Cosmetic Companies and the Problem with Photography Stealing

I've been noticing a disturbing trend, where certain companies have been stealing and manipulating photos from other companies or blogs to use in their product listings. This is extremely distressing because it's exceptionally deceptive, unethical, shady, illegal, and misleads customers. 

impulse cosmetics valkyrie 1

I would hope that I don't have to tell this to anyone at this point, but here it is - STEALING is BAD. When you take something that is not yours and pretend like it is, that's stealing. While downloading and using a photo from the internet is not the same as shoplifting from a store, it’s theft just the same. When you see a picture of a product, take it, put it on your product listing, and insinuate that that picture represents your product, you are lying to your customers.

I do want to take the time to explain intellectual property rights in the context of photography. When you take a picture, you own that picture and all rights regarding the use and distribution of the photo. When you post the picture to the internet, you still reserve all rights to the photo. You do not lose the copyright to it. The photograph is still the intellectual property of the person who took the picture. If you download a picture and use it without the consent of the copyright owner, you can, in fact, be sued for violating their copyright. Companies that repeatedly, knowingly use product photos from other brands are opening themselves up to a serious amount of liability. 

There are so many companies out there have great product photography or if they're unable to have good photographs, they outsource the work. I know of a few indie brands that have actually paid someone to do product swatches for them, and I think that's fantastic. I know that not everyone has the budget for that, but there are still options out there for brands on a tight budget. If there's a blogger you like, contact them to see if they would be willing to swatch in exchange for product and/or a fee to license the photographs. There are plenty of bloggers out there who are great at swatching. Please don't resort to stealing.

While my intent for the post was to be a general rant, there is a specific company in mind that needs to be called out on their behavior. 

Impulse Cosmetics. 

I was so very interested in their lipsticks a long time ago but was turned off by their photoshopped listings for the lipsticks. They eventually switched over to having someone model their lipsticks so I thought "Okay cool, I'll keep them in mind and maybe pick up something later"

Then this happened...

I was in a Facebook group when it came to my attention that they STOLE a picture from Fyrinnae Cosmetics, cropped it, and used it in a product listing. When I saw this, I was very upset because Fyrinnae is one of my favorite indie companies. They are one of the companies you think of when you think indie and they do not deserve to have anyone stealing their work.

I won't take credit for the find, but I'm thankful for the information. Since it must be said, I have not manipulated or photoshopped ANY of these photos. I have merely screencapped the photos together for comparison.

I was discussing what had happened in a makeup subreddit I follow (feel free to check out the thread here) and I felt compelled to write on Impulse Cosmetics' Facebook wall about it, while someone else in the subreddit mentioned that they had messaged the company. My post linked to the image of the stolen photograph and I had chastised them for stealing the photograph from Fyrinnae. In the end, they deleted my post on their Facebook wall and they never responded to the person who sent the message. I did not manage to get a screencap of my post but if you look in the reddit thread, there are several people who mention that they do not see my post anymore (indicating that it was there).

After this, they had closed the shop for restocking (which they were actually doing) but after they reopened the shop, they removed the Fyrinnae photograph from the listing for Valkyrie. Whether it was directly because of me and the other person messaging them is unknown but the timing certainly suggests so.

This was the listing for Valkyrie. Again, the picture was removed but it's evidence that they were taking the photograph from Fyrinnae.

impulse cosmetics valkyrie

Further detective work (not by me but I wish I had such keen eyes) showed that they have stolen at least one other photograph from Fyrinnae:

Previously, I wasn't able to see the stolen picture being used and had to refer to a previous transaction, but I now see that they are in fact STILL using it.

impulse cosmetics scramble

You're probably thinking "Uh those aren't the same colors" and that's true but if you look inside the circle that's the part that has been cropped and merely color corrected.

and while this isn't an example of them stealing from another indie cosmetics company, it does show that their glitter appears to be sourced from The Conservatorie however there's no mention on the listing that it is not a custom blended glitter.

impulse cosmetics honor

Quite honestly I'm suspicious of the rest of their listings that have been cropped in a circle but I don't have any concrete proof yet of further listings.


There has been no mention of the photography issue both publicly or privately. I was not messaged or emailed by the owner of Impulse Cosmetics regarding the deletion of my post. There has been no apology from Impulse Cosmetics to their customers or to Fyrinnae Cosmetics for stealing the photographs. Considering this, how can we really know if they will never do it again or feel remorseful for their actions?

You might be thinking "well they took the photographs for Scramble and Valkyrie off, the matter is over right?"For me, no the matter is not over. Like it or not, they clearly violated Fyrinnae's copyrights by downloading the photos and using them for commercial purposes in their shop. There's clearly a history of them misrepresenting their products through the use of those photographs.

I personally don't understand why they felt the need to steal photographs for their listings, they actually have some decent swatch pictures of their eyeshadows. Either way it begs the question, how can you rely on them as a company if they can't even manage to do their own product photography and think it's okay to steal photographs instead?

I am not saying that you shouldn't shop from them, or that you should somehow enjoy what you have gotten from them less, just consider who you shop from and the ethics system that they choose to follow. I don't want to be supporting unscrupulous companies who steal photographs from fellow indies. There's already so much suspicion around with indie companies due to the bad ones and it really just hurts the good ones. Please support the good indie companies and avoid the rest!

8 comments

  1. Awesome! I tried to word it so I didn't sound like The Guy on the Internet, but I totally did. I'm off to check out Fryrinnae!

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  2. I agree, they do seem to have some decent swatch photos, I don't understand why they would do this! It is really not that hard to get a half-decent swatch photo of your product. If you are going to run a business, it would not hurt to take a photography class or invest in a decent camera and learn how to do so.(Or, as you suggested, enlist a blogger with good skills to do it for you.) It really bothers me to see people steal images from other companies, especially indie ones! Also, most customers use swatch photos to decide what colours they want, it is a very bad idea in my opinion to misrepresent your colours. Stealing the photo may have saved them time in the first place but then you end up dealing with unhappy customers when the eyeshadow looks nothing like the photo that was shown.


    Thank you for this well-written post, you did a great job of providing information on this issue in a polite and non-dramatic manner.

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  3. This makes me sad. I actually own a lot of Impulse Cosmetics products now and think they are great quality, but this angers me. I'm torn.... I was planning on making another purchase with them, but now I'm no so sure.

    http://mattekat.blogspot.ca/

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  5. It seems they have fixed the issue without a formal statement that I can find?

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  6. Terrible company. I never got my order although I paid, and they blocked me from sending messages to them.

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  7. I just saw this for the first time! I ordered from implulse awhile ago. I had originally ordered samples of their lip colors awhile ago and I found a color I LOVED. So I ordered it in full size, and it came out a different color. The one I ordered was a dark dark red, and the new one i got was really purpley. The also obviously put black under their "bogart" lip swatch, cause it doesnt go on like that at all. I ordered an eyeshadow (esmerelda i think) and the site made it look like a really pretty light gold/pink, and it came to me as a HOT HOT pink with a little gold in it. When i put some rubbing alcohol with it to press, it stained like i was dying my hair with dye and did not go away for forever, this makes me reallllly wary on putting it on my eye again.

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