February 6, 2019

Walmart Being Sued for Locking Up Beauty Products

Remember when we discussed Walmart locking up makeup and beauty products last week? Well, if you aren’t in the know it appears that many, many Walmart locations have taken to locking up makeup and beauty products. I haven’t been to Walmart in a few months so, I’m not really sure if my store is doing this. I really need to get over there for a look because I was SHOCKED to hear a reader tell me this and almost didn’t believe it but a bunch of you came forward and said, “Yes, indeed, it’s true my store does this!”

I not only shocked but also, annoyed. I expressed in the article I wrote how much a pain it would be to shop makeup if it was locked up. And how irritating it would be to find someone to open up the case when I wanted something. Turns out Walmart has employees at a counter in the beauty department that will help you out. That does make things easier for sure but no less annoying for me. I’m one of those people that likes to leisurely browse and pop things into my cart that I might decide I don’t want later. Or I like to sit and read the back of the packaging, touch the item, etc…! I think most people aren’t willy nilly about their purchase and do like the experience of shopping for makeup. That means touching items, looking at the labels, etc…! You can’t do that if things are locked up and you can’t do that if someone has to unlock the case and stand watching you as you decide if you want the item or not.

Needless to say I’m not into Walmart’s new lock up policy at all!

But one woman took it even further recently as she’s suing Walmart for locking up beauty products as she feels what they are doing is racist.

According to the New York Times a woman is suing Walmart for racism because her store keeps African-American personal care products locked up. I imagine this refers to brands like Shea Moisture, Carol’s Daughter, etc…! The woman, Essie Grundy, said the experience of purchasing a mere $0.48 comb made her feel humiliated and discriminated against due to the experience of having a store employee having to unlock the case to get the comb.

She states all products that were “targeted at African Americans” were locked under glass from the middle to the end of the aisle. She’s quoted in the NYT as saying “Combs, brushes, wave caps — everything was grouped together and separated,” she’s also quoted as saying “I felt that I was being treated as a person who might be a thief,” Ms. Grundy said in a statement she issued on Friday, the same day her lawyer, Gloria Allred, filed the lawsuit in California Superior Court in Riverside County.

I actually said the same thing about feeling like a thief in my prior article.

The only problem with her lawsuit though might be the fact it appears that most Walmart’s are doing this across all beauty not just certain products or at least that’s what I discovered when I did my post about makeup being locked up at the drugstore and how you’d feel if it was. If Walmart is only locking up certain brands especially ones geared towards men or women of color that is horrible! But if they are just locking down the beauty department in general, well, it might be an issue for all of us when shopping there. Because I truly believe locking down makeup and beauty like this really takes away from the shopping experience and yes, indeed, makes me feel like a thief!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.


  • Carol G

    This hasn’t happened at any of my Walmarts (yet) however when I was reading the comments from the other post I had a feeling that they were most likely doing this in low income neighborhoods. I agree with the woman bringing the lawsuit: unfortunately it does send a racist message if they are locking up certain products or locking up the makeup in certain parts of town. Why not just make your policy: We are locking up ALL makeup/beauty products in ALL of our stores period due to theft concerns and consumers opening packages.
    It’s a sad time in America and this is just one reflection of it…

    • Donna Watkins

      I’m not sure what is racist about saying that there is more theft in less affluent areas and that people who are less affluent are often POC. If I was a business, I would care less about hurting anyones feelings and more about protecting my financial bottom line.

  • Kyuu

    Interesting… she might still have a case if it comes to the implementation (e.g. they’ve implemented this in areas that are predominantly black/poc first before more suburban, less poc-areas). Additionally, it’s still a valid lawsuit if it disproportionately impacts minorities compared to other groups. I think that’s the thing with ethnic beauty products…

    Anyway, I don’t have a stake in this but I think it’s a bad business move on Walmart’s part in the first place. Maybe the negative publicity will at least shame them. But it’s also too bad… like how do you shop for products if you don’t even get to touch them unless if you decide you don’t want them? That in itself would discourage me from buying beauty products from Walmart.

    Also, all of this for a 58c comb lmfao. Hope it’s worth it, Walmart.

  • Michelle

    That may be why they started doing it to all products, she probably complained and said she would sue. I don’t think that will negate the premise of the lawsuit, however.

    • Isabella Muse

      If that’s the case, that’s HORRIBLE. And very racist! You got to be kidding me! That’s obscene to lock up just products geared towards WOC. I hope this isn’t what our world has come to because if so that’s pretty damn bleak!

  • Amy Allen

    I won’t buy any personal care product at any store if they lock it up. This goes for CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, etc…I’ll take my business elsewhere.

  • Maritza

    If people wouldnt steal which btw happens a lot even at Sephora , or open items swatch them and leave them there , then stores would have lock the products. Unfortunatly some ruin it for all. And I bet Walmart might have experience a lot of this to make this decisition. I dont mind when i go shopping at walmart I already now what I am getting and certainly dont go for tge experience like i do to the bay or sephora, marshalls and tjmaxx locl up their proudcts on those individual locks and nobody complains it is actually applaud..

  • kjh

    Well, it certainly reeks of apartheid in the m/u dept. Locking up low ticket items geared toward POC, like picks and wave caps, is not only racist, but patently absurd. But it sounds as if Wally locks up in high theft areas, regardless of their shopping demographic, and I’ll bet that’s their court answer. The other thought is: Gloria Allred. Who needs a Dream Team, with Gloria? She’s high profile, a true woman’s champion, and could argue the cold off a snowman. This will be very interesting to follow.

    • Elena

      I agree and this was the exact scenario that came to mind when reading this post.

    • Rina

      Yup. She doesn’t take cases she doesn’t think she can win something, anything, from it. She’s too expensive.

  • Lydi

    I worked at Walgreens before for five years and it gotten so bad that we have to lock up pretty much everything because there so many people stealing. Any companies doesn’t want to lock up but because they notice so many products stolen and profit lost even tho Walgreens do have insurance but still…I know it’s pain in the butt to lock it up for customers it is also pain in the butt for workers unfortunately if they don’t lock certain items up they will cut hours for employees that’s not fair

  • Nicole Johnson

    All beauty brands are locked up at the Wal-Mart stores here in Houston. While it is a pain, it’s nice to be able to get items that haven’t been opened, swatched or destroyed. There could be 6 palettes on a shelf and everyone one of them has been messed with, it was so frustrating.

  • Jessica

    The lawsuit is frivolous and she will have an extremely hard time proving her case. I’m sure Walmart did lots of research on theft in each store and theft prevention and made a decision based on that. It is going to be next to impossible for her to prove this is a racial move…which it really isn’t.

    • Isabella Muse

      I can’t pass judgement until I’ve seen her Walmart location. if in fact they are locking up just those items it comes across very racist. Or if in fact they locked those items and turned around and tried to cover it up by locking everything up, well, that’s just wrong to say the least. But I do agree, it’ll be a difficult case to prove!

      • Donna Watkins

        If those are the items that are stolen most how TF is it RACIST to lock them up?!?!?!

  • Maria Esposito

    A few Rite Aides in my area lock up the deodorant bottles. I think this is crazy. I guess anything is possible.

    • Isabella Muse

      it boggles my mind that anyone would want to lock of deo!

  • Gina

    Let me tell you something that happen to me this weekend.

    I went to a Soriana (it’s a mexican store) and all the products except some eye shadow palettes were box-free. The makeup department have a little counter so you can pay there instead to go and make long lines. Anyway, I only had this Almay lipstick and was ready to pay there when the lady asked me to give her the lipstick to put it in a box…

    Yup, that’s right. She took the lipstick and put it in a very big plastic box so I could take it with another cashier and pay. Obviously everyone was looking at me like I was some kind of thief or something, so I told the cashier what happened with her co-worker. She apologized and told me that she didn’t have to do that.

    With all that happening, I just didn’t want to take the lipstick at all, but it’s kind of hard to find new Almay products so I had to do all of that (and it’s going to be the last time because I had to wait 15 – 20 minutes for someone to take the lipstick out the box…)

    • Isabella Muse

      truly that’s insane. 🙁 Wow. I’d feel like a thief too with that type of behavior 🙁 I’m so sorry Gina! That’s terrible how you were treated!

  • HeidiSomething

    I don’t like a lockup how about a beauty and hair and skin care department? testers, too. Bed bath and beyond seems to have someone near the hair and beauty aisles to answer questions and presumably watch over things.
    I’ve given up shopping for makeup at Target, Walmart and Kmart because crap is always open or damaged, or I see people just opening up makeup and applying it in store. I have no doubt some of it is racially motivated to lock things up in certain neighborhoods, but some of it is just bad manners. There’s no need to pop open a lipstick, apply it to one’s lips and return it to the shelf.
    I wonder now if these stores lock up jewelry, even costume jewelry, cause that’s easy to palm. What about other small items?

  • Lisa

    While I may not prefer this method and may not shop there if I don’t like the ease with which I can shop, I don’t have an issue with a store locking up their products if there is a proven disproportionate amount of theft or destruction of products occurring. Why should the store have to eat the costs of people stealing or opening up and contaminating new products? As a consumer, I hate opening a new product to find it has already been touched. If you haven’t bought the product yet it is not yours to manipulate. That said, a policy around this needs to be carefully implemented and administered so that it does not single out any particular race/ethnicity.

  • Desirea

    My Walmart’s have had products locked up for the last several months if not the last year. It’s in all neighborhoods! And it’s the entire wall of makeup. Not just certain sections. I don’t think this lady’s lawsuit makes any sense. Yes it’s annoying to have the make up locked up but if you work in retail you know why it’s locked up. I work for Walgreens and I wish every day that they will lock up the makeup wall. Too much theft and too much waste. Customers opening and touching everything therefore making it unsellable. Customers are complaining about it but the workers I doubt ever complain about it.

  • Dustin

    I went to Walmart this weekend too look at Flower’s foundation stick. Correction: I went to TWO Walmarts this weekend looking for Flower’s foundation stick.

    Both stores had them and in both stores they ALL looked like they’d been opened swatched. Adding insult to injury, the of the caps were all put back on the wrong product so you couldn’t tell which color was which.

    It never occurred to me to lock anything up. What DID occur to me was that Flower should wrap that crap up so that people can’t just pop the top and rub it all over their grubby bodies!

    I think it’s Walmart’s right to decide to lock stuff up if they want. It’s also people’s right to file a lawsuit for doing it if they think it’s unfair. I take a very neutral stance where I just sort of kick back and watch the world circle the drain.

    And THAT… is your feel good thought for the day xo

    • Isabella Muse

      WHY DO people do this? It drives me nuts. I purchased a lipstick last week and like an idiot didn’t check it only to get it home and it was used. Come on! In some ways, locking up sh1t isn’t a bad idea! Amen on that! Better packaging would help! LOL can I kick back with ya? ;-D

      • Dot

        I really wish the drugstore products here were more like Japan. Their stuff is wrapped better, but they have testers out, so you (1) can’t break into products, and (2) don’t have to break into things to test them out. COMMON SENSE, people. ‍♀️

        • Lori F

          LOL I love this. I swear I’m declaring “COMMON SENSE!” every other day. Seriously, it seems like this is a major problem nowadays. Where did it go? I don’t understand how people can have so little regard for others.

  • Sara

    So what if the individual Walmarts are just locking up items that are commonly stolen in that particular store? Like I said before, my local Walmart locks up cotton balls and pads…I’ve also seen infant formula locked away…maybe people are stealing those? Maybe her Walmart is just locking up things that are commonly stolen at THAT location.
    A lawsuit? I’m seriously over people being THAT offended about EVERY little thing. If you really don’t agree..guess what? You can choose not to shop there! I’m sure there are quite a few other options you have for shopping other than Walmart.
    Ugh. Sorry about the rant.

  • Sick ofthe bullshit

    High end cosmetics carriers such as Macy’s, Nordi’s, Bergdorf’s lock up their cosmetics, their furs, high end clothes. What about jewelry stores. My mom worked for RiteAid for 35 years in stores all over NorCal…color has nothing to do with theft, especially cosmetics. She had 3 young girls come into one her stores in an affluent neighborhood created a fake slip and fall w/seizure and swept an entire wall in cosmetics. So because this woman is “offended” WalMart has to just “deal with it”. My SIL is black, she just said “Why did it take them so long?” This is a frivolous lawsuit that adds fuel to a fire that is already burning out of control. Should I file just because I’m a woman, or for my kid who runs a drag bar, because they must be prejudiced against their prime targets?” My dad is ex-LAPD, the worst shoplifting/grand theft calls he got were for wealthy white women who did it for kicks. P.S. everyone who is offended gives up the right to bitch when their low-priced Wally cosmetics goes through the roof.

  • Sick ofthe bullshit

    In my last post I directed my attention to cosmetics. As an ex-DM for Sally’s, I dealt with “ethnic hair and body care” Sally’s category description, not mine, being regularly “swept”. It causes your shrink percentages to go through the roof, managers and employee’s loose hours and bonuses and CS goes to shit because you have to play guard to a specific section of the store. Oh then LP comes in and grills the crap out of your poorly paid employees, we had surveillance…look at the tapes! The only time a retail establishment locks something up is value, obviously it’s a big enough problem that they have to…like razors, I don’t remember anyone suing over that.

  • Trina

    I know I’ll probably get some hate for leaving this comment but I feel like there’s another side to this. I’ve been shopping at the same stores for several years. I’m the “crazy makeup lady” and every beauty mgr knows who I am lol. When I was at the store last week the manager was marking down all the Nyx products. Including brand new products that just came out. My store has a large NYX display. It looks like a display from Sephora or Ulta. She told me last quarter they lost $7,400 just in Nyx. It was almost 50% of the inventory. Its now become too much money to continue carrying that brand. These products were lost to theft. In all the cosmetics dept lost more money than they made across all brands due to people stealing. There’s no easy answer to prevent theft. The stickers they put on the packaging can easily be ripped off. People also remove things from the packaging. If somebody wants something badly enough they’ll find a way. I think Walmart is doing this out of desperation because they’re losing so much money. I’m sure my store is not the only one losing money and products. As far as the types of products they’re choosing to lock up I can’t speak on that. I’m sorry this lady feels that way and I hope Walmart isn’t singling out anyone. I do feel drastic measures are usually taken when someone gets backed into a corner and they don’t know what else to do. I don’t think they’re trying to make anyone feel like a thief they’re just trying to protect themselves.

  • Denise

    I’m sure WalMart’s lawyers can show that the items kept locked up are those that are shoplifted most frequently. That’s not racism, that’s business.

  • dia

    It’s hard to blame them for locking everything up. I’ve seen people go into stores in groups of 5 or 6 with large shopping bags, and just sweep everything from sensodyne toothpaste to loreal mascaras off the shelves and run out. You think about it, each tube of mascara is about $10. Each person probably ran away with at least a thousand dollars worth of merchandise in under two minutes. And this happens a lot in the San Francisco area.

  • Dee

    I’ve seen a few Walmarts in central Texas that have it locked up for a while now. I wasn’t looking at brushes or hair accessories, just makeup, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the ones around here have a similar set up. Not necessarily because they are targeting African Americans, but because that’s where the display was when they were enclosing the products and didn’t have the sense to move them to an accessible area. Which is absolutely just as wrong of a reason to me and needs to be addressed. Regardless of whether she wins, I hope they will be forced to be more conscious of how the things they do have an impact on their customers as human beings, not just as $hopper$.

  • Melanie

    cosmetics at walmart are one of the highest shoplifted items. When you look at the financial loss, I can understand why this is happening. The lawsuit is laughable, how is locking up cosmetics racist? Makes no logical sense and should be thrown out. Yes, its an inconvenience.

    I have noticed my local CVS putting sensors similar to Ulta on key items that walk away. Sadly when people shoplift, its the honest people who pay the price.

  • Chris Swoll

    Ok Muse, I strongly disagree with you on this one and in truth, I rarely comment. I would suggest everyone who is offended step back a second look at the issue without bias. In my opinion, you’re perspective is quite selfish. Do you really think any business would WANT to lock any sale item up, limiting access and decreasing the chance of purchase? My common sense says HELL NO! Without even knowing the full details of the case I’m sure it’s because Walmart and others are consistently losing money on these often stolen items and it’s either lock them up or don’t sell them. These businesses are not charities, and I for one would like to keep local access to products so if that means locking them up so business can be done with integrity then so be it! I will never get why we as a society (no matter what your color, creed, or gender) always blame everyone involved except the actual perpetrator(s). I would guarantee any items locked up are only items that are consistently stollen and any business doesn’t give a rip about what skin color is stealing it! They want to be paid for the item they are selling and have every right to expect to be paid. Making racist accusations toward businesses that simply want to be paid is shameful in my opinion, and cheapens legitimate racist bastards everywhere. I wish the lady bringing the suit was worried about society as a whole instead of her own ridiculously offended sensabilities. Why not get out in her community and stress the importance of character and integrity; spreading the message that STEALING is wrong, offensive, and hurtful to local business/economy which in turn hurts us all.

  • Lori F.

    I’m in the East Bay area of California and the particular Walmart I shop the most has had their beauty section separated, with one way in and one way out. There’s a register, and an employee who will either ring up your beauty purchase or put your item(s) in a locked box that you can take with you to finish your shopping, and will be unlocked and purchased at the front. The perfume, razors and more expensive skincare products, for example, Olay Regenerist, etc. are the only items locked up. However, in a different Walmart nearby the WHOLE. BEAUTY. SECTION. is under lock and key! Very annoying! Like you, I prefer to touch, read and think on it awhile while I’m still shopping.

    The customer who is suing….I can’t say I blame her! I can only imagine the feeling of seeing essential items locked up, telling me I could be a thief just because of my ethnicity. Wth, Wal-Mart? It’s super sad if you ask me.