Pandora’s Purple Box: Part Two

by hellorousseau

PPB2

“All the makeup in the world won’t make you less insecure… Silly girl… ”        –Melanie Martinez, Sippy Cup


Tatiana Janovcik sits in the small, bustling Starbucks in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village district. Behind the 23-year-old student, the summer sun dips below the boutique shops, painting a vibrant sunset across the Canadian city.

Janovcik’s eye makeup is light and warm. A thin, steady line of eyeliner emphasizes her curled lashes. Her eyeshadow is neutral, but catches the coffee-house’s mood lighting with flickers of gold.

Despite her fresh face of makeup, Janovcik doesn’t wear any lipstick.

“I added up how much I lost,” she says after a sip of her drink. “It was $2,200. It was around that number.”

Janovcik’s long blonde hair is pulled behind one ear, brightening the dim shadow from across her sharp, blue eyes. In one hand, she holds a piece of paper; a letter.
A letter she’s read more than once.

Dear Tatiana Janovcik,” starts the note. Printed plainly on wrinkled, white paper, it bares a stark contrast from the sender’s normally neon attitude. “Lime Crime is writing to inform you of an incident involving personal information you provided…

tat

Janovcik sits with her Lime Crime letter and a rough tally of what was stolen after the company’s security breach.

For Janovcik, it’s not news that from October 2014 to February 2015, Lime Crime Makeup, a company owned by notoriously colourful & quirky CEO Doe Deere, faced a massive security breach that compromised the personal and financial information of thousands of their customers around the world.

Search ‘Lime Crime Scandal’ on Google, and you’ll be able to read the almost perfectly catalogued mass of hysteria & panic users faced when they realized their accounts had been allegedly drained;

or in Janovcik’s case, used to buy luxury plane tickets around the world.

“I got the first email for a flight confirmation in February, and I was like, ‘Well, this is really weird, but maybe it’s just spam,’” says Janovcik, who had only purchased her first– and last– Lime Crime product just a month earlier. “But then I had a friend over, and I was like, ‘Look how weird this email is!’ and he was like, ‘Okay, but does your credit card number end in blah, blah, blah?’”

Her lips curl into a smile and she lets out a light laugh, looking out the Starbucks window. The sun has left the sky, and the cosy Winnipeg neighbourhood is dark.

“I was like ‘Oh, fuck. Yeah.’ Then I suddenly remembered… the letter, and right away I was like, ‘Holy shit.’”

She purses her naked lips before looking down at the note.

“I lost it. I started crying. I kept saying, ‘This is what it is! I know this is what it is!’”

But Janovcik says there were no red flags– no warnings, no negative reviews, no backlash– that she saw before purchasing the $20 tube of Cashmere that ended up costing her over $2,000.

“Most of the people I followed [on Instagram] raved about [Lime Crime’s] products on their beauty accounts,” says Janovcik. “They thought the brand had awesome colours, and that it was a decent product. That’s kind of why I went for it.”

And while in hindsight Janovcik says she was naive for not researching more before falling in love with Lime Crime, over 2,000 miles away, in sunny California, 28-year-old Polly* shared her similar thoughts.

“Honestly? To tell you the complete and honest truth? I never knew about these things, about the backlash,” says Polly over the phone. “The only thing I had heard of was that their stuff wasn’t actually vegan, and obviously because I was such a fan of them, I thought ‘Well they could be lies,’ and, ‘people always have haters.’”

Polly was hired by Doe Deere to work in Lime Crime’s customer service; a job she got not only because of her qualifications, but because she mentioned she was a massive fan of Deere.

“They say ‘if you have haters, you’re doing something right.’”


xxxxxxDollhouse

“Hey girl, open the walls, play with your dolls…”

Even though Polly talks to me over the phone, I can hear the smile in her voice.
She says it was a dream come true.

“Could you imagine? It’d be like Makeup For Ever calling you and being like, ‘Yo,’” laughs Polly sharply. “It was so cool and so exciting. Honestly, it was the best day ever.”

It was a few months after a friend would put in a good word for her that Polly got the phone call. She had been working in product development with various cosmetics companies, and after leaving her prior job due to the brand’s financial issues, she received her first message from Lime Crime.

“The first interview I did, I did it with Mark (Deere’s husband). [Mark and I] chatted a little bit– it was a very informal interview, like at a local coffee shop– but they were pretty impressed with my credentials,” says Polly.

She hesitates.

“They also really liked the fact that I was a long time Doe Deere & Lime Crime fan.”

Polly says she let them know of her fondness of Deere; that she followed her blog, and admired her unique style since her early entrepreneurial days online. “[I used to] look at all the original Lime Crime stuff with its original packaging. They loved that.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.04.24 AM

A photo from Deere’s personal Instagram account allegedly shows the CEO dressed as an angel at Lime Crime’s head office.

The second interview took place at Lime Crime’s offices in California. Polly waited momentarily before being escorted to her meeting with Deere. 

“… We’ll be a perfect family.”

“Same thing happened; we chatted, and it was kind of informal, but we quickly got down to the nitty-gritty and she asked me similar questions [to Mark] like, ‘What are you doing? What are you looking for?’ blah, blah, blah,” says Polly. “I told her the same things, that I was a fan. She really, really liked that.”

In fact, Deere liked Polly so much that the 28-year-old started her job at Lime Crime the next day.

“When you walk away, is when we really play.”

She recounts her excitement as the news sunk in a brand she admired for so long had picked her to work for them. Deere herself had personally chosen Polly to work alongside.

She was ecstatic. 

It was Polly’s first ever customer service job, and while she hadn’t heard about the negativity surrounding the brand at the time, her glimpse into Lime Crime’s dollhouse-like world as a serious makeup brand perplexed the young woman.

“Everyone thinks that we’re perfect.”

“They’re very big on having lunch together every single day, and doing whatever [Deere] wants to do,” says Polly. “I remember one day, I went to lunch by myself, and it was like a big deal to them. They were like, ‘What? She’s not eating with us?’ because you’d always have to do what she wanted.”

When Polly came back from her break and joined the small group of employees, she says Deere and a girl with neon hair turned and left without speaking to her.

“[Deere] and one of the other girls got up and sat somewhere else. Like, so Mean Girls’ high school,” says Polly. She pauses on the other end of the phone before speaking; her voice breaks a little.

“She’s one of those people where it has to be all about her, and if you want to do your own thing, it’s not really acceptable.”

Polly claims that although there’s a small number of people in the company, they’re very united and private. “I’m pretty sure they’re just her closest friends as well as her employees,” says Polly. “It kind of felt like a high school type of thing where there was just a few of them, and you either fit in and follow their unspoken rules, or you’re out.”

“Please don’t let them look through the curtains.”

Unbeknownst to Polly, her time at Lime Crime had a fast-approaching expiry date.

“I wasn’t there that long [before I was let go], but what I was told by her husband was that I did not fit in with the culture of the company… that I just don’t have the right style,” says Polly.

But she was upset, and pointed out to Mark that they had more than enough time to change their minds about hiring her. Polly also noted that when she was fired, she had no interaction with Deere, the woman who had ultimately made the decision to hire her.

“I said, ‘You had 2 interviews with me, and you’re telling me I don’t have the right style?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, it sounds like a dick move, and I feel really bad, but I’m willing to be a personal reference for you because you’re really smart and you do really good work! But, you know, Doe just kind of has a vision.’”

Polly lets out a weak laugh.

“Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.”

“All I said [to Mark] was ‘… Are you joking me?’ I knew Doe had to approve your outfits when you go to trade shows, and I think she was kinda hoping that maybe one day I would just walk in with purple hair or something but… I’m sorry, in the real world, people don’t want to look like you,” laughs Polly.

“They’re not trying to be up your ass.”

So Polly left Lime Crime and went on her way, but despite working so closely with Deere, she says she never caught wind of negativity– even while working in their customer service department, an experience she is forced to keep confidential due to the brand’s strict non-disclosure agreement (although when asked about what it was like working for Lime Crime’s customer service, Polly answered with a loud laugh.) 

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 1.06.01 AM

“Once I started working for her, I had a friend who owns a hair Salon down in San Diego, and she was telling me, ‘Haven’t you heard about the Tumblr site?’” says Polly in reference to Oh Dear, Doe Deere! “Literally right after I stopped working there, I started to do my research, and I was like, ‘Ah, shit. She is a piece of crap.’”

“Ha, you’re blinded by her jewelry.”

Months after the hack, Polly watched from afar as her former employer dealt with the security breach that would allegedly cripple hundreds of customers financially across the globe. While she says the hack could happen to any company, she feels like Lime Crime’s response showed the brand’s true colours.

“It’s all about your delivery, and Doe’s delivery sucked. Any point she might have had has just gotten lost,” says Polly in reference to the CEO lashing out at customer’s through social media. “The fact that things went private, like [Lime Crime and Deere’s] Instagram pages, I-I just can’t… I… I honestly can’t. Any company with respect and dignity…”

Polly’s voice trails off on the other end of the phone. She lets out a sigh.

“I mean, isn’t the customer always supposed to be right?”

“No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens…”

Polly, *whose name has been changed to protect her from backlash, still works in product development with cosmetics. She follows her favourite brands & makeup artists on Instagram, much like Janovcik did when she was first influenced to buy from Lime Crime.

“Social media is BIG,” states Polly, who believes that the #BoycottLimeCrime movement could be effective if more people with bigger clout begin to speak up against the brand.

“With all these names like Jaclyn Hill, Jefree Starr, and whoever else with massive amounts of followers [against Lime Crime on social media]… it is THE form of communication that reaches the masses, and I feel like because of this, they might go down and not be able to get their reputation out of the gutter.”

As for people who are still considering buying Lime Crime?

“At the end of the day, you have to make whatever choice is right for you, but there are better options out there that are true to what they say… I mean, why waste your time supporting somebody who’s never going to support you?”

“I see things that nobody else sees.”


xxxxxxPity Party

“Did my invitations disappear?”

“One of my favourite makeup companies has always had rather… difficult reputation,” starts 20-year-old Tanja’s, aka Rose Shock’s, open letter posted to her blog. “For years, I have been supported by them, and I have absolutely loved their products.”

The Helsinki, Finland makeup artist continues, her tone shifting. “Slowly but surely I was seeing the evolution of this brand, and it was one downfall after another. For awhile I was afraid to use their products because people would attack me…” says Shock. “There is absolutely no reason why I should stand for a makeup company that makes me feel guilty.

Or scared even.

“Why’d I put my heart on every cursive letter?”

“Everyone keeps asking me about my thoughts on Lime Crime and their disgusting owner…” says Jeffrey Lynn Steininger, aka, Jefree Starr, in a lengthy Instagram post to his 1.2 million followers.

“Long story short: I befriended her in 2013 and had no idea how delusional, psychologically disturbed, and sad this girl was. She only wanted to be ‘friends’ so I would promote her brand and she would get attention. Fast forward to NOW…

All of the horrible things she as done have finally caught up with her.”

“Tell me why the hell no one is here…”

Meanwhile, on Snapchat (and also in Instagram comments,) style icon and makeup guru Jaclyn Hill, who has recently teamed up with BECCA Cosmetics, publicly posted her 10-second boycott pledge:

The backlash continued from more major players:
“In short, I will no longer be promoting/using @limecrimemakeup products or supporting the company in any way,” began the post to Samantha Ravndahl’s, aka SSSSamanthaa’s, 1.7 million Instagram followers.

“Along with many other artists, I truly feel this is what’s right. @Roseshock definitely said it well – regardless of truly enjoying Lime Crime products, I am often wary to post about them, and makeup shouldn’t be something you feel guilty about. I avoided getting involved in this controversy for a long time, but in light of recent events… I began to realize something,” wrote Ravndahl.

“I have been recommending these products. I could have been the one to push you to pick up that velvetine that consequently compromised your card.

And that’s simply not okay.”

“Tell me what to do to make it all feel better.”

Since Lime Crime’s security breach, which started in October 2014 & allegedly continued until February 2015, makeup influencers both big and small have used their social media platforms as a way to educate others about the brand.

While some have called for a boycott of the brand at events like IMATS, others have encouraged followers to do their own research and dispose of their Lime Crime makeup.

People like Lauren Curtis and Carli Bybel, who have made somewhat of a career from Youtube makeup videos and artistry, have nearly 7 million subscribers to their channels combined, so when one of them takes to Twitter to post their distaste with a brand, people listen.
curti

“Thanks for saying something or I never would’ve known!” writes one user in response to Curtis’ followup tweet asking her followers to Google the boycott.

“THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING OUT!” writes another in response to a similar tweet from Bybel. “Please help everyone who was affected also! [Deere] is trying shun… the problem.”

“Maybe it’s a cruel joke on me…
Whatever, whatever.”

And as people continue to point out, the problem not only stems from the initial security breach, or the drama & dishonesty that allegedly preceded the brand in Deere’s early years, but from Lime Crime’s treatment of their customers– or their ‘BFFs,’ as their self-proclaimed manifesto states (see below.)

Lime Crime’s Manifesto, posted in their California head office.

“Social media presence in this day is extremely relevant… [with] tech being what it is, anything can be quickly captured and shared in a second. That’s how the boycott has managed to succeed and not get bogged down,” says Quinn* who runs the popular boycott account, @RIPLimeGrime.

“If this were a few years ago, I guarantee D’oh (Deere) would have been able to shut us down like everyone else. But now, things are moving too fast and too quick for her to control it.”

“Just means there’s way more cake for me,
forever, forever.”

Quinn, *whose name has been changed to protect her identity, started dedicating her time to the boycott after witnessing how Lime Crime was responding to the hack while ignoring its panicked customers.

“I felt like something needed to be done, and they needed a voice as Doe wasn’t listening… [She was] making it difficult for them to be heard,” says Quinn. “So I started the boycott account.”

@RIPLimeGrime thrives mainly on Instagram, but also keeps an updated Twitter and Tumblr that reaches out to its 5,000 or so followers. The accounts are updated regularly, showcasing recent, almost daily examples of Lime Crime’s treatment of customers, including their habit of allegedly deleting comments, not giving due credit to original posters, or editing other’s personal product photos.

“The length and breadth of the boycott is very interesting to say the least. It’s touched so many people on so many levels and walks of life. It really is astounding,” says Quinn, who works for a major cosmetics company as a professional artist when she’s not managing the account. “It’s brought people together.”

“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

As she points out, the #BoycottLimeCrime hashtag is pushing 8,000 posts and counting. It has support from big-name makeup artists with thousands (or even millions) of followers, down to average Jane’s with 2 or 3 hundred.

“Too many people have been affected [by Lime Crime]. They’re all pissed and speaking out, and it’s too much for Doe to control anymore,” says Quinn.

“We’re like whack-a-mole or a hydra; cut 1 head off, 2 more spring up-” and there are certainly plenty hydras being decapitated, because a quick search yields countless accounts under names like @boycott.lime.crime, @limecrimelies, @limecrimeboycott, @boycott.limecrime, @limecim3_criminals, @lime_crime_liar, @limecrime_sucks, and plenty more across all social media platforms.

“I’ve seen a lot more comments on Lime Crime’s posts on a regular basis now; almost every post will have boycott related comments on it, so it’s difficult not to see it,” says Quinn, who adds that Deere allegedly deletes most negative comments, but either chooses not to get them all, or misses some.

“Maybe if I knew all of them well,

A glance at Lime Crime’s Instagram account typically yields dozens of customer comments ranging from some cursing the brand and calling Deere evil, to others expressing curiosity over claims of cold sores, severe medical reactions, product inconsistencies, and, of course, the boycott.

“More people are getting bolder and more vocal for sure,” adds Quinn.

And it appeared that those people’s voices had been heard,
because on July 29th, 2015,
via overnight delivery,
the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) sent a warning letter directly to Doe Deere and Lime Crime Makeup.

Dear Ms. Deere,” starts the note. I picture it printed plainly on crisp, white paper, baring a stark contrast from the receiver’s normally neon attitude.  “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reviewed your product, Lime Crime Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick (red velvet)…

I imagine Deere reading the letter over and over like Janovcik did with her letter from Lime Crime.

“Cry if I want to
(Cry, cry, cry)”


 

xxxxxxSoap

“Think I got myself in trouble,
so I fill the bath with bubbles.”

Across the Atlantic Ocean, in the city of Birmingham, UK, 23-year-old Aimee Alcock recounts the first time Lime Crime’s Velvetines allegedly made her sick.

“At a first look, my doctor thought I had got my mouth in contact with some form of chemical agent that would cause this [reaction],” says Alcock. She alleges that after using her tubes of Riot and Wicked for the first time, her health began to deteriorate.

“I feel it coming out my throat…”

“As the day went on [after applying Riot] I slowly lost my voice and had a really sore throat.” Alcock claims she wore the lipstick the first time for a girls’ night out one weekend. “After 4 days, the sore throat subsided and I started to get back to normal. Again, I went out for a weekend with some friends, and I decided to give Wicked a go.”

This time, her reaction was much more severe.

While Alcock reasoned that perhaps her first symptoms could have come from a night of drinking and getting rowdy with friends, the second, more aggressive reaction started to raise questions about what exactly was causing her health problems.

“God, I wish I never spoke…”

“I had nothing to drink [when I went out], and nothing spectacular happened, so when I woke up the following morning with a sore throat to the point I was in tears, a swollen tongue, and blisters all over my lips, I started to get worried,” she says. “I booked myself in to see my GP (general practitioner) the next day to get a diagnosis.”

After her initial examination, Alcock’s doctor was stumped. He asked if she could have come in contact with dangerous chemicals from her previous job at a funeral home, but Alcock swore she hadn’t worked closely with embalming materials in quite some time.

“After a process of elimination, we came to realize that it could be the Wicked Velvetine,” says Alcock, who says her doctor also told her that there was some form of agent in the lipstick that she was allergic to. Alcock checked the packaging.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 7.52.43 PM

“There was nothing that immediately stood out to myself or my GP as an aggressive ingredient in them to have caused such an angry rash and reaction,” Alcock says.

“When I got home, I immediately threw away all 3 of my shades. The following few days after returning from my GP, I suffered with flu-like symptoms, a temperature, loss of appetite, migraines and muscle weakness, which my GP also linked directly to the use of the Velvetines.”

“Guess I better wash my mouth out with soap.”

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are a few chemicals that cause flu-like symptoms similar to what Alcock experienced;
Exposure to Benzene, a natural constituent of crude oil, will initially mimic cold symptoms before getting aggressive and deadly. 2-butoxyethanol, a colourless liquid with a sweet, ether-like odor that’s used in domestic and industrial products, will also imitate qualities of a stomach bug before attacking major organs like the kidney and liver.

And while the list of potential chemical culprits could extend across the Atlantic to Alcock’s front door, there are 2 that have been linked back to Lime Crime directly– and depending on who you choose to believe, the issue is either simply a misprint, or a serious, unapproved, cosmetic catastrophe.

Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick (red velvet) is an adulterated cosmetic because it bears or contains a color additive which is unsafe…” reads the FDA’s official letter addressed to Deere. “Specifically, according to your product label, Velvetines Liquid Matte Lipstick (red velvet) contains ferric ferrocyanide and ultramarines, which are only permitted for use in coloring.

“I’m tired of being careful, tiptoe…”

Ferric ferrocyanide, also known as Prussian Blue, has been used as a pigment in the cosmetics industry with artists since 1704. It is widely considered to be the first modern, synthetic pigment, and while ferric ferrocyanide is FDA approved for cosmetic use, the chemical is not specifically lip-safe.

“Prussian blue works using a mechanism known as ion exchange. [Chemicals] that have been absorbed into the body are removed by the liver and passed into the intestine and are then re-absorbed into the body,” reads the FDA’s breakdown of the chemical. “Prussian blue works by trapping [chemicals] in the intestine, so that they can be passed out of the body in the stool rather than be re-absorbed.”

The FDA’s official website also states that a common side-effect from ferric ferrocyanide stems from stomach pain and mild, flu-like symptoms. While there are no recorded, consistent reactions from reputable sources like the FDA on ultramarine’s direct effects, those who have seen adverse reactions to the pigment have reported everything from rashes, itching, cystic acne, extreme skin sensitivity, and more.

“[Ultramarines] have been synthetically produced in labs since the 70s,” writes beauty blogger, The Soap Pixie, in a post addressing the difference between micas, ultramarines & oxides. “The FDA decided that natural oxides were too contaminated with dangerous minerals (lead, arsenic, mercury, antimony and selenium). Since then, only ‘cosmetic grade’ synthetic oxides & ultramarines have been allowed.”

When news of Lime Crime’s FDA warning letter broke in August– from major, credible news sources like The Huffington Post, Fashionista.com, The Glow, Style Blazer, and more– it was no surprise that frightened customers flooded the brand’s social media demanding answers.

“Any comment on the FDA letter?” writes one user on Lime Crime’s Instagram account. “I mean, it’s on the FDA website… Hard to lie about that…”

“You guys should address this FDA issues in detail. I order a lot and I’m so confused right now,” writes another.

“Is it true about some of your velveteens not complying with the FDA standards?” a customer asks. “Can you clarify the issues going on with the FDA?”

However, rather than addressing their customer’s concerns, users allege that their posts were deleted intentionally. As some begged for the brand to make a formal post about the FDA’s claims, curious comments began to allegedly disappear from Lime Crime’s social media. User’s whose panic wasn’t removed either found themselves ignored, or blocked.

“Uh-oh, there it goes, I said too much, it overflowed.”

But besides allegedly silencing customers, Lime Crime was quick to defend themselves.

On the brand’s social media, Lime Crime told customers that the FDA violation wasn’t because of unsafe chemicals; rather, the panic was due to a simple misprint on the packaging.

“The Velvetines are safe to use, however there is a misprint on the label which we were asked to fix. We are doing this right now,” reads one response from Lime Crime addressing a customer’s question before the brand asks one of their own: “If you don’t mind us asking, what is the source that is talking about this?”

In other replies, the brand responded with a variety of answers:
“Just so you guys are in the know, the ingredients in question… are NOT harmful. They are approved for lips in Europe,” read another post from the brand.

“I understand. But Europe and the US have different regulations,” starts one user in her response. “All I really want is for Lime Crime to make a formal post regarding this… looks like you don’t care, and that’s what makes me most uncomfortable.”

Another user then joined in: “[It’s] still unprofessional to address this in a comment.”

It took around 9 days after the letter went public for Lime Crime to formally address the FDA’s warning. As customers waited for the brand’s official statement, others speculated whether Lime Crime would adhere to the FDA’s 15-day strict response period:

Please notify this office in writing within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of this letter as to the specific steps you have taken to correct the stated violations,” reads the FDA letter. “Including an explanation of each step being taken to identify violations and make corrections to ensure that similar violations will not recur.

Since the warning, Lime Crime has posted a response to their website at http://www.limecrime.com/fda (it is noted that there is no direct way to get to the article from the brand’s homepage.)

“Why do I always spill?”

Lime Crime received a warning letter from FDA in reference to the cosmetic pigments Ultramarines and Ferric Ferrocyanide printed on the Velvetines box. The letter was a request for clarification as to whether those ingredients are in the product, and the FDA does not claim to have tested the products for the presence of these ingredients in the formula,” reads the brand’s public statement. “In fact, those ingredients are not in Lime Crime’s Velvetines products.

But what about Alcock’s aggressive symptoms?
What about her doctor’s diagnosis?
Or the fact customers alleged other boxes besides just Red Velvet were found to have ferric ferrocyanide printed?
And if it was just a misprint, why did Lime Crime continuously point out that the chemicals were approved in Europe if they weren’t even used in the first place?

Lime Crime has been in active communication with the FDA regarding the letter and following their instructions to resolve it as quickly as possible,” continues the statement. “As per FDA, Lime Crime is providing documentation demonstrating that these ingredients are, indeed, not part of the Velvetines formula and it’s a simple labeling error.

“Threw a toaster in the bathtub…”

What about customers who have posted photos to social media of their alleged reaction from Lime Crime’s makeup?
And if it was a simple labeling mistake– a simple misspell– why such a big one?
If Deere was as hands-on with her cosmetics as she claims,
why was it not corrected earlier?

Like many others, I had questions for the brand.

I reached out to Deere via email after the news of the FDA letter broke. Once again, I received the same, cookie-cutter message from Lime Crime that I normally did, so I decided to ask my questions on Instagram.

“Hi! I’m the Canadian journalist who wrote Pandora’s Purple Box–”

My account was blocked in less than 2 minutes.

“I’m sick of all the games I have to play.”


xxxxxxCry Baby

“You seem to replace your brain with your heart.
You take things so hard, and then you fall apart.”

Since the FDA warning, Lime Crime has continued to sell its product to its passionate, dedicated fan base.

Deere and her team have released new cosmetics– the most recent announced today– a lipstick called Eraser, “an Urban Outfitters exclusive new cream matte lipstick shade that was inspired by the eraser on the classic # 2 pencil.” (quote taken from Lime Crime’s Instagram.)

As one boycotter put it, “She named it eraser because she loves to delete/erase any comments she doesn’t like.”

The brand even teamed up with singer/songwriter Melanie Martinez a few months back, a 20-year-old, top six contestant from The Voice Season 3.

Together, they released Cry Baby, a bright blue lipstick shade that some have either pegged as the brand’s response to Jefree Starr’s shade Jaw Breaker that was released earlier this summer, or a close version of the brand’s already existing lipstick, No She Didn’t.

But despite the release of the new, neon lipsticks,
unique, mouth-watering colours,
and innovative, pretty, delicate packaging,
Taiana Janovcik says she’s done with the brand.

Janovcik sits in the small, bustling Starbucks in Winnipeg’s Osborne Village district. From across the stained coffee table, she hands me her letter from Lime Crime.

“It was nice of them to type up a letter, but how long did that take?” asks Janovcik before taking a sip from her drink. I expect a ring of lipstick to stick to the mouth of the cup, but remember she isn’t wearing any.

“You try to explain but before you can start,
those cry baby tears come out of the dark.”

“I feel like it would have been forgivable if it was an honest mistake that was dealt with literally the second they found out, but to hear that Doe Deere was responding with hateful comments, blocking people… Like, that’s… I actually don’t even know what to say about that,” says Janovcik. “I’m just embarrassed for her, honestly. I’m embarrassed for her.”

She glances out the window. The city is dark.

“They call you cry baby, cry baby,
but you don’t fucking care.
Cry baby, cry baby,
so you laugh through your tears.”


Pandora’s Purple Box is a series written and researched by Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and award-winning blogger, Cella Lao Rousseau.
The 2-part series focuses on Lime Crime Makeup and their security breach that took place in 2014, as well as their recent FDA warning in 2015, and features real-life stories from victims of the hack, boycotters involved, and an exclusive interview with a former Lime Crime employee.
Deere was contacted several times for an interview. She declined to comment or participate.
Music and lyrics by Melanie Martinez.
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