Here’s What a Beauty Brand Should Never Do: The Oille Controversy
What happens when the pursuit of low pH cleansers meets with a brand at the intersection of ego & brash? A messy crash you can’t look away from. When skincare blogger @GoalsToGetGlowing posted about new beauty brand Oille’s high pH cleanser, the brand struck back — and not in a good way. Here’s what happened, and here’s the important lesson to be learned by all.
In the middle of her three panels, she shows an offering from the brand Oille. The product is Watermelon + Sea Salt Organic Facial Milk, and she lists the price ($68) and the pH, a whopping 9.5. She then put the universal emojis for nooooope, the girl crossing her arms into an X, and the “Ghostbusters circle” (as my daughter calls it). Pretty inoffensive stuff, especially for those of us who follow the low pH cleanser life.
I’m on the constant hunt for cleansers between 4.5-5.5, from there it’s all about the ingredients & how it makes the skin feel.?? . Click #gtggphtest to see other cleansers tested by myself and others❤️ . #oille Watermelon + Sea Salt Organic Facial Milk ?$68 for 3.4 oz ($20/oz) ?pH=9.5 ??? . #kiehls Blue Herbal Acne cleanser treatment ?$22 for 5 oz ($4.4/oz) ?pH=4.8 ?? . #drunkelephant #bestejellycleanser ?$34 for 5 oz ($6.8/oz) ?pH=6.5 (Website says 6.1 so there seems to be some variation in these. I calibrated & tested 3 times.) . .?Very Important: The pH of a product only indicates whether it is acidic or basic. It can’t predict how your skin will respond to it. Other factors (like the overall formula) still need to be taken into consideration. . ?Cleansers with a slightly acidic pH of 4.5-5.5 are particularly ecommended for people with #acne, #rosacea, eczema, or dry skin, but everyone can benefit from a cleanser with a pH in that range (or at least no higher than 6.5–I wouldn’t personally go that high since I am acne-prone…see why below? . ?The acid mantle of our skin is slightly acidic, with an average pH of 4.7 (Lambers, et al., 2006). Cleansers with a slightly acidic pH help to maintain the skin’s natural environment & protect the acid mantle. Disrupting the acid mantle can lead to acne, inflammation, atopic dermatitis, dehydrated or dry skin, skin sensitivity, & even fine lines. . ?Acne grows well at pH values between 6 and 6.5 & when pH drops to 5.5, its growth noticeably decreases (Korting & Braun-Falco, 1996). Skin at 5.5 pH is better at preventing the growth of bacteria than skin at 6.5 pH (90% of bacteria prevented vs 60%, Schittek et al 2001). . ?Raising your skin’s pH to a 6.0 or higher, leaves the skin open to dryness, infection, & damage on a perpetual basis. Long-term use of cleansers with a high pH can result in irritation that is great enough to cause hyperpigmentation (Baranda et al., 2002) . ???Fun fact ?? The pH level scale is logarithmic – meaning each 1-unit increase represents a 10-fold increase. . #lowphlife #skincareph #skincarecommunity #phtest #cleanserph #365inskincare #skincareblogger #sephorahaul
A post shared by Vanessa (@goalstogetglowing) on
She goes on to explain in bulletpoints why a low pH cleanser is important, especially to her, as she is acne-prone. But she leads with this: “Very Important: The pH of a product only indicates whether it is acidic or basic. It can’t predict how your skin will respond to it. Other factors (like the overall formula) still need to be taken into consideration.”
That alone is a lot more neutral than some people might have been. She then ends the post with a series of tags including #lowphlife, which I certainly believe in. However there was nothing inflammatory in the post itself if that’s not a creed by which you live. She very calmly laid out the science behind her low pH life choice, and passed no judgments. She has a certain criteria, and Oille’s cleanser just didn’t hit the necessary marks. Nested in the comments, @GoalsToGetGlowing did get a bit more brutally honest, replying to a comment from a poster saying they’d heard bad things about the Oille cleanser, “It was one of the worst cleansers I have EVER tried. Left my skin feeling like squeaky plastic. Thankfully it didn’t burn horribly but it did sting my eyes. So bad.”
Fair criticism. Experiences are always varied and opinions are subjective. That’s life. Lots of commenters are shocked and also disappointed by the pH of the Oille cleanser, especially given the price of the cleanser. It’s not like @Goals is alone in her sentiments. She’s largely preaching to the choir here, which is something Oille maybe should have taken note of before they show up in the comments with guns blazing.
I’m sorry, what?
My first job out of high school was behind the makeup counter in a higher-end department store. Customer service was drilled into us as the absolute most important part of our jobs. Sales were initiated and closed with friendly banter and a smile, no matter how disagreeable the customer.
You were encouraged to get to know your clientele. Back then we even had little card catalogs with our customers’ names, birthdates, and little bits of pertinent information about them. Politeness and friendliness were stressed at every juncture. If you were caught being rude to your customer base, you wouldn’t have a job much longer.
In this day and age it’s easy to pop off behind a screen, but it’s definitely still not acceptable. The way Oille came in like a wrecking ball would have been unheard of 20 years ago. Even today, could you imagine shopping at Nordstrom, telling the sales clerk you think the pH of their cleanser is just too high to justify a purchase, and then Estée Lauder’s CEO popping up from behind the counter and yelling at you in front of the entire mall? We live our lives on the Internet now, and how you conduct yourself there is just as, if not more important, than how you behave elsewhere.
After Oille’s embarrassing tantrum, over 550 comments lit up @GoalsToGetGlowing’s post, almost universally condemning Oille’s outburst and supporting Vanessa.
After a while Oille realized what they’d done and emailed an apology.
Unfortunately, you can’t unring a bell.
“So there’s a lot to unpack in this whole embarrassing (for Oille) situation,” says my colleague Jude Chao. “But really it boils down to how important social media engagement can be for brands, especially smaller ones. People in the comments of that post kept saying, ‘I’ve never heard of this brand before, but now I know I’m never buying from them.’
“It’s already bad if a bigger brand has a social media meltdown (not unheard-of), but for a smaller brand that doesn’t have name recognition and hasn’t established a lot of goodwill with consumers, it can be downright crushing. This is going to be what a lot of people associate with that brand’s name for a very long time. Not their products or any good reviews they’ve gotten, but ‘that time they bullied some random blogger for critiquing their cleanser pH.’ It’s not a good look.”
And that right there — that’s a key component in this snafu. Had you heard of Oille before this? I certainly hadn’t. As both a blogger and more importantly, as a potential customer, I’m personally turned off from this brand now. They’re finished before they even started for me, and I’m a pretty adventurous consumer.
“Conversely, brands that engage gracefully with criticism stand to gain a lot,” continues Jude. “COSRX originally had a product called White Power Essence, and they changed it very quickly after hearing from people that that name has negative connotations. No excuses or justifications from them. They showed that they take critique respectfully and learn from it. COSRX also developed their low pH cleanser in response to people asking why they didn’t have one.
“Another brand that takes criticism well is Swanicoco. They’ve always thanked me even for critical reviews and say they learn a lot from them.
“Going back to Oille, I suspect the person on their social media may be the owner/founder. It seems in a lot of these meltdowns, that’s who it ends up being. They feel strongly about their products and take criticism personally, which you just can’t do in business.”
The ultimate lesson? If you’re putting yourself out there to be consumed, whether as a blogger or as a company, you’re going to have to learn how to separate the personal from the business. The private from the public. If you can’t do that, you may just find yourself on the wrong end of history. Remember, the Internet is forever.
Has a brand’s behavior ever stopped you from being a customer? Or do you think this kind of outburst might stop bloggers from being 100% honest? What’s your favorite example of good customer interaction with a brand? Let’s talk about this.