Counterfeit Make Up: The Truth

One morning whilst browsing the online newspapers, I came across an article that really jumped out at me. For years I have been an armchair warrior against counterfeit make up and those companies who sell it. The full Daily Mail article can be found here and it underlines how unwitting consumers may be buying counterfeit goods, and not truly knowing about what is contained within that MAC packaging.

I have been building up my MAC collection for several years, and as an avid MAC-aholic, I am able to spot if a MAC product doesn’t look genuine or is a colour or style that has never been in production. As I am such a fan, I know that I would never be caught out by buying counterfeit MAC products as I know my MAC, but it does lead to me to think that there must be so many other make up lovers out there who think they know but aren’t too sure. Hopefully this blog post may help in you being able to decide if a MAC product is fake or genuine.

MAC Cosmetics are only sold through official MAC stores or concessions within department stores. In the UK, these can be found in places like Debenhams, House of Fraser and Selfridges with stand alone stores in London and Liverpool. MAC do not sell wholesale nor do they sell to third party sellers.

A full MAC brush collection would set you back in the region of £600. A few Christmases ago, an acquaintance of mine was selling off full MAC brush sets for £30. The MAC 187 costs more than this alone! How upsetting for that poor person to wake up on Christmas day with a full set of cheap, shedding, counterfeit MAC brushes. I would rather have no brushes, than use the counterfeit.

MAC Counterfeit2

For your information also, MAC do not sell brush pouches like this, nor do they sell full sets of brushes. All brushes are individually packaged and sold separately.

The biggest annoyance to me is the sale of the palettes with 88 colours. These palettes have been circulating for a while, and many have been available from China. They are readily available on eBay and Amazon with staggering cheap prices for so many eyeshadows in one palette. The only palette with 88 colours that I would buy is the one by Crown Brush. MAC have never ever produced an 88 palette, especially one that looks like this.

MAC Counterfeit4

Nor have they produced something as cheap and tacky looking as this…

MAC Counterfeit5

Have you seen how badly packaged and fake looking the lashes are? I think these are my favourite fake copy!

MAC Counterfeit7

A further article has also has also highlighted the fakes appearing masquerading under top brand names like Benefit, Bare Minerals and Lancome.

Whilst it may appear that you could be getting a bargain, you could be putting your skin and health at risk. Cosmetic companies have to go through rigorous checks to ensure that the genuine make up that you purchase is fit for human use and complies with health and safety rulings. With the huge amount of counterfeit make up hitting sites such as Amazon and eBay, and also market stalls and car boots, under the pretence of a big name brand, you could be putting anything on your skin. You wouldn’t choose to rub chemicals on your skin, so how do you know what these counterfeit products contain. It is not worth the risk.

The best thing for everyone to do is spread the word about the dangers of counterfeit make up. The more people who are aware of the risk would help stop the sales of counterfeit. A bargain is not going to be a bargain when you are sat in A&E, being pumped full of antibiotics because your face has swelled up to twice its size.

Research on counterfeit make up have found that these fakes have contained high levels of cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and arsenic. Isn’t that a scary thought to know that you are unwittingly putting that near your eyes? It was also found that the stabilisers in some counterfeit products had been replaced by urine. Eww.

If you ever find a product online that you think is a total bargain, think twice. Look at sellers feedback, and look at how many other products that they have for sale. If still in doubt, ask the seller for close ups of batch numbers. You can check these with the brand if necessary. If you are still in doubt, save your money and buy it from a reputable retailer. I’m sure that your beautifully packaged product makes you feel so much better when you know its genuine, bought from your favourite shop and knowing that is real is worth the money. You can’t put a price on that.



  • Mac and cheese

    I remember my mum bought some clarinet stuff on a market stall and she had a reaction it’s just a big no no so mot worth it. Xx

    • It really isn’t. I bought a High Beam off eBay once and I was so worried it would be a fake when it arrived, but thank god it wasn’t!xx

      • Antonia

        I meant Clarins hahahaha! Clarinet!! And so not worth it not so mot worth it! Honest one if them Mondays today doll haha! Yes I have had a fake mac palette from eBay before I binned it. Xx

        • Oh i’d be gutted! I i knew what you meant with your Clarinet hehe!!xx

  • bethanyworrall

    I think the dangers of counterfeit make up are so scary! And they aren’t highlighted to people enough. Great post – will definitely share it! Xx

    • Thanks Beth! It is really scary to think what you could be putting on your face!xx

  • I was a victim of buying counterfeit MAC brushes a while back. I thought I knew what I was buying but when they arrived, I saw straight away they were fake. Luckily there was no harm done but if it had been cosmetics, it could have been a different story. Thanks for raising awareness on this, more people need to know the dangers of counterfeit products xx

    • Thanks Lauren. I bet you were so disappointed when you received them 🙁 x

  • The Beauty Spot Blog Uk

    Great post! Really enjoyed reading it! I’ve heard stories from the MAC staff when people try to return counterfeit stuff claiming it’s come from a store. You’d be gutted but surely better off reporting that retailer to trading standards to stop them doing it!

    I haven’t ‘re blogged’ before but I will!

    Nina x

    • Aww thank you Nina! Definitely better off reporting it, it needs stamping out!!x

  • Such a shame when that happens so sorry for you, but thanks for sharing I will keep a look out 🙂 xx

  • Chelsea W

    I’m so used to hearing about knockoffs being sold on ebay, but I hadn’t heard about makeup knockoffs being sold on Amazon. I’ve bought several beauty items from Amazon, but luckily they’ve always been name brand. I just really don’t want to end up with urine on me! haha

  • Sadie

    Mac do make brush sets , what are u talking about? They make them every Xmas and are available on the website and in stores such as selfridges ….. Obviously not as up on the mac range as you think you are.
    Here is the link:

    • Hi,

      The brush sets I was referring to in my blog post are the normal handled brushes. These brushes have never been made into a brush set containing up to 20 different brushes. At Christmas and various times through the year, MAC do indeed release brush sets, usually in a special brush pouch however it usually only contains five brushes featuring short handles. The point of my post was to ensure that people do not get caught out by buying what they think are genuine brushes from sites such as eBay, however if you do find a brush set on Selfridges website, its safe to say that it will be the genuine article!

      Thanks for your comment Sadie 🙂

  • kpsays

    I know many unaware people can get ripped off my counterfeit cosmetics. But a good rule of thumb is that if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. Especially MAC makeup for cheap (or any high end brand).

  • if it is too good to be true it most probably is… right?

    • Definitely! I think people could be influenced by what they think is a bargain 🙂