Our website makes use of cookies. To find out more please read our privacy policy


You are now logged in.

Don't risk your skin or your health

Choose safe, not fake. Choosing a fake version of a brand or product you love puts your skin and your health seriously at risk.

It’s no joke – fake cosmetics, perfumes and other beauty and hair products have been found to contain horse urine and rat droppings as well as cancer-causing and toxic ingredients such as arsenic, lead and mercury. These are highly poisonous even in small doses.

Fake goods are untested, unregulated and unsafe. They are often manufactured in unsanitary conditions – think old factories and warehouses riddled with rat droppings and other unsavoury waste products. Surely you wouldn’t want to risk putting these products on your skin and body?

How to stay safe

We know the lure of a bargain is hard to ignore. But knowing how to spot a fake and how to avoid falling victim to scams that offer you legitimate-looking goods for a fraction of the price can help you stay safe.

Here’s our advice for what to look out for and how to keep yourself safe:

1) Vet the seller Do they look official? Have you bought from this seller before? Even if on a well know marketplace or retailer website, does this seller seem legitimate? Does the seller have a returns policy? If you are in doubt, look for a genuine online review, not just recommendations from influencers to buy the item.

2) Avoid payments by bank transfer Always beware of retailers asking for payment to be made via bank transfer. Well known credit card providers like Visa or Mastercard, and services like PayPal offer protection to buyers if the goods don’t arrive or are proven to be counterfeit.

3) Be wary of social media ads taking you to fake online platforms Many sellers of fakes set up online platforms with the sole aim of conning you out of your hard-earned cash and they use social media ads to entice you. Always check the domain name is authentic – you can use website checkers for this. If you’re buying goods check that the little padlock appears in the URL bar when checking out – this indicates it’s a secure payment platform. Check reviews and make sure they have a returns policy. Fake platforms will often offer no way of contacting the business which is a sign that it may not exist.

4) Question the price if much cheaper than elsewhere Whether buying online or in person, always think about the price. Scammers often sell counterfeit goods at discounted prices to make you drop your guard. If the item is significantly cheaper than you’d expect, that’s a good reason for alarm bells to ring. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

5) Trust your instincts Does the item on offer look and feel like an authentic product? Sellers of counterfeits often make spelling mistakes in their descriptions and sometimes on the products themselves, which is an obvious warning sign. Spelling and grammar mistakes can indicate fakes!

6) Don’t just take their word for it This is particularly the case for those considering purchasing fake products off the back of a recommendation from friends or family. Your skin is unique. What may have worked for them might not for you. Don’t take the risk of putting unsafe ingredients on your skin. Choose safe, not fake.

What about ‘dupes’?

To be clear, fakes aren’t the same as dupes. Dupes often appear under their own branding which can look similar to well-known brands but are their own brand. They aren’t claiming to be the well-known brand or using that brand’s design, visuals and name without prior permission of the brand-owner.

What to do if you suspect fake?

If you or someone you know has purchased a fake product or suspects that a website is selling counterfeit products, you can report it to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133.

About ACG

ACG represents more than 3,000 brands affected by this influx of fakes into the UK and delivers an international network of information, advice and contacts on all aspects of IP protection. Working with Government and law enforcement agencies since 1980, ACG is focused on providing an effective and sustained response to counterfeiting.

Read more >

Join now!

Membership with the ACG is the best way to work with government and enforcement bodies to protect your brand. Our Roadshows and training days help you reach out to police, trading standards and border force officers and tell them about your genuine products.

Read more >