Scene Of The (Lime) Crime

Published on April 10, 2016 by   ·   3 Comments

Crime 12So in my last post about Lime Crime Cosmetics and the Perlees lipstick collection, I mentioned that I’ve gone back and forth on the brand and, in addition, I keep hearing rumblings of a Lime Crime “controversy.”  With my last order, I was actually much more impressed with my experience, so I wanted to do a little bit of research and find out what the hubbub was all about and if they really did deserve all of the ire they seem to be receiving.

So let’s break down the different claims and complaints that are floating around about Lime Crime:

Charge 1: Lime Crime sends out products, specifically Velveteens, that aren’t “full.”

What I found:  This is the one I found first, and it’s the stupidest.  As far as I can tell, this one comes from a collection of loud people who don’t understand how “packed by weight” works for liquid products (or, like, basic fucking eighth grade science y’all).  The complaints are about customers who report receiving their Velveteens, a liquid lip paint, and noticing that there is a lot of “empty space” in the bottle.

Ever bought a package of Doritos?  It’s a nice big, air-filled bag that’s all puffed out; when you open it up, the chips don’t even start until halfway down the bag.  Chips and other snacks are packed to give you a specific weight of products, not to fill the container they are placed in.  The rest of the package is filled with air.  Sorry ’bout it, but it’s pretty ridiculous to think there are people out there who don’t understand this concept.  These LC-complainers seem to think that their Velveteen should be brimming out the top when they pull the wand out – as if they don’t understand that most of the air they are seeing is a result of leaving room for the wand itself!  Even if there is air in the tube after filling it AND adding the wand, I’ve not found any evidence in my research that anyone has proven that they’ve legitimately received less product than what is promised.  Maybe Lime Crime could have done a better job of designing their packaging to allow for less extra room, but that’s no excuse for people to forget about basic physics.

Charge 2: Lime Crime does not provide accurate representations of their product colors.

What I found: *sigh* And the parade of stupidity continues.

Lime Crime PinkAre there really people out there in the world who don’t understand that a makeup product is not necessarily (or really, EVER) going to be an exact match to the color you seen on your computer screen?!  Is that still a thing?  Can we find those people and have them sterilized for the good of the human race?  It’s clear that the lifeguards at the gene pool are slacking off on the job.

Your monitor is never going to be able to 100% accurately represent the actual color of something as you will see it in the “real world.”  Monitors can differ and display color differently.  On top of that, colors are going to look different in different kinds of lighting.  Ever notice how most makeup products are shown against pure white backgrounds?  Notice how there are never any shadows on the parts of the bodies showing off the makeup?  The lighting in a photo shoot is never going to match up to the lighting in your home, your office, you favorite club, etc.  Makeup products almost always appear slightly lighter than their actual color because the lighting for cosmetic photo shoots is so bright (and generally pure white, i.e., full spectrum).  I will say that when I look at promo pics on Lime Lime 01Crime, they do seem to be photographed in exceptionally bright light (brighter than I usually see, which would make them appear even lighter), but even light can only change things so much.  If the image on the site shows baby blue and you get navy, then the company is probably up to something, but in the videos I’ve watched that show actual application up next to promo pics I can always see how the promo pic translates to the color the buyer is seeing on their lips (the video I watched that first surfaced this complaint has since been removed from YouTube).

The moral of the story?  Learn how light works, accept the ambiguity of shopping for specific colors on the internet, or stop buying online.

Charge #3: Doe Deere is a racist.

What I found: Here is where things get…complicated.

She did dress up as Hitler for Halloween in 2007.  A pixelated version of the photo can be found HERE and the same picture in more clarity is featured in any number of YouTube rants about her (I’ll post the article that housed that link a little later in this article).  This is pretty concrete, and is clearly in poor taste.

Crime 08What’s less concrete is the reaction to Lime Crime’s China Doll palette from 2012.  Using a white model and traditional Japanese garments, Lime Crime presented their “fantasy of China” in a way that garnered a lot of attention – all of it negative.  There is a lot of clamor about “cultural appropriation” among millenials these days, and sometimes the charges are so nit-picky as to cause even a hardcore liberal like me to roll my eyes, but this situation seems like the textbook example for which this term was coined: Lime Crime demonstrated no inclination to learn anything substantial about any Asian cultures and instead used bits and pieces thrown together without thought or consideration to create their campaign.  It’s not burning-a-cross-on-someone’s-lawn-racist, but it certainly does raise some serious concerns about Doe Deere’s business acumen.  But “orientalism” is still alive and well among big stars like Katy Perry, so the issue seems to be bigger than this particular advertising campaign.  It doesn’t make it right, but it does mean that it’s not unique to Lime Crime.


Crime 05What I found:  Nope.  Not even a little.  And most of the vloggers who rant about this (and use titles like the one listed above) freely admit that it wasn’t Lime Crime who stole their money.  What they are mad about is their perception of the response to a data breach.

Let’s take it back: in October of 2014, some Lime Crime customers apparently noticed some sketchy charges on their cards; allegedly (I wasn’t able to find any record of this in my research) they informed Lime Crime of the problem, primarily through social media posts (which, as far as I can tell, have since been deleted – though my de-tech-tive skills are admittedly subpar!).  In February of 2015, Lime Crime posted about a data breach on Instagram and later sent out letters to people who may have been affected.  If you search “Lime Crime Rant” on YouTube, most of the videos talking about this breach and calling for a boycott of Lime Crime are posted somewhere between March 7 and March 20 of 2015.  This was after the breach had been revealed, but before many of the individuals affected had received letters informing them that their information may have been compromised.

Crime 10I was not affected by this data breach (I’ve only purchased from them a couple of times and not during the timeframe indicated, always using Paypal as my preferred payment method) but I was affected by another big data breach.  Remember Target?  What I remember from that data breach sounds very familiar to what I’m hearing about Lime Crime: the breach took place over a few months before it was confirmed.  Even though Target had been contacted with customer concerns, they couldn’t immediately find the source of the breach and so didn’t confirm until later.  I also remember hearing about it in the media long before I received a letter from Target.  This seems to be the exact same sort of timeline that was playing out for Lime Crime, and yet people seem extremely enraged about the fact that they didn’t receive letters as early as they thought they should have.  There have also been allegations that Lime Crime let their security certificate expire; Lime Crime denies this on their own webpage that addresses various “Controversies” with the brand and I wasn’t able to find anything in my research confirming this beyond various claims by bloggers, YouTubers, and other online randos.  Target had the same sort of data breach without their certificate expiring, so I am inclined to believe Lime Crime’s assertion that their security did not lapse but I wasn’t able to find much in the way of evidence one way or another.  In general, people talking about data breaches need to remember that a site’s security can be compromised or breached without the security itself expiring.

Regardless, I’ve linked below a video of someone who had money stolen after the data breach.  Although she admits that Lime Crime did not steal it, she still titles her video “LIME CRIME STOLE MY MONEY?!”  This sentiment is echoed in other videos I found; people sometimes have a hard time distinguishing Lime Crime from the hackers who actually stole the money in question.  Many of these bloggers also trot out horror stories of a girl who had to drop out of college because the credit card that was compromised was the one she used to pay for school, innocent beauty mavens who had their life savings drained from their accounts, and other such tales of terror!  Not to sound heartless, but the effect of identity theft of any particular individual does not change the fact that Lime Crime didn’t do the stealing; hackers did.

It is worthwhile to note that there is a class action lawsuit being organized around this data breach, but as far as I can tell it is still in the early stages and certainly nothing has been decided yet.  Perhaps there will be more to this story and Lime Crime will have to accept a greater share of responsibility.  Only time will tell…

Charge #5: Inferior Product Quality & Repackaging

What I found: No, and yes.

Crime 03This breaks down into a couple of things.  First, early in her business Does Deere was accused of buying cheap, bulk pigments and repackaging them under her brand.  This is most likely true, but (and this is a very important “but”) this is pretty standard practice in the beauty industry.  Most of the biggest makeup brands are all owned by a handful of “umbrella” corporations like the Estee Lauder group.  It is not unheard of for companies within these umbrella groups to make products using the exact same formulations and ingredients (or sometimes make very minor changes that don’t significantly impact the cost of production) and sell them under different brand names for vastly different price points.  The same is true of indie brands who might “mix” their own products, but are all buying the same base ingredients from the same bulk manufacturers and in some cases just repackaging.

Crime 02Many beauty bloggers noted that this practice was a common-ish beauty industry practice in their critiques of Lime Crime, but took shots at the brand for not fessing up to it.  In my research, I wasn’t able to uncover any evidence that either Doe Deere or Lime Crime ever admitted to repackaging.  Many, however, just bought into the idea that this was a betrayal of trust and continued to put the brand on blast.  These products are no longer available on the Lime Crime site, having been discontinued, so this is more about the history of the brand’s troubles – and their reaction to those troubles.

Related to this, there were also accusations that she was buying craft glitter and repackaging it.  I didn’t find any real evidence that this was true, and by the time this came along hating on Lime Crime was almost a competitive sport among beauty bloggers, but it is a serious charge especially if you are using glitter in the eye area (another historical issue, since Lime Crime doesn’t currently offer any glitter products).  Because craft glitter isn’t meant for use in cosmetics, there are no precautions taken to avoid sharp edges and wearing it on the face can cause small lacerations, which are especially dangerous in the eye area.  When you get a new glitter, I suggest putting some on your hand and running your finger back and forth over it several times.  If you have any sort of unpleasant or pokey sensation, probably don’t put it on your eyes.  If you want glitters that are designed for cosmetic wear and are perfectly safe, I absolutely recommend Lit Cosmetics – they have a huge selection of colors and styles, their customer service is impeccable, and they have lots of promos for getting free glitters with certain order quantities.  Check them out y’all.

Crime 13Another critique from people is that they felt the Velveteens liquid lipsticks were inferior quality because they had a tendency to separate.  As someone who owns and has owned a wide variety of liquid lipsticks at a wide range of price points, I can tell you that this is absolutely common and is not a sign of poor quality.  I don’t know the “scientific’ reason for it, but there is something in that particular formulation (a liquid product that applies wet and dries down to a solid, matte application like a paint) has a tendency to separate and shouldn’t be a cause for alarm like it might be for other cosmetic problems (when your liquid foundation starts to separate, then it’s time to think about chucking and replacing!).  All you have to do is shake or stir the product with the wand to remix the ingredients.  I found the following video from Stephanie Nicole that I found very informational about the Lime Crime controversy (it is a long one, at about 35 minutes, but I actually found the whole thing very useful and interesting):

If you want to skip the makeup application/review part, you can jump to 10:12 and that’s where the discussion of Lime Crime as a company begins.  She addresses many of the same things that I’m doing throughout this post.

Crime 07Finally, the most recent controversy I found was related to a letter sent to Lime Crime by the FDA about a couple of “potentially toxic” ingredients listed in some of their products.  According to Lime Crime’s Controversy page (linked above), this was an inquiry brought because of some ingredients listed on the ingredient list for a few of their products.  These pigments, ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarine, are not approved for use on the lips in the United States; they are, however approved for use in Europe.  This same concern was tied to the Urban Decay Neons palette which had to be marketed as a “face palette” rather than an eyeshadow palette because of the inclusion of these ingredients.  Doe Deere has claimed that this is a mislabeling of her packaging, but also mentions the fact that these ingredients are allowed in some marketplaces which, to me, suggests that there may be some truth to the accusation.  Either way, as this article addresses (towards the end), it’s not that these products are harmful (they are approved for use on the skin, and are found in many skincare products) but have just never been approved for use in the US on mucous membranes and therefore aren’t approved for eyes or lips.

It is important to note that the FDA’s letter was specifically related to the ingredient listing; they did not conduct any tests and have no evidence that those ingredients actually are found in any of Lime Crime’s products.

Charge #6: Lime Crime’s Customer Service & Doe Deere’s Social Media Presence Are A Nightmare

What I found: Don’t piss off Doe Deere!

Crime 04Lime Crime has a long history of censoring the comments on their Instagram and other social media accounts; many companies do this to one degree or another or for different reasons (Birchbox, for example, says that reviews may be taken down if you mention any other products than the one you are reviewing but doesn’t censor bad reviews to my knowledge) but it is definitely a cause for concern.  Any time I go to a page and only see positive, glowing reviews I question that brand’s transparency – after all, I don’t care how fabulous and life-changing your product is, someone out there hates it!  It’s the internet and trolls are er’where, so a sparkling clean image on social media usually means that someone is sanitizing the comments.  I like to think I’m a pretty savvy consumer and can spot the differences between a legit, critical review and someone throwing serious shade, so I’d rather see all of the comments and evaluate them myself.

Crime 09In addition to editing the comments, Doe Deere has put commenters on blast – she often refers to critics of her brand as haters (which some bloggers repeat in outrage as if she were flagrantly dropping racial slurs).  Hater is pretty tame language, especially given the vitriol that can be spewed on the internet.  She has also been called out for calling commenters “dumbass” – but as Stephanie Nicole points out in the video linked above, it is usually directed at someone who is being a toxic combination of vicious and persistent.  Is it a smooth, PR-friendly way to react?  No, obvi.  But is it understandable?  Abso-fucking-lutely.  Comedian Mo’Nique said it best when talking about the word “bitch”:

It’s a motherfucking word.  But if at that time, if that’s what you was representing, that’s what the fuck you needed to be called, you bitch! You just get the motherfucking point!  Sometime baby it helps close the sentence out: “Shut the fuck up, bitch!”

Personal feelings about that or any other derogatory words aside, I can absolutely understand Doe Deere’s reaction to aggressive internet trollers.  Again, is it the wisest decision to make from a PR standpoint?  No, but it doesn’t necessarily turn me off to the company.  After all, I like to believe that I generally conduct my business without making as asshat of myself so I don’t have to worry about her rage being directed at me.  Perhaps I’m just more tolerant of people, even if they are representing their brand, calling out people acting like idiots (and think that it should happen much more often than it does – don’t let the trolls win, people!).

Crime 06As for the customer service, in my two previous posts about the brand I’ve mentioned the mixed experience I’ve had.  On my first order, there wasn’t any bad customer service per se, but the order took more than 3 weeks to reach me, which is insane for products that are listed as in stock and available.  On my second order, I had a product that was left out of the order and actually had to contact their customer service.  When I sent my message, I got an auto-reply saying that they received my question and would get back to me as soon as possible.  Those sorts of vague replies always make me nervous, but I had an email from an actual rep within an hour giving me my options (they could reship or give me a refund).  I emailed back an hour later, and within 30 minutes of that I had another email from them saying they would reship, and the next day I received a shipping confirmation with tracking.  So while their shipping times may have some inconsistency, my one interaction with their customer service was impeccable.  All I can speak to is my own experience.

Charge #7: Lime Crime has misrepresented being a vegan and/or cruelty free brand.

What I found:  Another unfortunate misunderstanding.

Crime 14When Lime Crime first started representing themselves as a vegan brand, apparently there were two ingredients in a small number of products that were not vegan: beeswax and a carmine pigment made from insects.  These were not present in all products in the brand, and all of the other products were in fact vegan.  This did not escape notice and people started criticizing the brand.  Soon after, Lime Crime reformulated those products with a synthetic beeswax and without the carmine pigment, making their line fully vegan.  Their misstep was calling themselves a vegan line when not all of their products were 100% vegan (though apparently the majority of the line was); more recently, there are people who are calling out the synthetic beeswax ingredient and saying they are still not vegan.  If you are too stupid to understand that synthetic beeswax isn’t an actual animal product then please excuse yourself from public commentary – you’re wasting precious oxygen.

Bunny 01As for the claims about not being cruelty free, this was hard to find info on but seems to be a misunderstanding about products that are manufactured in China versus actually sold in China.  China requires third-party animal testing on all cosmetics sold in their country (reasons why are addressed in the Stephanie Nicole video above).  People saw on the Lime Crime packaging that it was packaged and/or manufactured in China and assumed that this meant that it was subject to this animal testing requirement, and therefore not cruelty-free.  This is not true: this testing is not required for products that are manufactured or packaged in China if they are not going to also be sold in China.  As Lime Crime was not (and to my knowledge still is not) selling in China, they were not required to hire out external animal testing.  This misunderstanding is much more understandable than the mix up about real vs. synthetic beeswax, but it seems that the hating of Lime Crime is so deeply ingrained in much of beauty blogging and vlogging culture that people jump on the bandwagon without taking the time to check their facts.  Lime Crime is currently “Leaping Bunny” certified, which is apparently a pretty stringent process (full disclosure: I’m not that invested in making sure that products I buy are vegan or don’t use animal testing, so I’m not sure about how this certification happens).

The Verdict:

Crime 11Although over and over again I run into blogs and vlogs and articles about how terrible Lime Crime is, I also keep running up against the same charges over and over again; as I’ve outlined above, many of the charges are based on misinformation or misunderstanding by (perhaps unreasonably?) demanding customers.  Although Doe Deere badly needs some media coaching (and probably some better representation in the legal arena), I haven’t been able to find any evidence that the products are either unsafe or unethical.  In the end, that’s what it comes down to for me – the products.  Am I thrilled that Doe Deere dressed up as Hitler for Halloween in 2007?  Not exactly.  Do I believe that someone might be able to achieve some personal growth in the almost decade since that picture was taken?  I know I have.  I have no reason to believe that me purchasing from her company will somehow contribute to white power movements because of one Halloween costume she wore 9 years ago.  While there are a few legitimate concerns about this brand that have surfaced, more than anything it seems that Doe Deere has been a victim of her own hubris, alienating the wrong people in the flame-happy interwebs and igniting a firestorm.

Lime Crime 01No, the real question for me is whether or not Lime Crime moves me as a brand.  Their Unicorn lipsticks are some of the best lip products I’ve ever tried.  The Velveteens are also amazing, but I can get similar wear and usually a wider color selection from ColourPop for $6 each instead of $20.  If I find a Lime Crime color I adore, I’ll certainly pick it up, but they aren’t my go to.  As new products come out, I’ll decide on those on an individual level.

I hope you’ve found this post informative – I know it’s a lot longer and more serious than most of my makeup forum posts!  Below this, I’ll include some additional videos about Lime Crime as well as some links to articles I found in researching.  They will have a variety of viewpoints, and by posting them I’m not necessarily saying I agree with them or not, but I want people to look into this supposed scandal and decide for themselves whether to support this brand…or not.  Please comment your thoughts below!

Now Go Forth And Get Painted!

Why Lime Crime Is The Most Hated Beauty Company On The Internet

This video does perpetuate some of the misinformation explored above, but it’s presented in a less rant-y sort of way than some of the videos.  She brings up the hack, and as is common with a lot of the commentary she seems to take issue that Doe Deere wasn’t “apologetic enough” about the hack.

This one is pretty positive about the products – but is from a couple of months before the hack.  This is pretty typical of stuff that I found – people who divorced their commentary from their thoughts about Doe Deere and her shenanigans and focused on the products themselves were generally positive.

This is one of the most fucking annoying videos I’ve ever watched…I had to share the pain!  Not a very thoughtful video, but it’s another perspective.

Lots of product reviews in this video.

Lime Crime & The Scary Truth About Product Safety – beyond this particular Lime Crime situation, there is a big discussion that needs to happen around cosmetics and product safety.  Hope In A Jar is a great book that deals with the history of cosmetics and some of the terrible cosmetic mishaps that have taken place (including an early mascara that burned eyes and caused blindness!).

The Glow – a brief post about the controversy and more on Doe Deere and her legendary customer service gaffes.

Lipstick & Light Sabres – a post about the early scandals of Lime Crime.  Most if not all of the videos have been disabled, but still an interesting look at how some of this scandal came about.

A “History of the Lime Crime Boycott” Tumblr

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Readers Comments (3)
  1. […] application, I want to pack up and talk about the broken pan.  If you read my breakdown of the Lime Crime controversies, you probably know that people are going to jump on news like this and immediately start saying […]

  2. […] Lime Crime Does It Again With SuperFoil Eyeshadow! Lime Crime Hits Summer HARD With New Velvetines Scene of the (Lime) Crime Second Chances: Falling (Back) In Love With Lime Crime Smooth Criminal: The Unfortunate Chaos of […]

  3. Mina says:

    I am totally wowed and praerped to take the next step now.

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