Month was not so egregiously marketed as last year. I do check out the drama people’s offerings, but always reject them. side eye to J* Cremated palette. I adore the un-color story, but during Covid?

Nikki Avatar

To be fair, a lot of makeup products are in the works for months or years before they’re actually launched. I think I remember hearing or reading that this was the case with Cremated and the final launch date just happened to fall during Covid. J* has many personal shortcomings, including an apparent lack of desire to improve or overcome those shortcomings, but this launch isn’t necessarily one of them.

Ana Maria Avatar

I don’t have children and I keep my makeup out of sight, but I still feel like brands should offer their products with mature names and graphics in a “censored” version as well. The Balm did the Nude Tude palette in a Naughty and a Nice packaging, so it’s doable. And compared to today’s standards, even the Naughty version wasn’t that naughty. 😅
For example, I enjoy nudes and gore as a form of art in a museum, but I would still feel uncomfortable having that art in full display at home. And I am by no means prude, but I would still feel uncomfortable if someone asked me what eyeshadow or lipstick or mascara I am wearing if the name was potentially offensive.
I know that for some brands that’s their identity (sexual names, drugs inspired themes), but they could potentially expand their market.

Amanda Avatar

I have no use for brands who court drama and are provocative for the sake of being provocative. I want to play around with my makeup and look pretty, not deal with messy owners or spokespersons. So, no KVD or J* or Lime Crime.

Zizzie Avatar

I’d be interested if you would elaborate on ‘problematic’ brands, what specifically do you mean? For me, profanity. I love Tom Ford, but F**ing Fabulous is offensive. That word has a place, but it is not in public.

Sarah Avatar

Honestly, not a whole lot. I think one thing I’m not willing to overlook is racism – I simply refuse to purchase from a brand whose owners are guilty of racist behavior. Racism, just like sexism, just like so many -isms we use to hurt and marginalize others, has no place in the future I want to live in. Therefor, those brands have no place on my vanity.

Ana Maria Avatar

I don’t think I have ever been uncomfortable purchasing a product… maybe I had some doubts when purchasing something for a gift (maybe the person won’t like it) or purchasing products I’m not sure will work for me (specific ingredients, colors).

It’s quite an unpopular opinion, but I just treat products as they are, I just don’t want to care about the drama. At this point you just can’t tell who do you support; a problematic owner still pays the salary of thousands of potentially unproblematic people; a very clean past figure can have behind problematic investors (no one knows about) or employees. I can’t trust brands aren’t green washing, I can’t know how employees are treated (should I start reading Glassdoor reviews before my purchases?), I don’t know if the other companies supplying materials or services are problematic or not.
But also I don’t end up purchasing from problematic brands… maybe some Too Faced long time ago. But maybe I should feel uncomfortable I buy MAC products while they still sell in China (animal testing)?

Rachel R. Avatar

1. Problematic companies and owners. Racism, LGBTQ+ -phobia, being nasty to reviewers and customers, poor customer service — All deal breakers.

2. High prices always make me think at least twice, and there are always pangs of guilt when I splurge.

3. Animal testing isn’t as cut and dried as it seems on the surface, but I try to identify CF brands and keep the majority of my purchases CF. I don’t buy from brands that actively support animal testing, which some do.

4. Highly fragranced ingredients and products. I’m sensitive to too strong fragrances on my face and near my eyes.

Caroline Avatar

I’m against animal testing, so won’t buy from brands which aren’t cruelty free. Overly sexual shade names are also a no-no for me. I’m not prudish by any means, but there’s no need to go over the top like that. Surely brands can come up with other more acceptable means? As far as ‘controversial’ brands such as J*, KVD and LC go, my view is that whatever’s going on in their personal lives, it doesn’t affect their products, therefore it’s not a problem for me.

Sue Avatar

I wish I knew more about which companies are “problematic” and why. Also I have no idea what KVD (and others) do that is “problematic.” I genuinely want my money to be used for good. I feel strongly about buying makeup that doesn’t exploit the environment or its workers, so I’d love to know how you all find out about the underbelly of the cosmetic industry. Is there a blog you all read?

Emma Avatar

It’s mostly through discussions on Instagram etc I think!

KVD has had issues of white supremacy, anti-vaxxing, glamorising grooming (ala underage red), tried to name something selektion which is a Nazi term, and did name something celebutard.

The head of too Faced is incredibly racist (and the name of the company is about women being ‘two faced’) — he had a cake at a launch that said “rich lives matter” and then said someone else brought it (even though he featured it on instagram).

Marc Jacobs has a long history of appropriating Black culture (while not hiring many Black models) and has only recently apologised.

Jeffree Star is incredibly abusive and honestly it’s just best to link: https://www.reddit.com/r/BeautyGuruChatter/comments/bduvox/a_comprehensive_list_of_jeffree_stars_many/

Tarte had the whole issue of not releasing enough darker shades and saying that it’s because people are whiter in winter.

Huda Beauty is accused of ripping off imagery from Beauty Bakerie (a much smaller and Black-owned brand).

People have issues with Mac testing on animals but it’s only in certain countries and frankly I care much more about the millions they give to people with AIDS and AIDS research than that. Ideally we wouldn’t have to pick but some countries do require animal testing.

I hope this helps 🙂

Mary Avatar

Everyone’s made such great points ..I think for me I would flip it around and say
I support Companies who make an effort to be socially conscious,inclusive , environmentally sustainable ethical and of course cruelty free.
I also appreciate innovation and thoughtful ingredients.

Lune Avatar

Possibly unsafe makeup like PET glitter eyeshadow or PTFE (teflon) blushes, company history of lying about ingredients (didn’t Morphe try to pass carmine off as vegan?), made in China/PRC and sold cheaply, weird offensive people involved. And petty but even if it’s my dream makeup but part of collab with a pet peeve IP, I’ll probably pass instead of painting over the branding hehehe. Sorry, cool Game of Thrones-logo’d sword brushes!

Genevieve Avatar

I generally tend not to purchase products from brands like Nars because of their overly sexualised names and I wondery why some other brands like CT, PMG and UD in the past have done so.
Animal testing, brand owners being outrageous and contraversial also is off putting to me.

Nina Avatar

Expensive products that I am not sure about. In Europe you cannot return makeup if doesn’t fit, so it’s upsetting if I buy a product that has good reviews but it doesn’t work for me:( Like it was with Hourglass stick foundation. I cannot understand why everyone loves it.

brendacr1 Avatar

This was years ago but I worked in the medical field and they did testing on lab grown mice, it was cancer research. If they didn’t do this research there wouldn’t be some of the treatments there are today. They were as humane as possibly could be, but we received threatening letters from people and that was extremely uncomfortable. I know that they do not do this kind of research any more so the cute little mice are not bred for these procedures. So I buy cruelty free, it is too disturbing to subject any animals to any unnecessary testing.

Natasha Avatar

I hate all the special support of various causes adverts. I want to know the efficacy of a product. Full stop. And the same companies come up with the most cringe worthy shade names trying to out shock their competition.

Lisa Avatar

Testing on animals is a no go for me. I’ve stopped purchasing products from brands that animal test or sell in countries that require animal testing. I also refuse to support brands that culturally appropriate from communities of color such as using Indigenous Americans patterns, customs or beliefs to sell products.

Z Avatar

Complete disregard for the environment (ie – fast fashion, ie – colourpop), tone-deaf products and marketing about said disregard for the environment (ie – Patrick Starr’s MAKEUP WIPES and AEROSOL MAKEUP REMOVER WTF?! You are CREATING waste and damage for the sake of a gimmick wtf is wrong with you?!). Racism. Abuse of employees. Cheap ingredients with an inflated price tag (Huda anything). Animal testing – but to be fair, we don’t do that in the US anymore for cosmetics and neither does the UK.

Petra Avatar

When the product is pricy, the owner lives in luxury and I know that the workers who actually make the make up don’t earn a living wage, starve and can’t afford the dentist. That’s the deal breaker for me and I feel most of those people are just like that.

Mariele Avatar

Brands with a history of prejudiced behavior.
A high price tag.
Animal testing.
Anything overtly sexual. I’m a prude and I’ll own it. 😛 If I had to choose between only being able to buy NARS the rest of my life or no makeup at all, I’d go without makeup. Their names and branding just skeeve me out so bad.

Valerie Avatar

Mediocre to poor past experiences with the brand. Why bother with the brand again when there are so many others to choose from?
It could also be negative image of the brand, the owner, or the messaging. I ***HATE*** it when a brand sexualizes makeup (eg sex-related lipstick names) and refuse to buy anything with that messaging. It’s puerile and annoying and taints my view of the brand.
I don’t appreciate when a brand ignores or mistreats or even lies to the customer base (famous example is a certain YouTuber with a lipstick release). And also, if a YouTuber I follow or a friend has misgivings it makes it a little uncomfortable to purchase from the brand as a whole, even if it’s just an isolated product.

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