Social media now contributes to 50% of counterfeit cosmetics sales

Celebrity brands such as Kylie Cosmetics and Rihanna's Fenty Beauty have issued warnings about fake beauty products and retailers

Rihanna's Fenty Beauty has recently called out online counterfeit retailers / Getty Images

Social media now contributes to more than 50% of black market cosmetics sales.

New research by Red Points, a copyright protection firm, revealed that Facebook could be traced to 41.1% of infringement cases and Instagram contributed to 9%.

Out of the 50,000 suspected product infringements that Red Points discovered for its cosmetics clients last year, eBay contributed to 30.4% of fraudulent sales.

Laura Urquizu, CEO of Red Points, said: “Counterfeiting is a challenge that has always plagued the cosmetics industry but which has been amplified in recent years, with the advent of social media, despite online platforms’ work, such as Amazon, eBay and Facebook, with brands and law enforcement to zero in on counterfeiters.”


There is a clear preference for social media channels amongst counterfeiters / Red Points

Meanwhile, 19.5% of consumers claimed to have bought a fake cosmetics product online by mistake and 69% are concerned about counterfeit products – but almost a quarter of consumers have knowingly bought a fake product.

In terms of responsibility, survey respondents believe it primarily lies with the platform. In second, brand owners were urged to tackle the issue, trumping government law enforcement agencies.

“Unless companies implement smart ways to address the issue head-on, counterfeiters will continue to exploit gaps in the system to spread out illegal cosmetics online,” added Urquizu.

High-profile rip-offs

The report comes as a number of high profile brands have been victims of counterfeit products, including Kylie Cosmetics and Fenty Beauty.

Last month, the latter named and shamed a fraudulent retailer for selling its products.

Meanwhile, in February, police in the US found US$700,000 worth of knock-off Kylie Cosmetics products in 21 locations throughout Los Angeles.

Six people were arrested in the raids.

Fake cosmetics also pose a health risk to consumers. In a separate case, consumer Rachel McLaughlin was reportedly hospitalised after using a fake Kylie Lip Kit Gloss.

Bronargh McLaughlin, shared images of her sister's swollen and blistered lips, via social, and described how her throat started to close.

“Please be aware of fake Kylie Jenner Lip Kits off the internet and buy and sell websites,” Bronargh shared on Facebook.

“They are not the real thing, they are full of toxins, poisoning agents and superglue as you can see below.”

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