The year of influencer drama continues.
As the feud between beauty influencers James Charles and Tati Westbrook settles, the drama is turning to fellow influencer Jaclyn Hill, whose highly anticipated makeup line has launched with criticism surrounding its sanitation and product quality.
After numerous customer complaints and attacks by other influencers, Hill deleted her social media accounts and the brand’s web site was temporarily taken down after promising full refunds to all customers. As of July 23, Hill is back on Instagram and has issued an apology on her YouTube channel to her followers and customers, giving insight into what went wrong.
From all the influencers involved and allegations of contamination to the brand’s relaunch, here is everything you need to know about the drama surrounding Hill and her Jaclyn Cosmetics brand.
Who is Jaclyn Hill?
Hill is billed as one of the biggest beauty influencers, starting her YouTube channel nearly eight years ago and amassing roughly 6 million subscribers. She is credited with reviving Becca Cosmetics after partnering with the brand in 2015 to collaborate on the brand’s Champagne Pop highlighter — which sold out of its 25,000 units in 20 minutes — and later with a full collection in 2017. Her second collaboration with the brand earned more than $3.5 million in sales during its first day. Hill had also collaborated with Morphe Cosmetics for a 35-pan eye shadow palette in 2015.
When did she launch her Jaclyn Cosmetics line?
Fans of Hill have impatiently waited for her namesake makeup line since she began hinting at its creation starting in 2014. On May 23, Hill posted a video to her YouTube channel revealing her brand would finally be launching the following week on May 30.
In the 35-minute video, Hill reveals Jaclyn Cosmetics and its collection of 20 nude lipsticks. She states that her brand has been a long time in the works, with her first lab meeting taking place in April 2014. “There were so many things that failed and went wrong,” she said. “There were so many little things that went wrong, little things that really aren’t that big of a deal and people might not even notice but they’re a big deal to me and they would keep me awake at night because it’s my brand and it literally has my name on it.”
She said she took the time to ensure she created the best product with the best formula that met her standards.
When did the controversy begin?
Despite her large fan base, Hill was not met with the praise she had anticipated for her brand. Customers quickly began sharing images of their new Jaclyn Cosmetics lipsticks, many of which appeared to have tiny hairs, holes and round particles attached the bullets.
Many started claiming the lipsticks were not safe to use and were unsanitary, some even stretching to accuse that the products contained mold.
How did Hill respond to the criticism?
Hill responded on her Twitter account to beauty influencer @RawBeautyKristi’s tweet showing hair-like fibers on the lipstick bullet, stating that the particles aren’t hair, but rather thread from the white gloves worn by workers at the factory where the lipsticks are produced.
On June 7, the brand released a statement on its Twitter, stating “in rare circumstances some lipsticks were exposed to high temperatures or the raw materials were not blended thoroughly and that is not acceptable to us — as of now we are seeing less than 0.1% with issues — but we see your complaints on social and want to fix things!”
The brand follows up asking those with defective products to e-mail pictures to the brand in order to get a refund.
Which influencers reacted to the controversy?
Following up her tweet, @RawBeautyKristi posted a 52-minute video to YouTube on June 8 giving her opinion on Jaclyn Cosmetics. In the highly dramatized video, the influencer states that she received a press box from the brand with the full collection and also purchased her own set. While the press box did not contain any defective products, her purchased products included the suspicious particles.
“Some of these lipsticks are full of hair, lint, fuzz, holes and lots of air bubbles,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure what’s going on. Again, they may have that sort of chunked up texture when I apply them, but some of them are so bothersome that I don’t even want to apply them.”
She then takes out a microscope to give viewers a close up look at the lipsticks, revealing large holes and hairs on the bullets.
What was Hill’s response to this?
In a 14-minute video posted on June 12 on her YouTube channel, a bare-faced Hill addresses the defects that customers were experiencing with the lipsticks. After doing an in-depth investigation, Hill refutes the allegations that her products are expired, offering documents that show the lipsticks were manufactured two weeks prior to her brand’s launch date.
After giving explanations for the products’ suspicious particles, Hill ends the video by apologizing to her customers. “I’m very sorry that this launch wasn’t absolutely 100 percent perfect with a bow on it,” she said. “We will make it right for you going forward. We will no longer be experiencing these experiences that we are having. We are taking drastic measures to make sure everything is perfect for you.”
How did the drama escalate?
On June 25, Marlena Stell — who is billed as one of the original beauty influencers and is the founder of Makeup Geek Cosmetics — posted an hour-and-a-half-long video to her YouTube channel, titled “Dear Influencers.” In the video, she calls out Hill for her brand, calling her dishonest for her lack of transparency regarding the defective products.
Stell then goes on to reveal that a few years ago, she was using the same cosmetics lab that Hill was also working with for her lipsticks. Stell was working with the lab to develop concealers and was experiencing similar defects that the Jaclyn Cosmetics lipsticks currently have. Ultimately, Stell changed labs before releasing the product in her brand.
“It is well known now behind the scenes in the beauty community with many manufacturers and other ceo’s, with other labs — the whole industry behind the scenes — now knows that this one specific lab has had an issue multiple times with multiple people with producing s–tty product,” she said.
It is unclear if Hill ultimately stayed with the lab to launch the brand.
How did the brand respond?
On June 22, the brand posted to Twitter that it will be refunding all customers who purchased the Jaclyn Cosmetics lipsticks. “Jaclyn Cosmetics takes consumer feedback very seriously,” the tweet says. “We’ve reviewed the quality issues related to our So Rich Lipsticks and believe our production did not meet our brand standards. We’ll be issuing a full refund [including] shipping charges to everyone who purchased the product.”
What was Hill’s reaction?
Hill deleted all of her social media accounts except for YouTube. Hill’s mom took to Instagram to thank people for their support and express her disappointment to those that attacked her daughter. “It was difficult and so very disappointing enough that some of her lipsticks had issues, but the onslaught of hate, lies and even betrayal has by far been the worse part,” she writes. “No one deserves to be beaten when they are already sad and down.”
Has Hill returned to social media?
On July 23, Hill posted a 19-minute video to her YouTube channel titled “Where I’ve Been.” In the video, Hill explains that she was terrified in making the video and that it could potentially be the biggest mistake of her career, but uses a quote by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain to explain the reasoning behind her decision. “As Kurt Cobain said, ‘I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not,’” she said.
She goes on to explain why she’s kept quiet since the scandal broke out, why she deleted her social media platforms and what’s next for her brand. “I’ve wanted to create and own my own cosmetics brand since I worked at MAC Cosmetics at the Woodfield Mall in Chicago when I was 20 years old,” she said. “That’s always been my dream and that’s why this whole thing has been so hard for me because I completely failed. I say it every day and I still choke on those words.”
Hill claims that she did not have a big enough quality control team to examine all of her products, leading to the distribution of the defective lipstick. She also puts blame on the fact that she was overly confident in the brand’s success and didn’t have as much involvement as she should have in the quality control of the products. She claims that she trusted the wrong people, leading to her firing and rehiring much of her staff and finding a new cosmetics lab to work with for future products.
She also states that she initially had a strategy of launching a new product every six to eight weeks and had production samples ready for her next product, but has decided to restart all production with a new laboratory.
Hill uses the video as a way to apologize to her followers and customers. “I’m sorry,” she said. “It’s so important to me that you guys know how sorry I am and how embarrassed I am.”
She has also reactivated her Instagram account, but her Twitter account still remains deactivated.
When is Jaclyn Hill relaunching her makeup line?
The Jaclyn Cosmetics relaunch is Nov. 26, according to an Instagram post from the makeup brand. She is relaunching with a holiday collection of highlighters, pressed powders and brushes.
In an interview with WWD, Hill talked about the brand’s relaunch, stating: “The first launch sucked, but everybody deserves a second chance,” said Hill. “That was the first time I’ve ever done anything where it was me, my team, my brand and it wasn’t a collaboration and it did not go how it was planned to go. If people are upset about what happened the first time around and they don’t want to buy this collection, I totally understand. But I’m gonna keep going and proving myself.”
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