(Last Updated on: September 12, 2023 )

A Dangerous Trend in Knockoff  Beauty Products

With the holiday season wrapping up, January is marked with long return lines and refund requests both online and in-store. Many unwanted gifts or ones of incorrect size or kind are sent back to vendors, but what do you do when you’ve been injured by a product?

Such is the case with many cosmetic products on the market, including eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, mascaras, eyeliners and more. If finding your favorite luxury items with slashed prices seems too good to be true, it probably is. Consumers can end up paying for far more than they originally bargained for when buying a cheap alternative, and with counterfeit makeup, it could cost you harmful side effects.

Some knock off versions of products appear remarkably similar to their original counterparts yet are being sold for half the price. Vendors of imitation products ensure customers that they perform just as well as the real thing, or may even try to pass the counterfeit off as the original. While an eyeshadow palette or lipstick may look similar to the original and be wrapped in near identical packaging, the formula in these palettes and tubes is often a far cry from the authentic product.

Popular Makeup Products with Poisonous Ingredientshidden dangers in knockoff beauty products

Consumers are reporting a number of symptoms from using counterfeit makeup, including eye infections, allergic reactions, skin rashes, swollen lips and chemical burns. In worst cases, the toxic ingredients in many fake makeup products have caused long-term health problems such as high blood pressure and infertility. However, most customers are unaware of the harmful side effects until it’s too late.

When tested, several generic cosmetics were discovered to have dangerous chemicals like aluminum, mercury, arsenic, cyanide and even human urine and rat droppings.

While trace amounts of lead are still allowed in certain cosmetics, high amounts of the chemical can be toxic. One fake version of a MAC lipstick was found to have 15 times more lead than the original, while a counterfeit Jaclyn Hill eyeshadow palette had four times the amount of lead as the real version. The Customs and Border Protection reported that generic cosmetics are often made in factories with unsanitary conditions.

One of the most highly duplicated products remains the Naked Palette by Urban Decay, which has several fake versions that are being sold at street markets, off-brand stores and online. Appearing almost identical to the real thing, women and men alike are purchasing imitation versions containing high amounts of toxic chemicals, some of which can cause permanent body and even brain damage. Unfortunately, most consumers don’t realize their dangers until physical symptoms appear after use.

Just as popular are the Kylie Jenner Lip Kits and products. The star is now taking a stand against knock-offs of her products by advising consumers against purchasing them from anywhere else but her website.

Illegally Imported Cosmetics Found in L.A.

The majority of dangerous makeup products are manufactured in China, allowing vendors to ship harmful cosmetics all over the world through sites like eBay and Amazon. In the U.S., CBS News reports that counterfeit products have been purchased from places like street markets in downtown Los Angeles, but customs officers believe the products are being illegally shipped from China through Southern Californian sea ports like Long Beach. Officers have taken station at Long Beach sea port to inspect incoming packages from China and Hong Kong for smuggled illegal goods that could pose a risk to unsuspecting consumers.

The market is becoming flooded with cheaper alternatives to name-brand makeup that, without close inspection, look the same at a fraction of the price. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now cracking down on the supply of counterfeit products in an effort to save the public from potential health hazards, specifically with merchant shipments from China. Last year, the agency seized a record number of knockoffs worth nearly $1.4 billion. With their prevalence and availability, fake makeup products have been hard to track.

If you or someone you know has recently purchased beauty products and saw physical reactions, you may have a product liability case.

How to Spot Counterfeit Makeup

Any and all beauty and skin care products should only be purchased from authorized vendors. Bear in mind that genuine name brand products usually have a higher price point for better, higher quality and safer ingredients.

Here are a few ways to identify counterfeit beauty products:

  • Reduced Pricing: If the price is too good to be true, then it probably is. Knockoffs are often sold in bulk, so beware of buying name brand makeup at rock-bottom prices. Authorized retailers are usually never seen to cut prices by more than 20%-30%.
  • Inconsistent Labeling: Check the label for misprints, misspelled words, uneven fonts, inconsistent patterns and incorrect terms of the labels. Cross-check your label with the one found on the manufacturer’s website.
  • Cheap Packaging: While not always applicable, knockoffs are often housed in low quality plastics or metal containers with sponge applicators rather than quality brushes and poorly placed mirrors. If the product doesn’t quite fit into its box, you might have picked up a counterfeit. Keep in mind that many fake products have vastly improved their packaging to mimic the real thing.
  • Check the Formula: Lower quality makeup uses a cheaper formula. Fake powders, eye shadows, blushes and lipsticks tend to have a chalkier or thinner consistency than the real thing. For an even closer inspection, smell the product for chemical or medicinal scents that might designate a fake product.
  • Do a Skin Patch Test: Lastly, if you’ve already purchased a product and suspect it may be counterfeit, do a skin test before using it on the face or other parts of the body. Swipe a small amount or swatch of the product onto the underside of your forearm and wait 24 hours before washing it. If you notice signs of a reaction or the skin appears irritated, do not use the product. Certain products may also pass a skin patch test but irritate the face.

Have You Been Hurt by a Product?

Did you or a loved one recently purchase a beauty product and suffer a severe health reaction by it? If you’ve been hurt by a product, the product liability lawyers at Hodes Milman can help you determine if you are eligible for compensation. Call today at (949) 640-8222 for a no-cost, risk-free consultation.




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When you work with us, you’ll see the difference. A lot of firms are quick to show you numbers, and it is absolutely true that your lawyer should have experience and a strong track record in the area that you require. However, we’ll take it one step further. We also believe that your attorney should put your needs, cares and desires first. Because you deserve more than just compensation for your losses - you deserve a true advocate.

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