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.