Have you ever wondered why some of the most popular cosmetic brands can be found on third party retail sites for one-third of the price? Or rather, have you ever questioned why you would buy a pricier serum when some companies will sell the same one for $12?


Well, we hate to break it to you, but: you’ve been exposed to the illegal cosmetic market.


Cosmetics counterfeiting is a global epidemic. Buying on unauthorized sites such as Amazon, eBay, Strawberry++ or websites that aren’t authorized nor official brand retailers is not only illegal, but a recipe for disaster.




The underground product diversion market involves transactions made outside of a brand’s official website or licensed, affiliated retailers. Products found in the underground market also tend to avoid importation taxes and can also be called “gray market products”, which also refers to diversions or counterfeits. This means the product purchased is either made with fake ingredients (meaning the brand’s actual product is not found inside) and/or is expired.




Counterfeit products are exponentially dangerous not only for users, but for doctors, dermatologists, and manufacturers everywhere. These counterfeits can contain harmful or even carcinogenic ingredients. Even if they are not intentionally designed to harm, keep in mind the counterfeiters do not care about protecting the skin of the consumers they are frauding.


Brands receive multiple reports of people who have experienced rashes, dermatitis, eye infections, and aggravation of conditions such as acne and eczema as being linked to suspected counterfeit products,” explains Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a dermatologist based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


These formulas are made in uncontrolled and unsanitary working conditions, where the products and packaging can be contaminated with bacteria and even human waste. Believe us when we tell you, you do not want that on your skin!




First thing is first: stop buying your skincare and cosmetic products from unauthorized websites! That way, you should never have to doubt the origin or quality of your products.


There are three telltale signs of a counterfeit product, however:


  • Price: If it seems too good to be true, it is. We’re not talking about a knock-off purse you can buy on the street here––this is something you put on your face! If you are adamant about buying a product on a third-party source, be sure to double check the actual retail price.
  • Packaging. Misspelled product names and different packaging are major red flags. However, many counterfeit products will look nearly identical to the true ones, so it is crucial to carefully examine what the real packaging attributes are.
  • Trustworthy websites. Sites like Amazon and eBay can be tricky, as in most cases they are not authorized retailers. While they do work with brands and law enforcement to root out counterfeiters, they are not immune to unauthorized sellers trying to push their dupes. Also, make sure to check that you are on a brand’s official website––some counterfeiters can try to trick shoppers with similar URLs and a brand's copyrighted photos.




The personal damage caused by knock-off beauty products cannot be ignored. Fake cosmetics are generally produced under unregulated, unsanitary, and contaminated conditions. Given the nature and intended uses of the product, the effects of contaminated counterfeits can be devastating for your skin.


The most important thing to remember is that the only way to kill such a market is not to encourage it in the first place. If you’re at the right retailer, you shouldn’t have to worry at all!


Here at BSE––as well as the brands we carry––actively aim to stop this diversion and the discounting of our carried brands on unauthorized retail websites. As usual, we encourage you to do your research and exclusively trust licensed professionals who use medical-grade products instead of cheap knock-offs.


Until next time, take care of the beautiful skin you are in!


The BSE team

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