February 25, 2020

Sephora Faces Controversy Over ‘Palestine’ Comment

Sephora makeup store. Photo by Wikipedia Commons

Sephora, the Paris-based multinational chain of beauty stores found itself in hot water June 2 after a customer asked on Instagram whether they ship to Israel.

Sephora responded, stating, “No we do not ship to Palestine at this time.”

Instagram comments about Sephora’s new products quickly transformed from compliments and heart emojis to criticism and Israeli and Palestinian flag emojis.

Sephora commenting on Instagram.

Sephora posted a statement on their official Twitter account June 3 saying, “@sephora was asked on Instagram if we ship to Israel, and then asked if we ship to Palestine. Our US-based dotcom does not ship to Israel or Palestine. We responded as such. Our responses were about shipping capabilities only and should not be interpreted as anything else. For more information on international shipping for Sephora US, please visit https://www.sephora.com/beauty/international-shipments.”

The Journal reached out to Sephora via email asking the company for more information on the situation. Sephora responded on June 10 with the same statement that appeared on Twitter. The Journal could not find any reference to Sephora’s statement about a request regarding its shipping policy to Palestine on any of its social media platforms.

Following a claim made on Twitter on April 30 by R&B singer SZA who said she was racially profiled while shopping for Fenty Beauty products at a Sephora store in Calabasas, the company apologized to the singer on Twitter and later decided to close more than 400 stores across the U.S. on June 5 for a diversity and inclusion training for its employees.

Screenshot from Twitter

Asked about the diversity training in light of the Instagram controversy, Sephora sent a statement via email to the Journal on June 13 that read in part, “Sephora is a client-centric company and creating a welcoming space for all our clients is our top priority. The ‘We Belong to Something Beautiful’ campaign has been in the works for a year, and the plan to close our U.S. stores, distribution centers, call centers and corporate office for a one-hour inclusivity workshop with our 16,000 employees has been in development for over six months, timed with our first campaign chapter debuting on June 6th. This store closure is part of a long journey in our aspiration to create a more inclusive beauty community and workplace, which has included forming employee resource groups, building Social Impact and philanthropic programs, and hosting inclusive mindset training for all supervisors.”

Sephora continued, “While it is true that SZA’s experience occurred prior to the launch of the ‘We Belong to Something Beautiful’ campaign, the campaign was not the result of this Tweet. However, it does reinforce why belonging is now more important than ever.”