Lime Crime(s) By Susan McLean
If you're not into the indie makeup world or don't fiend for bizarre makeup colors, you may not be familiar with the Lime Crime brand. With bright purple unicorn emblazoned lipstick tubes and a range of colors that would raise some eyebrows (blue lipstick?) it seems like the perfect brand for those who appreciate different things. Appearances are deceiving. A quick google search of "lime crime scandal" can shed some light on all the controversy that has surrounded this company lately. I tend to like to play around with dark lip colors, so I'm always on the lookout for a good liquid lipstick that dries matte and stays well. When I noticed Lime Crime had a line of velvetine liquid lipsticks, I prepared myself to fall in love. The packaging looked lovely, frosted glass tubes with red aluminum tops with little painted flowers. At a price point of $20, I started to do some research as to how it compared with the rest of its class. I'm an avid user of the Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks but you can always improve on perfection, right?
The ABH liquid lipsticks tend to feel heavy on the lips after hours of use, and I’m always on the lookout for more fun colors. I googled around for a few YouTube reviews of the Lime Crime product and promptly fell down the rabbit hole. A few months ago, I had seen a few Tumblr posts complaining about the Lime Crime company but hadn’t paid too much attention. Obviously people usually only rant about their negative experiences online, and few negative experiences have never deterred me. I started watching the YouTube videos that came up and things just got worse and worse. I found myself researching deeper and deeper and growing more and more disillusioned the more I learned.
Initially I heard the same few stories over and over. From October 2014 to February 2015, there was a security breach on their website which resulted in millions of customers’ information being stolen. Not only were names and addresses stolen, but also the corresponding card information.
Apparently, Lime Crime waited until February to announce the breach as only a ‘potential’ threat, and initially addressed it via Instagram. Now, understandably, a social media presence is crucial to all companies nowadays, but maybe reaching out via email to the affected customers might have been a better option. The next day, another Instagram post included more details, but also plenty of emojis. This casual attitude toward a very serious situation upset many customers, but instead of apologizing or using a more formal tone, Lime Crime fought back in the comments section with customers. These comments were notably less than respectful.
For many this was the final straw and the #BoycottLimecrime hashtag was born. Others were even more aggravated and took to Facebook, posting about how they believed that Lime Crime knew about the data breach because an expired SSL certificate had caused it, and Lime Crime kept their site online and allowed more and more customers to be exploited. (Author’s Note: When using Google Chrome, on the Lime Crime site, the browser shows part of the url in red, and there is a note that it is not a secure site even though Lime Crime claims that has fixed all security issues. (Note that I’m not saying that it isn’t secure, I’m just saying that Google Chrome isn’t recognizing it as such.)) Some even suggested that somehow Lime Crime was benefiting from the breach.
Others complained that the swatches posted on Lime Crime’s website and social media outlets did not match the products they had received. Some suspect that the swatches are heavily edited and filtered, which is problematic for customers who are under the impression that they are receiving something and then actually receive something very different.
Still more complained that the products they had received from Lime Crime were faulty, damaged, unhygienic (hair in the tube of product), or not what they had ordered. They claimed that when they attempted to contact Lime Crime about the mishaps, Lime Crime responded aggressively, weeks later, or not at all. Some said that Lime Crime offered them a refund, but refused to exchange the product for a new one. Others claimed that when they tried to contact Lime Crime through social media comments, their posts were deleted and they were quickly blocked.
Many people in the beauty community trust bloggers and YouTubers for honest reviews and genuine product recommendations. When some posted less than flattering reviews or commented that there may be issues with the company, Lime Crime allegedly threatened legal action against these people. A fair amount of bloggers and YouTubers now publicly do not support Lime Crime and will not use their products in tutorials, will not post reviews of the products, and will not purchase new Lime Crime products.
Lime Crime’s customer service issues are problematic and very concerning to customers who care about how they are treated, but they aren’t the only issues that have been pointed out. Lime Crime offers glitter pigments along with their slew of lip products. These glitter pigments are rumored to be unsafe for use around the eye area, but not labeled as so. These rumors have also circulated about the liquid lipsticks, some claiming they contain toxic ingredients not listed on the label or website.
Years ago, there was a fair amount of controversy in the beauty world about the eye glitters being merely repackaged pigment from TKB Cosmetics, then marked up purely for profit. Many beauty bloggers swatched both and found if nothing else, a very very close resemblance.
Many claim that Lime Crime’s products are not truly vegan, though they are labeled as such, that beeswax was an ingredient in some of their products. As some customers buy Lime Crime because it's vegan, this was highly concerning to some. Apparently beeswax disappeared from the ingredient lists, but some were not convinced that it was removed from the actual product formulation.
Lime Crime also periodically releases palettes, the most current being titled Venus. Some claim that it’s nearly identical to other palettes previously on the market from other companies. This isn’t the only palette by Lime Crime that raises eyebrows (but you were expecting that at this point, right?) Lime Crime released a five pan palette, titled Chinadoll in 2012. Now, those familiar with cultural appropriation saw issues here immediately. It took others until the ad campaign came out to see how highly questionable the premise was. Cultural appropriation is when someone takes the culture of someone else, and uses it for their own gain without regard for how this might affect those of said culture. Here, many saw Lime Crime as exploiting Asian women, and using particularly offensive imagery just to sell a product.
Now that I’ve outlined some of what I found out about how Lime Crime appears to conduct business, let’s move on. Xenia Vorotova, the owner of Lime Crime goes by the name Doe Deere now. Her personal life has also raised questions. Though society should be able to separate individuals from brands, many of us are unable to do so, leaving people who represent certain brands under a microscope.
Doe Deere has been allegedly quoted on social media calling her customers ‘assholes,’ as well as using phrasing that implies that she knowingly marks up her products because she knows people are stupid enough to continue paying.
Others accuse Deere of staging fake fundraisers and contests where the places she claimed to be donating money didn’t seem to exist, and the contests appeared to have no winners. These accusations are worrisome, but may all have been misunderstandings, and hopefully the causes that were the pretense of donations received the money Deere raised.
Finally, Deere appeared to be dressed as Hitler in an old picture she reposed in November 2008. Many were astounded and upset. They seemed to feel as though Deere was making light of millions of lives lost. In April of 2011, Deere finally addresses the ‘lies’ people have been perpetuating about her and defends her costume choice because ‘her grandmother was Jewish.’ Many believed that that did not absolve her of the offensiveness, and were outraged. They pointed out that this might make her especially sensitive to the implications of her costume.
Another Deere related incident that upset those following this story involved a cat. (Yikes). Deere adopted a cat in March of 2011, a Persian that was already bonded with a second cat. Allegedly, both her fanbase and the shelter warned her repeatedly about the dangers of separating a bonded pair. The cat died in July 2011. Fans fired back at Deere, suggesting that the cat was only fed fruit, and that maybe it would have lived if she fed it properly and hadn’t separated it from it’s mate. These allegations were very harsh and Deere promptly posted a memorial post for the cat and allegedly addressed how fans were treating her, but deleted that part soon after.
Neither I, nor Bruised Knuckles is encouraging the boycott of Lime Crime products, and we don’t pretend that we know the full story behind any of these incidents but I make this post to spread information so consumers can make educated decisions and dig deeper if they so desire. Personally, I have never purchased anything from Lime Crime directly, or from the retailers that carry their products. I have not had any information stolen, and I was not victimized by Deere. If a friend were to approach me, wanting to purchase Lime Crime products and asked my suggestion, I would suggest they first purchase a Visa or American Express gift card, and use that, rather than their primary cards, just as a measure of personal protection. I don’t know that I would ever purchase a Lime Crime product after the research I’ve done and the conclusions I have drawn from it, but again, it is a personal choice that you all are welcome to make.
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What we put on our faces.