How to Spot Counterfeit Makeup Online

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Makeup is now a click away, but with the digital marketplace so vast and crowded, you’re sometimes forced to question the integrity of the makeup you’re buying. If you buy from a disreputable vendor, how can you be sure if a product is from the correct collection? Over the past few years, counterfeit beauty has emerged as a serious issue online and has fooled even the smartest of shoppers. This problem is a health-related matter as well—if you’re not using the real product, who knows what you’re actually putting on your face and body? While corporations have taken huge measures to help prevent counterfeiting and fraud, it’s also up to the consumer (you!) to be equipped with proper beauty knowledge. Become a proactive online shopper and you’ll never have to question your beauty products again!

1. Know the collections.

When you’re making a purchase, cross-reference all of the product data you find. Ask yourself: Did the brand really make that shade of lip gloss that season? How much did it cost? What color was the product? You can easily spot a knockoff fragrance if it is clear instead of amber or has a bright yellow hue—some counterfeiters actually blend urine (ew!) and alcohol in knockoff perfumes instead of the actual scent! Whether you have 10 months or 10 years of brand knowledge in your head, the Internet is still a valuable cosmetic database that has all the information you need. Do your research.

2. Study the packaging.

Do you know the difference between matte and glossy packaging? Do you know how certain brands always label their products? If the product photo doesn’t visually match the identity of the brand, search an image database and see if you can spot the differences. Remember that brands occasionally create specially designed limited releases, but trust your gut if you see any potential red flags. Observe with a critical eye.

3. Trust the source.

What site are you shopping from? How does it process credit cards? Do you trust the seller? Ideally, you should buy makeup online from well-known reputable sites such as Sephora.com, Nordstrom.com, Drugstore.com, and Ulta.com. These online retailers take expansive measures to protect against credit card fraud and identity theft online. If you’re thinking of ordering from a smaller, independent company, first ask your friends and family if they’ve had transaction experiences with that site. Protect yourself.

BEAUTYLISH TIP

If you’re on the hunt for a discontinued beauty essential, it’s hard to resist clicking “buy” on an independent site that miraculously stocks the product. But think about it—who actually knows what condition those products are in? Instead, reach out to the brand’s customer service line first. Representatives can help you track down your favorite products or recommend better alternatives for you to try.