Fake-Up: The Dangers of Counterfeit Cosmetics

Counterfeit products are a booming business worldwide; handbags, fashion, sunglasses, and even cosmetics are being faked and mass produced.  These counterfeit cosmetic products can range from perfume to skincare products, and from eyeshadow to lip products.  However, the difference between counterfeit handbags and counterfeit cosmetics is that counterfeit cosmetics can be dangerous and detrimental to our health.  These products are likely not made in factories that would be acceptable to the FDA or Health Canada.

Just last week a woman in California was arrested for importing and selling $50,000 worth of cosmetic counterfeits.  These cosmetics are sold online at a fraction of the price the real products would be.  These companies producing counterfeit cosmetics may copy the actual packaging to a tee, to the point that only a trained eye would be able to tell the difference between the real and the fake.  This means that the safety labels and ingredient lists on the fake products can be identical to the actual products.  As a result no one knows what is actually in the counterfeit products.

Kylie Cosmetics are one of the most counterfeited cosmetic products, with Kylie Jenner warning her consumers of the dangers of these fake products with allegations the fake products contain glue and gasoline.  Her products typically retail for around $18 USD, and fake products retail for less than $5 USD.  Some people seem to believe the price tag outweighs the risks.

Knowing what could potentially be in fake cosmetics would dissuade most consumers from even thinking of purchasing counterfeits.  There is a possibility for the cosmetics to be contaminated with bacteria such as E Coli.  There have been reports of human urine in perfume, and rat feces in cosmetics.  There’s a very likely chance these cosmetic products can contain cyanide, DEHP, arsenic, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, copper, and lead.  There have been reports of some counterfeit eyeshadows containing 19 times the legal limit of lead.

These counterfeit cosmetic products are unknown chemical concoctions possibly filled with carcinogens, bacteria, heavy metals, and irritants.  Those who use fakes with any of the above quality issues could risk chemical burns, skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even eye infections that could lead to blindness.  Any damage fake cosmetics cause can be permanent.

Canada’s National Police Force (RCMP) has provided a few tips on how to spot counterfeit products:

  • An almost too-good-to-be-true price tag
  • Missing labels, poor quality packaging, or spelling mistakes

One of the best ways to avoid buying counterfeits is to only buy products from authorized retailers.  As good as a deal may seem for some cosmetic products, putting our health at risk for unregulated products is not worth it.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Focal Point Research.  We are industry leading Drug and Cosmetic Regulatory Consultants that you can trust to help guide your company in the right direction.