The market is becoming flooded with fake alternatives to name-brand makeup. Without close inspection, they may look the same and be selling at fraction of the price of the genuine brand. It's tempting...but be very wary! U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now cracking down on the supply of counterfeit products in an effort to save the public from potential health hazards, specifically with merchant shipments from China. Last year, the agency seized a record number of knockoffs worth nearly $1.4 billion. With their prevalence and availability, fake makeup products have been hard to track.
Some knock off versions of products appear remarkably similar to their original counterparts yet are being sold for half the price. Vendors of imitation products ensure customers that they perform just as well as the real thing, or may even try to pass the counterfeit off as the original. While an eyeshadow palette or lipstick may look similar to the original and be wrapped in near identical packaging, the formula in these palettes and tubes is often a far cry from the authentic product. What's worse, when tested, many of these knock-off cosmetics were discovered to have dangerous chemicals like aluminum, mercury, arsenic, cyanide and even human urine and rat droppings.
Consumers are reporting to the FDA a number of symptoms from using counterfeit makeup, including eye infections, allergic reactions, skin rashes, swollen lips and chemical burns. In worst cases, the toxic ingredients in many fake makeup products have caused long-term health problems such as high blood pressure and infertility. However, most customers are unaware of the harmful side effects until it’s too late.
So, How do you spot Counterfeit Makeup?
First, any and all beauty and skin care products should only be purchased from authorized vendors. Bear in mind that genuine name brand products usually have a higher price point for better, higher quality and safer ingredients. Here are a few other ways to identify counterfeit beauty products:
- Reduced Pricing: If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. Knockoffs are often sold in bulk, so beware of buying name brand makeup at rock-bottom prices. Most genuine retailers of cosmetics will rarely discount more than 20%-30%.
- Check the label: Look for for misprints, misspelled words, uneven fonts, inconsistent patterns and incorrect terms of the labels. Cross-check your label with the one found on the manufacturer’s website.
- Cheap Packaging: While not always true, many knockoffs are in low quality plastic or metal containers with sponge applicators rather than quality brushes. If the product doesn’t quite fit into its box, you might have picked up a counterfeit. Keep in mind that many fake products have vastly improved their packaging to mimic the real thing.
- Check the Product: Lower quality makeup uses a cheaper formula. Fake powders, eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks tend to have a chalkier or thinner consistency than the real thing. For an even closer inspection, smell the product for chemical or medicinal scents that might designate a fake product.
- Do a Skin Patch Test: Lastly, if you’ve already purchased a product and suspect it may be counterfeit, do a skin test before using it on the face or other parts of the body. Swipe a small amount or swatch of the product onto the underside of your forearm and wait 24 hours before washing it. If you notice signs of a reaction or the skin appears irritated, do not use the product. Certain products may also pass a skin patch test but irritate the face.