Leonsiya Dokuzova (2nd R) gets her makeup done before her performance on a TV show in Sofia October 29, 2013. Dokuzova, who holds two jobs to supplement her income, works as a nurse in one of the biggest hospitals in Sofia, the Balkan country's capital, and also as an acrobat, performing stunts in movies, TV shows and the circus. Picture taken October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Several counterfeit makeup products were tested including MAC and Chanel and were found to be loaded with harmful lead, beryllium, aluminum and bacteria. These fake cosmetics are proliferating in online retailers, flea markets, bazaars and swap meets. It has become increasingly rampant because of the popularity and ease of e-commerce.
According to ABC10 News, counterfeit makeup is a growing problem nowadays. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Deputy Special Agent in Charge Shane Folden spoke to ABC10 News about the counterfeit makeup industry and he said that many of the products sold (on discount retailers like eBay) are not real.
Folden can't talk about the ongoing investigations by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on the counterfeit makeup industry. But, he did confirm that they are working against large-scale counterfeit makeup rings.
He also warned consumers that if they buy counterfeit products, they will not have any guarantee on its quality and safety.
"When you buy a legitimate product, you have the confidence that the manufacturer is held to certain standards. When you buy a counterfeit item, there's absolutely no guarantee," said Agent Folden in the ABC10 News report.
Inside Edition also investigated these counterfeit makeup products being sold on the streets. Their undercover team purchased some fake cosmetics including knockoff MAC and Chanel eye shadows. They were assured by the vendor that the products were real. Then, Inside Edition had the counterfeit makeup tested by Upstate Labs and the results were reviewed by dermatologist Dr. Robert Buka.
The results show that the counterfeit makeup that Inside Edition bought from the street vendor had high levels of aluminum, which has reportedly been linked to Alzheimer's disease. The fake MAC eye shadows had high levels of lead. Some products even contained the carcinogen Beryllium. And, a knockoff Chanel eye shadow had a lot of bacteria in it!
"The amount of bacteria you found in this counterfeit makeup was disgusting," said Dr. Buka in the Inside Edition report.
Dr. Buka also said that a patient of his was scarred for life because she used a fake MAC product and developed an infection.
"I see about two to three cases of counterfeit makeup dermatitis in my practice every month," Dr. Buka added.
MAC issued a statement about counterfeit makeup products to Inside Edition:
"We have a very strong connection with our consumers at MAC and have a responsibility and commitment to provide them with the finest quality and safe prestige makeup products. We take consumer safety very seriously. Counterfeit products claiming to be MAC cosmetics, can be harmful to our consumers. We work closely with dedicated and diligent law enforcement agencies around the globe and participate in numerous counterfeiting enforcement efforts to help put a stop to counterfeit MAC products. We also urge our consumers to shop at one of our authorized retail channels, so that they can know for certain that they are purchasing genuine MAC products. A complete listing of authorized MAC retailers can be found at www.maccosmetics.com and clicking on the MAC Store Locator, or by calling us toll free at 1-800-387-6707, option 8," read MAC's statement to Inside Edition regarding counterfeit cosmetics.
Consumers really need to be extra careful and vigilant in buying cosmetics nowadays especially because several counterfeit makeup products that were tested including MAC and Chanel, were found to be loaded with harmful lead, beryllium, aluminum and bacteria. That's why to make sure you are getting the real deal, just buy from the brand's stores. But, if you still prefer shopping for high end makeup and other cosmetics online, research about the online retailer or seller you are planning to purchase from. Look at blogs, forums and reviews and keep an eye out for warnings from previous buyers. It also helps to know what the original makeup actually looks like and how it differs from the knockoffs. Check out the video below to see side-by-side comparisons of several MAC makeup products including eyeliners, blushes, MAC pigments, lip glosses and eye shadows.