Think Twice Before Buying Beauty Products on Amazon
Are Beauty Products On Amazon Fake?
Even though Amazon touts that it uses an automated system to detect counterfeit products, are beauty products on Amazon fake? Well not necessarily but the truth is that customers have ended up with unauthentic products after shopping for them on Amazon.
Don’t get us wrong, everybody loves dupes for high-end makeup, why pay top dollar when you can buy an inexpensive product with the same payoff? But does that stand true for the world’s largest internet company Amazon? Amazon’s professional beauty store sells almost all the best known products and usually with free shipping as quickly as the next day. But here inlies the problem…news of counterfeit products being sold on Amazon starting circulating the internet as long ago as 2018.
So, what does a rookie buyer do to ascertain whether a beauty product on Amazon is real or fake? Read on to find out how to tell fake beauty products sold on Amazon and what you can do if you think your latest purchase is bogus.
What is Amazon Beauty?
Amazon introduced its Beauty category for listings of products from luxury high-end brands to low key indie brands. This has further escalated amidst the pandemic as it became the go-to supplier with Sephora and ULTA closed, and many other sellers not offering the bells and whistles that Amazon does like free shipping and next day delivery.
Despite the number of products it sells, when shopping on Amazon it is really hard to tell which products came from a legitimate retailer and which ones are knock-offs. Unfortunately, some customers have and are being duped and are exposing their skins fake, low grade and oftentimes dangerous ingredients. It has been reported that counterfeit cosmetics often contain harmful products the likes of cyanide, mercury, or even poop!
Why Does Amazon Allow Fake Products To Be Sold On The Site?
The short answer, they don’t. Amazon has strictly penalized sellers for providing counterfeit products. Amazon Seller Central clearly states that selling or supplying counterfeit products will result in the termination of the seller’s account along with disposal of fakes. It also states that payment is withheld till the customer receives the legit product. Legal action is also taken against seller/ suppliers that violate this policy as imprisonment, loss of sales received from inauthentic products alongside attorney fees.
Amazon also has a good checks and balances when a seller starts selling through its platform. It offers two selling plans along with a demand for legal documents (bank account number, National ID, an active credit card along with tax info and contact details). It then registers you on the “seller central” where you manage your inventory, payments, and make updates. But despite their stringent policies, sellers often find a loophole by slipping in fake products along with real ones and then eventually marketing in fake ones only.
Moreover, beauty and health are restricted categories on Amazon. This is to say that the seller must provide at least three invoices from licensed wholesale distributors, an FDA registration document, a Certificate of Analysis (COA) along with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate. Sellers are also required to sign a liability insurance policy and present a 510(K) Premarket Notification. Furthermore, a $3000 fee is also required to start selling in these restricted categories.
Why Would Sellers Want To Sell Fake Beauty Products On Amazon?
The most obvious answer is to make an extra buck on the side. Selling cheap fake products as the real deal is a far more lucrative business than investing in legitimating licensed products from a wholesaler. It is next to impossible for Amazon or the authorities to check every single product manually.
Also due to Amazon’s FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) policy, counterfeit products often slip in. FBA operates warehouses worldwide where third-party sellers can store their products for Amazon to ship directly. Keeping products in stock helps Amazon fulfill their two-day shipping timeline regardless of where you’re ordering from. But there’s a glitch, the stock is not separated according to the seller in warehouses! Each Stock keeping unit with the same number is stored together no matter where it came from.
So basically, if a counterfeiter sends a fake product for a certain brand, it’s grouped with other in-stock products of that brand. That means you could buy a real and fake version of the same product on the same listing on Amazon.
How Can I Be Sure The Products I Am Buying On Amazon Are Real?
To be real amidst this fakery, the truth is you can’t. But don’t give up just yet, here are a few simple tips to follow to avoid being scammed by counterfeiters and know if beauty products on amazon are real:
Read The Reviews
This one is not as foolproof as it might sound. Unfortunately, oftentimes fake products have fake reviews to go with them. Five stars are not synonymous with authenticity. Likewise, an abundance of positive reviews is cause for alarm as well. Don’t let the “verified purchased” tag on amazon fool you either. Sellers have found loopholes to cheat the system by making fake accounts to show purchases and whip a stellar review. Having said that, dodgy sellers cannot slip fake products past all the savvy shoppers out there so there will certainly be some ‘fake product’ buzz in the review sections of the Amazon listing and if if has been listed for a while, the truth will come out.
Have you ever heard of something being too good to be true? Welle that is the adage to apply in this case. Often a low price translates to a low-quality product as well. It is surprisingly easy to duplicate packaging appearance for a photo so brand loyalists often fall for such scams. It is best to compare prices from other authentic sources to smell out if the beauty product on Amazon is potentially fake.
Check the Seller’s Profile
Do your research and see how long the seller has been selling and what other products they sell. Often if a seller is just out to make as much as they are able to from unsuspecting buyers, they will be selling anything but the kitchen sink (or maybe that as well). It would sit much better if the seller was a dedicated beauty product lister then just trying their hand at anything. From their seller profile you can also look up their Seller Feedback Score to see how happy all the seller’s in all the categories that they have listed in are.
Compare to the Real Deal
Don’t be fooled by realistic looking packaging. It is much easier than you think to duplicate or create a very similar version of the genuine packaging for a beauty product. The best thing to do if you would prefer to buy your beauty products on Amazon is to go to a Retail shop and pay full price for a product that you know is definitely real. Once you have this as a base line, you can use the product and keep it as a base from which to compare any future purchases down safety seals.
Last but not least, use Fakespot to assess fake reviews to help smell out a fake product.
What If I Thought The Product I Was Buying Was Real But When It Arrived Something Just Didn’t Look Right?
Bear in mind that sometimes companies change formulas to products which can make something look off. It is also a really good idea to check the used by date on products too as often the products are genuine but have been sitting on the amazon storage shelves for too long to be in date. After considering these options but are still unsure, take to social media before you start using the product. Upload photos and post your reservations about it. Chances are some other users who experienced the same would agree with you or satisfy your concerns that the beauty product sold on Amazon is legit. If it turns out that you have been sold a dud, you should definitely return if for a full refund on Amazon but also directly contact the seller or report/complain about him on amazon to prevent other users from getting scammed as well.
So How Can I Protect Myself From Buying Fake Beauty Products On Amazon?
Our advice would be to shift to other online outlets. Due to the pandemic. Amazon’s rival retail stores like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and Costco have also started online deliveries. Besides ULTA and Sephora still, own the beauty market when it comes to buying cosmetics. Both these have something that amazon lacks, an actual store outlet where customers can view the products live before purchasing them.
The other option would be to buy Amazon Brand products. Over the last decade or more Amazon has gained the trust of the online consumer and they would certainly not throw away that earned market share by selling low quality products. Furthermore, after all the research and development that Amazon does into the product areas that it can expand into, you can be assured that an Amazon brand product will never let you down. On that note, it might be a good idea to try a few products of Amazon’s own beauty brand Belei.
I Still Want To Buy Products On Amazon, What Should I Do?
In today’s modern age it is unfeasible to quit online purchasing, especially amidst the pandemic. We would recommend that you stick to the tips we mentioned above. Moreover, purchase your first buy of any product from a reputable source, this will help you better in telling the fake from real.
If odds are in your favor and you receive a legit, real product from amazon, do your civic duty and leave a review so other buyers may benefit from it. Plus there is no harm in bookmarking your seller for future purchases. In the likelihood that your product turns out to be fake, report the seller and don’t buy from that seller again. Fingers crossed and happy shopping!
For more on The Treasure Cave’s Beauty picks, check our the Premium Travel Size Beauty selections that we found for you.