Fake makeup: how to spot it, how to avoid it, is it safe?
By Bronni Hughes on December 4th, 2016 - 4:25 PM
Fake makeup is everywhere on the internet nowadays, you can’t scroll Facebook without seeing ads for £10 “Kylie lip kits” or hearing about scammers on Depop, and you’re not even safe on well known e-commerce sites like Amazon or Groupon. We’re going to make it clear here – we’re not talking about dupes (products from cheaper but legitimate brands that are similar to high end ones), but straight up fake makeup.
It’s easy to be tricked into buying a fake product, the prices are really attractive, but it’s not even always high end makeup that’s being sold by scammers – we’ve even seen cheaper brands like LA Girl being faked. Hopefully this post will help you avoid wasting your money on substandard and most likely dangerous products.
We’ve talked to the experts, and this is our take on buying fake/replica makeup.
Is fake makeup safe?
The short answer is no. We’ve seen countless stories online about people getting horrible skin reactions after using counterfeit products. We asked the British Skin Foundation for their guidance on the topic and this is what they said:
Dr Anjali Mahto, Consultant Dermatologist & British Skin Foundation spokesperson:
Is fake makeup safe to use?
Fake makeup can pose serious health risks due to the use of dangerous or illegal ingredients. It can also cause problems with infection and allergic skin reactions and should be avoided.
What reactions can people develop from buying fake makeup?
Fake makeup has been recognised to cause acne, dermatitis, skin sensitivity and irritation, eye infections, and even chemical burns to the skin.
Should people patch test before using fake makeup?
It is not advisable to use fake makeup under any circumstances due to the potential risks posed to one’s health.
We also asked the CTPA (the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association) to help us with this article, and this is what they said in regards to the safety of fake makeup:
What do cosmetics have to be tested for before they’re allowed to be sold in the UK?
All cosmetic products placed on the UK and European market must comply with strict safety laws, the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation (CPR). The main aim of the CPR is consumer safety. In order to ensure this, each cosmetic product must undergo a safety assessment by a duly qualified and experienced safety assessor before it is made available for sale. The safety assessment takes account of all the ingredients used in the product, how the product will be used, where, by whom and how often. The safety assessor, whose qualifications are stated in the CPR, will sign the assessment in a personal professional capacity.
Do all countries have the same testing standards as we do?
It is important to stress that all cosmetic and personal care products, wherever in the world they are placed on the market, must be safe. Each area of the world will have its own cosmetics legislation with which cosmetic products must comply.
Is it safe to buy makeup from abroad?
Bona fide cosmetic products will comply with the local cosmetic laws and therefore will be safe to use. However, it is important to remember that you should always buy cosmetic products from a trustworthy source such as large reputable outlets or an official website.
Is fake makeup safe to use?
The cosmetics industry takes consumer safety seriously. Counterfeit and illegal products will not have been subject to the same strict rules that legal products must follow and could cause actual harm. They also threaten the trust that millions of consumer have in the many, many legal and safe products available and used today.
How can you tell if makeup is fake before buying it?
This is really difficult, unfortunately online sellers could be using pictures of the real deal, so you won’t be able to tell that the packaging has spelling mistakes, or that the wand is white instead of clear – but we’ve got a few tips that will hopefully guide you.
The best way to ensure that you don’t get duped into buying a fake is to buy it from a reputable website (or physical store).
However, make sure you double check the URL, for example, kylie-cosmetics.com is a scam website but the URL is very similar to the actual one.
If you haven’t heard of the site before, do a bit of background research; check reviews on sites like Feefo and Trustpilot, there will always be disgruntled customers on there, but check they aren’t saying the products are fake.
If you can’t find a single mention of the site online, then we recommend you steer clear. If truly in doubt email the makeup manufacturer directly and ask if the site you want to buy from is a verified stockist, they may also list them on their website.
It’s best to avoid reselling sites if you’re looking for real products, be wary of sellers on Depop, eBay, Instagram and Facebook, as they are easy for scammers to set up accounts on. If you must use them, always ask for proof of purchase from somewhere like Debenhams or direct from the company.
Is it a product that actually exists?
It might sound simple but we see so many fakes online that aren’t even copies of real products, I’ve certainly never seen the Urban Decay Naked 7 palette, or Kylie Cosmetics mascara before!
Does the price seem right?
We worked out in our post about how customs work, that a single Kylie lip kit, all in all, will end up costing you around £50 to buy and ship to the UK – so how on earth is someone selling one for a fiver? Just think about it.
This isn’t even a sure-fire way of telling, so it’s always best to buy from a trusted site.
What do the experts say?
This is what the CTPA have to say about it:
How can people avoid being caught out with fake makeup?
The packaging and look of counterfeit products can be almost impossible to tell from the real thing. Unfortunately, the product inside is nothing like the genuine product. Not only is it not likely to work as well as it should, it may actually be unsafe and cause you harm. As mentioned above, always buy products from reputable outlets and websites. Be suspicious of any products offered for sale from unusual places such as car boot sales, markets or less well-known internet sites. Always be wary of offers that seem “too good to be true” – legitimate luxury brands are very rarely sold at heavily discounted prices.
How can you tell makeup is fake once you’ve bought it?
If you’ve bought makeup online and are now thinking it might be fake, have a really close look at the product and its packaging. If there are ANY errors on it, misspelt words, smeary/blurry printing or there are inconsistencies with photos of the real item. Then sorry, it’s probably fake. Start a dispute on PayPal or with your bank or credit card company to try and get your money back.
If you’ve already used the product before reading this and finding out how dangerous it can be, you’re lucky if you haven’t had a reaction already, and you’ve probably found out that the product isn’t usable.
We’ve been tricked twice before, both on eBay, with fake Urban Decay Primer Potion (it separated, and didn’t work at all) and fake Colourpop Ultra Mattes (which were SO horribly dry). It’s so easy to fall for fake makeup, just remember that if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is!
The only way to ensure you don’t buy fake products, is to buy them from a legitimate website, double check the URL of that website and try and avoid reselling sites if possible.