If Looks Could KILL: The Dangers Of Fake Makeup

One of these lipsticks is a shady fake bitch. Can you tell which one?
If you saw my Twitter thread on Sunday morning, you'll know that exposing fake makeup is something that I am incredibly passionate and vocal about. Being a beauty blogger, I for one know how difficult it is being constantly bombarded with adverts for new high-end products that I can't afford, and how tempting it must be when you spot the exact same product on eBay for only a third of the price.

This is exactly how teen girls and low-paid young adults are taken advantage of and lured into buying fake makeup products when looking for a cheaper 'alternative' to high-end products. I'm not talking about drugstore dupes. I mean cheap, shady-ass copies of popular products sold as the real deal. If you don't know about fake makeup, you're probably buying it.

My little sister Ella is 17 and an absolute bugger for buying fake makeup, so whilst researching for this post I sat down to interview her as to why she buys fake makeup and if she knew about the dangers of it.

What are your reasons for buying fake makeup?

“I love brands like Kylie Jenner and MAC, but I don’t have a job and I can’t afford the actual products, yet I still want the latest products in order to fit in with the crowd. I don’t have any money unless it’s my birthday or Christmas, and by the time that comes around most of the real products have already sold out (Kylie Jenner products often sell out in the first 15 minutes of being available.) With fake products I know that there’s usually free delivery on eBay and no customs charges either. It’s so easy to get hold of.”

Have you ever had a bad reaction to using fake makeup?

“Oh my god, absolutely loads of times! I bought a fake Jeffree Star Unicorn Blood lipstick and my lips swelled up, so I haven't used it since. My counterfeit Anastasia Beverly Hills gave me horrible acne that has actually scarred my cheeks. I have quite sensitive skin and get eczema, but at £3 or less on eBay I can use a product once and if it affects me at least I didn't spend a lot of money on it.”

So why do you keep buying counterfeit makeup even when you've suffered side effects from it?

“You don’t actually have to use what you buy. You can photograph it and put it on Snapchat and say you have the latest product and nobody will know that it isn’t real. I did buy a real MAC foundation which cost me £24.50, but it didn’t last long enough to justify spending that much money, so I would rather buy six fake ones for that price and have them last longer.”

What about cheaper brands such as Makeup Revolution and NYX? Or even makeup from Primark, why not use that instead of buying fakes?

"When someone asks what makeup you wear, it's embarrassing to admit it's just from Primark and you can’t afford expensive stuff when theirs is high-end. You feel better about yourself saying if you have this amazing makeup, even if secretly you don't and it’s fake. I’m not a makeup snob and I would love to be able to buy Makeup Revolution or NYX products, but my closest stands are in Meadowhall and I can’t afford to go there all the time. It's all down to money really" - Ella, 17.


Did you guess it was the one on the left?

From my research it seems the popularity of counterfeit makeup boils down to two things - price and availability. Just a quick search for 'Kylie Lip Kit' on eBay brings up thousands of results all for under £5 each. Worryingly, a large majority of the 'lip kits' are available for just 99p. It's hard not to be tempted by these prices when you don't have a lot of money.

It's also an issue that young girls are naïve to the fact that this makeup is fake and can be very dangerous. I'm part of a Facebook makeup group where girls often brag about buying 'real' Lime Crime of Jeffree Star products for under a fiver, meaning they are supporting and promoting the sale of fake makeup without knowing the dangers of it. My sister was understandably upset when I explained her makeup could contain ingredients such cyanide, glue, rat posion, lead and mercury just to name a few. I don't want to post any photos of reactions here, but if you Google 'fake makeup reactions' there's more than enough to turn your stomach.

I even experienced a small recation myself. I swatched her fake ABH illuminator on my hand and it honestly started burning and stinging almost straight away. I thought I was being paranoid as I knew it was fake, but my parents had the exact same reaction when they tried it too without knowing it was counterfeit or what effect it had on me. I felt sick to my stomach not knowing what I had put on my skin and that my little sister had been using it for months. Even if you are lucky enough not to to be harmed by the makeup, profits from the sales of them often go to funding illegal drugs and terrorist organisations, something that Ella was truly shocked to learn.

I do understand why girls buy counterfeit makeup. They want to fit in with the latest trends when they don't have a lot of money, but is it really worth putting yourself in so much danger, just to look 'rich' on Snapchat? In other cases, they truly believe that the makeup they are buying is real and they're getting a great deal. In those cases when you really aren't sure if a product is fake, here are some tips to avoid purchasing counterfeit makeup.

- Try to buy from the brand's own website / beauty counter (for example in Debenhams) as much as possible. That is the only way you can 100% guarantee what you are buying is genuine.

- If you can't buy from the brand themselves, only buy from verified sellers. You can usually find a list of approved sellers on a brand's FAQ page. Good examples are on the Lime Crime and Kylie Jenner websites.

- Don't trust discount or 'wholesale' beauty shops, unless it's an established retailer like TK Maxx. Often these shops buy fakes in bulk on eBay then try to sell them as the real thing at inflated prices.

- Check the product packaging. Fake products often look very different to the real ones. Logos could be in different fonts and the packaging may feel 'cheap.' There are loads of 'real vs. fake' videos on YouTube, so check them out for what to look for on specific products.

- Never, ever buy makeup on eBay or Aliexpress. Be cautious when buying from Depop and make sure to ask for proof of the original purchase and lots of photos of the packaging. 

Stay safe and educated my lovelies.
And remember, when a deal for a product seems too good to be true, it usually is. 

12 comments

  1. This is such an important post! It's almost sad to hear that young girls feel like they literally have to suffer just to look "better".

    Emmy x
    Whisperingtwenties.co.uk

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  2. There are lots of videos on youtube showing the dangers of using these products or how they are manufactured and believe me, she wouldn't want to be near these products if she knew what's in them or how they are produced. I watched a couple of videos and I was disgusted. I prefer to buy products from affordable brands such as Essence, Technic, NYX, Wet n Wild, Jordana, there are so many affordable brands out there!!

    Yiota
    http://pinkdaisyloves.blogspot.com.cy/

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  3. I will admit I was tempted a few years ago when you see ABH glow kits for a few £ on eBay but I did research and I'm so glad I didn't get anything! and like you say, the ingredients in the products are scary!! I have such sensitive skin that there's no way I could get away with using them and tbh I don't want to! It is so much more satisfying to save up and treat yourself to the product you want rather than just get a 99p Jeffree Star lipstick! I really hope youtalking to your sister has helped her realise it's not worth it!
    Great post lovely!
    PaleGirlRambling xo

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  4. I didn't even realise people were buying fake makeup! I alway's just get mine at Boots or a dept store. I cant believe how many young girls are putting themselves at risk.
    Well done for writing a post about it - hopefully people will see and become a bit more savvy about it.
    Becky x

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  5. I've nearly fallen into the trap of buying fake makeup myself, not for image but I wanted the ABH moonchild palette and it's such a one of a kind product you can't get highstreet dupes for. Thankfully I saw sense and didn't! But I can understand the temptation, especially if you don't know any better. My mum was really pleased with her Urban Decay eBay bargain and it was so sad having to tell her it was probably fake. I'd rather have a makeup bag full of Revolution and NYX than a bunch of fakes that aren't even any good, high street make up is such high quality nowadays and I don't understand the snobbery against it. You only get one skin so you should look after it!

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  6. I could tell it was the left one due to the rubbed off writing and the silver bar is slightly thinner! It's so scary how much fake makeup is out there for sale and youngsters are keen to buy it as it means they can have 'high-end' products at a cheaper price, they are just so dangerous, you have absolutely no idea whats in there. Really good post Alice!

    Alice | alicemaysnell

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  7. I try and only buy from specific retailers that are verified and well known just because I don't really like the idea of putting on fake cosmetics and not knowing what ingredients are in them. It's insane how uncanny they look to the real products so it definitely makes it harder to spot them! xx

    www.iridescentplaces.com

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  8. This is really interesting! My sister also has a lot of counterfeit makeup! Personally I like trying to find a dupe of the Highend brands in the drugstore brands that work just as well - it costs less and works just as well! X

    Victoria | VictoriaaHelenn

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  9. This is a truly important post and I totally agree with you. I usually tell my friends it better to buy the dupe one instead the fake one. I usually buy high end brands and drugstore brand I don't really go with "it the lasted thing" just because many influencer from Instagram and YouTube are raving about it.

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  10. This is such an important post! Nothing is worth putting potential dangerous fake products on your face just to be seen to have the newest thing.. There are so many good dupes of kylies stuff, i think even better stuff in the drugstore, that people should be spending their money on that instead of the fake stuff

    Ronnie
    www.veronicabizzarri.com
    xx

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  11. This is such an amazing well written post! It's so important that people have knowledge of these products and what goes into them! As a beauty therapist I know the dangers of fake makeup

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  12. Great post. It's a shame that this is what the Internet drives people to do.

    Naomi X
    https://thenaomiruth.com

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Every single comment means so much to me, thanks for making me smile! :)