I may not be the most consistent with my posting schedule but I’ve always kept it honest. Lately, I have felt a little burned out. Where I used to be so enthusiastic and optimistic about high-end green beauty brands, I’m now worn by seeing repetitions of the same stories, packaging, and ideas. Brands are all jumping onto one wagon, overloading (and eventually toppling) it. To be clear, this has nothing to do with “who came first” – companies such as Aurelia, Indie Lee and Agent Nateur came much later in the game than pioneers like In Fiore and Tata Harper yet they are original and bring something new to the conversation. So I’m a very big proponent of options and love supporting unique, innovative, NEW ideas and concepts.
What I don’t like are the brands that piggyback off others ideas and concepts such as the endless brand founders who happen to speak in May Lindstrom-lingo, or how the packaging is all basically iterations of the same concept. This is a post I shared on Instagram that I would like to share on here as well:
“Today I’m sharing this photo posted by @spiritbeauty, one of the pioneers of the #greenbeauty movement who’s website Spirit Beauty Lounge was once the most beautiful web shop that had THE green beauty brands. For many, she was the one who discovered lines like Tata Harper, May Lindstrom and Yuli. What set her apart was her vision of luxurious green beauty that were every bit as high-end as the brands seen in high-end department stores and niche concept stores (which all three aforementioned lines now happen to be in). She had an eye for going above to find authentic visionaries who would have a future and advocated for them. This photo is a snapshot of the brands she championed. Unfortunately this community rewards copycats, and despite everyone saying they want the luxury experience, the truth is that everyone wants luxury on a budget which I can’t blame them for but what happens is that retailers without this eye for luxury end up stocking those same brands, then branch out and get more brands becoming bigger in the process and then throw more discounts to move customers – and in the words of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amorouso, the copy-cats came to the table and stole our lunch. Spirit Beauty Lounge as far as I know, is no more. Whether it is an extended hiatus or a permanent shut down remains to be seen, but her voice – the part that made green beauty all the more special and luxurious has been silent for a while. In it’s place, are retailers and new green beauty brands espousing the same origin stories, the same why we’re special, the same iterations on formulas and packaging. “Our line doesn’t use essential oils”, “Our line’s specialty is essential oils that are TESTED and that is why they’re special”,”Our line uses entire whole plants”, “Our line uses no colloidal silver”, “Our line focuses on colloidal silver, gold, etc!” and the countless iterations on founders who single white female May Lindstrom and Etsy-esque lines that resemble Herbivore Botanicals. Some also imitate their formulas, have the same naming convention and sizes and then undercut them on pricing. But here’s the thing, they all universally claim originality, a need to create that sprung from a void, yet ironically taking from the very brands that they’re manipulatively erasing from the narrative.
Our community rewards it by continuing to fall for it, thinking a new iteration with a random new ingredient or another impassioned talking head who started playing with oils in 2014 is going to be better than the next – FOMO. This is why you do not see me introducing new lines that often. I won’t accept a free sample from another copycat brand to share with you guys if I don’t think they’ve legitimately going something new to add to the conversation. Spirit may be gone for now, but I ask each of you to learn the lesson from that – reward originality, vision and authenticity not “me-too” brands who piggy-back off the work of others.”
I know in our “community” there is still a decorum from “going there” – people will talk about a problem but not actually tell you exactly who the offenders are and it doesn’t do any good. I believe in using my writing to express my honest voice so I will shed some examples in hopes that it both educates and discourages offending brands from continuing this unethical practice. I won’t even share the subtle slights of which there are nearly countless examples but here are three very recent and unarguable cases:
Lil Fox Miami Eucalipto dupes Kahina Giving Beauty Moroccan Beldi Soap with Eucalyptus
A fellow blogger friend of mine DM’d me when she saw LilFox introduce a new product that was *very similar* to one that Kahina has had on the market for a while already. In fact it is the same thing – this product uses the same two ingredients:
Saponified Olive Oil
Is this illegal? No. A two ingredient product is not illegal, but I think you will agree this is not a good look especially as the titles both reference Morocco, which is an essential part of Kahina’s brand DNA. Regardless of whether this matters to you, it’s evident that the LilFox product is not original.
Romilly Wilde passes off In Fiore photos as their own
Romilly Wilde is a UK line that based on conversations with another friend of mine in the know has serious financing and PR muscle. The founder is also the one behind Plum Baby, a very successful line of baby food. All this is to say, they should know better than to:
1. Take another brand’s photo
2. Act like it’s their own work
In the photo above Romilly Wilde took a photo from In Fiore’s Instagram stream all the way back form 2014 and acted like they were “busy creating” these “new balms and oils.” Lies on so many levels.
The above proves it isn’t a fluke. Romilly Wilde takes a photo from In Fiore’s instagram stream and acts like they’re making batches for one of their products. Can we say dishonest advertising? That photo isn’t even their product!
Upon being called out, Romilly Wilde wrote a very half-hearted (in my opinion) apology that didn’t even tag In Fiore’s instagram that was essentially “In Fiore, we think you’re great. sorry for the whoopsies! We’ll be careful!” – that entire post/apology is now gone from their Instagram.
Recherche Beaute plagiarize YÜLI Skincare
Recherche Beaute is a line that just came out (their first digital presence was beginning of 2017). The founder is a “USC law school graduate.” Remember these two facts because the entire Recherche Beaute website is littered with plagiarized content from YÜLI.
Literal word for word.
Again, word for word from the question to the two paragraph answer. What’s absurd about this one is that Recherche Beaute is also claiming the same exact background, team, and development/testing process as YÜLI? It must be the case since they’re literally ripped them word for word, which makes their claim dubious and equally makes me doubt their authenticity of actual testing/development. Your description of the testing/development process isn’t even your own! Seriously if a brand can’t even come up with how they develop/test their products, what is the likelihood that they’re actually using those chemists and doing market testing? It seems they’re trying to create an illusion for something they don’t actually have based off of another brand’s content that impressed them.
This isn’t word for word, more like Recherche Beaute copied and revised YÜLI’s content, leaving it mostly intact. Again when you copy another brand’s statement on their production methods, and take it as your own – it makes me doubt you’re doing any of the things you claim.
I mean… come on… at least change the order?
The reason I am giving the dates is because the YÜLI website can be traced and archive engines verify this content was on their site in 2012, meaning it’s inarguable that the original intellectual property belongs to YÜLI. What is also inarguable is the fact that Recherche Beaute plagiarized YÜLI’s content, taking someone else’s work as their own. Given that the founder is a USC Law School graduate, it’s really inexcusable for them to feign ignorance at their offense. You can’t say you graduated from that program and not understand plagiarizing and intellectual property violations. They knew the unethical move they were committing and decided to go ahead and rip off another brand’s work.
Shortly after posting this, I discovered on Instagram that other bloggers had discovered Recherche Beaute also plagiarized from African Botanics as well. Such a strange coincidence considering my most recent post on Instagram after the one I shared above was about the originality and vision of African Botanics.
The middle screen is an interview that Peter Nguyen, the founder of Recherche Beaute did with Jenni Kayne. The highlights in yellow are the plagiarized parts, and the screens on the left and right are the original content from African Botanics website.
This shows that it is not an isolated incident and that Peter Nguyen has made a habit of “Melania Trumping” other brands.
Since this post went live, I have been hearing from other bloggers and instagrammers about how Recherche Beaute has been deleting comments asking about their plagiarism and basically pretending this didn’t happen. They’re also Direct Messaging people telling them there was a “misunderstanding” which there is not (also how am I supposed to trust a company that DM’s people different stories – cause us bloggers compare notes- in private and hide from it publicly) and have tried to place blame on everyone from the “jealous competitor” narrative (as though they were coerced into plagiarizing by the brands they stole from? who are all more established than they are?) to setting the blame on a hypothetical employee as a scapegoat – basically not taking any responsibility and choosing to continue the dishonest and unethical behavior. Below are screen grabs from when they DM’d me last night, completely unedited:
So the thing about lying and crafting an inauthentic story is that holes exist that do not hold up to questioning as is evident in this case. Also, buddy if you had a content creator and writer, then it just establishes that inauthentic nature of your message and makes it even more alarming and despicable that your brand would be plagiarizing other brands work. Recherche Beaute is literally writing on their Instagram that their content is “co-composed” and “co-crafted” sooooo in other words, the founder couldn’t even write his own content or use his own voice….and “The interview is 100% authentic minus the segments that were disrespectfully taken without his knowledge. ” – So you’re claiming to be 100% authentic with exception to the heaps of plagiarized material? You know this is bullshit right?!
I think I speak for most of us when I say, no one expects perfection in this industry but we do expect honesty and respect in terms of not being lied to and deceived. It seems that Peter/Recherche Beaute thinks we’re dumb and can’t figure this out. Even with an opportunity to right their wrongs, this non-apology and inability to actually own and take responsibility for plagiarizing and stealing content is very telling of the unethical nature of the brand.
As my other blogger friends have said, it’s indefensible and egregious. I am making it public because this behavoir needs to be called out, offenders need to take accountability and be exposed for their dubious practices, unethical behavior and face the consequences. If you see something, say something. Not addressing these issues is doing no one any favors so I am speaking loudly.
I’m just going to say this: I do not care if you blog every day or once a year (although hopefully you don’t ever go away that long), you are what I had always hoped a beauty blogger would be , a great philosophy for the products you support and you are truthful to a degree others are not touching. I will devour your recommendations and posts.
I think people need to realize that besides just supporting original companies, the reason it is important is because the pioneers and the people who actual vision are the ones who will continue to push through and make things exciting. If you instead give food to the rats that try to take their lunch what happens is they starve and you’re left with rats who just saw an opportunity and as you’ve shown in the examples above, are inauthentic and not going to elevate.
Brava, girl! This is perfect and much, much needed!
You’re exactly right. I just noticed the only thing different on the Recherche Beaute & Yuli list of banned ingredients is that Recherche Beaute removed Phenoxyethanol only to see that it was because they used it in their products. So they’re not even just copying and pasting, they know exactly what they’re doing. And it’s like you said…. if they’re using phenoxyethanol then can they really be claiming the “purity” standpoint that they plagiarized from Yuli? lol
Good job spotting this, Nancy! You just proved the point, so this brand that uses a preservative on the avoid list for most green beauty consumers and retailers would copy YULI’s product development and philosophy when they in actuality do not adhere to the stringent standards and purity measures is very dishonest.
WOW. I can’t believe these blatant copycats – shame on them! I’ve never heard of Romilly Wilde or Recherche Beaute but I definitely won’t be purchasing from them.
Bravo! Copy cat brands and imitation riles me.
I saw on Just Ask Arjun and African Botanics last night that Recherche Beaute also stole content from African Botanics on an interview with Jenni Kayne.
Hell yes! This post needs to serve as a standard bearer for all other bloggers…and really, just all authentic people in general. It’s not enough to stand by and gibber gabber and wring your hands in despair about what offenses you see around you – we need to straight up call them out. I see blatant copying becoming an even bigger problem, especially by younger people as they’ve been emboldened their entire lives by the misconception that social media seems to espouse…that all content is ‘free’, is ownerless, and exists for their ego and advancement and there is no accountability to be had on the takers part (that ‘whoppsies!’ apology??? what an absolute disgrace). I couldn’t be more behind your philosophy. Basically, I think all digital content needs to default to trademarked and copyrighted and I think formations/ formulators need to protect their work/ product going forward.
This is incredible. I can’t believe anyone would actually lift copy word for word from another brand. Zero integrity. Besides the fact that part of the fun & excitement of building a brand, in my opinion, is creating it! Coming up with innovative ideas.
As far as LilFox and Kahina Giving Beauty, I would have to disagree. Beldi soap is widely used through Northern Africa and can ONLY be sourced in Morocco. So of course they would reference Morocco. Eucalyptus infused beldi soap is a dime a dozen in Morocco. It’s everywhere. There is nothing original about it. It’s an age old tradition that is just not as widely known in the Western world. They infuse it with everything from eucalyptus to rose and lavender.
Yeah it’s pretty unbelievable what some people try to get away with and like you said – shows a complete lack of integrity.
I appreciate your differing view regarding Lil Fox and Kahina, like I said – in their case, unlike the other two, it’s certainly not illegal and while Kahina doesn’t hold an intellectual property on Beldi soap, nor have I said they did – I just think it is just a bad look. Kahina has been a line that has drawn from Morocco, LilFox has not. Like you’ve stated, the Beldi soap can be infused with anything from eucalyptus to rose to lavender so I wonder why they didn’t create a new variation considering Kahina’s original Beldi soap was eucalyptus scented. I just don’t feel their product would exist if Kahina’s had not and that it’s not original and does take advantage of another brand’s work.
As always your post is spot on.
Creating something entirely new and unique is hard, I get that, and I don’t get mad when you can guess where some of the inspiration came from, in the end most new things are in part copies of stuff that already exists. However blatantly copying information, product designs + names, and whole products is just wrong and unacceptable. The same goes for all of those inspirational background stories, I guess only a few of them are really true.
I think we as consumers should not honour such behaviour by buying the products. And we as bloggers, youtubers and instagrammers shouldn’t talk about them glowingly without mentioning the copying. And we should stop with constantly hyping new products, a little bit of distance towards the founders of brands doesn’t hurt, as does not constantly craving new and allegedly innovative, unique products.
I recently saw a brand copying the deodorants by Schmidt’s nearly completely. Another German brand seemed to be so inspired by the design of the products by Herbivore Botanicals, that they copied it par for par.
When I saw your earlier Instagram post, I agreed with your views, particularly now that Instagram keeps on recommending these copy-cat brands that seem to be popping out of nowhere. Now that you’ve shared these egregious examples of plagiarism by Recherche Beaute and Romilly Wilde… it’s very clear that it’s not just about several different brands happening to decide that miron glass is the way to go, or that green beauty marketing jargon is intrinsically limited. In Fiore and YÜLI are such powerhouses, and especially with the former, there have been other brands that credit Julie for her pioneering work. It’s unbelievable.
Lilfox’s Jungle Glow honey cleanser and mask is very similar to Leahlani’s Honey 3-in-1 honey cleanser & mask. It isn’t an exact copy but same concept. I happen to love Leahlani’s cleanser and received Lilfox’s in a Beauty Hero’s box so, I gave it a try. It is by inferior to Leahlani’s and now I’m looking to give it to a friend.
Great post, Fabiana! Could not agree more – plagiarising is terrible. But must say do not agree on the Beldi soap. Here in Europe, there are so many brands with an Argan oil/Marcoccan background – they have been around for decades and eucalyptus infused Beldi soap can be found everywhere – so the argument could also be turned around: not very original of Kahina…
I direct messaged Susie the owner of Romilly Wilde on Instagram, to express my disappoint at her false advertising and blatant plagiarism of In Fiore’s content, and indeed products.
To accidentally use someone else’s intellectual property is one thing; but to trawl through three-years of In Fiore’s images to find something resembling your own product and to then use that AND lie with quotes of ‘new products’, ‘working in the lab’, ‘new batch just created’ etc. is wholly unacceptable.
The response I received from the owner of Romilly Wilde spoke nothing about being sorry, and more about being caught out. Disgraceful!
They have lost my valuable custom.
I am 99.9% sure that brand is question doesn’t hand blend their formulation as in make them by hand so why make out its done that way?
Oh, it isn’t.
It’s contract manufactured, by a third-party, and then bottled in their particular packaging design.
We’re in an age of bs over truth …
This is despicable behaviour – ethics seems to be bottom of the list for a lot of green beauty businesses ironically. Recherche I’m sure will be seen in court where good luck to them putting that law degree to use. The Romilly Wilde is shameless and stupid. It’s completely turned me off – if they go as far as to fake something that basic how can i trust anything else they say?
I do see the Lil’Fox case as different though. I’ve been to Morocco where they’ve been using that soap with the same ingredients for an eternity, there are literally hundreds of products similar to the Kahina so I really don’t see that as copycating or else Kahina could well be accused of the same.
You really can’t trust what they say and I actually had a brief exchange with Recherche Beauty that was pretty suspect as well which leads me to believe that they’re just not an honest, ethical company.
I can totally respect that some will see Lil Fox as being different since they aren’t outright stealing an intellectual property or plagiarizing. It’s definitely not as black and white as the other two cases where it’s indisputable that shameless and despicable behavior occurred. The reason I decided to include it is because not every case is going to be as black and white, and many will fall on a spectrum. I know that these soaps are literally part of the culture in Morocco and Kahina introduced it as such. For me it isn’t an issue of stealing a patent or anything, but rather I just don’t think this product would exist in Lil’Fox’s line if the Kahina had not come along first. But I totally know where you and several others come from as well, and I think having these conversations about our comfort zones and how we look at unethical and justifiable behaviors is a good thing.
I’m so agree with you! Thank you for sharing these informations with us!!!
I want to bring another subject to the conversation. I’m chocked by another thing: natural brands are always claiming how pure their products are.
If we put aside those who use synthetic perfumes or preservatives claiming that they are “natural”, we also have an hypocrisy regarding some ingredients like absolutes (most of them seem to be extracted with harsh chemical substances) or “extracts”. Plus, they all use exotics oils or butter coming from all around the world. These raw ingredients are transported on boats being exposed to temperature variations, in plastic or metallic containers, not in Miron glass.
I also reacted quite often to some products formulated with water or water based extract without any serious preservative!!!
I feel grateful for me and my children that we have companies who try their best! Even those who use a little bit of synthetics. But we are living in such a polluted environment, everything is travelling with uncontrolled conditions, a lot of extraction processes are still questionnable, etc. But all of them are claiming how pure their products are! This new industry lacks of humility in my opinion…
NB: I live in France and we have many “Arabic” brands selling the same Beldi soap like Kahina. She might be the pioneer bringing this amazing soap in North America specially in Vogue, Glamour, influences, bloggers, etc.
Wow that Recherche Beauté non apology is appalling. With all that pseudo apologizing, did they even bother to actually apologize to the brands they stole and plagiarized from???
I want to say that as a regular reader who does not comment, I am so thankful that you are standing your ground and are critical about things like this when so many are not. It makes it easier to us buyers to not have the wool pulled over our eyes.
Oh man. Recherche Beauty in for a rude awakening if he thinks this behavior is going to get him anywhere! I mean you were caught redhanded doing something illegal with undeniable proof, and rather than be sincere, you blame everyone else but yourself and call it a “miscommunication”? Wow, unbelievable.
This is beyond ridiculous on the part of Recherche Beaute. I’m highly doubtful there even is the other “employee” given the small size of their company and the fact that like you said… in an interview DIRECTLY with PETER the founder, he plagiarized! And Peter is the founder and is responsible for all of the content that goes up, it doesn’t matter if his roommate or best friend gave him the information, he still choose to run with it!
I do not think there is another employee. As I received a DM from them under another name. And if they did have content creators/writers, that’s even worse that the message isn’t even authentic on top of having to copy someone else. This line is pathetic.
This is so ridiculous! THANK YOU for calling them out and putting all the facts out there. There is going to have to be a day of reckoning for these companies and their poorly trained “content creators” that are put in charge of their feed. We’re paying attention!
You know what brand is horrible about copycatting? Herbivore Botanicals! They constantly steal other brands ideas and mass market them with a cheaper inferior product. They are totally the Walmart of green beauty. I’m so sick of that brand and everyone posting it all over IG. They completely erode everything this movement is supposed to be about!
Oh gosh. How am I only just hearing about this?! Awful to hear.
Thank you for taking the time to write this! Yes, as a blogger I’ve seen so much overlap in terms of products, copy, and marketing. Whenever I see something new and fresh, I can’t help but get excited. For instance, I love Ursa Major’s look and commitment to making products feel light on the skin. Also, Nu Evolution’s makeup went the “road less traveled” with an aesthetic that is urban and modern, not the typical light-and-airy rustic natural look. I love it!
But even as a green beauty blogger, I’ve dealt with copycats. I’ve been blogging since 2012, but recently a skincare line popped up using my name (I’m THE BEAUTY PROOF, they’re Beauty Proof Skincare). It’s not cool.
I guess the promise of higher values within the green beauty world is upheld only by a few, and as in any industry, pretenders are eager to move in and make a quick buck or gain a few followers.
Thank you for starting this conversation. I agree that brands should be called out by name on their “shady” and unethical if not illegal practices. Having to wonder and guess which brands to possibly and actually avoid and the spectrum of authenticity these brands claim is enough to make me scream/cry/etc. With all of new “green” beauty brands emerging and even already established brands it just goes to show you that you always have to do your research and consistently read ingredient lists. Thank you for making trying to live a healthier lifestyle a bit easier! Your candor is extremely refreshing. If only all bloggers followed suit!
I’ve noticed the inauthentic, formulaic green beauty speak (which I found so refreshing in Spirit Demerson and May 9 years ago) and it’s now has dulled my enthusiasm for anything new. I guess it’s a good sign that clean beauty is trendy – isn’t that what we always wanted?- but it really comes down to buyer beware. As consumers, we really have to educate ourselves, and your post informs the conversation in a big way. Thank you!