Cheaper but not better

National 4 minutes, 26 seconds


BRAND is king thus the business of knock-offs also reign supreme as consumers are reluctant to pay good money for the real deal when cheaper imitations are available.

Counterfeit handbags, t-shirts, watches, mobile phones and other electronics can be the ideal purchase for many fashion-conscious consumers who are on a tight budget because these sub-standard products would only hurt your pride once people would stumble upon the truth that your Gucci is just a “Guci” and your iPhone is really an “Ifone”.

However, the story is different when you patronise fake branded cosmetic products which pose real danger to the user’s health. Buyers of counterfeit makeup products may believe they’re snagging a bargain, but in fact are risking infection and allergic reactions.

Fake but the price is right

Some makeup users may think twice if it’s work spending much for that new branded highlighter or eyeshadow palette. Instead of going for the expensive brands, some would make a U-turn to spend less by buying counterfeits.

Fake makeup seller, who requested anonymity, said selling counterfeit makeup was not her initial choice. “I myself can’t afford to buy authentic products all the time. It’s so expensive and most of the time I don’t think it’s worth spending for.”

The part-time seller and full-time housewife said this was when she decided to try fake makeup and found out that her skin didn’t react to the counterfeits. “I just kept on going and saw no harm in it,” she said.

Knowing that some others felt the same way, she started researching on how she could get hold of the fake products. She gets the cheap knock-off brands of makeup online which will arrive three to four weeks upon confirmation of orders. “Because the products are so cheap, I get a good profit from selling them,” adding that she has been honest to her customers that even though the products looked similar to the original, these were all fakes. “Of course, whoever buys my products should buy at their own risk,” she said.

The 28-year-old said her group of loyal customers, mostly teenagers and young adults, would come to her every month or every few weeks. She has no plans to stop anytime soon but may one day consider spending more for authentic products.

Cheaper but not better

The Ministry of Health in a recent statement said that the low prices of these counterfeit products might be due to the poorer quality of the ingredients used, poor quality in its manufacture, as well as low quality of the container used. Therefore, these sub-standard cosmetics have the potential to harm users causing allergic reactions, swelling, redness, rashes and even infections.

The ministry warned that fake branded cosmetic products were often produced with the intent to take advantage of the original product’s popularity. However, counterfeit products usually have a reputation for being low quality and more often than not, may not contain the same ingredients as their original counterparts. More importantly, the products may contain banned or hazardous ingredients or has ingredients with concentrations that exceed the limits for safe use.

Dr Ting, a dermatologist, said effects might not show up immediately. However, for some it can cause severe allergic reactions including skin rashes and burns. She said using fake products could cause disfigurement as well as long-term health problems such as high blood pressure and infertility.

“I am worried about the health of the people using these fake products that contain mercury, arsenic, cyanide, lead and other harmful chemicals. Not only that, some products even contain human and animal urine including rat droppings.” She added that chemicals found in the counterfeits could also cause memory and concentration problems.

“These chemicals can also increase the risk of harm to the fetus during pregnancy. Therefore, I strongly advise against the use of fake makeup because I know every woman wants a healthy baby and smooth delivery.”

Dr Ting said no patients have come to see her about the issue yet, adding that some people would always be reluctant to seek help from professionals. “From personal experience, I know most people are always ashamed to see dermatologist because they don’t want to admit to using fake products.”

Masyimah Tahir, a civil servant, said growing up, she has been a regular user of authentic cosmetic products until she stumbled upon a store selling counterfeits. “I was swatching some of the products on my hand, and there was one shade of lip crayon that I particularly loved.” She used the product for a week and suffered no allergic reactions. “But after a month, my lips were always dry and chapped. I immediately stopped using it.”

The 24-year-old believed it was the result of using the fake products as it was the only lip product she used that month.

Avid makeup user Rai Ahmad said fake makeup should be banned. “People always say they buy fake makeup because they can’t afford to buy the authentic ones. Nevertheless, I don’t think this is a good enough reason. If you want to buy an authentic product, you can always save up.”

Rai said it might be easier said than done but it’s more important to avoid health risks rather than regretting it later.

The Brunei Times