There are so many fake beauty products around at the moment, I thought I’d do a little bit of digging and see what brands are doing to counteract the pretenders.
First, I spoke to Benefit who are understandably horrified to have discovered that a fake Benefit mascara was recently found to contain Mercury. They say, “On the subject of fake products our customers need to be made aware that our products can be years in development and have to be made to the strictest compliance. We have to meet and match the requirements of every country in which we choose to sell our products.” Basically, any old Joe can mix together a recipe of flour and water – and worse – that can be packed into clever copies of mainstream brands to superficially fool the eye. Fakers aren’t the least bit interested in meeting any kind of standard; their aim is to fool you and take your money. Nothing will have been tested for sensitivity or toxicity so you buy at your peril. Basically, the old rules apply – if it seems too good to be true, pricewise, then it probably is. Benefit say, “It is so frustrating that our products are being copied – the goods are inferior in every single way.”
In fact, they employ a specialist to get to the source of the fakery, but for every faker that gets discovered another pops up. “There was a recent seizure by Coventry trading standards which revealed a fake Benefit Bad Gal Lash with Mercury in it. This is VERY worrying, this is an example of an extremely dangerous ingredient being used in fake products and further highlights why we are so determined to close down all illegal supply & distribution of counterfeit/fake merchandise.” It’s not just here and there either; the fakers are continually re-inventing the Benefit Wheel. “ Our customer service team have had many complaints about fake products. There have been some minor allergic reactions, though thankfully nothing too serious so far. There have been far more instances of people complaining because of the poor quality of the fake products they have mistakenly or naively purchased. We had a customer’s husband contact us recently as his wife had purchased a ‘Some Kind of Gorgeous’ on ebay for about £8, the day after she used it, she came up in a rash and a puffy face. When these complaints come to us it’s disheartening and frustrating for us as there’s nothing we can do to help when the products are fake and not purchased through an official outlet. It’s also embarrassing for the customer when we have to reveal a gift that has been purchased for her by a partner, friend or family member is a fake!”
Again, bottom line is that Benefit only sell through authorized retailers such as Benefit boutiques, Debenhams, John Lewis, HOF, Boots, Harvey Nichols and other selected, independent Department Stores. Their online business consists of; our own web site, benefitcosmetics.co.uk, the online sites of their key retail partners, (Debenhams, Boots, John Lewis & HOF), plus the following online partners; Feel Unique, ASOS and Look Fantastic. So, if you’re shopping Benefit elsewhere, there is no way to know how old the stock is or if it is even real Benefit.
So that pretty much leaves the ball in the consumer’s court. That temptingly cheap deal may end up far more costly than you could ever imagine. And, by buying off-piste, it’s us, the customer, that is creating the counterfeit market.
Fakes usually come from countries, such as China, where the cost of production is slight, but it is known that some fakers will produce the packaging in the UK and order the ‘fillers’ from another country and put all the components together here.
OPI is another commonly copied brand. For them, counterfeit products and unauthorised sellers go hand in hand. “It’s the unauthorised sellers who sell the counterfeit in the first place: the polishes are watery and smell very strong, or are thick and gloopy.” OPI has spent literally millions of dollars to end counterfeiting and again it comes down to buying from authorised retailers to ensure you are getting the real thing. There is no other way round it. You can’t ignore the fact that brands such as Benefit, MAC, Essie, Gelish, Touche Eclat and OPI, popularly copied brands, are losing millions to counterfeiters and of course it’s in their interests to stamp it out. However, the real loser is the end user every single time. OPI use private investigators and lawyers to combat fakers, but the issue is so rife that it’s a full-time job.
A blogger, just back from Tokyo, was surprised to find that even brands such as Nivea are being copied, although the most popular fakes were the perfumes.
Talking to a specialist in the area of fakes in general (and not just make-up), the stats are staggering. Rob says, “Without doubt the majority of fake beauty products come from China. We only work in the UK but one investigation took us from the UK to Korea where we had factories closed down by the authorities.” Investigators work closely with the UK Border Agency where targeting importations at the Parcel Force Hub in Coventry is one way to try and combat the surge of fakes. “Over 7000 parcels come into the UK from China every single day; it is estimated that 75% contain counterfeits, so beating the fakers is a massive task,” explains Rob. “We have a team of agents who regularly sweep the markets (in the UK) where fakes are being sold and then identify retailers and wholesalers. We work closely with Trading Standards seizing counterfeit products and prosecuting the offenders.” Rob’s agency also deals with counterfeits on Ebay, targeting multiple sellers, and also bogus internet sites which need the intervention of the Metropolitan Police Ecrime Unit at Scotland Yard to get taken down.
As if that isn’t bad enough, fakes are without doubt linked to organised crime. Rob says, “We have dealt with cases where the proceeds have been destined for terrorism funding.”
Revolting working conditions, ridiculously low wages and nil in the way of workers’ rights go without saying.
So, you know, the message could not be more stark. If we stopped buying them, they’d stop making them.
That beauty ‘bargain’ comes with all sorts of strings attached.
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
Thanks for highlighting this problem!
I have been to markets where the seller is obviously selling fake OPI’s and fake MAC products with badly spelt English – they’re not even good fakes – but girls still buy them??!!! WTF???!!!
At the end of the day, I’d much rather pay the full RRP from a reputable retailer rather than the fake thing for much cheaper elsewhere.
People in China even sell fake eggs – WTF??!! Can’t trust them!!! PS – Not racist because I am Chinese too but born in Scotland 😛
As the unlucky recipient of not one but two fake Benefit products off Ebay, I learned my lesson thankfully and now only buy from official stockists. Fakes are NEVER worth the money spent.
Meant to say, great and fascinating post, thank you.
Ok, fakes are a bad thing for both brand and customers. BUT may be if a brand have thought more about officials sellers in different countries there would be less complains and less people buying the wrong staff?
I don’t have neither Benefit nor OPI officila store in my country, though I think that demand is great. Neither do I have some many other brnads. I’m travelling often and I make sure to buy at proper stores. But how about people that don’t? Even on the web you can’t always say if the product is fake or not.
I remember a few years ago when someone showed me some benefit they had bought from China – really bad copies of Dr Feelgood and BadGal which both smelt decidedly odd. I buy in shelf pulls from Macys for the shop so I know where its from and have proper invoices and paperwork. I always say to people that if the price is too good to be true – then it probably is. There are so many fakes on Ebay its unreal – something needs to be done about it and soon.
I just got screwed by fake MAC on Strawberrynet. They are refunding my money by it has made me more careful about the products and where I ger them from. Its a shame that ALOT of major cosmetic companies do not have websites that sent internationally or charge an absolute arm and a leg to do so (I am especially looking at Benefit, which isnt sold in my country). Many brands like Mac, Estee Lauder, Clinique etc have a presence in NZ BUT with the high retail prices and lack of legitimate online availabiliy people will try to get a better deal, or try to get their hands on products any way they can.
My husband, unknowingly, bought me bogus Chanel No 5 once. The bottle was nearly spot on, but the product inside was almost all alcohol and God-awful.
Doubtless the recession, now five years in and no end in sight, isn’t helping matters either. I joked to a customer the other day that it was getting to the point where you had to choose between eating or looking good.
Thank you for this post — count me among those who naively did not realize that there were fake cosmetics out there. I mainly buy from larger retailers, who presumably get their stock directly from the manufacturers, but… I do have a pet brand whose complete line is not sold in my country. If I buy something online, is there any way to tell if it is authentic or not? There are no obvious typo’s or such on the packaging.
Thank you for a great post, it is an awful thing thats hapening and I have been a victim a few times as well.. Poop on all the fake-makery! O.O xx
You can usually spot fakes with typo, but some are horrendously similar. I managed to get my hands on a fake benefit concealer. The minute I looked at it, it was going into the bin.
There’s so many mini stores in HK and China that claim to sell brands at cut price.
What a great post, I think everyone needs to be aware of this.
I’d much rather buy through an official company and know I’m getting the real deal than order from an unofficial website with the possibility of a fake.
It actually upsets me that there are people out there buying these products and basically being ripped off of their hard earned money. It’s disgusting!
It’s nice to here that the official make up companys have strong opinions on the matter but there isn’t much they can do
@Lossa, I’m really surprised at Strawberry.net – they should definitely know better. I check all paperwork and codings etc before I even consider buying anything. I went to Wellesbourne Market recently and couldn’t believe the amount of fakes there from makeup to shoes – there was even a sign on one stall that said “quick before the police arrive” !!!! yet people still buy it.
This sort of thing totally horrifies me – I understand that make up can be expensive but I wouldn’t put my health at risk. My friend rang me really excited to say she was somewhere random and they had loads of MAC for cheap and did I want any…I was like nah, that stuff’s definately fake!
I can’t comment on fake makeup, but fake skincare I have gotten! It works the exact same way except you hear less about it.
All those high end lines being copied, bottle & packaging, and just filled with harmful chemicals or cheap products.
Luckily the same rules apply! If the deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. Only buy quality skincare through trusted online stores or stores where you have a return policy.
Always be on the lookout. I find it sad that people still think they can score a great deal, but at the same time hurt their own health this badly. In the end it costs you more than buying the real deal.
I feel really strongly against fake products, more for the health risk then for the companies losing money. Think about getting mercury in your eye? That’s just insanely scary!
I go to school to become a make-up artist, and it horrifies me that allot of the girls there don’t care if they buy fakes as long as the products “works” which I’m guessing they look good. These are people that will soon be professionals, and I think it just says to much about them that they would use fakes on customers just to save money!
This is a really interesting and helpfull post. I always buy my make up from department stores such as debenhams and boots to be 100 percent i am not getting fakes, i would much rather pay a couple pound more for the Real Deal without any harmful ingredients that havent had any sort of testing.
It actually drives me mad to see fakes on eBay, like really bad MAC fakes that do not represent any product ever released by MAC being lapped up by people.
Do people really not care what they put on their skin? I’d rather pay a bit more and be safe in the knowledge that what I am usng doesn’t contain anything dangerous, and potentially illegal.
That beauty bargain could end up costing a lot more than an extra few pounds if you have a bad reaction to something contained in it.