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A picture of a woman who has received a fake product

Skincare products you won’t want to share

Knock-offs have been around forever. However, we are seeing more fake products being made and sold around the globe. So does that mean that fakes are getting better or worse for quality and safety? And what is so appealing about fake products anyway?

Recently, I did a segment on Channel 7’s The Morning Show about fake cosmetics. I discussed why it is so easy and popular to get your hands on fake products.

Learn more about the global industry selling counterfeit cosmetics and how you can navigate around the black market by checking out the segment. Have your voice heard about fake cosmetics after you watch the segment. We want to know your vote below.


Raise your voice - Vote below!


What is so appealing about fake products

Those who manufacture knock-offs are in it for the money. Counterfeiters make products as cheap as possible and sell these at a price as high as possible.

People buy luxury goods for their self-esteem and to show others a type of social status. When someone wants to have the real product, but cannot afford it, they buy counterfeits as poor substitutes. This means that fake products are a danger to our emotional as well as our physical health.

I hope that people will care more about what is in and on their bodies. Rather than what their friends might think when they see a regular brand on the bathroom sink.

Encountering fake products

We do not often see fake cosmetics sold at beauty counters in our large shopping centres. You can return to the store and make a complaint if you have a problem. Effectively, these businesses are the gatekeepers to fake products.

Things are different when you shop online. Anyone can set up an online shop and sell you any product they like. And it can be very difficult to contact a seller if they make it that way.

It is estimated that are 87% of counterfeit items are purchased online. These fakes are often purchased through marketplaces like eBay, AliExpress, Amazon, and Facebook.

eBay currently has the highest percentage of complaints involving counterfeit products. However, it is the only one of these platforms taking action to prevent and protect customers. This may explain why eBay reports a higher number of complaints about fake products. By comparison, Amazon provides little support by having the warning that customers buy at 'their own risk'.

How are fakes products handled

Big brands like Estee Lauder, MAC, and L’Oréal have anti-counterfeit departments. These teams work to identify counterfeiters and report them to authorities.

A brand is likely to handle a report from a shopper about a fake cosmetic in the following way:

    • The company receives a tip-off from a consumer about a fake product being sold.
    • The company recruits ‘operatives’ (mystery shoppers) to capture video footage of themselves buying the fake product.
    • The purchased knock-off product is inspected and tested by the brand and all the evidence about the item and the seller is compiled.
    • The case is handed over to the police.

You might remember that Kylie Cosmetics gained a lot of attention about one particular raid in 2018. In this raid, authorities found fake products containing nasty ingredients, including animal faeces, bacteria, and high levels of metals!

The real deal


It is very important to know that you are getting your money’s worth when heading to the virtual makeup counter. And, that means getting genuine products that are safe for your body.

  Our tips for spotting fake products  

How to spot fake cosmetics - Look out for the 5 Ps:

    • Price is heavily discounted
    • Place where it is sold looks suspicious
    • Packaging has errors like wrong spelling or logo
    • Physical aspect is inferior or has weird texture or smell
    • Payment is being asked by the seller in an unusual way

How safe are fake products

No one actually knows if counterfeiters are following standard health protocols. It is also unknown what ingredients they may be using since they are most likely producing their products under the radar.

In the UK, a man was taken to court for selling fake Mac lipsticks on eBay and Facebook containing 300 times the legal level of lead. The problem with regularly using a product with high levels of lead could is that it can cause high blood pressure, reproductive and neurological issues amongst other problems.

The man was not manufacturing the toxic products. Sadly, he had started selling fake cosmetics to earn 'a few extra quid' after giving up his job to care for his terminally ill wife.

This example shows that the people manufacturing fakes will take advantage of anyone!

What can you do if you received an obvious rip-off

Unfortunately, it may be hard for you to return or make a complaint about an obvious fake product that arrives on your doorstep.

Fakers are thieves. So complaining to them is like going up to a robber who has been to your house and asking them to return all the items in the condition they found them.

Plus, a lab test would need to be done on the product. This is the only way you could confirm if the product is actually fake.

You are better off reporting the problem to the brand they are stealing from.

How to avoid buying fake cosmetics

    • Go to the brand’s website directly
    • Avoid clicking links to well known on social media websites
    • If you do buy from a marketplace, check for reviews and ingredients lists
    • Ask for extra pictures

Making a complaint

If you received a fake product and the seller does not want to accept it back and issue a refund, use Handle My Complaint to file an official complaint which will report it to the brand they are stealing from.

Take photos and list the reasons why you think the product is a fake one. It is best to provide all your supporting documentation upfront. Once we receive your information, we will send you confirmation of your complaint. And if you have an account with us, we will keep a copy of this complaint for your future reference.

And just remember, if you encounter a fake product, we are here to help you report it, suspicious lipstick or otherwise.

You can tell us what has happened and what will alleviate your worries. Just say the magic words 'Help Me Handle It'.