Beauty has always been important to makeup artist Brittney Nelson. So when she walked into a Sephora store in Augusta, Georgia, and saw a trashed makeup display, she may have seen it as a form of sacrilege. When she realized that the perpetrator was a child, however, her outrage was directed away from the offender and onto the child’s mom.
Nelson grew up surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother never went a day without wearing heels, right up until she passed away on her 90th birthday. Her aunt encouraged a beauty regime at an early age. Even her mom never faced a day without looking presentable.
Indeed, Nelson’s mom had a motto. She said, “It’s hard to serve the Lord if you are still in your slept-in sweat pants.” Although sweat pants are a staple of many women’s casual wardrobe, it’s not an item the makeup artist owns. “I’m a big believer of showing up for your own life!” she says on her professional profile.
It was perhaps inevitable, then, that Nelson would follow her passion and pursue a career in beauty. As a teen she acted as a makeup artist for beauty pageants. Through her 16-year career, she has worked for beauty brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Clinique, and even luxury fashion label Christian Dior.
So, clearly, makeup plays an important role in Nelson’s life. It’s part of her arsenal, not just in her personal crusade of taking on the world, one day at a time, but also in arming other women to tackle their everyday battles. Looking good, for Nelson, is a form of empowerment.
It’s lucky, then, that Nelson no doubt knows a thing or two about waterproof mascara. Because when she entered her local Sephora store in November 2017 she witnessed a sight that would reduce any makeup aficionado to tears. It was the wanton destruction of an entire eyeshadow tester palette.
Someone had destroyed a pristine display of Make Up For Ever eyeshadows. Stunning shades of brilliant blues and greens, through to radiant reds, pinks and purples, smashed to smithereens. Even the neutral shades hadn’t escaped the culprit’s attention. They too were utterly annihilated.
For those who don’t know, Make Up For Ever is a makeup brand used by professionals. The company’s philosophy is “Life is a stage,” and, as with any respected product, it comes at a price. With 52 gorgeous shades of eyeshadow in the tester palette decimated, that price quickly added up.
Make Up For Ever eyeshadows retail for around $20. With 52 shades in Sephora’s Augusta store now reduced to dust, that equated to more than $1,000 worth of damage. It’s enough to make any beauty fan’s eyes water. So who was responsible for this display of reckless abandon?
Well, Nelson hadn’t seen the incident take place. She did, however, carry out a quick piece of detective work and noticed a pair of likely-looking suspects. The clues mounted as the makeup artist spotted a giveaway trail that the smaller of the two had left behind.
Nelson wrote on Facebook, “$1,300 of Make Up For Ever eye shadow destroyed at Sephora tonight due to a small child. I’m sure he/she thought they were like finger paints and had no idea how naughty they were being.” Naughty, indeed. But the display surely had the allure of an artist’s paint palette to the child.
Nelson says that makeup always makes her happy. And yet the sight of the destroyed tester display just about broke her heart. She wrote on Facebook that, along with her shopping buddy, “I about passed out when we saw this atrocity,” claiming it looked worse to see it up close than in the photos.
So how did Nelson know a child was the culprit if she hadn’t witnessed the event? Well, as she walked through the door and into the store, heading in the opposite direction was a woman who looked rather flustered. Further clues by the scene of carnage intimated the damage was caused by a rather smaller human.
It didn’t take much sleuth work to determine that the destruction was most likely carried out by a bored youngster. And with the woman Nelson had seen rushing out the door hurrying a child along with her, it was more than likely they were keen to get away from the scene.
Though store staff soon had the mess under control and cleaned up, more carnage was brewing on Facebook, where Nelson shared the image on her business page. As a community who hold great importance over makeup, for some the images were quite shocking.
In a little more than a month, the post received more than 23,000 reactions, 27,000 shares and 21,000 comments. Some of the comments held the child’s mother accountable for the destruction, believing that she should have been keeping a closer eye on what the child was doing.
One commenter said, “There’s no excuse for this. Parents take their kids into businesses, completely ignore them like they’re not there, and expect the work staff to babysit them. A good parent never leaves their child out of sight, not just because of damage to the store’s products, but leaving a young child alone puts them in danger.”
As a mom herself, however, Nelson doesn’t think makeup stores are a place for children. Her Facebook post reads, “Tons of destroyed product and pissed Sephora cast members are a not a happy place to be. Mammas, please shop for your makeup without your tiny humans. It’s not fun for you… or them… or the expensive product.”
The comment, however, didn’t sit well with other mothers. One said, “Yes, this is horrible and that parent is an idiot for not watching their child. But for you to tell people they shouldn’t shop for makeup with their children is ABSURD and disrespectful. Some parents don’t have the luxury of going places without their children.”
Nelson, however, had some simple advice to offer from her own experience of shopping with children in tow. “Being me, I’ve needed to bring Allie into many makeup stores as she’s grown, and had a strict ‘hands in pockets’ rule for her and a strict 10-minute rule for me. It was very helpful, so if you must take your kiddos makeup shopping I suggest trying it.”