The Worst Beauty Moments Of 2017 — & What We Can Learn From Them

Most years have their fair share of highs and lows, but we can probably all agree that 2017's low points were particularly rough. And the beauty industry was no exception. From nail salons discriminating against customers to people shaming each other for their hair, makeup, and body hair choices, there were definitely some moments we'd rather not revisit.

But with the year coming to a close, it's time to pause and review some of the worst beauty headlines over the last 12 tumultuous months. No, it's not going to be fun, but it's important to reflect on the hard lessons we learned before we move into 2018 with a fresh foundation (and maybe a new power lipstick). Click ahead for the offensive, absurd, jarring, and just plain nasty beauty moments that hit the web in 2017 — hopefully never to be seen again.

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Science Showed That Women Of Color Are Exposed To More Chemicals In Beauty Products

Western beauty standards are damaging in more ways than one — and this year, there was even more scientific evidence to prove it. As R29 beauty writer Rachel Krause reported earlier this year, research from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that Black, Latina, and Asian American women face more exposure to chemicals in beauty products than white women, due to the pressure to meet certain European beauty "ideals" through products like skin-lightening creams and hair relaxers.

“Beauty product use is a critical but under-appreciated source of reproductive harm and environmental injustice,” co-author Ami Zota, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the George Washington University, said in a statement. It's high time companies are held more accountable for the ingredients they use and the messages they send to women.

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Men Shamed Women For Doing Their Makeup En Transit

Unsolicited advice is usually unappreciated, but when it's men spewing rude and nonsensical reactions toward the behaviour and appearance of women, it turns from unappreciated to offensive. In one particularly absurd instance, a women was doing her makeup on a bus when a male stranger told her that putting on makeup in public is “unbecoming of a lady.” Here's hoping people learn to mind their own business in 2018...
The Most Terrifying Hair Tale Was Caught On Video

We wear our dangly jewellery with caution (read: keep it away from grabby baby hands), and try to pay close attention when operating automated hair tools, but accidents still happen. A video that went viral on YouTube showed a women named Sheena in an unfortunate predicament that might become more common in 2037: Her hair got tangled in a drone. Read about the whole debacle here.
Someone Drank Beautyblender Juice

In news that made us cringe, one Twitter user's brother mistook his sister's soaking Beautyblender for English Breakfast tea. As Refinery29 writer Rachel Krause wrote, "The thought of having so much as a single sip of the murky water makes us want to laugh and cry at the same time, so we can only imagine what it must have tasted like IRL. We sincerely hope we never have to find out." More clinical and unmistakable makeup cleaning techniques might be better in the new year.
Poor, Defenceless Beauty Products Became Drug Mules

In one of the most imaginative forms of drug-smuggling we've ever heard of, Jenny Pacheco, 56, was traveling from Lima, Peru to Bangkok, carrying luggage that held 2.3 kg (or about 5 pounds) of cocaine laced in bottles of moisturiser. Not only is transporting drugs across borders illegal (duh), it's a huge waste of good skin care. Read the full ordeal here.
A Girl Band Got £68,000 Worth Of Plastic Surgery Procedures For A Music Video

Unrealistic beauty standards can F off. And it's not just in the U.S. where women feel the pressure to conform; in Korea, the market for plastic surgery — especially at a young age — is booming. We saw one example of cosmetic enhancements taken to the extreme with SixBomb, a K-pop girl group that made headlines with its plastic surgery “project," which involved the release of a series of video instalments documenting the members' journey to "Becoming Prettier" — a journey that cost a collective £68,000.

At R29, we follow the "you do you" philosophy when it comes to plastic surgery, but when it's rooted in societal pressure, the line between choice and expectation gets a little blurry — as was especially the case for one singer in the group who said she really liked her eyes before deciding to get double eyelid surgery with the rest of the group.
Madonna’s Daughter Was Armpit-Shamed

Can we just accept the appearance of others? Is it really that difficult? It seems like for some people, it just might be. Case in point: A picture of Madonna's daughter Lourdes was shared on Just Jared's Instagram account earlier this year, and in the photo, Lorde was enjoying some fun in the sun on the beach, in a bathing suit, with a strip of hair peeking out from her armpit. Commenters took the post as an open invitation to slam Lourdes, feminists, and anyone who has ever missed a day of shaving their pits. Can we just not? Read our take on the matter here.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.
Makeup Tutorials Crossed The Line

United Airlines faced public outrage this year for its treatment of a passenger on an overbooked flight. And one makeup artist, Mykie, decided it was appropriate to post a highly questionable “get the look” of the United Airlines incident to her YouTube channel, Glam&Gore. As Krause reports, "the video is interspersed with clips of the actual violent altercation that took place on the airplane that resulted in the suspension of three officers from the Chicago Department of Aviation. It’s disturbing to watch, but so is the footage in and of itself." It appears that both the tweet and video have since been taken down.

If you're upset by news of injustice, there are many ways to show your support to the victims, but an insensitive makeup tutorial definitely isn't one of them.
We Found Out Carcinogens Might Be Hiding In Our Shower

In another scary scientific finding that came to light in 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified 1,4-dioxane as a “probable human carcinogen" that might be hiding in your beauty products. Disturbingly, the cosmetic ingredient has not been banned by the Food and Drug Administration, [and] many companies still aren’t required to list it on their product labels. Read the full story here.
Gross Bugs Turned Up In Our Beauty Products

Bugs and beauty products go together like, well, any two things that should never be together, ever. Yet, unfortunately, a sad byproduct of 2017 was the fusion of creepy crawlers and makeup. One Kylie Cosmetics customer excitedly opened her new lip kit only to find it covered in ants; another woman mistook a large crinkly dead black fly for a false eyelash; and a makeup artist voluntarily put wasps on her lips for the 'Gram.
Unicorn Hair Colour Put One Woman In The Hospital

Unfortunately, hair dye horror stories happen, which is why we recommend seeking help from a trained professional whenever possible. Take it from Kirsty Weston, a 29-year-old mother from Hertfordshire, England, who purchased a cheap box of powder bleach to lighten up her dark brown hair and experienced a severe burning sensation within minutes that didn't end well.
The Makeup-Shaming Continued...

Body-shaming, hair-shaming, makeup-shaming... does it ever end? Over in the political sphere, one reporter chose to fixate on the quality of Prime Minister Theresa May's makeup instead of her stance on the issues. As Krause reported, BBC’s Nick Robinson was criticised for making “sexist” remarks about May’s “thick makeup” during a live broadcast. "His remarks were made especially infuriating by the fact that he implied that May had been so heavy-handed with her makeup because she was trying to conceal her crying about the loss," Krause wrote.

And it's not just women on the receiving end. One man who wore makeup to work in Portsmouth, England was told he had to take it off.
The World Of Fake (And Dangerous) Cosmetics Exploded

Things got very shady when our West Coast beauty editor Lexy Lebsack went inside the black market of the beauty world earlier this year. We've always known there are some sketchy sectors of the beauty space, but we didn't know just how bad it was until we got deep down in the trenches and saw the chemical burns left on women's faces from counterfeit beauty products, and got a glimpse of the unsanitary conditions in which some of the counterfeit products were produced. Lexy's exposé brought the dangers of the counterfeit beauty black market to light, and it's worth a read (and watch).
Natural Hair Was Photoshopped Out Of Magazine Shoots

We can't believe this needs repeating, but here goes: Black women's hair is their own. Don't touch it, don't ban it, and certainly don't edit it out in post-production, like Grazia UK did to Lupita Nyong'o and the Evening Standard did to Solange. After swift backlash, the former publication's photographer apologised, calling the decision to alter Nyong'o's hair "a monumental mistake," and the Evening Standard offered its "unreserved apologies" for erasing the singer's braids. Here's hoping 2018 will be about celebrating natural textures, not controlling them.