Counterfeit Beauty: How to Spot Fake Beauty Products

By ·
Counterfeit Beauty: How to Spot Fake Beauty Products featured image

It’s easy to find high-end skin care, makeup and hair products at discount stores. But is your bargain-basement deal the real thing or not?

Counterfeit beauty products have long been a problem, but recent sobering news about ingredients found inside them show just how damaging they can be. Makeup, perfume and sunscreen seized by London police show that some counterfeit products are packed with toxic chemicals such as arsenic, mercury and cyanide in addition to rat droppings and human urine. Furthermore, counterfeit beauty tools were found to be so poorly manufactured that they could cause electrocution. 

While this may be enough to convince you not to intentionally buy counterfeit, if you’re not careful, questionable products may still make their way into your beauty cabinet. We tapped David Krzypow, vice president of marketing at Moroccanoil, to explain what to look out for and how to protect yourself. 

“If you’re purchasing products outside of a brand’s supply chain, the authenticity, safety and effectiveness of the products can’t be guaranteed,” says Krzypow. While it’s the responsibility of the brand not to sell to product diverters (the middlemen that Krzypow says have undermined the integrity of the professional hair-care industry), it’s not illegal to do so. Many brands go this route to move inventory or sell discontinued or flawed goods. “Diverted and counterfeit products go hand-in-hand, as diverters commonly lace their shipments with counterfeit goods to increase their profit margin. There’s no way to provide consumers with the comfort that the products are authentic,” says Krzypow. 

Many companies like Moroccanoil are making an effort to fight diversion. “We want our customers to have the utmost confidence in the safety and effectiveness of our products, which is why we fight tirelessly to curtail diversion,” says Krzypow.

So how do you know if you’re getting the real deal? If you notice any of these on the box or bottle, chances are it’s a harmful knockoff:

  • A missing seal
  • Obscure packaging that doesn’t look right
  • Steeply discounted pricing
  • Expired product
  • Ingredients that have been banned by the FDA

Originally Published November 11, 2014

Updated May 19, 2015

Related Posts

Find a Doctor

Find a NewBeauty "Top Beauty Doctor" Near you

Give the Gift of Luxury

NewBeauty uses cookies for various reasons, including to analyze and improve its content and advertising. Please review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more about how we use this data. By continuing to use this site, you agree to these policies.