shopping cart (0)
How To Spot Counterfeit Beauty Products

Counterfeit Beauty Products: The Ugly Truth About Fake Beauty


September 2, 2018

We get it: everyone loves a good deal, which makes incredible online beauty discounts hard to resist. But consider this before shopping for your beauty and skincare routine from an unauthorized dealer (most likely on Amazon): Counterfeit beauty products have become increasingly common and can cause serious harm.

Counterfeit products are being manufactured and sold at such a rapid pace these days that it’s now considered a global epidemic. And unlike that Chanel “replica”—which might only cause you a little embarrassment if it doesn’t simply fall apart—fake beauty products could end up sending you straight to a Charlotte’s Book expert.

The Ugly Truth

Sometimes the difference between buying authentic beauty products and buying counterfeit ones could mean not having to deal with permanent skin damage and long-term diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), found fake cosmetics and skincare to contain toxic levels of chemicals and unpleasant substances such as arsenic, mercury, and even urine (!). Back in 2012, Inside Edition tested counterfeit cosmetics bought on the street and the results were surprising. The tests found high levels of aluminum (linked to Alzheimer’s disease), beryllium (a known carcinogen), and bacteria in the products.

With more and more people shopping online, it’s become easier for counterfeiters to distribute their products anywhere in the world. Even giant online retailers can have a hard time controlling the authenticity of beauty products sold by third parties. In the U.K. alone consumers spend $140 million on fake beauty products, and most of them probably didn’t even know it until they noticed the side effects.

Here’s the rub: Counterfeiters don’t have any standards to uphold. They infringe intellectual property rights (yes, it is illegal). They use the cheapest ingredients to turn the biggest possible profit, and they take shortcuts. And most importantly for skincare, they don’t abide by the FDA’s sanitation guidelines. And their products don’t undergo rigorous, legally required tests before they’re available to the public.

How to spot a counterfeit:

It’s easy to identify a fake designer handbag that’s available for less than $100 when you know it normally retails for thousands of dollars. Counterfeit beauty products, however, are trickier to spot. The sad truth is that counterfeiters are becoming better at making and imitating product packages. So good, in fact, that it can be nearly impossible to tell a fake from the real thing, especially when it’s available at a comparable price on Amazon or eBay.

The easiest way to be sure you’re getting the real deal is to buy your products straight from the brand or its authorized dealers and retailers. Some brands like SkinMedica do a great job of actually listing the bogus websites that sell their products.

Aside from compromised ingredients, shelf life is very important in skincare. Buying cosmeceutical products from online retailers may result in old product inventory that’s past its prime. To avoid this, check for authorized dealers listed on the brand’s official website. You might not get the lowest price, but your health, safety, and wellbeing won’t be compromised.


Read This Next

Here’s the risk of getting cheap Botox.
Plus, how to fix a botched cosmetic procedure.

Find Beauty and Wellness Experts

Read client reviews, book appointments, and get advice from the experts in Charlotte’s Book. Only the best cosmetic doctors, skincare gurus, nutritionists, and fitness and wellness professionals make it into our book.

Show Comments +

Get your
Weekly Fix
of Honest Beauty
from Real Experts

By clicking this link you accept our web terms of use, privacy, and cookie policy.


find a specialist in your city.

On The Regular