On June 21, 2020, Susan Yara announced herself as a co-founder of the brand Naturium. The initial response from both her friends and colleagues in the community, as well as her many followers was beyond ecstatic. The situation quickly turned sour as the realization became obvious of Yara publicly promoting Naturium in previous months without disclosing her relationship with the brand. Although there is debate among some on whether Susan Yara’s actions are illegal, Yara’s actions are considered highly unethical in the world of social media influence.
The following is a timeline of her actions and the aftermath in one place to shine light on the situation. Hopefully, the timeline will help readers understand why people within the beauty community are angry, disappointed, and possibly done with Susan Yara, the person who was once considered one of the people’s favorite non-problematic Beauty YouTubers.
Most of the evidence provided below is available due to the diligence of a small group of mindful consumers that wanted to know who was behind a new brand that piqued their interest and quickly exploded on the scene. I want to personally thank them for permitting me to include their comments and the screenshots they collected in this article. They were regarded by Susan Yara and many of her supporters as bullies and instigators. However, they are without a doubt consumer advocates and truth seekers.
October 2019 – Naturium is sold on Amazon
According to the June 21st article from Beauty Independent, Naturium went into beta mode on Amazon in October 2019, while the website officially launched in February 2020. The article reveals Susan Yara and Ben Bennet as the creator and financier, respectively, behind the Naturium brand.
February 2020 – Naturium website goes live
With a live website, Naturium was ready to ship to U.S. customers. The company also readily shared their efforts to protect the environment with their One Tree Planted initiative. However, there was no information available about the brand’s founders and team, which is rare for new and indie brands.
April 15, 2020 – Susan Yara posts about Naturium in her Mixed Makeup Facebook Group
Susan posted within the Mixed Makeup Facebook Group about a brand called Naturium that she claims is better than affordable skincare darling The Ordinary. Susan was also available to offer suggestions of products to try, inside knowledge of the brand’s operation, and glowing reviews for the Naturium products she tried. When asked how she discovered the brand, Yara answered she received a PR package.
April 19, 2020 – Susan Yara provides Naturium discount code
Susan provided a discount code she was able to get from Naturium where customers got 25% off any two items. She also informed international members of the Mixed Makeup Facebook group the company was working to sell products outside of the United States as soon as possible. Her original post on April 15th was also updated with the discount code.
April 25, 2020 – Susan Yara sends Naturium discount code reminder
Susan reminded members in the Mixed Makeup Facebook group the Naturium discount code was ending soon. She also mentioned working on a partnership with the company and getting another discount code in the future. FYI: The original post stated the code was good until April 24th.
April 28, 2020 – Mixed Makeup releases 4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums video
In this video where Susan recommends several effective, yet affordable vitamin C serums, Susan is especially curious about the Naturium serum and thought it had an interesting formula. She was also shocked it only costs $20. There was no mention of her relationship with Naturium during the video. After her announcement, a disclaimer of Susan being the co-founder of Naturium was added to the bottom of the description box.
On Instagram, Susan posted a paid sponsorship with Ole Henriksen where she mentioned using the Naturium Gel Cream Moisturizer without disclosing her relationship with Naturium.
April 29, 2020 – Mixed Makeup releases Get Rid of Clogged Pores with This Skincare Routine video
During this video for getting rid of clogged pores, Susan declares a niacinamide serum is needed to help unclog pores, and she uses one from Naturium. She mentions Naturium being a newer brand, and she has been using and enjoying many of their serums. There is no mention of her relationship with the brand and she uses “They” when talking about the brand. Similar to the Vitamin C Serum video, this video now has a disclaimer that was not previously there.
June 6, 2020 – Naturium responds to Pull Up Challenge
In response to the Pull Up Challenge, Naturium posted about their diverse 6-person team including their two founders who are Asian and Asian Hispanic. The post also states the brand “formally launched four months ago in February 2020.”
June 11, 2020 – Potential customer asks about Naturium founders
In response to Naturium’s post for the Pull Up Challenge, a fellow member in one of my beauty groups on Facebook (not the Mixed Makeup group), asked if anyone had information about Naturium’s founders. In an effort to be a more mindful consumer, she wanted to know about the brand and their creators before giving them her hard-earned coins.
I was actually the first person to respond to her question because I remember hearing a lot about Naturium in the Mixed Makeup group, but it seemed like the brand appeared out of nowhere. I was also curious about this new brand that quickly caught on fire among my fellow beauty enthusiasts. The original poster also noticed how quickly the brand blew up once Susan mentioned them.
Since most of us knew about this brand from Susan Yara and the Mixed Makeup group, another person took the question directly to the source. The original poster did not receive any response from Susan, even after directly tagging her. In fact, Susan untagged herself from the post without responding.
June 15, 2020 – Susan Yara hints at her brand on Instagram
When Instagram user WhatsonVisFace posted “Drop a brand that’s still worth your influence/money today …” Susan responded, “My brand.”
June 18, 2020 – Susan Yara’s ownership of Naturium is confirmed
A member of the due diligence team was able to confirm with a beauty journalist that Susan Yara is the founder of Naturium, and the announcement was forthcoming on Monday June 22nd.
People within our group were quick to predict how things would turn out once this news was announced. In hindsight, the predictions were quite spot on.
June 21, 2020 – Susan Yara introduces her new skincare brand Naturium
Susan Yara announces she is the founder of Naturium in the Mixed Makeup Facebook group with the YouTube video posted on the Mixed Makeup page.
June 22, 2020 – Backlash begins to Susan Yara’s announcement
Within the Mixed Makeup group and in comments on the announcement video and around the interwebs, the initial response was mostly surprise and congratulations to Susan Yara. However, there were members in the Mixed Makeup Facebook Group who expressed anger with Susan not disclosing her relationship with Naturium while promoting them in the group. Several of those people were removed from the group and their comments were deleted while diehard Yara Stans called these dissenters “haters” and heaped praised upon Yara. Eventually, less than positive comments were allowed to stay among the praise, but the praise did continue.
I am one such person who found the actions of Susan Yara to be deceitful and reprehensible. She scoffs at being called an influencer and often cites her work as a journalist, which prior to this situation helped solidify her as an expert in the skincare field and an unbiased, trustworthy reviewer. I discovered Susan Yara through her Mixed Makeup YouTube channel and quickly fell in love with her winning personality and beauty knowledge. I joined her Facebook group and found a lively place to geek out with fellow skincare enthusiasts. However, I was thoroughly pissed with Susan Yara using the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests as an excuse for delaying this announcement.
Yara did not help the situation by apologizing for any confusion, encouraging people to give the products a try, appreciating people compliments of her unethical business tactics, and accusing critics of being women against women.
The first major person within the skincare community to respond to the situation was Caroline Hirons who posted an Instagram Live expressing her opinion about the situation.
As someone who was seriously angered by Susan Yara’s actions, Caroline Hirons’s video was reassuring and calming. I was almost in tears hearing someone bring logic that was seriously lacking from others to this unbelievable situation. I couldn’t believe people were excusing Susan’s behavior and lack of transparency when the main reason for Susan’s popularity is her honesty and trustworthiness. Once Caroline Hirons spoke out, others in the skincare and beauty community began speaking on the Susan Yara and Naturium situation.
The announcement even tainted Susan’s colleagues in the skincare community like Hyram, James Welsh, and Liah Yoo who were included in the announcement video. While they posted a message on their Instagram Stories about the situation, James also initially saved a video on IGTV with further explanation about his opinion on the situation. However, the video has since been removed.
Following mounting criticism, Susan also posted a message to her Instagram Stories that she would soon respond. She also insinuated Caroline Hirons said the content creators in Susan’s announcement video knew more about Susan’s involvement with Naturium when Caroline actually said the opposite. When questioned, Susan admitted to not watching Hirons’s IG Live.
June 25, 2020 – Susan Yara issues an apology
According to Susan Yara in her I’m Sorry video she only became a formal founder of Natrium in the few weeks leading to her announcement, but she was involved with the brand from the beginning and acknowledges she should have disclosed that information. Apparently, Susan felt justified talking about Naturium without disclosing her relationship because she “knew the formulations were good.” Susan also says she felt pressure to make her announce announcement because people had picked up on hints that she might be involved with Naturium and messaged the brand for answers about the brand’s founders and team. This was most likely Susan referencing the mindful consumers in our beauty group who discovered the truth.
Susan Yara’s apology did not seem to help the situation since she appeared to contradict herself both in the apology video and with what she said days earlier in her announcement video. Aicha Tohry expanded on the situation with some lessons influencers can learn from Susan Yara’s Naturium launch. Even Jen Luvs Reviews, one of my Must-Follow Beauty YouTube Channels, weighed in with a video wondering if this is the biggest scam in influencer history. By Friday evening, Yara was still radio silent online and had archived her Mixed Makeup Facebook group.
As the news of Susan Yara and Naturium spread within the skincare enthusiast community and beyond, there was plenty of praise, but there was also a backlash calling out Yara’s failure to disclose her association with Naturium while discussing their products on her many platforms prior to the official announcement. The above general timeline associated with the Naturium/Susan Yara controversy shows, at best, a deceitful influencer tried to stand out in a saturated market. At worst, what Susan Yara did when it comes to her handling of Naturium was illegal. Now, it is up to you, dear reader, to determine if this is cause to “cancel” Susan Yara.
Have You “Cancelled” Susan Yara?
For me, I have decided to unfollow the Mixed Makeup brand on YouTube and Instagram. I will most likely never purchase products from Naturium, and I have filed an FTC complaint. Therefore, I have theoretically “cancelled” Susan Yara for myself, which is the actual meaning of “cancelling” someone. It is a personal decision based on your own experience. If a person or brand has crossed your moral line, then you have every right to stop supporting them. You may choose to stop supporting them until their behavior changes. You may choose to stop supporting them for the rest of time. I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust Susan Yara again because as the saying goes it takes years to build up credibility and seconds to destroy it.
No matter where you stand with regards to the “Cancelling of Susan Yara,” this situation is a reminder that the purpose of influencers is to sell us products. It doesn’t matter if Susan Yara thinks of herself as more of a journalist than an influencer. She is an influencer, and Naturium is an influencer-created brand. Despite Susan’s insinuations, there is nothing wrong with an influencer creating a brand. It builds upon the entrepreneur spirit that defines the American Dream. However, an influencer is only worth their integrity.
If Susan Yara was proud of the brand she created, then she should have happily announced her new brand in February when Naturium officially launched. The only other ethical option for someone who wanted their brand to grow without the attachment of their influence is to never be publicly associated with the brand until announcing their ownership. Susan Yara did neither of these things. Instead, Susan pretended to be an unbiased reviewer of Naturium and insisted she only learned about the brand through PR. She abused her status as a highly regarded expert in the skincare community and took advantage of her devoted followers.
In the end, I’m sure Susan Yara, Mixed Makeup, and Naturium will be fine. In fact, all of this surrounding controversy will most likely help her brand in the long run. People who have never heard of Susan Yara or Naturium may be intrigued to follow her and try products from her brand. In fact, many of her Stans immediately hauled Naturium following the announcement, and many products on the Naturium website quickly sold out. However, the same may not be said for the next influencer who wants to create a brand. The beauty world is still reeling from the controversy surrounding Jaclyn Hill launching her brand. Now, Susan Yara and Naturium have added more fuel to that fire.
What are your thoughts on the Susan Yara / Naturium controversy?