By picking up on Ulta Beauty employee Bianca Ann Levinson’s viral TikTok video showing the retailer’s practice of destroying or “damaging out” returned beauty products, the publication Dazed stirred a heated discussion in the beauty industry about how to properly treat returned merchandise. The discussion was continued on the Instagram account of anonymous beauty industry watchdog Estée Laundry, where beauty brands brought up that the costs of demolished returned products are passed onto them.
We decided to further explore the issue of “damaging out” by asking 11 beauty entrepreneurs: What are the implications for beauty brands of this retail practice, and what alternatives do you think should be considered?
When I first saw dumpster diving videos materialize in 2014, I was disheartened as a makeup artist and brand co-founder. We put so much work into a product, so when a product gets "damaged out," so do months/years of research, artistry, formulation, design and testing. It's like watching a beloved pet get tortured.
Returns in the beauty industry are notorious for producing waste and can bring a brand down as a net loss. "Damaging out" prevents dumpster divers from using/reselling returned product and is regarded as safer for beauty consumers. Protocols like the one demonstrated in the video have been in place for years and are necessary evils to protect the brand and consumer, although it's complicated.
As a makeup artist, I get several PR packages from other brands. This is what I do with excess product:
As we approach a more sustainable and less-is-more approach to beauty, there are much more sanitary and eco-conscious ways to manage the complicated issue of beauty returns:
American Spa partnered with seven brands to produce theSpecial Edition Breast Cancer Awareness Beauty Box, which offered special promo codes for bulk orders so estheticians and spa owners could decide what products they wanted to offer during BCAM. A portion proceeds from orders placed using a Beauty Box promo code were also donated to miscellaneous BCA charities.
How are the women entrepreneurs behind small firms selling skincare and hair products, makeup and more navigating a time when customers are no longer seeing - well, anyone?
Mar Cavallone, founder of makeup lineDome Beauty in Chicago, has been grappling with similar problems thanks to COVID-19. She says she began to notice the effects in early January, as much of her packaging is sourced in China. She was planning a new product launch at the time, and had to find workarounds to make it happen. The additional five new product launches planned for this spring have either been delayed or postponed indefinitely, she says.
Over the past few months, the world has inevitably shifted because of the coronavirus outbreak. In the beauty industry, where much of the work centers around human interaction and face-to-face contact, industry professionals such ashairstylists, makeup artists, estheticians and nail techs have been left with little to no resources as they have shut down non-essential businesses
Dome Beauty has partnered with the Professional Beauty Association and The Makeup Show to launch Dome Beauty Cares, a fundraising effort to support freelance beauty workers.