Discount cosmetics turn out to be fakes

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For bargain shoppers, buying makeup can be  frustrating.  Quality cosmetics like MAC, Clinique, Chanel, and other brands are rarely on sale. So when you find one advertised at a low price, should you buy it? Or is it a counterfeit and dangerous to use?

Here's one woman's story.

Tonda Wallace is a big fan of Younique brand makeup, but it's not cheap. So, when this busy mom found Younique mascara advertised at half price online, she jumped at it.

"It's normally $30. So at $15 I thought I was getting a great deal," she said.

But when the mascara arrived, Wallace got suspicious. "I could tell that something wasn't right. I noticed the Younique logo was not on the product I got,,"

While the package looked the same, the logo was missing, even on the mascara tubes. "Inside of it, there is no Younique logo branding on the mascara, like there typically is," she said.

Counterfeit cosmetics from countries with little to no quality control are becoming a big business, according to the FBI and  Department of Homeland Security, which is frequently seizing bogus makeup at airports.

Counterfeiting is happening to many brands, but especially with Younique, because it is not sold in stores. Its salespeople, called "presenters," are not even allowed to sell it on eBay. But you will find it there, or what claims to be it.

So, what are the warning signs of counterfeit cosmetics?

  • It is being sold from third parties online or at flea markets.
  • The price is very low.
  • The logo is missing or looks cheaply painted on.
  • The packaging or directions have spelling mistakes or other errors

Unlike fake handbags, which don't really hurt you, counterfeits can be contaminated with dangerous toxins.

"I called a representative of Younique," Wallace said. "She said they had reports of the counterfeit mascara, that people were getting eye infections."

Wallace says the website that sold the product has an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau. They refused to give her a refund, because they said they never claimed this mascara was the real thing.

If you are trying to buy cosmetics online, look up reviews of the seller. Also, Google their name along with the words "complaint" or "counterfeit."

That will alert you to possible problems, so you don't waste your money.

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