The Black Market for Counterfeit Cosmetics is Booming and Here is Why

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About this sample


Words: 1414 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 1414|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

When it comes to beauty and cosmetic shopping one must be a savvy shopper in order to win and purchase quality makeup that doesn’t break the bank.

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The beauty industry is on the constant rise in the last 20 years so it only makes sense that the black cosmetic market will also grow in the shadows.

Based on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports, in the US almost $250 billion dollars are spent yearly on fake products.

The major issue of the counterfeit makeup is that they are an insurmountable health treats to all beauty lovers worldwide just because they have a non-regulated manufacturing process and non-existent laboratories.

However, something is actually being done about it. People who are caught selling or producing fake products can bare serious consequences.

Tina Oleszczuk from Florida has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay MAC Cosmetics an enormous refund for selling nearly $1 million worth of fake makeup on eBay. Although this is one of a kind situation with the culprit being caught it can serve as an omen to all the other people who are thinking about joining in the black market.

The scammers typically scan for targets on Amazon, eBay or similar websites to sell them the goods. The victims are beauty lovers who want to own a cult product for at a discount price. The biggest problems are that anyone can sell anything online and there is no way of determining if the product is legit or no until it gets in your mailbox.

The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) is working with big companies to put a stop to product piracy like this. Almost 90% of the products come from China because they have an old copy-cat culture. The other 10% surprisingly comes from India. The production is much cheaper in these countries so the scammers often decide on these locations.

There were multiple researches about the ingredients of counterfeit beauty products. Since the locations of the production are unknown the manufacturer is not obligated to protect the users so the ’’laboratories’’ do not fulfill the sanitary conditions and they are contaminated with waste. From urine to Escherichia coli and meningitis bacteria – the list is endless. The paint that is used often contains led, potassium, mercury and paint deluder. There are cases of people who got severe swelling, dermatitis, rashes, their skin burned and in some lipsticks their lips actually got glued together! The scientists have concluded that prolonged exposure to some of the chemicals found in these makeup products have a toxic effect on our organs.

Currently there are not many agencies searching for the criminals who produce and sell counterfeit products simply because there are much serious problems to attend to like drug and human trafficking. What people don’t realize is that producing fake products is a very enticing job and it’s often used as a cover for money laundering and it some cases even finances the above mentioned trafficking. It may not seem like a big problem but think about it: would you order a transplant organ from the dark web or would you like that your organ gets tested in the hospital in sanitary conditions? It is a pretty dramatic and scary comparison but it is the same in the end. The makeup covers and soaks in your largest organ – skin!

Right now someone is shopping a MAC lipstick online with remains of led or paint thinner and being excited because of the big discount.

MAC Cosmetics is actually one of the rare makeup companies that are trying to raise awareness about the counterfeit products.

On the other side, many companies just don’t want to comment on their products being stolen. One of the reasons for this is that they do not wish to publicize the scammers and the other one is that they are afraid that they will lose customers because the customers cannot be sure if they bought the original product or no. Luckily we have a lot of beauty gurus who put their thinking cap on and find more affordable dupe products for the high-end makeup brands.

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Let’s see how we can avoid purchasing fake products:

  1. When shopping online always shop from the official websites – the biggest chance of purchasing a fake product is definitely online. Look for official websites that have certified and safe urls. Google helps there by showing a green check mark next to certified websites. The rest is up to you – use your eye to determine if the site is fake or real. The fake websites usually have extra words added next to the url and the graphics are poor. Here are some examples: a) Real Kylie Cosmetics website: b) Fake Kylie Cosmetics website:
  2. Choose big retailers –Big retailers like Sephora and Ulta are the way to go. If you make an account and become a BeautyInsider you can actually get special discounts and birthday presents from the original brands. Also on every official brand website you have a list and locations of the retailers – both brick and mortar and online.
  3. Don’t order any beauty products from China – Even though the makeup may be legitimate the safest option is not to order any beauty products from China. Chinese makeup falls under the Chinese legislation law where the makeup has a lot of animal residue and the testing on animals is mandatory in the mainland China. Who needs animal based ingredients that are potentially harmful and are decomposing on a micro level when you can use vegan and cruelty free makeup!
  4. Do your research on the brand – Every beauty lover should first do a brand research before the first purchase. There are a lot of brands out there and if the brand actually exists you will be able to find a lot of user pictures of it and tutorials on YouTube. The beauty lovers are your best guarantee that the products are safe and of a good quality.
  5. Send inquiries directly to the company – If you purchased some product and you are not sure if it’s original or no, send photos and the purchasing information and the brand officials will tell you if they sell their makeup there and if it is the real deal. MAC started this policy and most of the brands follow it.
  6. Search for people’s reviews – It’s the safest way to do it. If you’ve found something and it is super cheap and looks like a legitimate products, just scroll down to reviews and you will see the truth. Here’s a Morphe x Jacklyn Hill knock off palette by BeautyGlazed. They even made a brand that copies other brands and of course – they don’t have an official website and sell on Amazon and AliExpress.
  7. Search and compare product photos online – It’s super easy because there are tons of user photos and reviews. You can zoom in the details and easily see the difference. The packaging of the counterfeit products usually looks cheaper and the brand name in a lot odd cases can be scratched of with a nail easily.
  8. Location of the production facility – It’s one of the first things you should do. From where is your makeup shipped? Is there an address in the bottom and a phone number? Is it a registered company or retailer? And last but not least is it connected to social media? If they don’t have Instagram or Facebook page the chances are great that the website is fake.
  9. Think twice about steep discounts – If it looks too good be true than it is probably fake. If an original costs 25USD there is no way that there will be a 90% discount because that never happens. The highest discount is usually 60%.
  10. Never ever buy second-hand makeup – This is equally dangerous to buying counterfeit products. Even if you are passing on a piece of makeup to your family, you need to sanitize it with alcohol and check the expiration date. This is related to websites like Glambot who took the scamming to the next level. Their website has so many buyers despite all the negative attention around it. They take makeup from people and give a small symbolic amount and then they sell it on their website with a little discount. For a little less money than the original price you will get a second-hand one that is supposedly sanitized. The website has amazing design and all of the networks connected so it’s so easy to get cheated.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

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The black market for counterfeit cosmetics is booming and here is why. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“The black market for counterfeit cosmetics is booming and here is why.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
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The black market for counterfeit cosmetics is booming and here is why [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from:
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