Dangers of Counterfeit: Why You Should Always Buy from Authorized Retailers
Ever see a deal on a pricey skin care serum and think it’s too good to be true? Well, if you’re not buying it from an authorized retailer, it just might be. From diverted products that may be expired or discontinued to counterfeit products that could potentially pose a threat to your delicate skin, we’re sharing everything you need to know to protect yourself from getting duped below! To learn more about diverted and counterfeit skin care products, we sat down with Thomas Barden, Chief Security Officer for L’Oréal USA. Keep reading to find out what an expert had to say about this unfortunate, but all-too-common, practice.
This unauthorized stream of diverted products also makes it easier to dump counterfeit products to be sold in the marketplace
“Diversion is the sale of products outside authorized distribution channels by entities which may have no relationship with the producer of the goods,” Barden explains. “This unauthorized stream of diverted products also makes it easier to dump counterfeit products to be sold in the marketplace. Any time a foreign substance is put into an authorized packaging, it’s a counterfeit product.” He does note that sometimes the packaging itself can be counterfeit as well—and folks let me tell you, my untrained eye couldn’t spot the difference in the counterfeit versus non-counterfeit boxes he showed me as examples.
Barden shares that diverted products may be what you’re looking for, but since they aren’t being sold in an authorized retailer they could potentially be expired or even stolen. To protect against diversion and counterfeiting at L’Oréal, many of the brand’s products feature unique brand protection markers. “The purpose of coding is to protect the brand from theft, counterfeiting, and diversion,” he says.
If you think it’s only the pricey products that are vulnerable, think again. “The more popular the brand the more vulnerable it is,” Barden says, explaining that they’ve seen everything from drugstore products to more luxe, high-end products counterfeited. To protect yourself he recommends staying within the lane that seems the most logical to make your purchases. “Don’t buy products from street vendors or at a flea market,” he says. “Almost always they are counterfeit, diverted, or stolen.”
A common place to find diverted and counterfeit products—often at too-good-to-be-true prices—is online. “You need to be careful because e-commerce has significantly grown,” Barden says. “It’s like the Wild Wild West on some of these platforms. Anyone can get on there and anyone can sell something.”
I’ve personally been duped by what I thought was a great deal. I use a pricey moisturizer and found it online for a better price than I’m used to shelling out for it. I made my purchase and well, the joke was on me because I failed to do a little research first to check to see whether or not this online retailer was an authorized partner of the brand…spoiler alert: it wasn’t. So when the moisturizer came I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was to open up the jar and see a white, unscented cream—my beloved cream has an earthy, unmistakable aroma and well… it’s also brown. Barden explained to me that what I purchased was likely counterfeit and I shuddered at the thought of what could have happened to my complexion had I ignored my gut instinct and used the product.
You need to be careful because e-commerce has significantly grown. It’s like the Wild Wild West on some of these platforms. Anyone can get on there and anyone can sell something.
The danger comes in with counterfeit products, which can really do damage to the skin since you cannot be sure of what you’re actually putting on the surface of your complexion. Likewise, many diverted products may be very old or perhaps haven’t been handled properly. “We’ve seen diverted products stored in a trailer in a desert in the middle of the summer,” Barden shares. While diversion isn’t considered illegal—as shocking as that seems—if a product has been diverted Barden explains that there’s no way to tell if it’s fresh or hasn’t been tampered with. You put these products on your skin, your scalp, near your eyes, so it’s important to be as cautious as possible. Counterfeits may contain ingredients that aren’t in the original formula and they may be manufactured in unsanitary sweatshops.
If you’re worried about counterfeit or diverted skin care and beauty products, make your purchases directly on the brand’s sites or at retail locations the brand’s list on their sites as authorized. If you’re out and about—or online—and spot a great deal, when it doubt, reach out to the brand or to L’Oréal’s customer service to double check! Barden explains that L’Oréal’s legal team takes these things very seriously, and has successfully filed lawsuits against counterfeit infringers. He encourages our employees to alert them of possible counterfeiting or diversion matters in order to investigate as to whether or not it was a one-off incident or a pattern of activity.
Remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it just may be!