After the controversial launch of her brand in 2019, beauty guru Jaclyn Hill is back and has revamped her makeup brand, Jaclyn Cosmetics. In the reveal for a new lipstick range Poutspoken (via YouTube), Hill briefly refers back to the drama surrounding her first launch. But what exactly went wrong? Here’s the Jaclyn Hill controversy, explained.

In May 2019, Hill debuted Jaclyn Cosmetics, which launched with a lipstick range called So Rich Lipstick. In a video announcing the news, Hill explained why the cosmetic line had been in development for over five years. “There were so many things that failed and went wrong,” she said in the video (via YouTube), going on to say that while these issues wouldn’t be noticed by customers, they were a big deal to her. “Nothing is ever gonna launch or be released that I have personally not worn, tested, and love,” Hill concluded.

At first, the launch of Jaclyn Cosmetics went pretty smoothly with So Rich Lipstick products selling out fast (via Distractify). However, dozens of customers started to notice things that were wrong with their lipsticks, and images of damaged and faulty products started to spread like wildfire on social media (via Cosmopolitan).

Customers found hairs, bits of plastic, and pieces of metal in their lipsticks

The majority of complaints were regarding strange fuzzy white hairs protruding from the lipsticks (via Teen Vogue), while others noticed air bubbles, holes, and even more disturbing, fragments of plastic and metal.

Two weeks after the launch, Jaclyn Hill uploaded her first apology video of sorts (via YouTube). Titled ‘My Lipsticks’, she responded to issues customers had raised, providing documentation that proved the ingredients in the lipsticks were FDA approved and weren’t expired. The influencer also spoke about specific complaints directly, like the fuzzy hairs and gritty texture. According to Hill, the white hairs were a result of lab technicians using cotton gloves while handling the product, as well as using cloths to clean the vats the lipsticks were made in.

The gritty texture and melting issues were due to the ingredients not being broken down properly in the mixing process because the brand “made a lot of product in a very short amount of time.” At this point, customers could get in touch to refund and replace their products, but it wasn’t until July 2019 that every single person who bought a product from the Jaclyn Cosmetics collection would get a total refund, including shipping and tax.

Jaclyn Hill's first apology didn't go over well

In reaction to Jaclyn Hill’s first apology, a number of beauty influencers did their own investigative work. YouTubers like Pretty Pastel Please and Raw Beauty Kristi gave viewers the opportunity to see the defective products up close with a macro lens and microscope, with Pretty Pastel Please discovering balls of plastic embedded within the lipsticks, as well as small metal shards (via YouTube).

Canadian YouTuber and biochemist Kenna Whitnell also discredited Hall’s accusation that white gloves and cloths could have been used during manufacture (via YouTube). “There is no lab in the United States that has an over-the-counter drug manufacturing license that would ever bring cotton gloves into the facility,” she said. “It is a health hazard, it is an issue. Cotton is easily contaminated.” Whitnell goes on to explain that using a cloth or towel to clean lab equipment “doesn’t happen”, and that the method most commonly used in these types of facilities is boiling hot water followed by ethanol.

After taking a break from social media in June via Insider), Hill uploaded a story to Instagram on July 23, 2019, addressing the ongoing controversy. “Long story short, the lab I worked with, I will never be working with again, obviously,” she wrote (via Just Jared). She also issued every single person who purchased one of the lipsticks a full refund, including shipping and tax.

The future seems bright for Jaclyn Cosmetics

A day later, Jaclyn Hill uploaded another apology video (via YouTube). This time titled ‘Where I’ve Been’, she apologized for not addressing the issues properly in the first video, and discussed why she “completely failed” with the launch. “I messed up in more than one way,” she said, addressing her viewers and customers. “I was way too overconfident in my launch and I was not [involved enough] in quality control and I overhyped it for you guys.” She also cleared up why she went quiet on social media, explaining that she stepped away to rebuild her brand after what happened.

On August 16, Jaclyn Cosmetics relaunched and hinted at a new product line to come later in 2019. “The future is bright, and we’re so excited for what’s to come,” the brand wrote on Instagram. This was later revealed to be Jaclyn’s Holiday Collection, consisting of highlighters which Hill was working on before So Rich Lipsticks launched.

Since then, Hill has slowly been rebuilding her brand back to the hype it initially carried. In February 2021 she officially relaunched her brand with a Valentine’s Day mystery box, followed by more highlighters in March along with her revamped lipstick collection (via Instagram). The future is certainly looking bright for Jaclyn Cosmetics, that’s for sure.

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