Tips to identify originals from fake cosmetic products

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Whenever you buy cosmetics, pay close attention to the packaging. Counterfeiters often use colours, artwork and font types that are similar to the original. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

It is no secret that high-end cosmetics and perfume brands are often victims of the ills of counterfeit, with knockoffs available in local markets and even online. Besides cheating you, these fake products can cause severe damage to your skin.

"To dupe customers, counterfeiters make exact or close copies of the branded product packaging and position it with hard to resist pricing. There are a few steps consumers can take before and after the purchase to identify the original from fake cosmetic products," suggests Chander S Jeena, secretary of Authentication Solution Providers’ Association (ASPA).

Below, he suggests a few points to keep in mind.

Steps required before buying product:

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Look for tamper-proof features and other information to identify genuine products. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

1. Know your brand and be a vigilant consumer: Buying from authorised sellers, retail or online, ensures that you are purchasing an authentic makeup product with a proper receipt. Don’t fall into false marketing gimmicks where shopkeepers offer huge discounts for "imported products" or something they say is "new in the market."

2. Know your brand's labelling: Whenever you buy cosmetics, pay close attention to the packaging. Counterfeiters often use colours, artwork and font types that are similar to the original. However, there usually are visible differences in the size, logo and colour scheme of the packaging. The difference might be as small as a change in the font of the text. Look carefully and if it appears flimsy, lacks the brand or logo, has graphics or a name that is similar to but not quite the same, it could be counterfeit. If you are a regular user and have a keen eye, you might be able to spot it in an instant. If not, then visit the brand’s official website for a check.

3. Know your brand packaging: The best brands invest in high-quality sturdy packaging that is intended to stay intact throughout its journey from manufacturing to retail. Look for tamper-proof features and other information to identify genuine products. Some brands allow you to check the authenticity by looking up the serial number on their website/app or scanning the barcode. "For example, Lakme Kajal has a security hologram on the front packaging. Maybelline uses hot-stamped stickers on the backside packaging," says Jeena.

Steps after buying the product

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Don't get duped by attractive discounted prices and deals. When a deal seems too good to be true, it might just be. (Photo: Thinkstock Images)

Participate in consumer engagement authentication. Some brands have provisions for consumer engagement solutions, ensuring authentication before use. For example, there may be a code, which you can text to a certain number to ensure product genuineness. Mac has a “Counterfeit Education” section at its website www.maccosmetics.com.

1. After opening the product: If you are a regular user, look for consistency in the texture and smell of the product. It is an instant giveaway that the product is fake or original. A responsible brand would not dilute its quality over a period of time. If you find or suspect counterfeit products or have any intellectual property concerns, the first step is to either call the legitimate manufacturer or contact the industry association. The concept of empowering the consumer can be an important element to support due diligence practices and supply chain integrity, to report non-compliance (such as counterfeit products).

2. Double-check through serial number: No matter which make-up product you buy and how sure you are of its authenticity, always test the contents on a small area of your skin before using it. "Don't get duped by attractive discounted prices and deals. When a deal seems too good to be true, it might just be. Some products are available for as low as half the MRP, but come at the cost of harming your skin and health. The key is in the details. Pay close attention to make sure the product you are buying is from the brand that you trust for quality," he adds.