How To Spot Counterfeit Cosmetics

We all love a bargain and sometimes the discounts available online are far better than those in-store. But what if the beauty products you are buying on the net, at a knocked down price aren’t real and contain harmful ingredients?

This week it was announced that sales of counterfeit cosmetics in the UK is costing the beauty industry an estimated £201 million every year. Analysts from the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market’s (OHIM) found that fake make-up, perfume and personal care products currently make up six per cent of total sales.

High-end cosmetic brands are the hardest hit, with clever copies popping up all over the place. A recent seizure by Trading Standards in Coventry, revealed an imitation of a best-selling mascara contained Mercury.

Other beauty products made by fraudsters have previously contained harmful substances such arsenic, lead and even urine.

A spokesperson for Benefit Cosmetics who are working hard to crack down on fake make up said, ‘This is VERY worrying; this is an example of extremely dangerous ingredients being used in fake products and further highlights why we are so determined to close down all illegal supply & distribution of counterfeit/fake merchandise.’

‘We do not sell our products on eBay’ they continued. ‘If the offer sounds too good to be true then it usually is! If in doubt contact us directly before you buy.’

Buying
and selling websites are the main breeding ground for illegitimate
products – a quick scan and we found a £20 mascara listed for just £4.70 – who knows what’s in it.

Read on for our top five tips to spotting a fake:

1. Pictures

There are lots of reputable retailers online but there are also many which are not. Buying and selling sites are the quickest and easiest way for fraudsters to sell counterfeit cosmetics. However some products on these sites are genuine, such as unwanted gifts – an easy way to ensure you don’t get ripped off is to always choose a listing with a photo that looks like it has been taken by the seller. Those selling fake products nearly always use a professional image taken from the cosmetic brand’s own website – which means you won’t realise it’s fake until it arrives. Also bare in mind that high end make-up brands don’t sell wholesale, so if there is more than one or two of the same product listed, it’s likely they are fake.

2. Item codes

Majority of beauty products have an item code printed on the box which correlates to a code on the container. If your product doesn’t have a code or the one on the box does’t match the one on the item, it’s likely it’s a fake.
 

3. Packageing

Have a good look at the box. Fake products often have flaws in the packaging, such as poorly printed images, exposed cardboard, glued edges and in some cases mirrors which don’t quite fit.

4. Leaflets

Make sure you always read the folded leaflet which comes inside the packaging. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t use it. Many fraudulent products are made in China and spelling errors due to poor translation can be the biggest clue it’s a fake.

5. Compare on Counter

If ever you aren’t sure always take your product to a department store counter and compare it with the genuine product. If yours is a different colour, consistency or has a different scent it’s a sure sign it’s counterfeit. Some people report their products smelling of chemicals or even petrol, this is not normal and could be harmful to your skin. This sort of thing is becoming more and more common so don’t be afraid to ask the shop assistant for help, they work with the products everyday so their expert eye will be able to spot an imitation straight away.

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