Companies and Brands

10 Worst Makeup Brands Consumers Should Avoid

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Makeup aisle at the drugstore

When it comes to makeup, people spend their whole lives and lots of money to find the best foundation, lipstick or mascara. To meet society’s beauty standards, users are constantly looking for something new that makes them stand out. Makeup companies capitalize on this by regularly developing and announcing new products. What they don’t tell you is that some may actually be bad for your skin, some are ethically questionable and some dont’ always give you what they advertise.

When spending your hard-earned money to contour your face, plump your lips or lengthen your lashes, you deserve to know what products you’re investing in. We’ve identified a long list of makeup brands to avoid and the reasons we feel you should spend your money elsewhere, listed in no particular order.

1. ELF

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Women searching for cosmetics
  • Low-quality products
  • Poor customer service to deal with complaints
  • Some products include synthetic fragrances and parabens

You Get What You Pay For

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Demonstrating how to use a face palette

ELF hit the scene in 2004 as a more affordable alternative to products sold at big makeup stores like Sephora or Ulta. Available at most drugstores, the company has expanded its line over the years to include nail polish, makeup brushes and skincare.

While their products are cheaper than others, sometimes quality suffers in the process. Users complain about a lack of coverage in the foundation, lipstick that rubs off quickly and mascara that doesn’t do its job. When lodging complaints, customers complained of poor customer service and a poor shipping process for online orders.

2. Too Faced

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Woman reaching for cosmetic items
  • Wears off quickly
  • Colors appear different when applied
  • Products are difficult to apply

Ethically Made But Not Long Lasting

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Large supply of makeup brushes

Marketed as one of the top vegan makeup brands, Too Faced attracted many consumers on that premise alone. Unfortunately, some find the products lacking in quality and complain about dry, dusty eyeshadow and a lack of pigment. Others said the products wear off soon even with a primer underneath, many colors appear the same once applied, and they lack variety.

The disappointment in the brand is a big deal as many consumers become more concerned with how products are made. Those who disagree with testing on animals may have been drawn to Too Faced products, only to find they didn’t find the quality they were promised.

3. Clinique

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Harmful chemicals are often used in makeup products
  • Known to smear after application
  • Tested on animals
  • Has caused allergic reactions

The World’s Oldest Makeup Brand

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Woman showing the effects of foundation on one side of her face

Estee Lauder is the parent company of Clinique, Origins, GLAMGLOW, La Mer and Bobbi Brown. As one of the oldest makeup brands, Clinique holds its popularity as a pass-down product from generation to generation. In some cases, it appears the quality of the product doesn’t match the longevity of the brand.

One complaint about Clinique products is that they are tested on animals. While the parent company has made promises to stop the practice, the company still sells products in the Chinese market. Although the Humane Society and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are constantly pushing for change, products imported to China must be tested on animals, with a few exceptions for some companies and items qualified as “ordinary” that are made within the country. If products are bought online and shipped to China, makeup companies can avoid this problem, but if the product is sold in China, it must meet the animal testing requirements. Chinese regulators don’t accept some non-animal test methods, so exceptions are possible but difficult to get. Products with new ingredients, from companies already supervised by authorities, and those made for infants must all continue to be tested on animals.

Combined with complaints of poor customer service practices and a lack of quality in some products, and many tried and true users look elsewhere for skincare and makeup.

4. NARS

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Makeup products are often tested on animals
  • Tested on animals
  • Products aren’t hydrating
  • Face palettes wear off

Contouring That Fades

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Makeup artist with a large supply of brushes

NARS offers highly pigmented products with bold colors and long-lasting claims. The company sells its face palettes as easy to blend even with fingertips, although some users claim it wears off quickly and looks patchy.

On the ethical side, NARS began with strong cruelty-free practices but seemed to abandon them around 2020. NARS’s new animal testing policy requires that products be tested on animals where it’s required by law. As the company has moved into the Chinese market, many customers are disenchanted by the broken promises made by the company.

5. Burt’s Bees

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Makeup supplies on a pink backdrop
  • Contains harmful chemicals
  • Irritates skin
  • High costs

False All-Natural Appeal

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Woman with lipstick on her teeth

When asked to think of an all-natural makeup brand, many refer to Burt’s Bees because the company has successfully branded itself as such. Known for lotions, chapstick, lipstick and soap, the company’s products actually carry a large amount of harmful chemicals.

Research shows that some Burt’s Bees lipstick products include lead. Lotion and soap have ingredients that are known to disrupt hormones. While these ingredients may not hurt you, they are likely to irritate your skin. Their fragrance cocktail is known to cause respiratory disease, skin irritation and allergies.

6. bareMinerals

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Makeup supplies sold to consumers
  • Contains chemicals linked to health problems
  • Alleged false advertising
  • Products are hard to find

Lawsuit Puts Company in the Spotlight

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Perfume on display in a store

bareMinerals is made by the company Shisheido. Customers filed a lawsuit against the company, arguing against their claims of all-natural ingredients. Some users claim that man-made, harmful chemicals are included in the product.

The chemicals allegedly used in the products are known as “forever chemicals” because they stay in the user’s system for a long time after exposure. These chemicals have been linked to liver issues, low birth weight, weakened immune systems, thyroid issues and cancer.

7. Neutrogena

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Woman washing her face
  • Contains some harmful chemicals
  • Alleged false all- natural claims
  • Ineffective products

Some Allege Company Uses Cancer-Causing Chemical

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Woman scrubbing her face

Neutrogena offers a long list of skincare, cosmetic and moisturizing products. One of those, firming cream with sunscreen, allegedly contains a known human carcinogen benzophenone. The company failed to disclose these chemicals in its advertising materials and even used the slogan “Safety Is Paramount” in some ads.

The company has faced several lawsuits and accusations from customers over the years of using benzophenone, which can also disrupt the endocrine system.

8. Ulta

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Empty perfume bottles on a pink backdrop
  • Unsafe return practices
  • Poor customer service
  • Poor management

Selling Returns as New

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Customers unhappy with store’s return policies

An Ulta employee blew the whistle on some unsafe business practices when they shared a video to social media years ago. In the video, employees were asked to place returned items back on the shelf for resale without proper sanitation or cleaning first.

This resulted in a class action lawsuit from consumers who thought they were buying brand new products but were getting flawed, returned items.

9. Wet ‘N’ Wild

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Woman applying lip liner in front of a mirror
  • Products cause skin problems such as dryness or oiliness
  • Some colors look different once applied
  • Causes premature aging looks

Loved and Hated

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Woman applying mascara in the mirror

The company is cruelty-free, affordable and safe, but that’s where the compliments stop. Available in most drugstores with an ever-expanding line of products, Wet ‘N’ Wild is a famous name in makeup, but that’s not always a good thing.

Users complain of cheap products that affect the skin’s texture and don’t last. This is another situation where a cheap product may give you a cheap result.

10. Victoria’s Secret

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Woman applying lotion to her face
  • Changing cruelty-free practices
  • Complaints of poor service in stores
  • Possible formula changes

Stick With the Clothing

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The front of a Victoria’s Secret store

Victoria’s Secret is known best for its loungewear and lingerie, but it also has a line of lotions, soaps and makeup sold in-store and online. For many years, they vowed to not test on animals, but have since reversed that pledge to grow their customer base into other countries.

Customers also claim that the formulas constantly change, making it hard to find something to love long-term.

Know What to Watch For

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Happy woman with clean complexion in the sunshine

Some makeup users value the ethical practices of a company, while others care more about the price and the durability of the product. To make sure they are getting what they want, consumers should recognize some of the harmful chemicals used in makeup products: Formaldehyde, fragrance and Petroleum, to name a few.

If you are concerned with how the company tests its products, be aware of laws within the United States and any other country where the product is sold.  Watch for laws related to both imported products and those made in the country. Check the website for their testing policy and stay up to date every time you replenish a product, because they change and update over time. Don’t take a company’s word for it if they say the products are all-natural; do your own research and determine that for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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