By Rhiân Lock
Jaclyn Hill began her YouTube channel in 2011, and since then she has amassed almost six million loyal subscribers. Residing in Florida, Hill has become one of the most popular YouTube moguls around. In her career, Hill has released many collaborations – notably her ‘Champagne Pop’ highlighter in collaboration with Becca Cosmetics, and her line of eyeshadow palettes and makeup brushes with the affordable brand Morphe. It is no surprise that her bubbly personality and her decision to publicise much of her private life, including her divorce, has led her to become a household name in the makeup community, resulting in throngs of adoring and devoted fans purchasing anything she puts her name to. However, Hill is no stranger to conflict and backlash. Recently, Hill launched her first products from her own brand, Jaclyn Cosmetics, a line of twenty nude lipsticks, retailing for $18 a tube. The release has subsequently been considered one of the biggest failures in recent makeup history – with hundreds of customers vocalizing their concerns over the quality of the product, as well as questioning whether they are even safe to use.
There has been an outpour of complaints in regard to Hill’s lipsticks: mould, contamination, broken applicator tubes, ‘fuzzy hairs’ in the product, melted lipsticks, and air bubbles. However, the outrage has been felt by more than just customers – other influencers in the beauty community such as RawBeautyKristi and Kristen Leanne have filmed videos regarding Hill’s lipsticks, leaving negative reviews. There has also been an influx in uploads from many popular ‘gossip’ channels, in which they discuss the failures of Hill’s launch – often with harsh and accusatory titles. In response, Jaclyn has deleted all of her social media pages, and the Jaclyn Cosmetics webpage is currently unavailable, with promises to ‘be back soon’.
In the weeks following her launch, social media and beauty forum pages were flooded with pictures and evidence of defective and contaminated products. In many pictures, white, fuzz-like hairs could be seen sprouting from black holes in the tips of the product, whilst in others, the lipsticks were covered in air bubbles, or had melted and lost their shape. Many customers claim to have been battling with Hill’s customer service team, with most claiming to have not yet received a refund, or even an acknowledgement to their complaints.
In response to the backlash, Hill uploaded a video titled ‘Where I’ve Been’ to her channel, which has since received over 94,000 dislikes. In the video, Hill attempts to dispel any rumours about her products and their quality and says she ‘refuses to address’ any speculations. She goes on to say that since the release she has ‘fired and hired’ staff in order to ensure her next launch runs smoothly. Hill claims there were issues with the lab she used in order to create her lipsticks, which has received further criticism from makeup mogul Marlena Stell, owner of Makeup Geek Cosmetics, who, in her own video in response to Hill, argues that she previously advised Hill to avoid the aforementioned lab at all costs.
Hill does claim some responsibility for her brands failures – in the video, she states that she ‘did not have a quality control team big enough to handle what I [she] was doing.” Nevertheless, one of the biggest criticisms regarding the scandal has surrounded Hill’s disappearance and refusal to delve deep into the reasonings behind the fault. In her video, Hill claims to be suffering from severe anxiety as a result of the scandal, and comments that she was “ashamed and embarrassed.” Hill also refutes the suggestions that her absence from social media is not an attempt to escape the questions and her followers, but rather a way to prevent herself further damaging her mental health.
At the end of her video, Hill states that she is in the process of ‘rebuilding’ her brand, and promises further releases, offering reassurance that her team is working to ensure that her mistakes are not repeated. However, with many customers left with subpar products and without compensation, the question begs – would anyone purchase further products from Jaclyn Cosmetics after such a catastrophic first launch?