YouTuber Tati Westbrook launched her brand Halo Beauty this week… but its first product wasn’t exactly what you (or anyone else) would expect.
For those of you who are new to my Makeup Hype series – welcome! This is a series where I basically provide my own commentary on a recently launched product that I notice has received a lot of “hype” (both good and bad) on the internet with my “research” mostly taken from a bunch of YouTube reviews. In short, I watch a lot of YouTube videos and thought maybe it might be useful to condense them down into one short report of my own consumer opinion!
Let me just preface this post by simply saying “wow” – I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much “hype” over a product that isn’t even available for sale yet (the brand is literally launching today). As someone who’s been watching Tati on and off for a few years now, I must admit I was NOT expecting her to release this kind of product, nor was I prepared for the reaction on social media that ensued, but you’re just going to have to keep reading to find out more… 😉
Let’s Start at the Very Beginning
According to The Sound of Music, the very beginning is a very good place to start. Beauty YouTubers (or “Beautubers,” as they’re sometimes referred to) coming out with their own collabs or brands is not a new thing, so when Tati released a video on February 21 about her ride or die makeup brushes and promoted it with a tweet that also said there was a “BIG BIG BIG announcement” coming soon, many immediately assumed she was talking about releasing her own makeup or brand of some kind.
This Monday (February 26) in a video about testing low-rated makeup from ULTA, she finally dropped the fact she’s been in the process of developing her own brand. She ended the video with what appeared to be a packaging teaser from a product from the line with some thinking the brand would be called “xo’s Tati” due to it being written on the image. She said to stay tuned until Wednesday (February 28) when she would release a video dedicated to the launch with more details.
With her WTF makeup reviews series where she tests ridiculously-priced makeup to see if it’s actually worth the price and her overall love of luxury beauty, fans began to speculate what products might be included in the range, as well as the price point. Tati is known for loving luminous skin, so one of the products people began to think she was releasing ranged anywhere from a glowy highlighter to some kind of illuminating serum.
The next day (February 27), Tati released another video: a Q&A about her brand where she gives more details about it before the actual launch video was released. Here’s a TL;DR of what she says in the video:
- @0:39 – Tati mentions she’s been working on this “behind the scenes” for the past several years
- @1:26 – brand launch is Friday 10AM PST – website will be up “tomorrow” (February 28)
- @1:56 – in a response to someone saying that she has a feeling the brand will be super “bougie,” Tati says it won’t be “WTF”-pricing because that’s “not what she’s going for” – it’ll be more than drugstore, but not super expensive
- @3:15 – someone asked if this had anything to do with a collab mentioned in Jeffree Star’s video, but Tati replies that this is all just her with her investments and that she’s not collaborating with another company or brand or investor because she wanted to deliver a product that she believed in without having to cut corners just because someone else thought it would be a good idea
- @5:39 – the brand will be shipping worldwide from day 1
- @6:04 – the brand isn’t private labeled and will never be private labeled, meaning that all her formulas/packaging has her “touch” and has been created all from scratch
- @7:26 – Tati emphasizes she’s not sharing a factory with Jeffree or anybody else and that while it’s expensive to do it all on her own, but that’s the reason why she’s been working so hard
- @8:02 – Tati says she’s working with some of the “smartest and brightest in the business” and that she’s not a chemist and doesn’t know how to make actual packaging, but that she designed it and went through formulas and that she’s been calling all the shots
- @8:56 – the brand is cruelty-free
- @9:08 – emphasis on worldwide shipping; she says the brand will be shipped through FedEx and that tracking will be available
- @9:26 – brand will only be sold online (on her website) because Tati wanted to pour as much money as possible without wholesale and having to charge additional margins
- @11:06 – Tati said she is “absolutely avoiding” using any ingredients that are known allergens or will not work or are unnecessary in her products
- @12:50 – the brand is “absolutely inclusive” for men, women, different ages, different skin types, tones, etc.
On February 28, Tati’s formal announcement video finally went up. It starts off with a few clips from previous videos (which I thought were actually really cute) before actually going into talking about the launch at 1:03.
Tati says that a lot of people were expecting skincare of makeup, but it’s actually neither. She says the name of her brand is “near and dear to her heart” because it has great meaning to her, stating that the name is “Halo Beauty,” which means that everybody is included and under the “halo,” emphasizing that it’s an all-inclusive brand and that it’s “good” and “pure.”
At 3:05, she shows the actual product itself: a hair, skin, and nails booster. She says it “works 100%” and is “Tati-approved” and that everything A-Z is what she wanted in her perfect vitamin and that would actually deliver results and allow you to see a difference in a mirror. At 3:54, she says all the ingredients will work together to really improve “the way you look” and that your skin will be softer, more hydrated, firmer, more beautiful skin.
She says at 4:14 that you take two a day and will see results in three weeks, although she’s seen results within two weeks. She says she’s been working with a team of “very bright, brilliant people” that know their stuff when it comes to nutraceuticals (tbh I’ve never even heard that word before) and that everything “works together very safely,” saying at 4:40 that the product is soy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free and vegan. She says she makes a big deal about sugar because she “passionately believes” sugar has “no business” being in any beauty vitamins or any vitamins in general (is this shade at Sugar Bear Hair??) because it raises your inflammation and is damaging. At 5:10, she says that while doing her research, she found that a lot of hair, skin, nails vitamins do have a lot of animal by-products (such as shark cartilage) that you wouldn’t really know without doing thorough research on your own.
At 5:37, she says they’ve spent a lot of money on these vitamins, calling out one ingredient in particular, “ceramide rx” (which I’ve also never heard of), that’s supposedly really expensive, but “it works,” because it was important for her to put in ingredients that cost a lot of money in a “therapeutic dose” so that you get enough in the blend to see a visible difference and that her competitors aren’t spending as much on their entire formula and bottle as she’s spending on one ingredient. At 6:06, she calls the product “magic,” saying it’s the “kind of magic” that “isn’t just in your head” and that it’s clinically-proven to work.
At 7:05, Tati says she wants to grow as a brand, but this is where they’re starting with beauty from the inside out. The bottle is a 30-day supply and the downbar contains information linking to the website itself (halobeauty.com), which is where you can purchase it for $39.95.
The Consumer Response
This is where things get a lil cray… many people in the comments of the video expressed surprise, but not necessarily in a good way. Some were commenting on the price of the bottle (essentially $40 every month) being too high of a pricepoint, while others were wondering what Tati was even thinking, expressing disappointment that the product wasn’t something more makeup-related as she’s a beauty YouTuber.
Reddit’s r/BeautyGuruChatter was getting so many threads being started on this topic that there is now one megathread on the brand to try to avoid duplicates and “overwhelming the subreddit.” I’m going to be discussing a few of the things I saw on Reddit and while I acknowledge that the website tends to “brew” negative opinions (especially this particular subreddit), I think that a few of these points are pretty valid (at least to me personally as a consumer).
In the announcement video, Tati says these vitamins are “clinically proven,” but users in this thread about Tati’s brand were quick to question what this even means. One user said she must be referring to “prior biotin studies,” while another expressed doubt over how legitimate clinical approval even is.
In response to a user asking how the trial actually happens, another user explained that there actually is what looks like a pretty long process in terms of pharmaceuticals, but vitamins and supplements aren’t FDA regulated… the more you know.
Vitamins Decreasing Effectiveness of Birth Control?
This thread posts a screenshot of a comment on Tati’s announcement video expressing concern that the vitamins contain an ingredient called “saw palmetto” that can decrease the effectiveness of birth control.
The above response was posted in the same thread where this user explains the science behind the concern – I’m not a doctor/chemist/professional so this all seems very complicated to me, but the main thing that I got from this (which is emphasized) is that if you’re taking any kinds of medications and want to take other supplements, you should probably consult with your doctor.
In the megathread about the brand, one user pointed out how she felt “burned” by the launch due to the claims, the price, and the whole delivery of the announcement being “tone deaf.” Some speculated how effective the vitamins could actually be when Tati herself wears hair extensions, gets extremely expensive facials/other skincare treatments, and uses pretty high-end skincare on her own regularly.
On the Instagram above, which contains an image of the ingredients list, one user posted a comment about her doubts on the claims, to which Tati actually responded with the following, saying she can’t legally make these claims if they weren’t true, although she understands the speculation:
When another user asked if these vitamins can be taken while on prenatal vitamins, the Halo Beauty account responded that they recommend speaking to a doctor before taking these while pregnant or breastfeeding:
More recently, Tati retweeted a tweet originally posted by the Halo Beauty twitter account about the first in depth formula review from a qualified supplement reviewer:
I tried looking at the review, but was met with an error saying “Error establishing a database connection” – apparently, this is something a lot of people experienced.
Tati explained that she believes there’s a traffic issue with the site and that she’s not affiliated with the owner, so she has no way of fixing it and there will apparently be in-depth info tomorrow morning – she also tweeted that she will be posting another video explaining more about why the ingredients were chosen and the process:
Overall, I’ve been seeing a lot of emphasis on the fact that more information will be coming out soon.
So… I think there’s a lot to unpack here. Let’s get into it, shall we? (*feels like a YouTuber all of a sudden just by saying that*)
Admittedly, I didn’t catch this announcement when she first teased it – I only really saw it when I first saw the thumbnail in her announcement video, so I had no idea what was going on. When I saw what turned out to be the cap in the thumbnail, I was one of the people who immediately thought the brand was going to be called xo’s Tati, so when I found out it was actually called Halo Beauty, I was a little confused. Additionally, her whole branding reminds me of some kind of amalgamation of two other existing brands by YouTubers – xoBeauty by Shaaanxo and Face Halo by Chloe Morello.
Prior to reading all that mess on Reddit, my initial response to the announcement was “huh?” I really like the packaging on this and think the bottle is very well-designed, but I was just a little thrown off by the fact that she came out with vitamins. I was almost positive it was going to be a makeup product and given her love for bronzer, I assumed she was going to release one that would give you some kind of sun-kissed glow, which I thought would also be very appropriate timing given that spring is officially starting this month.
After reading Reddit, I began to have some doubts. I remember being a little surprised about her dropping that it’s “clinically proven” in her announcement video, so when I saw the Reddit comment that she can make those claims because vitamins and supplements aren’t FDA-regulated and then her Instagram comment saying she can’t “legally” make those claims if they weren’t true, I was even more confused.
To look into this more, I starting doing some ~Googlin’~ and found some pages by the FDA: this one says that “vitamin products are regulated by FDA as ‘Dietary Supplements’ and this one about dietary supplements that says that the FDA regulates both “finished dietary supplement products and dietary ingredients” and that “Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients are prohibited from marketing products that are adulterated or misbranded. That means that these firms are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure that they meet all the requirements of DSHEA and FDA regulations.”
Furthermore, there are dietary supplement “current Good Manufacturing Practice” (cGMP) regulations that were established in 2007 that require manufacturers to evaluate their products through testing identity, purity, strength, and composition. I also found this page on FDA approval, in which it says that the FDA doesn’t approve dietary supplements and “unlike new drugs, dietary supplements are not reviewed and approved by FDA based on their safety and effectiveness.”
I’m no lawyer of any kind, nor am I a professional (we know this already), but if we’re going back to that original Reddit comment, it seems like vitamins (which are classified as “dietary supplements” by the FDA) ARE in fact regulated; however, they’re not “approved.”
When it comes to being “clinically proven,” I found the Business Insider article referenced by the first Reddit comment I shared that says that “Clinically approved means somewhere, a doctor has put it on someone and said it’s OK” – it then occurred to me that I didn’t really know what this was clinically proven to do because I never remembered Tati ever really finishing that sentence. When I looked back on the brand’s Instagram, all it says is that it’s “clinically proven to work.”
So… this doesn’t really tell me much in terms of what this product is “clinically proven” to do since “to work” seems like a very broad term to me TBQH.
The Product Itself
Price-wise, I do think this is a tad on the expensive side, especially when you can waltz into any CVS and get some kind of “hair, skin, & nails” supplement for around $8. I understand that this is supposed to be packed with ingredients “that work” (again… what does that mean?), but still… $40 every month for a bottle of vitamins definitely does NOT suit my budget.
When it comes to the whole “saw palmetto” thing in regards to it counteracting birth control, even though it doesn’t technically affect me, it’s still a wee bit concerning, but I think this happens with a bunch of other products too – when something is marketed as a “supplement,” I think the automatic assumption is that it’ll be healthy in some way, and I know I personally don’t tend to look at every single ingredient on the list and wonder how it’ll impact me. Granted, I don’t take any supplements, but still.
I personally think that in comparison to some launches that have gone pretty sour in the past (*cough ABH Subculture*), Tati is handling it pretty well – she seems to be calm and is trying to defend her product without the whole “consumer-blaming” thing that tends to happen (*COUGH ABH SUBCULTURE*), which is something I personally appreciate.
That being said, I’m interested to see what she ends up saying in the subsequent videos she’s promised to release with more details on the product and I think it was smart for the brand to respond to a user comment by saying that you should always consult with a doctor before taking supplements. I wonder if it says this anywhere on the bottle… 🤔
Overall, this was definitely a launch that took me by surprise. I personally won’t be buying it for the price tag alone, although after reading some Reddit comments about the ingredients and the whole blurred area with the claims, I’m not sure if I would have bought it at a lower price point – at least not without getting more information.
I think the backlash is fair as most of it seemed “constructive” rather than being truly bashing. Most people just seemed to want to know more since there are always concerns when a product is being ingested, so I think this was a pretty big risk for Tati to take. Again, I can’t help but think of Sugar Bear Hair as a comparison to this and I’m wondering if her whole thing about sugar is a direct “dig” at this company.
At the end of the day, as consumers we’re supposed to be doing our own research when it comes to our health because we’re responsible for ourselves and yada yada, but I think it’s easy to be “seduced” by pretty packaging and bold claims – especially by people we “trust” because they’re influencers we’ve been watching.
I’d also like to say that I’m in the party that’s a little bit “skeptical” about it “working” just due to the fact that Tati wears extensions, generally has a pretty healthy diet, and can afford expensive skincare products in the first place… I wish she posted some kind of before and after, but maybe that’ll be in the subsequent video(s) she’ll be posting. Aaaaalso, I think it would’ve been a smart move at least from a marketing standpoint to really bring the whole “beauty starts from within” tagline that they’re trying to go for home by posting images of her that are makeup-free and extension-free, but again… those are my 2¢.
I kinda just wish she released a bronzer (*sad face*) – what are your thoughts?
Update – 3/3/18
Since writing this post, the website & product have officially been launched, so I think it might be useful to provide a quick update!
I’m not looking to become a drama blog or anything, but I know we all love some good drama, and there was actually a second megathread started about this whole topic on r/BeautyGuruChatter that provides a good breakdown of what has been happening if anybody is interested!
The website actually provides a lot of information about the product and what the ingredients are supposed to do (and there’s an ingredients page that provides a full listing) – as a fan of the Oxford comma, the header kind of kills me a little, but that’s beside the point.
Remember how iffy I was about the whole “clinically proven to work” thing? The websites makes an actual claim this time, saying, “clinically proven to improve your hair, skin and nails” (again – WHERE’S MY OXFORD COMMA?)
If you scroll down a little more, you’ll see more in-depth information about the statistics backing up it being clinically proven to do what it says it’ll do. Again – it’s a little bit hard to digest the fact that it’ll smooth wrinkles and fine lines, make your skin appear more youthful, and give you thicker, stronger hair when each of these points is placed next to an image of a person who may have been airbrushed (of course there wouldn’t be any wrinkles), is probably wearing a ton of highlight (there’s nothing more youthful than the glow you get from Sephora), and is known to wear extensions (instantly thicker hair). Tati looks beautiful in these pictures, but as a consumer who wants to see results, I personally would have liked to see some before and after pictures without makeup to get the full picture.
I almost wish she would’ve done a campaign similar to what CVS has done when they promised to no longer Photoshop ads of their beauty products – with “all imagery on photos used in in-store displays and print advertisement will now carry a ‘CVS Beauty Mark,’ denoting to shoppers that the photo had not been altered,” I think Tati would’ve really benefitted from this kind of transparency, especially for a product that claims to improve your appearance “from the inside out.” As you can see from the images above, there’s a big difference in digital alteration in terms of skin texture and what “real” people look like – without this kind of transparency, on top of all the makeup, I’m not exactly sure what kind of retouching has been done to the photos Tati has posted, leaving me even more skeptical.
Furthermore, if you look at the claims, there’s an asterisk at the end, which typically will lead you to another statement with an asterisk at the beginning that’s usually some kind of disclaimer. The only other statement is the one that I see above, which doesn’t have that typical asterisk at the beginning, but I think this is probably the “disclaimer” that the asterisks were supposed to lead me to.
Other information about this product and the FDA can be found on the website’s FAQ page, which kind of confirms what I found in my Googling that I talked about earlier on how the FDA doesn’t “approve” dietary supplements.
Furthermore, the page talks about consulting with a “qualfied healthcare professional before taking our product.” I still wonder if it’s written on the bottle though!
Additionally, the website containing the “first in-depth review from a qualified supplement viewer” now seems to be working – it basically just lists all the ingredients and provides the logic behind why they’re included, but at the end, the author says, “I didn’t try Halo Beauty so I can’t be sure. For the most part, the ingredients in Halo Beauty seem logical for a skin, hair and nails supplement.” Again… I would’ve loved some before & after pictures of Tati as some evidence here!
Overall, I think my issue here is that they’re being more translucent than transparent. They seemed to have “covered all their bases” in terms of providing the ingredients list & explanations of each individual ingredient, the “clinically proven” statistics, the statement about the FDA, and telling people to consult a healthcare professional on the FAQ page, but I still feel a little uneasy about the fact that there’s just no proof.
I understand that the product was just released and for people who are buying it now it’ll take a few weeks to get some results to post about, but Tati is the creator and has been trying and testing these out, so wouldn’t it have been logical to use herself as the case study instead of putting out these images that are most likely edited where she’s wearing makeup? As someone who loves looking at makeup and the whole artistry behind it, I don’t want to come across as “shaming” her for posted edited pictures (because again – she looks beautiful), but I feel like it’s a little bit dichotomous and off-putting to talk about these kinds of results when they haven’t come “from within” in these pictures, but have rather been added to provide instant results.
After going through the website and reading more information, I’m still skeptical. I’m waiting for the promised video about more information, but I still think it was silly to release it after the whole fact!
- Tati // Ride or Die Makeup Brushes // 20 Questions About my Brand // Testing Low Rated Makeup From ULTA // MY BRAND ANNOUNCEMENT … xo’s
REDDIT SOURCES (r/BeautyGuruChatter)
- Tati’s brand
- Tati’s Brand Megathread
- Commenter claims an ingredient in Tati Westbrook vitamins can decrease the effectiveness of birth control
- FDA // Is It Really ‘FDA Approved?’ // Facts About the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs) // Dietary Supplements // Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins
- Business Insider // What those ‘Dermatologist Recommended’ and ‘Clinically Proven’ labels on your lotions and soap actually mean
*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with the aforementioned YouTubers/companies in any way, shape, or form! None of the links above are affiliate links and my opinions are purely based on what I watched in the above videos. Content of screenshots and .gifs are not my own and are owned by the credited YouTuber in the linked videos above.
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.