Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to spot counterfeit cosmetics

Selling counterfeit products isn’t anything new. And while the sales of counterfeit products have most commonly been associated with designer clothes, handbags, and accessories, the cosmetics industry has become a target … a huge target. Sales of counterfeit (black market/fake) cosmetics is now a $600 billion dollar a year business! This is due in great part to the convenience of online shopping, although there are plenty of counterfeiters in brick and mortar stores.

Despite great efforts from cosmetic companies to deter counterfeiting and fraud, black market makeup profiteers have become quite adept at product detail. Furthermore, the country of origin for counterfeit cosmetics has changed. China still holds the number one position, with 60% of counterfeit cosmetics being produced there. Other countries with a strong black market, that may be obvious to some, are India, Canada and Russia. But, would you ever think that black market cosmetics are being produced and distributed from the UK and the US? So, how can you spot counterfeit cosmetics?

Let’s start with the three P’s -- Price, Place and Packaging.

Price: If you know that a particular brand sells it’s lipstick for $45 a tube and you see it elsewhere for half the price, you need to question whether or not that lipstick is a counterfeit. A product’s price is a good jump off, but you need to armor yourself with a little (or a lot) of brand knowledge, so check the cosmetic company’s website and familiarize yourself with the brand!

Place: During the holiday season, kiosks pop up throughout shopping malls and offer “bargain basement” prices on everything from perfume to eye shadow palettes. If you take a moment to think logically, your favorite high-end perfume isn’t going to be in stock at a kiosk in the mall. Of course the larger issue with counterfeit cosmetics occurs online. Sites like EBay and Amazon.com have taken some measures to weed out counterfeiters, and there is no doubt that the savings on these sites can be a temptation to buy. To ensure that you’re getting the real McCoy, you should make online cosmetic purchases from the brand’s official site, or reputable sites like Sephora and Ulta. If you opt to shop elsewhere, check out the seller! Both EBay and Amazon offer a ratings system, so take the time to check them out.

Packaging: As stated above, counterfeiters have become very savvy with duplicating packaging and this is where further brand research is necessary. Yes, cosmetic companies occasionally create limited-edition products, most especially during the holiday season, but do your homework and find out when the product was released and how the product is labeled. This goes for cosmetics lines in general, as new products are introduced each season, so it is critical to know your brand before you buy.

A few packaging red flags – Counterfeit cosmetic often differ in size from the genuine product; the color of the packaging is usually slightly off from the genuine product; the font type and size is often slightly different from the genuine product.

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