Is Instagram Driving Consumption of Fake Cosmetics and What Are the Health Implications?

Shoppers hunting for cheap designer cosmetics are putting themselves at risk, thanks in part to social media pressure which is fueling the growing appetite to get big name products but at small prices. However many of these items are fake and more worryingly could leave you with nasty side effects. The celebrity-branded beauty industry has exploded and with many people attempting to keep up with the latest trends and emulate their Instagram idols, some are taking shortcuts with fake cosmetics.

Unregulated knockoffs could contain dangerous ingredients and with no way of knowing what's truly in one of these products, is it worth the gamble especially as you're putting it directly on your skin?

Some people feel so under pressure to keep up with the latest trends via visual platforms like Instagram they don't really think about the risks they are running. They just think they are getting an expensive product and naturally want to show it off to their followers, making it appear that they have the real deal.

Recently, BBC reporters went to one of the U.K.'s most popular markets and were spoilt for choice, finding multiple stalls selling what we believed to be counterfeit MAC, Kylie Jenner, and Benefit all advertised as genuine and safe.

These knockoffs may look similar but the ingredients can paint a very different picture. They sent the samples to doctors at  Kingston University London and the result was shocking. In the fake MAC  lipstick, they found dangerously high levels of lead. Being a neurotoxin, it can have various effects on things like menstrual difficulties and cause hormonal problems. Some fake cosmetics have been found to contain mercury, cyanide, arsenic, paint stripper, and even feces.

The British Skin Foundation is seeing a growing number of patients suffering reactions and thinks changes in shopping habits are to blame.  In this digital marketing age where everything is literally just a click away the way that we shop has changed so much we don't go to supermarkets now we don't look at the product we don't hold the product we don't try them out and even if you did sometimes the products are so so similar to the original, its almost impossible to tell.

Fake make up is typically made in China before being shipped to the U.K. in sea containers or by post. Last year, 2.2m  counterfeit products were seized in the U.K. alone but experts believe this could be just the tip of the iceberg and new technology mean that counterfeits look almost identical to the real products.

As the fraudsters continue to innovate whilst evading capture a combination of technical solutions like VerifiR and helping educate consumers to think before they buy, will ultimately help put a dent in the market.