Are You Using Counterfeit Cosmetics?

Playing Drs. Investigate: Counterfeit Makeup

The Doctors investigate counterfeit cosmetics!

Producer Leslie says that in 2016 the government seized 2.8 million counterfeit beauty products from just one popular makeup brand and says most of these products are coming from China and then appearing on various websites and the street.

We ordered a number of the counterfeit products available online and also went to a flea market in Los Angeles to buy them. We then took the counterfeit products and the real products to Micro Quality Labs to be tested to find out what might be in them.

Watch: Do You Know If the Cosmetics You Are Using Are Counterfeit?

According to the lab results, Leslie discovered multiple concerning ingredients and issues in the counterfeit products.

  • Counterfeit makeup setting spray: contained pathogenic bacteria, possibly due to it being made with dirty water
  • Counterfeit eyeshadow: contained dangerous amounts of lead, 10 times as much lead as the original product
  • Counterfeit foundation: the label claimed it contained sunscreen, but when tested there was no SPF was found in the product

Watch: What’s Actually in Your Makeup?  

Detective Rick Ishitani from the Los Angeles Police Department Anti-Piracy Unit calls the counterfeit cosmetic issue "epic" in size and feels social media plays a role in the problem.

Leslie says possible red flags to watch out include the product not smelling or appearing as it should. For instance, a product that was supposed to be peach-scented had no smell at all. She also says that keywords like "authentic" could be the sign of fake products. Leslie suggests to always read reviews from other verified purchasers consumers when buying a product online.

If you do receive a product you believe is counterfeit, Detective Ishitani suggests contacting the legitimate company to inform them of the possible fake.