What is real and what is not: can you spot a counterfeit beauty product?

What is real and what is not: can you spot a counterfeit beauty product?

It’s true, everyone loves a great deal.

Whether it’s that discounted designer purse at Nordstrom rack, or a sale on produce at the grocery store, it feels great to save money on the essentials in your life (a new purse is an essential, right?!). But what about your daily beauty essentials? Time and time again we hear clients say “Oh, I will just buy that product online, I’ve seen it cheaper”. It’s tempting to try to find that same luxury conditioner for half price online. However, things may not always be what they seem. That’s why we try to educate each and every client about the potential hazards of online-purchased counterfeit and expired haircare products.

Consumers should be wary of purchasing professional haircare products on sites like Amazon or eBay. Third-party sellers have a deal with Amazon in which the items are stored in a large warehouse, which can expose them to fluctuating temperatures; hence affecting the integrity of the product. Since products do have an expiration date (yes, that 3 year old hairspray under the sink in your bathroom is probably no good), a beauty product spending an extended period on the shelf in a warehouse can be transformed into something you would never want to put on your body.

Additionally, because the product isn’t coming straight from the manufacturer, there’s a possibility that it could be counterfeit. Since you are making a purchase from a third-party seller, there are very little regulations for quality control. In short, you have no idea where your products are coming from. Counterfeit or diluted formulas could be made in unsanitary conditions, or by companies with child-labor practices. They are not FDA-approved and can contain harmful chemicals or substances that could cause irritation or infection.

So how do you spot a fake product?

Our partner brands, Kevin Murphy and UNITE, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to fight “diversion” of their products. Diversion occurs when salon products are sold at unauthorized places, also known as the “gray market”. Unauthorized places include Walmart, Walgreens, Target, eBay and Amazon. Products are diverted by unauthorized distributors, salons (or their employees), and individuals looking to make a profit.

There are a few ways to spot fake or counterfeit products sold on the gray market:

  • Differences in label, logo, ingredients, colors, etc.
  • Counterfeit products usually have a sticker or different label on top of the printed bar code. Also, be wary of bar codes that are scratched off.
  • If the packaging seems dirty or damaged, and if the content volume seems low.
  • Higher than normal, or significantly discounted prices. Unauthorized distributors will either be trying to liquidate their stock or make a profit.

Remember: Kevin Murphy and UNITE products are only guaranteed when sold in salons that are exclusively authorized to sell them.

Think of your stylist as a doctor (your hair doctor, if you will). They are there to prescribe for you the best the beauty world has to offer. At the end of the day, all counterfeiters care about is your money. Your stylist cares about your well-being, and what’s best for your hair. We all love a good bargain. But at the cost of your health, you have to stop and consider if it’s really worth it.