The Black Market for Beauty

Kylie Cosmetics is notorious for many things: the lip kits that started it all, the warm eyeshadow hues, and the luxurious formulas. What the brand is not known for, however, is being inexpensive. In fact, just one Kyshadow palette can set you back $52. So how is it possible that upon a quick Google search we were able to find the palette for just $6.50?

Well, in an age where a brand name is more coveted than its quality, how far will manufacturers go to provide the most iconic makeup brands to consumers – at a fraction of the cost?

This week we’re exploring the darkest possible side of the beauty industry – literally, the darkest. The Black Market of Beauty: it is real and it is among us.

A makeup dupe is one thing – where consumers find less expensive alternatives to higher quality items, namely at drug stores. But the black market deals with counterfeit makeup: exact imitations of a high-value product, intended to deceive some customers, while satisfying others. Although these products may look the same, they certainly do not perform the same. Brands like Kylie Cosmetics, MAC, and Ben Nye have been at the forefront of trying to eliminate counterfeit makeup, as those are the brands that are most often imitated. Knockoffs are available nearly anywhere online, and while the low price tag should be a red flag, countless consumers are still deceived into purchasing fake products.

So why exactly is counterfeit makeup such a concern? Brand identity issues aside, it can be tremendously harmful to someone’s health. “Counterfeiters feel no obligation to protect the consumers they are defrauding”, noted one David Farquhar, unit chief at the FBI. As a result, the ingredients making up the makeup are often carcinogenic and can be contaminated with bacteria and waste. Consequently, upon having unknowingly used the products, consumers have reported rashes, dermatitis, eye infections, and the list goes on. “We’re not talking about a knockoff designer bag that you carry around on your arm, you’re purchasing products that you put on your eyes and lips, which you may ingest.”

Makeup counterfeiting is also known to tarnish the image of the actual brand it is a knockoff of. Last month, a girl Β woke up and immediately reported feeling like there were shards of glass tearing through the skin around her eyes. One day prior, she had tried her new Ben Nye powder for the first time, so naturally she had blamed the brand for her adverse reaction. It was only until she did some research that she realized the item she bought online had not been legit. She cited: “I started doing some research and it turns out a lot of people have been fooled. I had never heard of fake [Ben Nye] products before; I only found out about the problem once I looked into it”. As a result, knockoffs are a major concern to companies whose image and profits suffer. Essentially, it confirms the notion that their brand identity can be easily hijacked.

What’s more surprising than the fact that the Black Market deceives consumers is that there are actually some consumers who actively seek to purchase these knockoffs, feeling attracted to the combination of a high-value label with a low-value price tag. In some areas of North America, there are now specialty stores which specifically sell knockoff beauty products, with an alarming amount of consumers knowingly purchasing these products.

Moral of the story: if something is suspiciously cheap, it’s likely not the real deal. And if you opt to knowingly purchase counterfeit makeup regardless, do so with the utmost caution.

Information Gathered From: Cosmopolitan

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