How to Keep an Eye Out for Fake Cosmetic Products

Scam Alert Series – Counterfeit Beauty Products Part 1

The allure of beauty has spawned a massive global cosmetic industry, but alongside the reputable products lies a dangerous landscape of counterfeit beauty products. These fake cosmetics pose serious risks to both our health and wallets.


The Guardian had reported in 2023 that fake branded goods like Dior perfumes, Vaseline lip balms, and Maybelline mascaras were among products being sold by third-party vendors via TikTok’s in-app marketplace.


Health and consumer experts caution that these counterfeit beauty products have likely bypassed safety testing procedures aligned with specific standards, and contain unknown, potentially toxic ingredients.

Often disguised in convincing packaging, fake cosmetics may contain harmful substances such as lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals. These ingredients can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and even severe health complications. In addition to health risks, falling victim to counterfeit beauty products results in financial losses, as these products rarely deliver the promised results and may even exacerbate existing skin issues. This blog aims to serve as an alert system, to guide consumers on how to identify and avoid fake cosmetic products in an ever-expanding lucrative market.

Let’s delve into the warning signs to spot fake branded goods in the beauty industry:


1. Unbelievable Pricing

Everyone loves to believe that we got a bargain. However, if a cosmetic product is priced significantly lower than its market counterparts, it’s a red flag. For instance, a high-end foundation typically priced at $50 being sold for $10 should raise suspicions. Authentic brands invest in quality ingredients, research, and testing, which reflects in the product’s price. Quality comes at a cost, and prices that seem too good to be true often indicate a counterfeit product.


2. Packaging Discrepancies

Wrong spellings, uneven fonts, and poor-quality packaging materials are often a common sign of counterfeit cosmetics. Authentic products undergo rigorous design and printing processes that counterfeits lack efforts to follow. Fake cosmetics may have uneven printing, blurry logos, or misspelt brand names. Authentic products, on the other hand, have precise and consistent packaging.


3. Unusual Texture or Smell

Trust your senses. If a cosmetic product has an off-putting smell or an unusual texture, it might be a fake. For example, a fake perfume may have a different scent or wear off much quicker than the authentic version. Counterfeit skincare products might feel greasier or have an unusual texture. Authentic cosmetics go through quality control measures to ensure consistency in texture, scent, and overall appearance.

If something feels off about a product or the purchasing process, trust your instincts. It’s better to be cautious and avoid potential health risks

4. Lack of Security feature or labels (e.g. Authenticity Seals)

Legitimate cosmetic brands often incorporate security features onto their packaging to prove the product’s authenticity. Security features such as holograms, unique variable codes, serial numbers, or authenticity seals on their packaging help consumers to verify. Counterfeit beauty products usually lack these security features or are poor copies.


In addition, some authentic cosmetics have a batch or lot code that you can do cross-reference check with the brand owner or their distributors. Counterfeit products have incorrect or non-verifiable batch codes.


5. Purchase Location

Be cautious about where you purchase cosmetics. Avoid buying from unauthorised sellers, street markets, or unfamiliar online platforms. Buying from an unknown online seller claiming to have “exclusive deals” on popular cosmetics brands may lead to fake products. If you find a popular lipstick brand sold at a discounted rate on an online marketplace, do a cross-reference check of the seller with the brand’s official list of retailers to verify authenticity.


In the same The Guardian article, it stated that beauty influencers played a significant role in consumer decisions regarding counterfeit beauty products. The report, based on a survey of 1,000 women aged 16 to 60, revealed that 13% of respondents admitted to being influenced by social media endorsements, leading them to purchase fake cosmetics.


Alternatively, sometimes it might be better to purchase your favourite mascara directly from the brand’s official website or well-known department stores rather than unknown online sellers.

In conclusion, the beauty market is rife with opportunities for scammers. Staying on high alert for fake cosmetic products is crucial to safeguarding our health and financial well-being. By being vigilant about the products you buy and where you buy them, you can protect your health and maintain the authenticity of your beauty routine. Remember, your beauty routine should enhance, not compromise, your well-being.


Stay tuned for more insights and tips in our Scam Alert Series – Counterfeit Beauty Products Part 2, where we’ll delve deeper into identifying counterfeit beauty products and understanding the key reasons why cosmetics get targeted by counterfeiters.


At Nabcore, our commitment to brand protection extends to safeguarding consumers from counterfeit products. Leveraging advanced technologies and industry expertise, Nabcore empowers both brands and consumers to navigate the intricate landscape of counterfeit threats. Stay informed, stay alert, and prioritise counterfeit protection to ensure your well-being and the integrity of your products.

Nabcore BD Team

Our team are committed to working with partners and clients to protect their brands. Contact us on insights and solutions on how brand protection application can drive business growth uniquely.

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