Why Counterfeit Makeup Is Never Worth The Bargain

In all of my time authenticating counterfeits, the most horrific fakes are makeup and perfume and there’s a few reasons why. I hope I have your attention on this one because this is a PSA.

It was a spring day similar to this one and I was asked to authenticate items that were seized by police during a criminal seizure. I show up to the massive warehouse and make my way to the gated area that was packed with crates of fakes.

The purses and wallets were no problem because I could tell from a mile away that they were counterfeits. I finally get to a series of boxes and in them were all the top selling makeup products on the market.


I felt crushed because I couldn’t authenticate them. I never really can. Authenticating makeup requires a different level of attention to detail. The fonts are pretty close to real, the packaging is almost identical, and pretty much every other characteristic is there all except for what’s inside the bottles or tubes. The best way to authenticate makeup is by sending them to the lab for testing. The results, when they turn out to be fake, is always alarming.

Fake makeup makes its way into the news more often than fake handbags do and it’s because the effects are so much worse. Yes, they might both be stored in dirty, rat infested warehouses, but because you’re actually applying makeup and perfume on yourself, the effects of the contamination can be fatal.

In April, 2018, LAPD seized $700,000 worth of counterfeit makeup after consumers were calling makeup brands complaining of rashes, and bumps after using their products which led police to investigate and eventually seize the products from the downtown LA Fashion District.

The result: the makeup was contaminated with high levels of bacteria and both human and animal feces. It’s shocking but stories like these are endless and unfortunately common, though. When Kylie Jenner came out with her Lipkits, it didn’t take long for the fakes to appear and it didn’t take long after that for the reports of the fake Lipkits gluing  lips shut, smelling of gasoline or burning consumer’s lips to surface.

I’m not only warning you about makeup. Counterfeit fragrances can be just as bad.

I have spent a great deal of time trying to learn how to authenticate perfume in length and it remains a challenge because counterfeiters have gotten really good at copying the packaging and bottles and continue to make it trickier. Again, the majority of the time, the only way to tell if the fragrance is real is to test it in a lab. The results have come back with confirmed urine and antifreeze, for example.

All of this confirms the fact that counterfeiters really don’t care about the consumer. They’re simply motivated to make money and to do this they need to keep costs down. This has been confirmed during seizures when the production “facilities” are uncovered and are nowhere near the sanitation standards that the real brands are held to. Not to mention the confirmed use of dangerous chemicals that have been found to cause cancer and can even be fatal.

So how do we stop funding these horrible practices? The solution to combat this problem is simple.

The first clue is always the price, meaning how steep of a discount did you get? If you’re buying the real thing, it has to be proportionate to the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and where did you get it? Did you get it from an authorized retailer? All this info can be found on the official website of the brand.

With a little research and reflection you can easily avoid buying counterfeit makeup. As a general rule, don’t cut corners. It’s not worth it especially if it means avoiding the ER and permanent damage.

Featured Image: Instagram/@anlabeauty

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