Spotting Counterfeit Cosmetics

When something seems to be to good to be true, you can rest assured it probably is. When it comes to spotting counterfeit cosmetics, it can be too good to be good too. Knockoff makeup poses serious health risks.

Beauty blogger Tanya Arguelles recounted her experience with a forged eye shadow product for CBS News. She got a nasty surprise one morning after recording a video of herself testing a discounted version of a popular brand she bought at a street market

“Within the first 45 minutes, I realized I had an eye infection. I couldn’t even get my contacts on,” Arguelles said. “I looked back at the footage we shot of the test and it was on the fake side. Hundred percent.”

If you’re selling beauty products from home online using a platform like Shopify, you’ll do your customers and yourself a huge favor if you take note of the following.

1. Your Source

The lure of a wider profit margin might tempt you to buy from an unauthorized distributor, but it is inherently riskier. Before offering any merchandise for sale to your customers, test it yourself. This is particularly true if you got it from a discounter, a clearance broker or any other source than the original manufacturer’s representative.

3. The Pricing

Even if you’re new to the business, you have to know a super low price means something is probably up. If somebody is trying unload a huge stash of Chanel at $5 a

package, you should definitely run a series of tests on it before you commit to the purchase. Brand name beauty product seldom sells for discounted pricing. If you run across an outstanding deal, afford it extra scrutiny.

4. The Packaging

Look for less than crisp lettering, misspelled words and deviations in product names and shade. If you’re unsure of what you should be seeing, check the packaging against images on the manufacturer’s website. Even better, if you already have product you know to be authentic, compare the new stuff to see if it matches up.

Applicators should fit snugly into bottles; plastic casings— particularly for luxury brands — should be well finished and exhibit a rich appearance. Shade names should be on separate stickers rather than directly on boxes. Bottles and cases should fit precisely into their boxes — rather than loosely.

5. Colors, Consistencies and Fragrances

The best way to check these attributes is also to make appraisals against product you know to be authentic. Compare colors to ensure they have the richness and depth they should. Fake mascara and eyeliner typically have a thinner consistency, while powders can be chalky when compared to genuine product.

Unless they are specifically labeled fragrance-free, most manufacturers have a signature fragrance. What’s more, luxury manufacturers work hard to suppress the smell of the chemicals they use in their products. Instead, they strive for pleasing aromas.

Why It Matters

Counterfeiting has become a serious problem in pretty much every industry. Worse, knockoff artists are continually getting better at producing their wares. According to the Customs and Border Protection Agency, some $75 million in fake makeup is sold each year. This makes the odds of running across it very high.

Doing everything possible to avoid contributing to the problem is of paramount importance to your business and your customers. As Ms. Arguelles’ experience demonstrates, there’s a lot more to it than just cutting a rich company out of a bit of profit. You’re also putting the health of your customers at risk.

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