Counterfeit cosmetics hit headlines in the UK

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Counterfeit cosmetics hit headlines in the UK
Brands including Benefit, Dior, Nars and Mac have been the subject of headlines in the UK due to counterfeits worth hundreds of thousands of pounds having been seized.

Making the front page of the BBC News​ website, council action uncovered copycat products being sold online in across England, some of which containing chemicals that could cause skin rashes or chemical burns.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has led the move against those involved in the counterfeiting operations, and warned that exposure to mercury in fake cosmetics could have "toxic effects on the nervous system, digestive and immune systems, lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes​".

Council investigations: counterfeits across the country

According to the LGA, the following are some examples of the counterfeit beauty operations it has uncovered recently (as reported by the BBC):

  • A haul of cosmetics - seized by Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards - which were found to contain mercury and illegal levels of the skin-whitening agent hydroquinone.

  • One woman received more than £48,000 from the sales of fake makeup in Nottingham. She was also found to have sold almost 350 fake Benefit mascaras alongside another woman, with an eBay sales value of £1,690

  • A tanning salon owner in Cheshire sold more than £100,000 worth of fake designer products, including MAC and Chanel make-up

Easier online?

With digital marketplaces becoming increasingly accessible for people looking to retail products online, it is becoming easier for counterfeit sellers to find a market.

Indeed, with one of the cases highlighted by the LGA using Ebay, it seems marketplaces need to step up security on beauty products online.

This is particularly important as the independent (or indie) beauty industry continues to evolve. Smaller beauty brands rely on consumer trust, and will be looking to make sure digital ecommerce channels are meeting demands for transparency.

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