Makeup mogul Jeffree Star is launching a new Androgyny Palette on Sunday, but the promotional images featuring fellow beauty vlogger Nikita Dragun are making people pissed.
The photos, released this week, show Nikita covered in what looks to be a metallic bronze pigment.
Fans immediately put Jeffree and Nikita on blast because the bronzer appears to be significantly darker than her natural skin tone.
Now Twitter is exploding with people who believe the look is a form of blackface.
Nikita tweeted in her own defense on Tuesday, explaining that her skin just gets darker when she tans. As proof, she shared a few photos showing off her tanned skin. "So it's cultural appropriation if it's your own culture?" she asked.
Some fans came to Nikita's defense and Jeffree fired off a few tweets and RTs to back her up, calling the haters "mean and sadistic."
This isn't the first time Jeffree has faced accusations of racism. As reported by Revelist last summer, one of Jeffree's early videos (which he has since deleted) showed him joking about lightening a woman of color's skin with battery acid. "Maybe if she wasn't wearing the wrong foundation color, I wouldn't have had to splash no battery acid to lighten her skin tone," he said.
In the wake of that report, Jeffree apologized, describing the video as a "huge mistake."
Update 3/3, 1:05 p.m.:
In a statement to Seventeen.com, Nikita said she was "disappointed" by the backlash against the campaign.
"It's very unfortunate that a section of the community is choosing to interpret and liken my image in Jeffree Star's campaign to blackface," she wrote in an email. "The message of this campaign is intended to welcome all gender identities, sexualities, and races to enjoy the makeup line. Additionally, the creative design for the imagery called for high contrast between light and shadow, and low lighting, which lends itself to creating a mood for the imagery. This campaign is so exciting and so disruptive; I'm proud to be featured in it as a Transgender Woman of Mixed Race (my mother being Mexican and my father Vietnamese). I'm disappointed that anyone would choose to critique the creative design of this incredibly inclusive campaign, rather than celebrate the diversity in it."
Jeffree Star Cosmetics has not responded to Seventeen.com's request for comment.
Source: Cosmo US