How cheap makeup puts your health at risk – NBC2 News

With $15,000, you can buy a small car, save for a down payment on a home, or even pay down credit card debt. Instead, some people spend that much money on makeup.

The average amount a woman spends on cosmetics over a lifetime is $15,000. So it’s tempting to find deals online.

But you won’t want to put another product on your face until you see what we found when we put discounted makeup to the test.

We searched the internet for deals on cosmetics found plenty of them on eBay.

 A Jeffree Star Cosmetics eyeshadow palette retails for $45.

We found a seller claiming to sell the same thing for just $1.99.

Foundation with SPF by Mac Cosmetics retails for $38. 

 

 We found what claimed to be the same product for just $4!

 

And an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette retails for $54.

We found a seller claiming to sell the same product for $21.

So, are the prices too good to be true?

The Investigation

We ordered the discounted products from eBay, and the packages that showed up were our first red flags. The products came from China in what looked like small black garbage bags. The contents were labeled ‘clothing.’

Compare that to the products we ordered directly from the designer brand’s website. The products were labeled correctly in boxes and came from inside the United States.

We brought all of the products to Princeton Consumer Research in St. Petersburg for analysis.

“There are huge differences in colors when you look at them head-on,” said Barrie Drewitt, Technical Director of Princeton Consumer Research. “You’re not comparing apples to apples.”

Drewitt spotted the differences between the designer products and the discounted products with no problem.

But is there really a big difference when the makeup is applied?

Princeton Consumer Research brought in six women and a makeup artist to find out.

The makeup artist applied the designer product on one side, and the imitation product on the other.

“This went on nice and smooth and felt light,” said Tati Bates, talking about the designer product.

“And this felt pasty and heavy, and that’s what I feel now,” said Bates, talking about the imitation product.

All of the women said the designer product felt and looked better.

But what’s actually in these cheap cosmetics?

We sent the imitation products to PCR’s labs in the United Kingdom, where we found even more trouble.

There were significant quantities of lead and aluminum traces, along with rodent droppings, in all of the imitation products. And, the foundation imitation also had traces of mercury.

The foundation wannabe claimed to have an SPF 15. PCR ran the product through an SPF trial, and it also failed the SPF test. That means the SPF labeling on that product is illegal, providing more proof the cheap products were counterfeit.

“In the places where these counterfeits are normally made – which is typically China – they’re not bothered about following clinical practice in any way at all,” said Drewitt. “These products are manufactured in facilities that are not sterile, that are full of bacterial agents, and there are lots of banned substances going in to make these products.

“The biggest problem is banned substances can penetrate through the skin and go into the bloodstream. The last thing we want is for someone to become ill because of a fake product.”

eBay Responds

We sent our findings to eBay, where they suspended the sellers of the products we bought and they sent the following statement:

“We’ve looked into the information provided and have suspended the sellers that you’ve brought to our attention. Counterfeits are not welcome on eBay. We’re committed to combatting the sale of counterfeit goods and have consistently been an internet industry leader in working to stop the online sale of counterfeit goods. We utilize a combination of sophisticated detection tools, enforcement and strong relationships with brand owners, retailers and law enforcement agencies to combat bad activity and present our customers with a safe, trusted shopping experience.

eBay’s extensive anti-counterfeit measures include the Verified Rights Owner Program (VeRO). Launched in 1998, VeRO allows brand owners to quickly and easily report possible counterfeits or other infringing goods. eBay promptly investigates each VeRO notification, and we take appropriate action on reported listings. More than 40,000 rights owners, ranging from Global 500 companies to industry trade associations to small businesses, participate in the VeRO program.

In the rare case a buyer believes that he or she has purchased a counterfeit item, eBay’s Money Back Guarantee applies to virtually all transactions and will cover them accordingly.” -Ryan Moore, Director, Global Corporate Affairs & Communications

U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) responds

We also sent our findings to the Department of Homeland Security Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Supervisory Special Agent, John Yancey, was not surprised to hear about our findings.

“These counterfeit products can cause serious damage. People have been blinded by products like this,” said John Yancey. “If anyone imports it, manufactures it, sells it, or even buys it knowing it is a counterfeit item, that is a crime.”

ICE seized nearly $74 million in fake pharmaceuticals and personal-care products last year alone.

“We would do exactly what you guys have done, try to order the products, have it tested, confirm it is counterfeit, we’ll do an assessment on the risk to the public, and we’ll take appropriate action from there,” said Yancey. “Anyone who plays a role in it knowingly, they can face up to 10 years in prison, along with several other financial fines and penalties, as well.”

Jeffree Star Cosmetics responds

We talked with Jeff Cohen, the president of Jeffree Star Cosmetics, who said he knows about this problem and is concerned. Cohen said it’s a constant battle with no end in sight.

However, he said the company is monitoring the issue. He knows there’s been an increase in imitation products in the marketplace, and that’s why he encourages shoppers to pay close attention to the products they buy.

Customers can visit https://jeffreestarcosmetics.com/pages/faq for a list of authorized resellers. 

MAC Cosmetics responds

“We are deeply concerned about the issue of counterfeiting and are committed to protecting our consumers from counterfeit products and the potential dangers they pose. Consumers should only shop at our authorized retail partners, our M•A•C freestanding stores and www.maccosmetics.com to ensure the M•A•C Cosmetics they purchase are real and meet the quality and safety standards that we promise.

For store locations, customers should visit www.maccosmetics.com/locator or they can contact us at our consumer care at consumercare-soc@gcc.maccosmetics.com.  To read more about M•A•C’s stance against counterfeit products, customers can visit https://www.maccosmetics.com/counterfeit-education

Health Effects

LEAD
-Lead poisoning can cause memory loss, muscle pains and headaches.

BACTERIA
-Bacteria infested fake makeup can lead to serious skin rashes

ALUMINUM
-Aluminum can accumulate in the brain and tissues, causing fatigue, bone disease, memory loss and dementia over a period of time.

RAT DROPPINGS
-Rat droppings contain bacteria and can cause allergic reactions

MERCURY
-Exposure to mercury can result in damage to the heart, kidneys, lungs and brain. In eye makeup, it can damage your vision permanently.

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