On one of Korea’s largest online community sites, one Korean woman shared her recent make-up shopping experience that turned into an “absolute racist nightmare“.
With a screenshot of her order history from November 6, the woman shared that she placed an order with Shinsegye Department Store Gangnam branch’s online mall for the cosmetic brand Estée Lauder‘s “Shell” shade powder foundation.
[Shipped] 11/06 (Friday) Item has shipped.
[Estée Lauder] Double-Wear Matte Powder Foundation: Shell
51,710KRW / 1 Item
When she received the order in the mail, however, she became extremely disappointed and disturbed by a note she found enclosed in the package.
While shipping a completely different “Ivory Nude” shade of powder foundation, Estée Lauder wrote, “The Shell shade is a matte powder… that is not suitable for Asian skin tones.”
The “Shell” shade matte powder, which you have purchased, is a tricky shade that gets mixed reviews and is often found to be not suitable for Asian skin tones. Since you are unable to see and check the “Shell” shade in store, we have opted to ship the “Ivory Nude” shade instead — which is a better fit for our Asian consumers. Should you be unhappy with the change and the product, please let us know and we will refund you. Thank you for your purchase.
— Estée Lauder, Shinsegye Department Store Gangnam Branch
When the agitated woman shared her experience online, more consumers surfaced claiming they received the same note and the “Ivory Nude” shade of foundation as a substitute.
When the post went viral, one consumer even shared a picture of the said “Shell” shade in the comments — shooting down Estée Lauder’s claim that the shade is “too bright for Asian skin tones.”
What do you mean… I use Estée Lauder’s “Shell” shade and it’s too dark for me. LMAO. This is my hand with the foundation applied on the right half. My natural skin tone is the left half. This is the lightest tone the brand offers so I use this. But I’m 100% Korean… Who do they think they are to decide which shade is best for which race?
Many are promising to boycott the brand for their “blatant racism“…
- “If Estée Lauder gets a chance to read this, I hope they realize the absurdity of not allowing customers to buy what they want — based on their discretionary notion of what is appropriate for each race. Do they do this to white customers too?”
- “And THAT was the end of me spending money on Estée Lauder products, thank you everybody. Like, what is wrong with these racist as*holes?”
- “WELL! I dare you to tell me then, Estée Lauder, what color am I supposed to be based on your understanding of my race? Do they realize how dumb they sound when they say things like ‘the Asian skin tone’?”
- “Uh, excuse you… I’m paler than most caucasians. If this happened to me, these b*tches would have been burnt to the ground. What right do they have?”
- “How is a cosmetic brand going to survive 2020 and forward thinking the ‘Asian skin tone’ exists and that it is one shade and one shade only? IT BLOWS MY MIND. Bye bye, Estée Lauder.”
… all the while bringing up Estée Lauder’s previous controversies as well.
The brand nor the department store is yet to respond to the growing criticism, only to fuel the issue go more viral among Korean consumers.