If you’ve been wondering whether or not Eminence Organics is a reliable company, read on. You will decide for yourself by the end of this post.
Their labels may look “all natural,” but as you may have started wondering already, many of the ingredients do not match up as “organic.” Of course, you won’t find full disclosure of ingredients on their site either. They claim USDA Organic Certification, Demeter Certification, Leaping Bunny, and other certifications and memberships, as you can see from the screenshots below, yet not one bottle or jar that I saw carries any of them.
As you can see in the screen shot below, they’re not listed on the USDA Certified Organics site at all, though I did find them on the Leaping Bunny website, which surprisingly—and perhaps erroneously—says they have organic certification. Well, I couldn’t find it! Leaping Bunny guarantees a product to be free of new animal testing, but as they say in their FAQs: “The Leaping Bunny list does not provide information about the composition of ingredients.” That means that if an ingredient contains animal by-products, it can still receive Leaping Bunny certification.
Eminence is listed on the Organic Consumer Organization (OCA), but the page also says that the list has not been maintained by the OCA since 2010—and look what happens when you click their link anyway. It takes you to a page that can’t be found. When I searched Eminence on the OCA site, a lot of posts came up about preventing “organics fraud.” Check it out for yourself here and plug in the word “Eminence” in the search box. (Stephanie Greenwood, founder of Bubble & Bee, wrote an excellent post about how to tell if a product is really organic here.)
Not only that—as if that were not enough—they look a lot like another company marketed as Ilike Organic Skin Care. So what’s the full story? I got it straight from a marketing rep for Ilike, a.k.a. Ilcsi Beautifying Herbs Hungary, as well as from an insider.
“The biggest hurdle for Ilike organic skin care in the US and Canada has been the confusion regarding the two brands,” says Shelly Cellak, a rep for the Burgeon Agency. “Eminence does not distribute Ilcsi (ilike organic skin care) products. Here is the story…” The following is what Shelly disclosed to me and can be found on the company’s website.
Eminence Organic Skin Care Ltd. (Vancouver, Canada) was the distributor for the territory of USA and Canada of Ilcsi Beautifying Herbs Hungary (www.ilcsi.com) under the brand name Eminence from 2002 until 31st March 2005 only. This distributional contract terminated from March 31, 2005 onward, since then Ilcsi has not supplied any of its products to them. The current Eminence products are no longer associated in any way with the brand’s founder, Aunt Ilcsi Molnár, or her family-owned company. Ilcsi Beautifying Herbs Hungary is taken aback to see, that their former distributor still uses the date of the beginning of Aunt Ilcsi’s work—1958—as the year of their foundation.
Eminence Organic Skin Care trademarked the word “Ilcsi”, which is the international brand and the nickname of the creator of the products they used to distribute from Ilcsi Beautifying Herbs Hungary. For this reason Aunt Ilcsi’s products can not be marketed under her name in the US or Canada, which is why in the US and Canada the brand is called ilike…another nickname for the founder. The ilike organic skin care products are the same as Ilcsi products and not associated in any way with Eminence Organic Skin Care. The US distributor is Szep Elet (szepelet.com).
- Eminence distributed Ilcsi products from 2002-2005
- Eminence trademarked the word Ilcsi – so, in the US & Canada, the brand goes by ilike organic skin care (Ilike was another nickname for Aunt Ilcsi)
- Szep Elet (szepelet.com) is now the exclusive North American distributor of ilike organic skin care products
Here is the logo that Eminence uses today:
In digging further for information, Shelly directed me to a comment left on a Green Beauty Team post about greenwashing that also spoke about the plagiarized content and the founder’s loose social habits. It could have been written by a disgruntled employee or former lover, so take what you will from it, but people are not saying these things about Ilike, so take that into consideration too. I’ve pasted it here to save you the time of looking it up.
Lisa3559 realself.com shared the quoted text in the comments:
“…I was directly involved with Eminence from the beginning, even being a part of coming up with name Eminence. Boldijarre was a scammer from the word go and had no intentions of ever dealing honestly with the trust he was given by the parent company, Ilike. BTW, Ilike is not a nickname or newly conjured name, it is their official Hungarian name and has been forever. Ilike dropped Boldijarre because he was copying the products, which they suspected he would do. Boldijarre was not some unfortunate character who lost his distribution rights and had to find another way. He is a born liar and will say and do anything to get what he wants; just ask one of the thousands of women he’s used to get what he wants. Eminence is NOT made in Hungary, this is stupid obvious; if it was, why don’t you find it being sold there? Duhh…Eminence is made by local manufacturers in Vancouver and always has been. Spas in Vancouver are truly being played the fool, thinking they are buying exotic Hungarian products with Hungarian ingredients, when it’s being made in their own backyard with standard ingredients found in any skincare product! All Eminence has going for them is the continued deception of the public and some ripped-off formulas, created over lifetimes of work by the Ilike family. Way to go Boldijarre, steal someone else’s life work and pretend you did it. Like I said, this guy has no ethics whatsoever and should be avoided like the plague along with his phony company.” By Beets /(transcribed verbatim except for some needed punctuation).
“Eminence products are wrongly aligned with the 50 yr. old ‘Ilcsi, Beautifying Herbs of Hungary.’ It’s not made in Hungary, it’s made in Richmond B.C. by a company called Vitelle Labs. They use numerous preservatives and non-organic ingredients. If their ingredients were ever tested to compare against the ingredient list, they would be sued.
“And last but not least, Eminence Organic Skin Care, [Boldijarre], trademarked the word ‘Ilcsi,’ which is the international brand and the nickname of the creator of the products he/they used to distribute from Ilcsi Beautifying Herbs Hungary until the spring of 2005. For this reason Aunt Ilcsi’s products can not be marketed under her name in the U.S. or Canada and are now called ilike, which is another nickname for her. The ilike organic skin care products are the same Ilcsi products and are not associated in any way with Eminence Organic Skin Care.”
You’ll find more evidence against Eminence on this discussion about the brand’s tomato cream here too.
Where does that leave us? Well, if you ask me, Eminence is about as remote from an eminent company as they come. Meanwhile, I’ve been using a few products from Ilike that I’m enjoying thoroughly—the sour cherry mask has also been independently recommended to me by one of my favorite estheticians, Cecilia Wong.
FYI, ilike currently does not share their ingredients list either, even though every product I received displays the INCI on the box. When I asked them about that, they shared this in an email from the company:
“The answer to her question is very simple and sad. We don’t publish our full ingredient list all over the internet because there have been attempts to copy our products and while this doesn’t stop it, we would like to do everything to make it difficult. All of our partners receive the full ingredient list for reference, and it is also on all of our retail boxes as it is required by the FDA.”
Based on my urgent recommendation, they are in the process of updating their website. Until then, I’m holding off on recommending them because transparency is absolutely essential to a green brand today. There is a greater call for full disclosure and using accurate terminology than ever before. Natural simply does not hold up anymore for the conscious consumer as a viable marketing term.
Have you used Eminence products? What are your thoughts about this controversy?