Who doesn't like a bargain? But if you're getting one, could you also be putting your health at risk? Investigators with Homeland Security Department say counterfeit cosmetics are poisoning Americans and our economy.
There are bargain sites for everything on the Internet these days—even makeup. On this site, it lists name brands at deep discounts. An urban decay brow box is $14.99. That's half the cost of what is listed on the website for well-known make-up store, Sephora. On eBay, there are pages of postings. MAC eye shadows, for instance, are being sold for $10 (compared to the actual store price of $15). The posts say 100% authentic, but there's something you should know before you click.
According to U.S. Homeland Security Special Agent Joe Ortega, seized counterfeit products have tested positive for a range of toxins. "We've found things such as arsenic, lead. As you know, that's not very good for you," Ortega says. The poisons are used as fillers for coloring. "They'll use anything. Obviously, they have no standard for making them. Most of the stuff we found comes from China," Ortega says.
Homeland Security investigates counterfeiters under its National Intellectual Property Rights Center.
On one website we found, a seller, when questioned if a MAC product was authentic, responded with "replica." Counterfeit products are not only found online. Agents have seized them at flea markets, mall kiosks, and stores. A New Jersey woman was recently prosecuted for counterfeit makeup sales when a customer of hers told Homeland Security she got a rash on her eyelid within minutes of using what she thought was MAC brand eyeliner.
Dermatologist Dayna Diven has several concerns. "The skin on you face absorbs things differently than anywhere else on your body, especially the skin around your eyes. It's the thinnest skin on our body." In addition, Diven says, "It could cause acne on your face, dermatitis, exzema or scaling. Theoretically, you can absorb through your skin too. There could be bacteria because there is not quality control. Anything could be in there." If you think that is bad, Ortega says fake fragrances have been found to contain Human urine.
So how do you decipher between what's real and what's not? Ortega showed us the difference, and it's not something you can tell online. "Once you feel the bottle, it's a lot lighter and thinner. This would never happen on a real Chanel where it's coming apart. The font on it will sometimes be different. A lot of the times---believe it or not—there will be misspellings in the words."
So basically, you need to get your hands on the item, or if the ‘sale' price seems too good to be true, remind yourself it probably is!