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Dr. Mike Thair, our Australian Master Formulator, shares his views on counterfeit cosmetics.

Few of us can resist a bargain.  However, these days there exists a shadowy world of counterfeits.

The risks of counterfeits

Cheaper imitations are flooding the market. They may look legitimate. Be easy on the purse. In fact, many contain ingredients that irritate the skin. These ingredients may cause permanent damage.  Also, they may include lead, copper, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium. It is important to realise, these are all dangerous. One report says that eight out of ten online cosmetics were counterfeit.

The medical profession is reporting a rise in the number of women with skin conditions. Many are triggered by the use of counterfeit cosmetics  These include acne and swelling to more serious skin conditions, such as psoriasis.

Manufacturers of genuine cosmetics are strictly controlled.  All products must be rigorously tested before they go on sale.  In Malaysia, products must be notified by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (NPRA). But the counterfeiters do not follow any rules.

The worrying thing is that these fakes are very convincing. Furthermore, they’re widely available on reputable online sites. These include eBay and Amazon. Sellers buy in stock from Chinese wholesalers, then sell online.

What can you do as a consumer?

I suggest two things if you suspect counterfeit cosmetics. Firstly,  is the product registered with the cosmetics regulatory authorities. Notably, in Malaysia, you can do a search on the NPRA website. This search will not guard against fakes.  But it will at least check the legitimate product is registered. It will list the contact details of the manufacturer’s name or notification holder. You can contact them and ask questions.

This is what you will see if you search Indochine Natural:


Secondly, with smaller brands get to know the guys who make the products. Talk with the formulator, ask questions. Also, check for ingredients lists. This is a good check of transparency. Take a look at the ingredients of our Spice Island Body Wash

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