Before I begin, I am aware of everything going on, and I know how serious it is, but I hope with this post I can provide a distraction for those that want a break from all the news.
The other day I was browsing Jeffree Star makeup on Depop, and I spotted two Skin Frosts. Another Depop user immediately called out that the Skin Frosts were in fact fake, which led me to want to write a post on how to spot counterfeit makeup. Since I have been buying Jeffree Star Cosmetics from resellers lately and his makeup is frequently counterfeited, I will be using his makeup as examples.
Shop Authorized Retailers
Before I begin on how to spot counterfeit makeup, I wanted to share on how to avoid buying counterfeit makeup altogether. Most makeup companies will include a list of authorized retailers where you can find their makeup, and by shopping from those sites or stores, you are guaranteed to find authentic makeup. For example, Jeffree Star Cosmetics is an online store, and in the F.A.Q, he includes a list of other websites and stores that you can buy his authentic makeup from. If you find his makeup on another website not on the list such as Amazon or eBay then there is a good chance it is counterfeit.
Where It Is Made
Now I will go into detail on how to spot counterfeit makeup. If you have seen the episode Makeup Mayhem of Broken on Netflix, you will know that most counterfeit makeup is made and sold in China. The counterfeit makeup is created in unsanitary standards, and the products themselves can include dust, dirt, lead, mercury, arsenic, animal and even human waste. Using these counterfeit products can lead to serious health problems from allergic reactions and infections to potential permanent disfigurement. Looking at where the makeup is made and sold from is especially useful for brands such as Jeffree Star Cosmetics that are always made in the US. If you notice in the description of the Jeffree Star makeup product or on the packaging itself that says it is made in China, you definitely found a fake. Furthermore, avoid purchasing from sites based in China like Wish, AliExpress, Alibaba, and DHGate as these websites only sell counterfeit makeup. You can also tell they are counterfeit because the products are sold at a fraction of the price of the authentic makeup.
I recommend watching this short YouTube that reiterates my points about counterfeit makeup while destroying a counterfeit Jeffree Star Skin Frost.
The Packaging and Product
Counterfeit makeup will often time try to duplicate the authentic makeup product and the packaging itself to look as close as possible to the real deal, but if you look closely at the packaging and the product, you can spot a fake. Here are several things to look out for when trying to spot counterfeit makeup.
Colors and Details
Even though counterfeit makeup tries to mimic the authentic makeup products, the colors and details are usually off. As for spotting a counterfeit makeup product based on color, it can be anything from having a brighter packaging or different colored shades. With the exterior packaging of the Jeffree Star Beauty Killer palette, you can clearly see the counterfeit has as a bright pink packaging whereas with the real packaging, the pink is more subdued. Another example is with the Jeffree Star Androgyny Velour Liquid Lipstick. Even though they are both the Androgyny shade, the counterfeit lipstick is a completely different shade. If you do not have the authentic makeup product to compare to, you can always look up the real product on the authorized retailer’s website and compare the products that way.
As far as details, you have to look for little differences between the real and counterfeit makeup products. For the Jeffree Star Blood Sugar palette, the difference is pretty obvious. The counterfeit Blood Sugar palette has simple cardboard packaging like the Beauty Killer palette, but the real Blood Sugar Palette is like a trunk with two front clasps. For the Jawbreaker palette, you can clearly see with the counterfeit palette the jawbreaker pattern was continued in the centerfold whereas the real Jawbreaker palette has a white centerfold. Also, the color of the eyeshadow shades is off. For example, the Bubble Gum shade in the authentic palette is a bubble gum pink shade while the counterfeit Bubble Gum shade is a hot pink shade, which goes back to my point of looking for differences in color when trying to spot counterfeit products.
You can also look for differences in the details of lipsticks. Counterfeit Jeffree Star lipsticks will often have a long applicator that has either a clear or white wand while the real lipsticks will have a clear wand with a doe-foot applicator. It can be difficult to tell if counterfeit makeup is fake based on the color or details especially if you do not have the authentic product to compare it to, but there are other things you can look for when trying to spot counterfeit makeup.
Last year in March 2019, Jeffree Star’s warehouse was robbed and all of the Magic Star Concealers in the shade C5 were stolen. After the robbery, Jeffree Star slightly changed the packaging to include the star logo on the sticker that states the shade name. There are still resellers who are selling the stolen C5 concealer, and these are considered counterfeit as there is no telling what happened to them after they were stolen. If you find someone selling the C5 concealer in large quantities like in the photo below that has five C5 concealers, there is a good chance that the concealer is one of the stolen ones. If the seller is only selling one C5 concealer, be sure to check if the sticker label has the star logo.
Often times, counterfeit makeup will include misspellings of the brand name (Jeffree Star Coswetics or Deffree Star instead of Jeffree Star Cosmetics), shade names (Brain Freeza instead of Brain Freeze in the Jeffree Star Jawbreaker palette or Black Hainbow instead of Black Rainbow in the Jeffree Star Beauty Killer palette), and in the descriptions of the product on the packaging. Authentic makeup very rarely includes misspellings, so if you spot one or more spelling mistakes it is likely a fake.
With that said, the only spelling mistake that I am aware concerning Jeffree Star Cosmetics is that the exterior packaging of the original Beauty Killer palettes released in 2016 has misspelled cruelty-free as “cruetly-free”. These palettes are in fact authentic, but in general, spelling mistakes are a good way to spot counterfeit makeup.
Stickers and Batch Numbers
This applies specifically to the Jeffree Star Cosmetics lipsticks and individual highlighters (Skin Frosts) that have stickers on the bottom of the product. For the lipsticks, counterfeit makeup stickers are often bigger with large fonts that cover the whole bottom while real lipsticks have smaller stickers in the center of the bottom. For the Skin Frosts, counterfeit Skin Frosts often have smaller stickers with a smaller font while real Skin Frosts have larger stickers that are in the center of the highlighter.
Besides looking at the size and placement of the stickers and the size of the font, the real makeup products will include a batch number that is embossed in the sticker. The batch number can be difficult to see in photos, but in person, it is much easier to see.
Furthermore, the batch number on the sticker will match the batch number that is printed on the bottom of the exterior packaging. For other makeup products such as palettes, the batch number will often be printed on the side of the exterior packaging and it will match the batch number printed on the back of the palette.
Along with looking for matching batch numbers, you can also look for barcodes. Barcodes will be included on the exterior packaging of the makeup products, but on counterfeit makeup, there is either no barcode or if there is, you can use a site like Barcode Spider or Search UPC and the UPC will not exist. I tried looking up the UPC from the counterfeit Jawbreaker palette in the first picture of this post on Barcode Spider, and I received back “UPC code number 1957566011270 currently has no record in our database.” You can also use Barcode Spider to search for makeup by name, and after searching for Jawbreaker, I found out that the real UPC for the palette is 815446025919. You can also simply Google the UPC code of the makeup product, and if the makeup product is real, it will most likely show up in the results.
To help sum up all the different things to look for when trying to spot counterfeit makeup, I recommend watching these two videos. The first video compares two authentic Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks to two counterfeit lipsticks (one bought from China and the other from the UK). Soph looks at the colors of the lipsticks, the font, applicators, misspellings, and the barcodes. The second video compares an authentic Jeffree Star Platinum Ice Pro Palette to a counterfeit palette from eBay. Rebeccaa looks at the color of the logo, font, and shades, size of the palettes, and spelling mistakes.
Be Wary of Resellers
The last point I want to make is to be wary when purchasing from resellers. I have bought Jeffree Star makeup from resellers, but there are extra cautions you need to take. If you are using apps like Depop, Poshmark, or Mercari, look at the pictures of the makeup products and see if you can notice anything off with the packaging and the product itself. Make sure the seller is not using stock photos, and they are not selling a lot of the same items (such as 10 Jeffree Star Jawbreaker palettes). Check the reviews for the seller, and if there are negative or no reviews, avoid purchasing from them. When you are purchasing an item from one of the apps, make sure you pay within those apps and not directly through PayPal. If you are in fact sent a counterfeit product, you are covered by both the app and PayPal, and you can open a claim and receive a refund from PayPal. After you receive the refund, be sure to leave negative feedback for the seller so others know not to buy from them.
In Facebook Marketplace and Facebook groups be sure to pay with Paypal Goods and Services and NOT through Friends and Family. If the seller never sends you the item or the item is damaged or counterfeit, you will be able to get a refund from PayPal by opening a claim. If you pay through Friends and Family, you are not protected and you cannot receive a refund. Also, if a deal seems too good to be true such as someone selling a Jeffree Star palette for $9 instead of the regular price of $58, then you know it is a fake.
As a final thought, even though counterfeit makeup products are generally cheaper than authentic makeup, it is never a good idea to purchase and wear counterfeit makeup because you do not know the ingredients in them. I hope with this post you will be more aware of the dangers of counterfeit makeup and how to spot counterfeits. I will end this post with a video of a real vs fake makeup game by Bunny. In her video, Bunny compares authentic and counterfeit makeup products including her Swamp Queen Palette she created with Tarte, Beautyblenders, Huda Beauty lashes, Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks, Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kits, Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kits, and more.
What are your thoughts on counterfeit makeup?