8 Things I Learnt Last Night About Counterfeit Makeup Via Netflix’s Broken

8 Things I Learnt Last Night About Counterfeit Makeup Via Netflix’s Broken

It was a regular Friday evening, my husband was out doing stand up comedy, and I wanted to make most of my alone time by watching a new beauty video. I happened to see YouTuber Tati and her video on counterfeit makeup , which reiterated my fears about counterfeit makeup as a much bigger problem than we actually realise. After sharing how watching Netflix’s documentary, Broken, Tati was compelled to dedicate an entire video on the counterfeit makeup industry, the scarcity trend, all of which I’m going to be addressing in today’s blog. If you too have 100 beauty influencer videos on their Explore Page, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT COUNTERFEIT MAKEUP.

What Is Counteirfeit Makeup?

To put it simply, think of a bunch of people, who are NOT chemists or beauty experts, taking the ingredients list off a label of a trending beauty product label, (like Kylie’s Lip Kits), making replicas with cheaper ingredients, and lower prices. Now think of this as a lucrative, booming business that involves millions of people.

Where do they make counterfeit makeup?

Well, in all likelihood, it’s not a cosmetics lab. According to experts shown in Broken, research has indicated towards to have found known carcinogens that can cause severe problems in kidneys, sometimes even cancers. The next part made me CRINGE. Traces of urine and faecal matter were also found in counterfeit makeup due to lack of hygiene in these so-called makeshift labs. While I could safely recall, not shopping counterfeit products, what worried me was how studies have proven that excessive lead and silicone often found in bullet lipsticks and liquid lipsticks can cause infertility too.

Honest to God! I’m thinking of doing some serious research into all the products that are in my beauty kit right now.

What damage can counterfeit makeup products actually cause?

Turns out, a lot more than I knew. Khue Nong, a regular beauty enthusiast who was interviewed in Broken talks about how she wanted to buy the infamous Kylie Lip Kit and when it was sold out, she headed to E-bay, and bought it for 15-20 USD (Kylie Lip kits usually sell at 29 USD). And when she used, her lips wouldn’t MOVE. I started freaking out just listening to this. It turns out there was superglue in the counterfeit lipstick. While Khue Nong got it off with the help 100% acetone nail polish remover (which is not safe), I can completely relate to the anxiety caused. Counterfeit makeup can cause contact dermatitis, staph infections, styes and a lot more. This information is real food for thought, guys. 

Influencers and Beauty Brands Are Unfortunately A Part Of The Problem

 While the likes of Kylie Jenner, Jeffree Star, HUDA Beauty have warned us about our shopping sources, the hype created by influencers used to market beauty brands is, unfortunately, a contributing factor to counterfeit makeup. Creating limited edited collections or fewer units of an iconic product to create a sense of scarcity seems to have encouraged the world of counterfeit makeup too. 

As much as you like, and follow these influencers (I consume it daily guys), it would be safe to say to buy your products directly from brand websites or trusted sourcess/stores that offer certification.

8 Things I Learnt Last Night About Counterfeit Makeup Via Netflix’s Broken

If you’ve made till here, browse through a list of other things I learnt about counteirfeit makeup.

  1. Counteirfeit makeup is a legit shadow economy that actually contributes to 3.3% of the world trade. That means 461 billion USD. It’s a problem in most parts of the world and as of now, it’s only growing.
  2. China is the number 1 country that makes counterfeit makeup. According to the narrator, there is no country that comes close to being number 2.
  3. Netflix’s Broken shows how there have been many raids all across the world (there was a photo from India too), but it’s usually just cease and desist. The show actually follow two LAPD officers who raided Santee Valley, known for their counterfeit makeup and ceased $700,000 in 2018. The next day, the sellers got more counterfeit makeup to sell back at Santee Valley.
  4. Counterfeit makeup can cause contact dermatitis, staph infections, styes and other skin/hair problems.
  5. Cheaper alternative ingredients used in counterfeit makeup can cause health problems in the long run too.
  6. Counterfeit makeup’s packaging is getting better by the day so look carefully at the packaging.
  7. Buy your favourite beauty products from brand websites that have certified sellers and offer credibility too.
  8. Avoid getting sucked in the hype. If the product is unavailable or sold out, avoid hitting marketplaces like Amazon, E-Bay or Instagram sellers (no offense intended to any credible sellers) since the likelihood of buying a counterfeit product is just higher. Wait it out.

I hope this blogs helps all of us in being aware consumers who are a part of this ginormous industry! I’m leaving you with some important video links.

One of the first investigative videos on counterfeit makeup By Refinery 29

Tati’s Video Addressing Fake Makeup And The So-Called Scarcity

Jeffree Star’s Response When His Lipsticks Were Found At A Discount Store


The Time When Sister James Charles Bought A Fake James Charles Pallette