There are a lot of cheap knockoff products that come out of China. Some of them are kind of fun, like knockoffs of expensive purses that you could not otherwise afford on your salary and fake watches that look almost like the real thing. When it comes to products that you put on your skin, however, you need to be extra careful.
Reports are coming in from worldwide news outlets and even the FBI warning consumers about counterfeit makeup and the dangers they bring. The biggest problem is the ingredients in the makeup and perfume. Some of the ingredients are dangerous, some are unsanitary, and others are just plain gross.
These counterfeit products are turning up everywhere. They are especially prevalent online where people, looking for a bargain, will buy the counterfeits thinking they are the real thing. They buy the items for themselves or gift them to unwitting friends and family, never knowing about the dangers of fake makeup and perfume.
These fake products can also be found at flea markets and even in mall kiosks. Homeland Security recommends that consumers read the labels of everything we buy. Sometimes there are misspellings on knockoffs or a "Made in China" label. Other times, the label font might be off or you can feel the lower quality of the product's packaging. Most of all, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is a fake.
According to Daily Mail, some of the counterfeit makeup products have up to 19 times the legal limit of lead in them. Lead can build up in the human body over the months, leading to lead poisoning. In adults, lead poisoning can cause memory loss, joint and muscle pains, and headaches. Pregnant women risk miscarriage or premature birth if they are exposed to too much lead. There are lead-free makeup products available, but you will need to purchase these items through a reputable dealer and avoid purchasing knockoffs on auction websites and unknown websites.
When criminal gangs mix up the ingredients for makeup to sell to unsuspecting consumers, they do not care what goes into the concoction as long as it looks like the real thing. These aren’t chemists with degrees mixing up batches of eyeshadow and perfume. They are street educated people looking to make money anyway possible. What you get are beauty products that contain dangerous chemicals that can cause allergic reactions and even permanent scarring from these reactions.
Counterfeit makeup is not made under the same conditions and standards as the makeup it is posing as. The fake stuff is made in basements, back rooms, and filthy, small factories with zero quality control. Bacteria is everywhere and can easily contaminate all the products the workers are mixing up. Not only is the bacteria coming from the filth of the work room, but also from workers’ unwashed and ungloved hands, from animals, and from insects and roaches.
Because of all the dangerous chemicals and “potentially dangerous bacteria”, according to Babble, knockoff makeup can cause skin rashes. Dermatologist Dr. Robert Burka said in an interview that he sees two to three cases each month involving skin dermatitis, all due to counterfeit makeup. When tested, the fake makeup was found to contain high levels of lead, Beryllium, and bacteria, all of which can cause these rashes.
When Daily Mail bought some counterfeit makeup on eBay for testing, they found arsenic in some of the products. The knockoff Benefit Eye Bright pencil, Bare Minerals Mineral Veil foundation powder, and Bad Gal lash mascara all contained traces of arsenic in them. Arsenic is a toxic elements that can cause abdominal pain, shock, and even death.
There are numerous reports online about consumers unknowingly buying and using counterfeit eye makeup only to experience eye pain moments after applying the stuff. Daily Mail gives a report about one woman, Katie Brown, who purchased counterfeit Urban Decay eye shadow. Minutes after she applied the eyeshadow, her eyelids swelled and her vision turned blurry. She said, “I realised it was fake as soon as I opened it.” If you suspect something is not the real deal, do not risk testing it out on your skin.
The FBI reports that counterfeit cosmetics can often contain dangerous amounts of bacteria in them. One bacteria that has been found and identified in fake cosmetics is e. coli (Escherichia coli). E. coli can cause severe diarrhea, as well as kidney failure and anemia. Some of the e. coli strains can also cause urinary tract infections. It is spread through fecal matter and people not washing their hands after having a bowel movement. Considering that there are no sanitary practices among the gangs making fake makeup, the spread of e. coli comes as no surprise.
Counterfeit Benefit Bad Gal Lash mascara that was seized and tested was found to contain high amounts of the dangerous element mercury. While mercury is found naturally in the earth’s crust, it is highly toxic and it can harm the heart, kidneys, immune system, lungs, and brain. It can also cause skin rashes, muscle weakness, headaches, and insomnia. In eye makeup, it can permanently damage your vision.
When someone wears a product that is loaded with lead, mercury, cyanide, arsenic, and other dangerous ingredients, there is bound to be a reaction. Many online reports reveal that women have experienced chemical burns on their face and eyes after using fake makeup. One victim, Louise Emery, used counterfeit MAC makeup and woke up in pain the next day, her face and eyes swollen. She told the Daily Mail that she “…had what looked like severe burns beneath my eyes … I was worried sick I would be scarred for life.” She had to go on antibiotics and antihistamines for two weeks to reduce the swelling and after five months her skin is still very sensitive.
High levels of aluminum have been found in some counterfeit cosmetics. While many people are turning away from traditional deodorant because of the aluminum found in it, criminals are putting dangerous amounts of the stuff in their knockoffs. Described as a neurotoxin, ingestion can lead to bone disease, fatigue, memory loss, dementia, and numerous other problems. It can accumulate in body tissues and the brain, which is why many people are working towards eliminating aluminum from their lives.
Tests on counterfeit makeup have revealed a horrifying ingredient: rat feces. Whether the rat poop has been added to the makeup ingredients intentionally or it is due to filthy work conditions is unclear in the numerous reports on find this special ingredient. One thing can be certain: rat poop contains bacteria and germs that we would not knowingly put onto or into our bodies.
According to the Daily Mail, paint stripper has been found in some of the counterfeit mascaras and liquid eyeliners. Paint stripper can be found in nearly all hardware stores and is meant to be handled with extreme care. Some of the known hazards associated with paint strippers are respiratory damage from breathing in the chemicals, skin diseases, and damage to the brain, nervous system, and to internal organs. This is not something you want to get onto your skin or into your eyes.
The FBI warns us that, “Counterfeit fragrances have been found to contain something called DEHP, classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a probable human carcinogen. These phony perfumes and colognes, which sometimes contain urine as well, have been known to cause serious skin rashes.” In other words, fake perfume brands may contain human pee and can cause skin problems, besides being very unsanitary to put on your body.