Is Your make-up real?

Here’s how you can spot the fake products!

  • 24 Feb - 02 Mar, 2018
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Beauty

Even though websites may do their best to control the sales of fake products, counterfeits by luxury brands tend to slip through the cracks. Not only are you buying a bootleg product, but you also expose yourself to some serious health risks. Rather than a healing blend of aloe and vitamin E, many knockoff goods contain beyond-harmful ingredients like cyanide, arsenic, rat poison, urine, and lead that definitely shouldn't be in your household, much less your make-up. Because there are a few really good fakes out there, here is how you can be extra vigilant to avoid getting stuck with such products.

Note the pricing

Of course, you should always buy your products from one of the brand's licensed retailers, but we admit a good sale is pretty hard to resist. If the sale is a little too good to be true, however, it probably is. Most brands will control pricing on their products, meaning that a Chanel mascara in PKR 500 likely isn't the real deal. Also, knockoff products are often sold in bulk, so be wary before buying a massive case of MAC foundations at a drugstore price.

Check the label

Counterfeit products will often have uneven fonts, misspelled words, inconsistent patterns, and incorrect shade names printed on the label and leaflets, so make sure to cross-check the item with the one on the brand's official website.

Pay attention to the packaging

If you previously purchased a lipstick or eyeliner from the brand in question, line the items up side-by-side to compare their exteriors. Fake products are housed in lower-quality plastic or metal casings, often paired with ill-fitting mirrors and sponge-tipped applicators. The name of the shade should be printed on a sticker as opposed to the box. Products that don't quite fit into the box as they should, as well as boxes with exposed pieces of cardboard, are other indicators that you may have picked up a phony.


Keep checking in with the official pages and sites of your favourite beauty brands. Most would publish and promote the differences between genuine and fake make-up products once they find out about knockoffs being sold. Hence, it is always better to take time and research about a particular product. Don’t rush it unless you know it is a trusted and reputable seller.

Swatch the colour before using

Just like low-quality packaging, a seemingly cheaper formula is a telltale sign of a counterfeit cosmetic. Fake eyeshadows, blushes, lipsticks, and powders typically have a chalkier or thinner consistency than the real counterparts. Then, take a whiff of the product. Unless they're unscented, many genuine products will have a signature fragrance – for example, the pleasing vanilla aroma of MAC's lipsticks. At the very least, the make-up should smell like make-up, so toss any items that have overly-chemical notes, as well as perfumes with off-colour liquid or medicinal-scented elements.

Call the make-up company directly

If you are still not sure about a product – even if you buy from a store online, try to get a picture of the bar code on it and also of the packaging. Ask the online sales person you need it because you are unsure and want to avoid buying fake make-up. If they refuse, move on girl! You can also ask for a receipt from online sellers. So after getting the bar code, you can call or email the concerned company and check with them if the product is real. That will save you from a lot of hassle in the long run.

Apps to the rescue!

According to an article in the Daily Mail, after tests, fake MAC eyeliner was found to contain 46 times the level of copper permitted. Ultimately, it all ends up being about your health. It is best to save up for a few genuine brands, rather than using imitations. Applications have also been developed to help consumers tell whether a product is genuine or fake. Firstly, download the app from the Google Play Store for Android, and from the Apple App Store on iTunes for iOS and then scan the barcode of the product with the app. The scan will hopefully display information on the company, name of product, batch number, expiry date and other relevant details. If the product is fake, the app will not display any information.

Be mindful of where you're shopping

Some third-party sites do get authorisations to sell specific brands, but if the listing seems unusual (the price is strangely low, the packaging is unusual, or you're just not sure), go with your gut and stick to a different retailer. Instead, you could go to department stores or specialty stores for brand name products or directly from the brands’ own websites. Payments through PayPal or American Express also protect the consumers in case of fraudulent transactions.

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