Real price of beauty

Dangerous chemicals infiltrate the makeup industry

Story by Ruth Heinemann, staff writer

Over the last few years, the beauty industry has been growing continuously thanks to influencer brands and corporations like Kylie Cosmetics, Morphe, and Anastasia Beverly Hills. When influencers like Jeffree Star, Tati, or Nikkie Tutorials started to revolutionize social media platforms, those brands quickly realized how they could use the influencers’ power to increase their sales. Whenever they launch new products, millions of subscribers desperately wait in front of their computers, trying to purchase products like the James Charles X Morphe palette or the Shane Dawson X Jeffree Star collection. The demand for these products was unusually high, which is why they sold out within hours. 

The fear of customers missing out on these new “must have” products leads them to buy counterfeits. This is why the black market businesses began to produce cheap counterfeit makeup in order to sell them on mostly unregulated retailers like Amazon or eBay. Most consumers are not even aware of the fact that they are buying fake makeup products which makes these businesses so dangerous. 

Unfortunately, in America, there is little regulation for cosmetic ingredients. While authentic brands have to protect their reputation by testing for safety and quality, counterfeiters only care about making money the quickest way possible. This leads to counterfeit cosmetics that have been tested positive for dangerous chemicals such as lead, beryllium, or mercury. Lead especially can cause some serious issues like headaches or memory loss because our brain is highly sensitive to this heavy metal. 

Another big problem are circumstances under which the cosmetics are being made. They are often produced in unsanitary and old laboratories or factories in Asia, especially in China where the products often contain harmful bacteria that can cause pink eye, cellulitis, or styes.

Whenever counterfeit makeup started to become popular, it was easy to tell apart the original and the fake product due to the style and the quality of the packaging or the product itself. As time went on, counterfeit businesses were able to improve things about their products, which makes it harder to notice a difference. However, there are some things that people should pay attention to when purchasing makeup online. Consumers should check if the product’s price is realistic in relation to other products by that brand, since it is unlikely that high end brands would sell lipstick for under $10. Additionally, counterfeit products often have misspelled words or uneven fonts on the packaging. If you already own a product of the same brand, it is easy to compare them to see if you actually bought a regular product. To avoid ever having to worry about possibly using counterfeit makeup, the safest way is to only buy straight from the brand’s website.  

Even though it has been proven that counterfeit cosmetics are a widely spread problem that is putting people’s health at risk, selling these products is considered “property crime” which doesn’t lead to any deterrent punishments. For counterfeiters, it is worth it to spend a few days in jail when they have already made thousands of dollars. It is impossible for the legal system to take control over the rapidly growing counterfeit business because a lot of it is taking place online. This is why it is crucial for consumers to be aware of the dangers and avoid buying their products, because a decrease in demand will ultimately cause a decrease in production of counterfeit cosmetics.