I recently went to a family market in Pretoria as part of a weekend outing. At such markets, one can find a variety of affordable goods. Anything from bags and wallets, toy guns, mobile accessories, luggage, jewellery, clothing, and even fake cosmetic products. I know what you are thinking; products that are that cheap most likely come from, or are made, in China, which for the most part is true.
One particular stall whose presence always catches my eye was that of a beauty supply store.
As a makeup artist and hairstylist, I am obviously always intrigued and I could not help but walk in.
There was a large variety of cosmetic products and tools available at prices which even the smallest budget could afford. Most of the cosmetics I saw there were of Chinese brands that have never even been heard of before. But what surprised and shocked me on this particular trip to the market was to see high end and prestigious cosmetic brands such as Kylie Cosmetics, Urban Decay, Huda Beauty, M.A.C and Too Faced, sold at that stall but at a fraction of the price you would be paying for it at department stores such as Edgars, Woolworths, and Foschini where they are most readily available.
I instantly knew that those products were knock-offs and not the original products sourced from the real brand or company. I know this because I worked for prestige cosmetic brands M.A.C and Bobbi Brown. I know where and how their products are made and where they are available for purchase.
I could not help but wonder where exactly these fake cosmetic products are made, and what processes and ingredients were used to make them? Let’s be honest everyone loves a good bargain that won’t break the bank. But what if cheap could actually be very harmful?
Concerned, I decided to do some research.
The beauty industry is continuously growing with each passing year. To keep up with this growing consumer demand, large beauty brands and cosmetic houses are continuously producing new and innovative products and collections to satisfy consumers’ increasing needs and wants. This is also an atmosphere perfect for counterfeiting.
Some of the many national security experts around the world compare the counterfeiting of cosmetic products to that of the drug trafficking industry. Such counterfeit cosmetic products enter a country through its harbors and such imports are mostly sourced from China. It is possible for parties interested in retailing large bulks of such fakeup (fake makeup) to easily import from China. Some of the sources of those who make those counterfeits acknowledge that the product is not original but very similar to that of the original. A copy if you will.
However, this similarity or copy does not make it safe to use. In fact, the ingredients in them are very different. Reports have found that fake cosmetics contain many different types of harmful bacteria and toxic elements which have resulted in cases of severe acne, Psoriasis, skin rashes, swelling, and damage to the eye to name a few. Some of these counterfeits have also been found to have traces of cyanide, paint stripper and mercury a chemical element known to cause lead poisoning in humans.
Many investigations have also found the disorderly and contaminated manufacturing environments where many of these fake cosmetic products are made.
Counterfeit products do not have to ensure safety due to the fact that they do not need to abide by health regulations, safety certifications, and legally required product testing.
The good news is that fake cosmetics can easily be identified and avoided from purchasing. Here are a few tips on how to spot counterfeit’s:
1. The price tag
We all love a good deal but high end cosmetics available only in select retailers won’t suddenly drop from R400 to R150. Since manufacturers and brands regulate their pricing, it is not likely that they will mark it down too low. If it looks suspiciously cheap, then 10 to 1 it is a fake.