UK-based makeup brand, Pink Honey, is currently facing backlash for their recent “Christmas Staycation” influencer trip.
For those unfamiliar with Pink Honey, the beauty brand was founded by makeup artist Olivia Taylor alongside her partner Byron Entwistle.
Since its launch in 2020, Pink Honey has gained viral attention several times—most notably for the Original Superhold Brow Glue and the BFF Bronzing Face Frosting. As a result, the company has amassed over 260K followers on TikTok and 120K on Instagram.
“We started with a love of Fluffy brows and a vision to design affordable and a high-quality range of products,” Pink Honey’s website reads.
TikTok users are now criticising Olivia, alleging that she purposefully excluded specific creators from the “Christmas Staycation”— with all the influencers in attendance seemingly being young, slim, white women.
Internet users were frustrated at the apparent absence of creators of colour and individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community. They argue that “we shouldn’t have to be calling out brands and remind them to be inclusive,” as this issue has been an ongoing discussion within the beauty community for years.
At the time of publication, Pink Honey has removed any content and coverage they received from the event across their social media platforms.
Beyond the lack of diversity around race and sexuality, TikTok users, such as @Tess_Daly, have pointed out the other aspects of inclusivity that are typically overlooked in the beauty world.
“The main topic of discourse, I’ve seen, is around the complete lack of diversity in skin tones at this event because this is paramount… Beauty products go on the skin, so skin has to be in varying depths,” Tess begins. “[But] the one thing I am really not seeing as much is disability. To me, this is just a bit of an echo of what it really is like to be in the fashion and beauty industry. We are an afterthought to the afterthoughts.”
Influencers like Charmane Isabella (@CharsBusBanter) have also stepped forward to share their experiences with the brand. Recounting a past event hosted by Pink Honey and Cariad, Charmane claimed that her girlfriend and friend were asked to leave, emphasising that they were some of the only “mixed race” people at the event.
“My girlfriend and my friend both felt so humiliated, so embarrassed, so upset… Walking in there, they both knew they didn’t fit the aesthetic,” Charmane explains.
Olivia has since issued a tearful apology on TikTok, addressing the criticism around the guest list of the “Christmas Staycation” trip.
“[We] held a staycation of the past two days for 17 people. So they were asked to come on the trip because they had specifically done something that played a massive part in Pink Honey’s growth,” she begins.
The founder reiterates that the people who attended “had a real tie to the brand” and that she would never exclude someone based on their “gender or skin colour.”
“There was no contractual agreement with anyone on that trip to post for publicity… it was a thank you for them… the whole thing was centred around a relax and a break for them,” she adds.
Olivia also confirmed that the company did not pick the creators based on follower count and was “solely based on their involvement with Pink Honey.”
“We’re always, always open to working with any influencer… it would never, ever cross my mind to not work with someone because of things like gender, race, size, skin type,” she promises. “I am so sorry to anybody that has seen what is going on and lost faith in what Pink Honey stands for.”
While Pink Honey enthusiasts have expressed support for Olivia’s video, other TikTok users remain critical. Parissa, a beauty creator based in the UK, pointed out that Olivia did not address the primary concern about “why everyone on that brand trip looked the same.”
“She said something about them being heavily involved in the business or something… but why are you saying thank you to just them?” Parissa says. “There have been loads and loads of diverse creators that have done videos about Pink Honey; You could also add them to the list.”
She also predicts what she believes will be Pink Honey’s next move, suggesting that the upcoming product launch and campaign will likely emphasise diversity in response to their current backlash.
“Realistically and truthfully, the brand will come out with a diverse campaign because they have done it because of backlash, and that is not what diversity is about,” she concludes. “With a lot of beauty brands, diversity is just an afterthought… It’s exhausting that we are still having these conversations.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time a beauty company has stirred up controversy after a not-so-inclusive brand trip. Earlier this year, Tarte faced similar criticism for an influencer trip to Turks and Caicos called “Tarte Island” (a play on the reality show, Love Island).
The brand split the trip into two “seasons”, where one group of influencers attended the first half of the week and another group of influencers attended the second half.
Shawtysin, one creator who attended the first half of the week, took to TikTok to share her experience, noting that there was some unequal treatment on the trip. Though she prefaced her video by saying she is grateful for the opportunity and understands it sounds like a first-world problem, her assigned room was significantly smaller than the other influencers on the trip.
In a follow-up video, Shawtysin said she only learned about the incoming “season two” cohort while on the trip. However, she later realised that some influencers were asked to stay for the second half of the week while others, including Shawtysin, were sent home.
Maureen Kelly, founder and CEO of Tarte Cosmetics, later addressed Shawtysin’s accusations in a video, saying she values having as many influencers in attendance as possible, and sometimes, that means not everyone can have the same room. However, her video has since been deleted.
While Tarte has tried to move past the backlash, it’s apparent that many TikTok users still associate the brand with allegations of racism. Although it’s too early to gauge Pink Honey’s long-term response to the current backlash, they may be stuck on a similar path.
As consumers increasingly insist on elevated standards from the brands they endorse, any semblance of exclusivity is deemed unacceptable. Let’s hope that the beauty industry finally takes this lesson to heart, especially in the aftermath of Pink Honey’s “Christmas Staycation.”