e.l.f. Beauty’s True Crime Parody Calls for End to Cosmetic Theft

True crime isn’t always about murder. The genre can also include small-time scams, corporate espionage and, in e.l.f. Beauty‘s case, missing makeup.

The brand ventured into the true crime game with “Cosmetic Crimes,” which addresses the taboo topic of intergenerational makeup theft. This 15-minute satire uses the familiar formula of a hard-hitting documentary to tell the tale of a family torn asunder by their need for beauty products.

The short film was directed by Alex Buono (the filmmaker behind Russian Doll and Documentary Now!) and features an all-star cast, including Niecy Nash-Betts, Nelson Franklin and Necar Zadegan.

The story starts out innocuous enough, with a teen named Olivia suspecting that someone might be dipping into her makeup. Things get serious, though, when she discovers that her e.l.f. products are missing, with nary a neutral eyeshadow palette left behind.

e.l.f. crimes

A series of suspects are questioned, but the investigators are unable to find a solid lead. It isn’t until the girl’s nana returns home from a night out that this game of cat and mouse draws to a close.

Nana confesses to the crime, but not before bringing down the rest of the family with her. Olivia grapples with the truth: They are all stealing her makeup.

“Why? e.l.f. is so affordable! Buy your own!” she cries.

“Our e.l.f. community was the first to tell us about widespread e.l.f.-pinching within their households,” Laurie Lam, chief brand officer of e.l.f. Beauty, said 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 that we had to act on.”

“Cosmetic Crimes” is available to watch via Amazon Freevee and YouTube. It will also make its theatrical debut ahead of Paramount Pictures’ new Mean Girls at select AMC locations Friday.

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