Small Brand Spotlight: Bahi Cosmetics
Welcome or welcome back, everyone! I’m going to be starting another new series here on the blog, and I’ve named it “Small Brand Spotlight.” Basically, I’m going to be purchasing from smaller brands or lesser known brands from time to time and giving a full review on their brand – from the ease of use of their website, to shipping and returns, to the quality of the actual products. For my first small brand, I decided to choose a mainly skincare brand that has blown up on social media. If you’re interested in any other brands I should try, let me know. Even though I have a huge list of prospects, I’m definitely open to suggestions.
Bahi Cosmetics is the breakout beauty brand that has nearly broken Twitter and Instagram. They’re most known for their Sunflower Sweets Serum (SSS). There are plenty of pictures floating around of before and after’s of their customers. Some have histories of terrible acne, and they claim the SSS has completely ridded them of current breakouts while preventing new ones. It allegedly also helps with acne scarring and dark marks, but the brand recommends another of their products, Galore’s Garden (GG) to help lighten hyperpigmentation. I personally don’t suffer much from acne or dark marks; I get the occasional hormonal pimple, and those pimples leave behind some dark marks, but I have no major flaws on my skin. I still do feel a little insecure about old pimple scarring, though. I simply wanted to try out the brand for my blog and to see what the hype was really about. I’ve also heard the SSS is amazing for hydration, and I’ve been dabbling more in facial oils and treatments lately, so it just made sense to try them out. On the other hand, my boyfriend does have pretty bad acne scarring and hyperpigmentation on his cheeks. He has ordered from them as well.
You could also very much so say we chose to order from Bahi Cosmetics because it’s a small, black-owned brand. We love to support wherever we can; it is important to me, especially if one day I’m a black entrepreneur or business woman as well.
Let’s start off with the website, its ease of use, and the ordering process. The web address is simple (www.bahi.care) but since it does not follow the normal “.com” format, it can be easy to forget. I’m not going to lie, I just tried to type it into my internet browser and used the “.com” instead of “.care” and…nothing. That could ward off potential customers who think the website is down or simply no longer exists, and with Bahi being a smaller brand, it would be easy for people to think they’ve simply gone out of business than them just making an error in typing the website address. Once you are at the correct address, though, the website is beautiful. The background is a beautiful picture of a black woman, and the center of the page has two headings: About and Testimonials. There’s also navigation in the top right corner of the site with “Shop,” “Information,” “Magazines,” “About Us,” “Press,” and “Sign In” tabs. The shop tab, which is probably the most important tab on the whole website, is broken into “Face,” “Makeup,” “Body,” and “Bahi Goodbyes” categories.
When one of the categories is clicked, a page with all the products in that category pops up. Each product is shown along with a picture of the product, which is extremely helpful. Once a product is pressed, the product page shows, which gives the product description, ingredients, and shelf life. The standard “Add to Cart” button is under that information.
Once you’re ready to checkout, there’s a multi-step process to do so. The first page is an order summary. There’s also a place for promo codes; there’s so many floating around on black influencer pages, so you can just google to find one for at least ten percent off. I ordered when they had a twenty-five percent off coupon for Black History Month, so sign up for their newsletter if you’re interested in those deals. The next step is, of course, shipping and email for tracking updates. Shipping is expensive as hell, and we’ll get into why this is an issue in a moment. For standard USPS shipping, the cost is $8.50. The twenty-five percent off code I used literally covered just the shipping alone, so you don’t even get a real discount off the product. For FedEx Ground, which is their “recommended” shipping method, the cost is $15. Next is FedEx Express Saver, which is $27. And finally, FedEx Overnight clocks in at a whopping $50. The brand does sell internationally; USPS International is $15, while FedEx International Economy is $92. I’m sorry, but these shipping costs are utterly ridiculous. There’s no option for free shipping if you spend over a certain amount on the site. I also didn’t mention that USPS shipping is calculated by the weight of the box, so the more you order, the higher that shipping cost. The reason this is ridiculous is because these are rates that normal people, like you and I, would pay to send packages off at. Most e-commerce businesses contract with a mail carrier to get somewhat of a “business rate:” either a flat rate that everyone pays or at least a discount for providing the extra business to the carrier. Small businesses should be no different. Now, I’m going to be honest and say that I don’t quite know the logistics of these contracts, but Bahi should learn to keep their shipping prices competitive.
The next section is called “Additional Information.” They make you check a box that says you agree to their terms and conditions, which is typical for online transactions. What’s not very typical is having to agree to their processing times. The line states,
“I agree to Bahi's 3-14 processing's days & I agree to the policies in FULL..”
That clause is an extremely fishy clause, which hints that they get a lot of complaints about processing times and how long it takes to receive orders. Which is actually my complaint too. But we’ll get into that very shortly.
The next two sections are again, pretty typical: Payment, Order Review, and Submit Order. Once you press to place the order, you’ll get an email saying your order has been received, and saying that order take from three to fourteen business days (no weekends included) to process. Then it gives you a spiel about how Bahi is still a small business, and that if fourteen business days elapse and shipping information hasn’t been provided, to add an extra nine business days.
And this is where I’m probably going to begin to get crucified for my opinions.
This is not at all how you run a business. I’m sorry, but it’s not. There are four weeks in a month, and five business days per week, so essentially twenty business days in a month. You’re essentially asking your customers to have their money taken out of their account for a product that might not possibly be shipped until a month and half a week later. If it’s because demand is high, don’t restock your website every Friday. Only offer the amount of product that you can actually process in a week instead of taking peoples’ money and not delivering in a timely matter. This is the world of e-commerce and instant gratification, and even though I believe that patience is a virtue, patience runs thin quite quickly. And if you can’t keep up with this instant world, you’ll very quickly fall behind and eventually into nonexistence.
The length of processing is also quite an issue because customers are paying such exorbitant rates for the shipping. Imagine paying fifty dollars for overnight shipping, but still not receiving your package until over a month later. That’s a lot, no matter what business, small or large, black-owned or not, to ask for, and this is a place that Bahi needs to step its cookies up in. I understand that technically we “agree” to the long processing times, but that doesn’t mean it’s right or okay for a business to do. My boyfriend made his order on January 26, and it didn’t get to USPS until February 15th. It’s now almost March when I’m writing the beginnings to this blog post, and his order is still stuck in “pre-shipment.” (He finally received his package around the 25st of February.) Bahi blames this on USPS, claiming that they cannot handle the volume of orders they’ve dropped off and that they’re being slow about scanning them in, but maybe they should explore other post offices. I don’t know where Bahi is currently headquartered, but in my college town, there are three different post offices. Why not split up packages amongst the post offices in the area so that they can get scanned in quicker and to take the load off of the one USPS location? Even if you have to use post offices that are further away, that’s the very least you owe to your customers, considering we’re dropping $50+ on product that potentially won’t even be shipped until almost a month and a half later. My Management 3100 professor, who had started a myriad of his own small businesses that went on to be extremely successful, told us this on the last class of the semester:
“If you don’t take anything else from this class, take away this: Take care of the customer. Always take care of the customer.”
Bahi is not doing a good job of taking care of its customers. They’re soon to be adding an expedited processing option, which will be one to four days, but it’s kind of sh*tty to make people pay for that expedited processing and for their orders to be shipped and received far in advance to customers who have been waiting for order fulfillment for weeks or even months. (The expedited processing is now live, and costs $8.)
By the way – I finally received my shipment on March 9th. It took all fourteen weekdays for the order to process, but then only three days for USPS to get it to me. It doesn’t seem as though USPS is the problem to me…but I digress.
Along that same theme, let’s talk about the return, missing item, and broken item policy. Since their products are handmade, returns are not allowed. Again, not taking care of the customer. Since customers have to buy online and can’t try any product out first, basically they’ll be stuck with a product that could have potentially given them skin irritation, allergies, chemical burns, etc. and can’t even get their money back for a product that’s unusable to them. Also, since the products are handmade, what if there’s an inconsistency in formulas or a “bad batch?” Customers would basically be stuck with that bad batch or faulty product, and the liability of the product basically switches from the brand to the customer, which should never happen (unless the customer is misusing the product). They will do their “best” to accommodate customers in those situations, though, but that statement is quite vague.
According to them, it’s “the responsibility of the customer to provide us with a correct adrress [sic] before your item ships out.” So if your package gets returned to them because of a “wrong address,” they will charge an additional, nonrefundable $14 to ship it back out. This isn’t completely unfair, but for someone like me, who addresses her packages correctly, it can be an issue because sometimes USPS is lazy and doesn’t want to put it in my parcel box, so they’ll return it to sender. Then, I basically have to pay for USPSs’ mistake and/or laziness. Bahi does allow for address changes from twenty-four to forty-eight hours after ordering at no cost.
You can cancel your order within twenty-four hours and for a $7 restocking fee. After twenty-four hours, it can no longer be cancelled. So even though you’re waiting for a month to process, you’re out of your money, honey.
The final instance of this company not taking care of their customers is the damaged or lost package policy. Their website states:
After the order has shipped, Bahi is no longer responsible for packages & how they are handled by the mail carrier; should an error occur, please contact the shipping provider (FedEx or USPS) first, file a case before contacting us so we can open up a case with you. We are not responsible for any shipping deliveries that may be affected by customs, natural occurrences, USPS mail transfers to your country, ground transportation strikes or delays once the package has left our premises.
...no. I completely understand that shipping carriers can be careless as hell when it comes to handling packages, but I’ve never seen any other company to blatantly say they’re not responsible for whether the package actually makes it to the customer unharmed. Every other company I’ve done business with will send a replacement for a broken or damaged item with the quickness, and if they cannot send a replacement, will refund the money. I outlined a similar situation in a YouTube video about Fabletics, how my package never got delivered to me and they not only sent me a replacement for the items, but overnight shipped the package without me even asking. That’s customer service. Heck, if you’ve come from my YouTube channel, you know how much beef I have with BoxyCharm, also known as “The Box Who Shall Not Be Named.” Even they attempted to reship my order, and when it still didn’t make it to me, they refunded me (even if it was like pulling teeth). If those brands and other smaller, indie brands can provide that level of service, why can Bahi not seem to follow suit?
What I do like about Bahi is that they honestly do their best when it comes to packaging the products securely. Unfortunately, I threw out the shipping packaging after doing an unboxing on Instagram, so I don’t have that here to show you all – whoops, what can I say? I’m still a little new to the blogging game. Anyway, the products came in a green bubble mailer, similar to the mailers that IPSY bags come in. The mailers themselves are lined with bubble wrap, but Bahi also bubble wraps each product individually for added protection. This is something I can get with, and a lot of other brands need to follow suit! Extra bubble wrap costs far less than having to continually ship out replacement products, so other e-commerce brands can learn a thing or two from Bahi on that front.
Okay. We’re done with the obvious flaws in the Bahi Cosmetics business model. It’s time to talk about the actual products. I tested out the Sunflower Sweets Serum and Galore’s Garden Serum over a course of five weeks, and have included weekly pictures of my skin (completely unedited, other than the captions) for comparison. I also used these products in different ways as far as what times of day I used them, so I will explain that as well. To preface this section, I have to again say that I don’t have serious skin issues. My skin can be a little sensitive, and I have some hyperpigmentation and texture, but overall, the health of my skin is pretty good. Therefore, my opinions of the products might differ from someone who has serious skin conditions.
As far as formulas go, the Sunflower Sweets Serum is not your typical serum. It’s honestly a facial oil. It does sink into the skin rather quickly as compared to other face oils I’ve used in the past, so I have no reservations about it on oily skin. It is recommended to use this serum twice daily, and this serum is geared towards evening out the skin tone and smoothing skin texture, including breakouts and acne. Galore’s Garden, also marketed as a “serum,” is still not a serum in the traditional sense. It feels more like a cream moisturizer; it feels almost like the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Moisturizer, which I quite enjoy. It adds a little hydration under any moisturizer I use. Again, it is recommended that this product be used twice daily, and since this serum has Vitamin C in it, it is geared toward fading acne scars and hyperpigmentation. These smell pretty natural – neither product has any artificial fragrance, and even though it is not clearly outlined on their product pages, I know both products are cruelty-free and believe they are vegan-friendly as well.
In my first two weeks of trying these products out, I used the Galore’s Garden in the morning and the Sunflower Sweets Serum at night as a night oil. The GG was my first step after cleansing and toning and went under my moisturizer, and the SSS was my final step, after moisturizer, at night. Of course, I didn’t notice much difference in my hyperpigmentation, but I did begin to notice the texture on my forehead and cheeks smoothing out. I also noticed that new breakouts (from our fave, Mother Nature) took much less time to go away, and they didn’t scar as dark or as bad as usual. It was nothing major or dramatic like their Instagram and Twitter pages tout, though.
During week three, I used both products together in the morning and at night. I did notice my complexion brightening drastically more in this week than in the previous two, but I personally feel like using them together is a little too heavy for my skin. I do have combination skin, and it worked fine on my dry patches, but in my oily T-Zone, I was a bit of a mess. It is clear that my skin showed a lot of improvement, though, especially my pores. My pores honestly look incredible compared to the craters I used to have on my skin!
During weeks four and five (and technically up until this post goes up), I went back to using the GG in the morning only and the SSS at night only, unless I mix a little SSS into a matte foundation to make it less drying. I also reincorporated AHA and BHA products back into my routine, such as the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads and the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. Since I hadn’t been using them for over a month, my skin went through a little bit of a “purging” period, as demonstrated by the texture and darkness around my chin area, but again, these pimples didn’t scar as bad as normal and went away rather quickly.
Overall, I’m very impressed with these products, and they sort of make the wait and the hassle worth it. Which serum you buy definitely depends on your personal skin needs, but I would recommend the SSS if you can only afford one product, as this will be the one I will be repurchasing. It’s an amazing oil, much better than any other facial oil I’ve tried so far, as it gives me the hydration I need without being overly greasy, but I also like the added benefits of less vicious pimples and evened out skin texture. The GG is great too, and I’ll probably need to use it longer to make a complete opinion on it, but there are so many other Vitamin C serums out there I want to try (Ole Henriksen, Drunk Elephant, Sunday Riley, etc.) that this one isn’t a priority for me to repurchase immediately. It is less expensive than some of the other serums on the market, though, so I can see myself returning to it if the more expensive ones aren’t that impressive.
Have you tried anything from Bahi? I hope to be making another purchase soon; I’m not too keen on having to pay the $8 for expedited processing, but hey, the SSS is an essential for me now. Plus, I’m interested in trying out some of their other skincare products, makeup, and lashes too.
Write you little lovelies later,
XO Ky M.