There are plenty of knockoff beauty products being sold for a fraction of the price. It’s tempting to buy a Fenty Beauty palette for $10 from your local flee market. But let’s be honest, these products are certainly fake, and they could be incredibly risky to use.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine gifted me an array of stunning makeup products as part of a late birthday present. I was over the moon to see that my favorite primer and foundation were in the mix. The LA Girl Pro Prep primer and the Rimmel London Lasting Matte Foundation respectively. I swear by these products and haven’t found anything that I like more.

However, to my dismay, the LA Girl primer turned out to be a knockoff that caused havoc with my skin. I broke out in a painful red rash that took more than two weeks to fully heal. At the time, I was so helpless and thought that the products might cause permanent damage. I didn’t know whether to wear more makeup and hide the rash or let my skin breathe. Regardless, all I could do was wait it out and hope for the best.

The excitement of finding cheap beauty products blinded us with naivety.

My friend obviously didn’t have sinister intentions when she gifted me the primer, however, the products came from a private seller that didn’t disclose their sources. In retrospect, we both should have known that something was fishy.

Once we discovered that the products were fake, we decided to purchase the real ones and see if we could notice any differences. At first glance, they looked identical. However, we noticed that the list of ingredients on the counterfeit primer packaging was different from the original. And the font was also slightly bigger.

A report published by the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) revealed that the international counterfeit cosmetics trade industry has steadily increased since 2013. Fake goods are mostly traded is the United States, which accounts for approximately 20% global counterfeit seizures. Things have gotten so bad that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) seized up to $700 000 worth of counterfeit products back in January 2019. The makeup was fake replicas of brands like Urban Decay, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC and NARS.

Above all of these crazy facts and statistics, there’s a ton of health risks associated with using fake cosmetics too. These don’t undergo the strict quality control measures that authentic products do. This means the products potentially contain harmful bacteria, carcinogens and toxic substances. In the worst scenarios, this could result in cases of severe acne, psoriasis, skin rashes and swelling. To make matters worse, cosmetics confiscated by the LAPD in 2019 were found to have high levels of bacteria and faecal matter. And yes, you did read that correctly.

 Fake goods account for 3.3% of the world’s trade.

In hindsight, I’m glad that my skin reacted badly to the knockoff LA Girl Primer as it was a warning sign that I needed to stop using it immediately. The thought of unknowingly using a counterfeit product for a prolonged period makes me sick. It could have had incredibly harmful affects if I used it any longer. At the end of the day,  I do not recommend buying low-priced cosmetics that seem to be from mainstream brands. They’re almost always fake. Rather, make a conscious effort to buy from reputable retailers that sell authentic goods.

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Luale Monze

By Luale Monze

Editorial Fellow