Bargain Beauties Beware: Your Cheap Beauty Buy is Probably a Fake

October 2, 2012

I love me a good bargain. So when I want to try out the newest Bobbi Brown lip gloss or restock my go-to MAC foundation, I don't head to Sephora. I go to eBay and Amazon to find the same exact products for a fraction of the price. Thrifty? Yes. Safe? Maybe not.

With online-savvy beauty junkies (like me) eagerly buying makeup products from the Internet, more counterfeit products are flooding the discount sites of eBay and Amazon. To see just how badly we're being duped, reporters from the Daily Mail bought 80 designer beauty products over two weeks. Then they asked The Staffordshire Scientific Services to compare the stuff they bought online to the originals. The findings will shock any fellow online beauty shopper: One out of 10 products purchased online were fake.

Related: 7 Lies on Your Makeup Labels

But here's the real kicker: These knock-offs not only had different formulas than the originals, but they also contained carcinogenic ingredients, including lead, copper, arsenic, and even cadmium. One MAC eyeliner sold on Amazon had 46 times the permitted level of copper; paint stripper and nail polish remover was found in mascara and liquid eyeliners; and even urine was found in fragrances. Yuck.

Related: 13 Gross Ingredients Hidden in Your Beauty Products

"It's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt," says Christine Heemskerk, of the Trading Standards Institute. "These counterfeit cosmetic products may not have been made in a sterile environment. They may contain carcinogenic ingredients that are banned from use in cosmetics and could cause long-term harm."

Harm like rashes, psoriasis, and even more serious conditions like lead poisoning and brain damage, she says.

Though law enforcement has been cracking down on these illegal distributors, it may be worth it to pay full price for your cosmetics. At least that's my new MO.

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