Have you ever purposefully picked up off-brand/fake/faux/knockoff makeup that you knew was nowhere near legit, but you got it anyway?
Different versions of this story have been making the rounds over the past few months. I saw one recently in Allure. It was a story about people who hunt down people who sell counterfeit makeup in the United States, and how companies like Estée Lauder have teams of private investigators who work on sting operations to shut down the fake makeup black market.
Counterfeit makeup is big business. In Los Angeles, there’s a well-known place called Santee Alley, where people will go and visit the small shops to buy knockoff Too Faced, Urban Decay, MAC — you name it — palettes from almost every popular line you can imagine.
I’ve never purposefully purchased counterfeit beauty products, but I did accidentally get some fake makeup years ago. It was BECCA, back before they were a mega brand, and back when they were only carried in hard-to-find corners of the world, like the small counter at Neiman Marcus in SF or the Pure Beauty store (do those even still exist?).
They used to do limited edition seasonal makeup collection launches, and they had a dual-ended eye liner called Cabrera, from the 2012 Balearic Love collection, which was so, so good!
One side had purplish bronze, and the other had a beautiful warm golden bronze, and they were painfully pretty.
After I finished mine, I looked for another one online, and the only place I could find it was Amazon, so I bought four (!) pencils from an Amazon seller at a too-good-to-be-true price, thinking I’d be set for life.
Right away, I noticed something was off. The pencils had very little pigment, refused to stay on my water lines, and they made my eyes water, even when I only wore them on my lash lines — things that never happened before with the original Cabrera I fell in love with.
I should’ve thrown them out right then and there, but I didn’t want to feel like I’d wasted my money (the third-party Amazon seller didn’t take returns), so I used them a few more times before accepting that I’d been taken and tossed them out.
I’m not interested in knockoffs now, but I think I might have been as a kid, when I was a naive, trusting teen with very little spending money. I could see myself having been REALLY tempted by a deeply discounted counterfeit UD Naked Palette. Like, if I were walking home one day and came across a card table on a corner covered with identical “Urrrban Decay Palettes” for $10 each? Hell, yeah, here’s my lunch money!
But now? Nuh uh. There’s too much risk.
How about you? You can say “picked up” instead of “purchased,” and go anon on this if you want. Have you ever purposefully “picked up” counterfeit makeup? Inquiring minds want to know.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,