Real-Life ‘E.l.f.-Pinching’ Inspires True Crime Mockumentary

E.l.f. Cosmetics are apparently so highly prized that they push otherwise law-abiding citizens into stealing — well, “unauthorized borrowing” — by roommates and family members. The real-life prevalence of all this post-purchase theft has inspired E.l.f. Cosmetics to produce a true crime mockumentary, Cosmetic Criminals, now available on Amazon Freevee and YouTube. Additionally, the 15-minute spot will play ahead of Paramount Pictures’ new Mean Girls movie at select AMC theater locations nationwide on Jan. 12, 2024.

“Our e.l.f. community was the first to tell us about widespread e.l.f.-pinching within their households,” said Laurie Lam, Chief Brand Officer at E.l.f. Beauty in a statement. “Borrowing e.l.f. holy grails from family and friends without the intention of returning, a.k.a. Intergenerational Cos Crime, is a global phenomenon — between siblings, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives — even grandparents are not spared. This insight from our community sparked an incredible idea we had to act on.”

E.l.f. also has turned these insights around the irresistible nature of its products into a new product line, aptly called Cosmetic Security. The three-piece collection,  which is now available online, consists of a teddy bear, a faux planter and a hollowed-out book, each with a vault to hide products from those sticky-fingered cosmetic criminals.

The mockumentary has solid moviemaking cred. It was directed by Oscar- and Emmy-nominated director Alex Buono (Documentary Now!, Russian Doll) and stars Niecy Nash-Betts (Origin, Reno 911!), Nelson Franklin (Veep, New Girl) and Necar Zadegan (NCIS, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce).


This isn’t E.l.f.’s first foray into scripted content: the brand debuted its Vanity Table Talk social series in May 2023 and launched its e.l.f. UP! Roblox series aimed at young entrepreneurs in November 2023. E.l.f. had detailed its Gen Z-focused data strategy in a January 2023 interview with Retail TouchPoints.

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