Falling Star: The Jeffree Star Cosmetics Review – Part Three

Published on August 25, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment

Alright Makeup Forum Readers – you’ve made it this far.  Now it’s time for us to finish up our three-part series on all of the glamour and grit, the drama and the dish, the good, the bad, and the ugly about Jeffree Star Cosmetics.  In PART ONE, we looked at the first release of Skin Frosts (3 of 4 shades anyway), the Velour Lip Scrubs, and the Beauty Killer eyeshadow palette.  In PART TWO, we focused in on the Velour Liquid Lipsticks, including the limited edition shades in the Summer 2016 release.  In this final post, we’re going to take a quick look at the newest Skin Frost release of 4 shades (plus a little discussion of the missing shade from Part One, King Tut), break down some of the biggest drama that happened after Stephanie Nicole’s video went live (including what happened with Kat Von D and Kat Blaque), and then sum up my final thoughts on the brand.  I don’t know about you, I’m ready to be done with all of this drama and get back to just loving makeup again!  Jaysus lawd, people, it’s supposed to be FUN!

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SKIN FROSTS

So let’s get started on a high note: the newest release of the coveted Skin Frost highlighters.  Definitely a more eclectic bunch than the first release, the four shades included in the launch were Deep Freeze (a bright candy blue highlighter that was teased in a tutorial video FOREVER ago), So Fucking Gold (a dulled metallic gold), Dark Horse (a coppery shade that JStar described as “topaz metal”), and Lavender Snow (a lavendar purple with sort of a white gold shimmer).  Here are some shots of the products themselves, chillin’ out in the Champagne Dreams Productions office:

Gorgeous, but sort of an odd selection of colors for “highlighters.”  At what point do we cross the threshold from highlight to blush?  Some of these are toeing that line, though with a light hand they can shine gorgeously on practically anyone.  Also, it should be noted that these will highlight darker skin tones beautifully – Dark Horse anyone?  Yaaaasssssssss!

Deep Freeze is my obvious favorite of the bunch.  It’s even brighter than I remember from the video.  It’s a great Sweet Tart blue color and I wish I could time travel to bring it to myself at Days of the Dead – this would have been absolutely killer with the blue makeup look I did with my Jaws costume! Lavendar Snow is the most useful for us pale chicas – sort of like a cool sister to the warmer Peach Goddess.  It’s light and pastel and sheers out nicely so it doesn’t have to scream “PURPLE!” when you put it on – though it certainly can if you want it to!  Dark Horse is fun, and I may work it into some of my more autumn-style makeup looks (I’m thinking something with Lime Crime’s Squash Velveteen), but it’s a little too dark and a little too orange for it to become a staple in my makeup wardrobe.  So Fucking Gold is a nice metallic gold, true to the Crayola crayon, though I think it can be a little bit of a disappointment when you put it up next to King Tut (they restocked it at the same time as the release, so I decided to add it to my collection as well).  King Tut has a slight rosey glow mixed in with the gold, whereas So Fucking Gold is truer to the base color.  Both are good, but I can definitely see myself reaching for King Tut far more often.

Below I’ve included some swatches of all 5 shades described above, as well as a picture of King Tut, Dark Horse, and So Fucking Gold all side by side:

I am still loving these highlighters – they have everything that I love about the ColourPop highlighters/blushes, but the formula is easier to work with and doesn’t clump up in the pan.  They definitely are on the soft, creamy side and they do start to get a little bit pressed down into the pan, but it doesn’t make them unusable and the color payoff is really unparalleled in any other product I’ve found.  Stephanie Nicole was on the money that if you like a really soft, subtle highlight, something that blends in and is practically invisible in your overall makeup look, this might not be the product for you, but if you like a bold highlight and aren’t afraid of some shine, then this is a tremendous value.  Even one of these compacts will last you for ages and ages – 15 grams of total product in every one!

KAT FIGHT, TAKE ONE

So let’s bust this shit up!  After Stephanie Nicole’s video came out, a ton of other YouTubers all posted their own thoughts and reactions (I’ll post a sampling of those below so you can watch and decide for yourself how you feel) but the biggest news was when Kat Von D, longtime friend of Jeffree (she even had a shade named after him in her collection) came out with a video called “Jeffree Star: It’s so much easier to do the right thing.”  In it, she talks about Jeffree’s bullying behavior towards fans and addresses briefly the racism that was brought up in Stephanie Nicole’s video.

So, kudos to Kat for being up front and honest, but before anyone casts a bronze medal for her, note that the bulk of the video is really about the fact that Jeffree Star allegedly didn’t pay her friend, BJ Betts, for artwork that he created that “inspired” (Jeffree’s description) his eventual logo.  So Kat could have made a video at any time, and could have focused on any number of complaints or behaviors, but chose to make a video and focus on this one sketchy business transaction.  Now don’t get me wrong, I think that creative artists have a hard time being respected as actual workers Bullyand are always being asked to provide samples and things for free, and if you look at the sketch that Kat shows and the final logo, it’s obvious that Jeffree Star used a version of the logo that Betts created.  But Kat is trying to paint the video as something other than what it is.  She isn’t trying to stick up for those who have been hurt or bullied by Jeffree – in fact, she talks about the way he treats fans and those around him very vaguely, but the example she gives is of him encouraging his fans to “bully” a makeup brand.  I think that bullying has become a buzzword and we overuse it to the extreme.  I’m pretty sure that Kat is referring to Lime Crime as she talks about a human error where some products were labeled as having carmine in them by mistake (I’ve talked about all of THAT drama in my earlier Lime Crime post), and I’m sure some of the heat went to the owner of Lime Crime, Doe Deere, as well as to the company itself.  But you can’t really bully a business entity – people might attack it, and some of their posts might be juvenile or aggressive or inflammatory or what have you, and the owner of that business might feel themselves being a part of that attack (and with Lime Crime, attacking Doe Deere and the company has developed into something just shy of a competitive sport) but it’s still just a business entity.  It doesn’t have feelings, and as a public business that is asking people to spend their hard earned money, it needs to be open to comment and criticism.  Kat Von D also calls Jeffree Star for not being vegan, though to be fair he has never claimed to be – you can make a vegan makeup line and care about producing a cruelty free makeup line for people who care about that without actually being vegan yourself.  I think that Kat does herself a disservice by trying to tie her actual concern, getting payment for her friend, to these larger social issues to which she only pays brief lip service and to which she seems barely devoted.  It was an effective tactic, however, because she immediately had a ton of YouTubers and commentators on her side.

So all of this probably makes it seem like I’m on “Team Jeffree Star” doesn’t it?  Not so fast.  The shitshow continues – here is the response video that Jeffree posted called “Dear Kat Von D: It’s Easier To Tell The Truth.”

Jeffree immediately goes on the defensive.  In typical Jeffree Star fashion, he won’t take any ownership: he says, “Is my past perfect?” and instead of saying, “No,” or “Of course not,” or anything like that he says, “Whose is?  No one’s is.”  Immediately he deflects it away from himself and won’t just say, straight to the camera, “I’m not perfect, and I own up to these mistakes.”  He goes on to Lambosay that he’s apologized for all of these things (though when we get to the Kat Blaque video below, you’ll see that he tends to apologize not for the actions themselves, but that people were offended by his actions – which is NOT the same thing).  He also goes on to explain that his manager and lawyer had been talking to BJ’s manager and lawyer about settling a bill for the “inspiration” that was provided – pretty magical timing, huh?  Jeffree’s brand has been immensely popular since it’s launch a year and a half ago, and he’s posting videos about his Rolls Royce and buying a Lamborghini, so it’s a little suspect that he just happened to be taking care of this now when Kat posted her video.  He also gets real petty about the whole vegan thing, wondering why Kat was so upset about him claiming to be vegan when she’s only been vegan for a short time – as if that somehow matters?  He also tries to make it sound as if Kat stated that BJ did his logo and packaging and created the whole brand look, when Kat is clearly only talking about the logo.  It’s like a bratty kid getting cornered and just lobbing out any idea they can to take the focus off themselves and their own behavior.  Oh the shade of it all…

And of course, after Jeffree posted his video the response videos just kept rolling in.  The one that surprised me the most was by activist and YouTuber Kat Blaque.  Ready for another Kat fight?  Here we go…

KAT FIGHT, TAKE TWO

Kat Blaque is someone whose videos I am used to seeing on Everyday Feminism and she tends to talk about racism and transphobia, so I was a little surprised to see her doing a response to the Jeffree Star/Kat Von D drama.  I’ve included the video below:

Kat talks through her own history as a YouTuber and some of the things she said when she was younger and how she handled them when she got older and changed.  She says that she believes that Jeffree could have grown and changed in the last 10 years, but that there has been little proof that this is true.  She doesn’t like the apologies he gave – and she’s right that Jeffree is terrible at giving apologies, though she claims that he has apologized for everything else except the racism and if you remember the Rocky Roadkill incident that just isn’t true.  Jeffree is the master of talking around the core issue and has never actually apologized for…well, really anything that I can think of.  For Rocky, his apology was all wrapped up in calling the video clickbait and saying that it was the fault of all the people around him filling his head with lies.  That’s just as lacking in ownership as apologizing for someone being offended by the content instead of the content itself.

Problematic 3But where I really have a problem with Kat’s video, and it’s a problem that I find with more and more of the professionally offended bloggers who write for Everyday Feminism, is that she recognizes that she has grown and has done what she can to remove her “problematic” content from the internet, and she wants people to recognize that she has grown and support her for what she represents today.  And they should!  But she applies a different standard to Jeffree.  Starting at 7:12 in the video, she talks about what people can do now and answers the burning question about whether or not she still is or would support Jeffree’s makeup brand.  She says, “Personally, if he apologized I’d be happy that he did.  But I still wouldn’t trust him with my coins.”  So despite all of her previous talk about how people can change and can try to make things right, she point blank says that even if he did what she’s suggesting she wouldn’t support him or his brand.  It’s the typical “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” trap that so many young activists want to set up – if you don’t include or represent something you’re in trouble for that, but if you do then you aren’t doing it right.  If you don’t include X community in your art/work/concept then you are being exclusionary, but if you do include them then you’re appropriating.  It’s the Big Oppression Bake Off, and trust me – nobody wins.

And her alternative to supporting Jeffree’s brand misses the point.  She says, “Instead I’m going to put my hard-earned dollars toward black-owned beauty brands.”  But the question isn’t, “Would you support Jeffree Star Cosmetics above all other available beauty brands?”  It’s just would you buy from and support his brand period.  Yes, there are many makeup brands that sell liquid to matte lipsticks, and you might choose another one for any number of reasons.  But the real question is whether or not she would choose to support his brand by buying his products.  Think about the Skin Frost highlighters – there isn’t another company, black-owned or otherwise, that is doing the same thing that he is doing with those highlighters.  So it’s not a question of looking at Company A and Company B and decided which to support.  It’s looking at this company and this product and saying, “With everything I know about this company, this product, and the people behind the company, would I choose to support it?”  I think it’s great that Kat promotes the BOMB (Black-Owned Makeup Brand) challenge, and I’m planning to do that myself and create a post about it very soon because I think it’s a great way to promote and talk about beauty brands that are owned by people of color that do fantastic products!  But just as Jeffree avoids the issue, Kat skirts it as well.

Not all about youWhat really surprised me about this whole situation was what happened after that video first went live.  Jeffree Star allegedly filed a complaint against Kat Blaque and got the video removed (although he claims it was someone else – Sharolaid, the other performer from the video) and Kat made a response on her tumblr that you can watch HERE (it’s short, I promise!).  Here’s the quote that gets me:

“Um, I hate drawing lines in the sand but if you’re someone who still supports Jeffree Star, please unsubscribe from my channel.  I don’t think that you are ever going to be invested in anti-blackness and I don’t need you in my circle.” (I’m assuming that she meant anti-racism instead of anti-blackness since…why would she want someone to be anti-black?  Isn’t that what started this whole thing?!)

This is why young activists and bloggers get a bad reputation, and they deserve it: apparently if you still support Jeffree Star Cosmetics, there is no way you could ever be invested in anti-racism.  Ummm, excuse the fuck out of me?  The type of highlighter I buy determines whether or not I can be invested in fighting racism?  For real?  Did you just say that?  You don’t think that’s just a tiny bit…petty?  Not to put too fine a point on it, but Kat didn’t make this statement when all of the controversy broke or when she was making her initial video but only after Jeffree (allegedly) filed a complaint against her video for using footage that didn’t belong to her (which for all intents and purposes is true, since she did include the old MySpace era StickCam footage – although many other videos have also used this footage and not been flagged).  So initially she wished Jeffree would apologize (even though she said she wouldn’t ever buy his products again) and tried to create a story in which he was just trying to be edgy in his younger days or whatever, but once she was personally offended by what she assumes was an action he took, not only is he suddenly every bad thing everyone has ever said about him but now every single person who shops at his store can not possibly be invested in anti-racism.  If you need a second to hop over to dictionary.com and look up “hyperbole,” I’ll wait right here.  Oh the shade of it all…

FINAL THOUGHTS – TO BUY, OR NOT TO BUY

StahpSo now comes that final question that everyone on YouTube seems to be answering, whether anyone asked or not: am I still going to be purchasing from the Jeffree Star Cosmetics brand (and thereby supporting him financially).  This is a tough one for me.  Every time a new video comes out, or someone finds new clips of a young Jeffree being a tool, I can’t help but shake my head and feel disgusted.  Every time he refuses to give a real, honest apology, I turn my eyes to the heavens and wonder why he hasn’t found a smarter person to help him handle his PR.  But I also recognize that this deluge of criticism and drama is very much like that directed at Lime Crime and its owner, Doe Deere: so much of it stems from old actions and no one has been able to establish any sort of pattern of the same behavior happening today.  In fact, Jeffree’s behavior in recent years is to feature women of color very prominently in his advertising materials, plan his collections with women of color in mind, and have a woman of color acting as his manager and personal assistant (maybe she could help with the PR?!).  Kat calls these out as just being related to using black people to make money, but this criticism puts us back into the same old “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” paradox that these whiny millenials love so much: if he wasn’t doing any of those things, he would be raked over the coals for excluding women of color, but when he does he’s said to be exploiting black women for profit.  STAHP!  THE!  INSANITY!

LogoWe are all complicated, beautiful people and we all have our flaws.  The type of makeup you buy isn’t the number one deciding factor in your character, and anyone who makes that claim is a fool who lacks the wisdom or experience to truly understand the complexity of the world in which we live.  Sometimes we love things that are “problematic,” and that’s ok.  Roxane Gay’s book, Bad Feminist, is a wonderful exploration of all of the many contradictions and delicious ironies of life and what it means to live fully and joyfully in a world where everything offends someone.  I highly recommend it.  I don’t really like or respect Jeffree Star, and from what I’ve seen he seems like a total douche-bot.  But he’s got some bomb ass highlighters and liquid lipsticks.  If the products are good and the prices are right, I’m probably going to be buying.  I’m not saying there is nothing in the world that could make me stop supporting the brand, but I definitely haven’t seen it yet.  I’ve seen a kid who was stupid and mean-spirited saying disgusting things about a decade ago who hasn’t been seen saying any of those things since.  Kat Blaque says she has no evidence that he’s changed, but she also doesn’t provide any evidence that he hasn’t.  And if we look at patterns of behavior, his recent behavior is much more inclusive and respectful of people of color.  There is still bad judgement and being gender non-conforming doesn’t give anyone a license to be as grossly sexist as they please, but I don’t see him actively trying to oppress anyone.  Some people just aren’t as insightful as the bloggers and academics who choose to comment on their behavior.

And while this may be a sort of complicated issue since brands like Jeffree Star Cosmetics and Lime Crime are at least partially built on the brand personas of their founders, in all fairness I have to say that I’m not investigating the activities and personal beliefs of the CEOs of every makeup brand I purchase from.  I don’t know anything about the people who own or manage NYX Cosmetics, Urban Decay, TooFaced Cosmetics, Becca, Make Up For Ever, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics…who knows if I agree with them or if they support the causes I support?  The Estee Lauder group owns a ton of huge brands, including my old favorite MAC Cosmetics, and they have tons of dollars that they spend on causes and interests.  I know about MAC’s support of AIDS charities, but who knows what kinds of large special interest groups the Lauder Group is pouring money into?  Huge companies like that can potentially do a lot more damage to my life and the lives of oppressed people than some decade-old videos of Jeffree Star saying the n-word.  And that doesn’t mean I can never be invested in anti-racism.  It just means that I’m not invested in Kat Blaque’s hurt feelings. #sorrynotsorry

But everyone has to decide for themselves what products to buy and how to spend their money – you worked for it, so you should use it in a way that you feel good about.  Below, I’m including a selection of videos by people responding to the Jeffree Star “controversy” and I encourage you to watch these and others, and decide for yourself.  As for me, my highlight gonna be on fleek, hunties and while I may not be very impressed with Jeffree’s lack of people skills, my conscience is clear.

Now Go Forth & Get Painted

(I’m giving you a selection of videos, and I’ve tried to find a range – be warned, finding anti-JStar videos is much easier than finding supportive ones!  Most of the Pro-Jeffree videos I watched when researching have been removed, some for harassment by anti-Jeffree people.)

More non-apology apologies…

She’s a grown ass woman and she has receipts…apparently.

One of the few remaining Pro Jeffree videos I could find

More rage…but Canadian rage this time.

Thoughts on responsible consumerism…

 

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  1. […] – Or Is He Shooting Blanks? Holiday Reruns: Jeffree Star’s Boring AF Holiday Collection Falling Star: The Jeffree Star Cosmetics Review – Part Three Shining Star: The Jeffree Star Cosmetics Review – Part Two Starstruck: The Jeffree Star […]





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