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Arsenic and lead found in high-end counterfeit make-up destined for Ireland

Fake versions of MAC, Urban Decay and Benefit products were identified.

THE HEALTH PRODUCTS Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has warned people about the dangers of buying counterfeit make-up.

The organisation has identified harmful substances in a number of counterfeit cosmetics intended for the Irish market.

It has called for consumers to be vigilant of counterfeit high-end beauty products being offered for sale through certain outlets, markets and websites in the lead up to Christmas.

Tests carried out by the HPRA on a number of these counterfeit products found that some contained harmful substances such as arsenic and lead, which can potentially be harmful to people’s health.

Among the counterfeit products identified were fake versions of luxury make-up brands including MAC, Urban Decay and Benefit.

Over the past year, thousands of counterfeit cosmetics have been prevented from entering the country by Revenue’s Customs Service. However, quantities have also been found on the Irish market by the HSE’s Environmental Health Service, which works in tandem with the HPRA in conducting market surveillance on cosmetic products.

Comparison of legitimate and counterfeit cosmetic product Source: HPRA

Some of these products have been purchased online from websites based outside the EU and are being sold to Irish consumers either through social media or online. They have also been found in some retail stores and at markets throughout the country.

The HPRA warns that the Christmas season is the peak time of the year for rogue sellers of counterfeit products and shoppers are strongly urged to avoid these potentially harmful products.

Organ damage 

According to Aoife Farrell, Cosmetics Compliance Manager at the HPRA, it is concerning that ingredients banned from use in cosmetics are being found in these counterfeit products.

Long periods of exposure to substances such as arsenic and lead can have potentially harmful effects on the body such as damage to numerous organs and systems, such as the kidneys, as well as the central nervous system.

“Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, headaches and vomiting. Even those products that may not contain banned substances are often manufactured in unhygienic conditions using poor quality raw materials. These products may lead to skin irritation or possibly eye infections.”

The HPRA states that genuine high-end products are usually only available through high street stores or pharmacies.

HPRA advice on how to spot counterfeit cosmetics:

Ask yourself:

  • Is it significantly cheaper than on the high street?
  • Is the distributor reliable? Beauty brands usually list their licenced sellers on their website

Physically check counterfeit cosmetics for:

  • Uneven fill levels eg in eye-shadow palettes
  • Faded packaging
  • Misspelling on packaging or on information leaflets
  • Name of the product or shade is slightly different
  • Print (font or style) on the container is different
  • Mirrors that don’t quite fit or are of bad quality

Read: Cigarettes and booze seized ahead of busy black market Christmas

PHOTOS: Gardaí seize €200,000 worth of fake designer shoes, handbags and make-up

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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