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Counterfeit Makeup Chiang Mai

What if I told you you can buy MAC makeup very cheaply online? By very cheaply, I mean you can buy a Ruby Woo lipstick for less than US$2.00 a piece. Would you buy it? Or would what I tell you ring the alarm bells that something doesn’t sound right when a MAC lipstick is really that cheap?

The photo above was taken when I was perusing a night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The vendor was none too pleased when I tried to take a picture of her wares close up with my phone so I had to get Tim to photograph this for me from a distance. I found it amusing that she had to place such a large sign above her products that the makeup she was selling wasn’t counterfeit and that they were just factory seconds. Many stalls like hers sold exactly the same items yet didn’t have a similar sign. Plenty of tourists, particularly female tourists, flocked these stalls purchasing a heap of cheap makeup that were presumably from MAC, Chanel, Urban Decay, Dior and much more.

I wish I was able to snap a quick photo for you just to show you what the makeup was like close up. At one point, one of the vendors angrily told us that if we wanted to take a photo, we had to pay and that was when we skedaddled out of there. The popular items were the Urban Decay NAKED palettes. They looked pretty darn authentic, if you ask me. But I’m 99.99% sure they’re not (fine, I’ll give them 0.01% of the doubt). The packaging for the rest of the products, especially MAC and Chanel, were riddled with spelling mistakes. The MAC lipsticks smelled funky. The Chanel blushes looked odd. The makeup were left open like that with flies swarming over them. I heard tourists trying these makeup out and asking the vendors if these makeup were genuine, to which the vendors enthusiastically said “OF COURSE! REAL THING! ONLY 1000 BAHT!“. To which, I had to raise an eyebrow. Really, what would these tourists expect them to say? If those Urban Decay NAKED palettes they were selling were the real deal at less than US$10 each, I’d eat my best bag.

It’s not just night markets like these that you’ll find heaps of heavily discounted “genuine” makeup. Just go to websites like Aliexpress and you’ll find plenty of such makeup. Most sellers don’t even mention the words “genuine” or “authentic” anymore. They pop photos of their products with the proper brand name printed on the product and it’s up to you to decide if they’re the real deal or not. Most if not all of these products come from China. Just search for “MAC lipstick” on Aliexpress and you’ll know what I mean.

These days, it’s not so easy any more to find much counterfeit makeup on eBay but websites like Aliexpress are rife with them. I found a lot of sellers selling NARS makeup brushes on Aliexpress for less than US$5.00 a piece. When it comes to makeup brushes, I’m not too bothered about them because they’re not lotions and potions that go directly on my skin, particularly my eyes and lips. I’ve purchased generic makeup brushes from eBay that resembled NARS makeup brushes and they were scratchy to say the least. I worry more about those who purchase these so-called “genuine” lipsticks, mascaras, etc for a song because goodness knows what these makeup are actually made of. You’ll be literally consuming the makeup and who knows what’s going into your system?!

It may be fun to see these makeup stalls at night markets but I would strongly advise you against buying any of them because there’s a very high chance that these are counterfeit makeup even if there’s a large sign that says they’re not. If the makeup item is so cheap and too good to be true, it most likely is. Your health and wellbeing are too important and not something to take a risk on simply because that big-brand lipstick is less than a fiver. Similarly, please don’t buy cheapie makeup from Aliexpress either. Sure, they may be cheap as chips, but I’d rather you eat actual hot chips than use those goodness-knows-where-they-came-from makeup.

Genuine Fake Watches Turkey

Image courtesy of my dad on a visit to Turkey

Really, those night market vendors might as well put this sign up for their makeup. No lies there. πŸ˜‰

Have you seen or purchased any sort of questionable makeup before? No judgement here, heck I’d done it before too. Big mistake!

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27 comments… add one
  1. Norlin

    Heck no. Wouldn’t dare… Although I was tempted once when I saw the Naked Basics palette up on Aliexpress. But thought that unlike clothes… Make up can actually ruin your health if there were toxic sh*t in the ingredients.
    I do love that last sign though. Might as well be honest and tell everyone that they’re genuinely fake! Lol!

    1. Tine

      There are plenty of NAKED palettes on Aliexpress. Last I checked, there were even more Too Faced palettes, especially the Chocolate Bar one. Sneaky buggers wouldn’t dare put the words “Too Faced” on the title but the photos are clearly Too Faced products, even with the name clearly printed and shown.

      Hahaha I love that sign! I was browsing the photos of my parents’ trip to Turkey and stumbled upon that. I told my dad I had to have it for my blog. No lies there, they really are genuinely fake! πŸ˜›

  2. emmabovary

    My niece showed me her ‘Dior’ lipgloss a few years ago and it looked so, so terribly fake (I don’t think my niece has ever seen a real Dior gloss to be honest) and my sister was bragging that her friend brought it back from her trip to Thailand. That’s when we had the big discussion about safety in makeup, and that grotty gloss was tossed and replaced with some fun high street brand products from my stash. Much safer for her lips!
    emmabovary recently posted..My First Mecca Beauty Loop BoxMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Oh thank heavens. Your high street products are far faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar better than that fake “Dior”. Having said that, there are plenty of very real-looking MAC, Chanel and even Dior lipsticks in stalls like these. Unless you’re very familiar with your lipsticks or at least open them up and smell them, it’s not easy to tell the difference. But when you smell them, oh the stink of wax. UGH.

  3. LeGeeque

    Like the old saying, if it’s too good to be true,…. Similarly friends who tell me they know of warehouses in China with overruns of Hermes. HAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHA. Hermes? Overruns? Okay. You buy your overruns. I’ll stick to the store thank you very much.

    1. Tine

      I don’t know about Hermes but China’s rife with proper overruns of Louis Vuitton products, which is why when some tell you the leather’s genuinely LV, they’re technically not wrong. But just the thought of buying them from a freakin’ factory just to hang a LV on my arm, it’s like buying them from the car boot. Save the money, buy less but buy from the store. *shudder*

  4. Robert C

    I like how they put up a sign “yeah sure please trust us, of course it’s genuine!” Lol, if I saw the stall I’d probably just get some for the heck of it cause it’ll make a good comparison blogpost ha (or just give it to someone I don’t like lol)

    1. Tine

      Haha I was actually tempted to buy at least one product just to show you what it’s like. Then again, I’d rather not support this nonsense. If there’s less demand, hopefully there’ll be less stalls like these selling fake shit to tourists who think that they scored a great deal on a genuinely fake Urban Decay palette.

  5. Paris B

    At one time, these sort of stalls were rife at the local, more dodgy pasar malams. These days, I don’t see them as much. I do wonder why because I sure as hell know that enforcement isn’t a big thing here! I used to see these a lot in Bangkok too, but again, not so obvious these days. Or maybe I’m not going to the right places, maybe they cleared them out of the more popular tourist areas. That said, you know I believe that whoever is gullible enough to buy and use these cheap stuff thinking they’re real, deserve what they get. Harsh, but a fact. It’s the same with those who buy any fake goods. I have never and will never buy any fake cosmetics but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t bought counterfeit products back in the day. It happens, we do it and then we laugh over it as we get older, and then console ourselves by buying the real thing – and deriving far more pleasure out of it! πŸ˜€

    A few years ago, I actually stumbled on a shop selling cosmetics. It was set up like a warehouse, and had everything – Mac, Benefit, OPI, Nars, SKII (one of the most faked skincare brands ever! I saw people selling them at pasar malams from black bin bags!) etc which looked just about right… but not, if you know what I mean. A whole SHOP dedicated to fake cosmetics. They never said anything was real, to give them credit. It was just sitting there. Some people may not mind, but you know what? Those people won’t be reading our blogs LOL πŸ˜€
    Paris B recently posted..With the Yves Rocher Radiance Rinsing Vinegar and Low ShamPoo you might change the way you wash your hairMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Euuwww SKII from black bin bags? EEEKK! Wouldn’t the black bin bags set off alarm bells that something is not right somewhere? *shudder* A whole shop dedicated to fake cosmetics … whaddyaknow. I. Can’t. Even. >.< I wanted to shake those tourists who were flocking these stalls who thought what a great bargain these genuinely fake cosmetics are just because the sign says that they're not. Does the fact that these cosmetics are sold by the longkang, with flies swarming over them not tell them something's wrong?? SIGH.

  6. Angela Bonanza

    Oh my goodness, I find these types of counterfeit makeup so disturbing… I agree, your health is far too important to risk these “genuine” fake cosmetics! I hope no one’s had too bad a reaction to these πŸ™

    1. Tine

      Sigh the cheap thrills of getting these cheap aren’t worth risking anyone’s health, I tell ya. *shudder*

  7. I didn’t even know that ‘fake’ makeup was a thing! I’ve seen the fragrance knock offs at the markets before but not makeup…. gosh it’s a bit dodgy isn’t it! x
    Belinda | The Female Entrepreneur Collective recently posted..Marketing Masterclass | A Digital Marketing CourseMy Profile

    1. Tine

      Fragrance knockoffs are aplenty, even in Australia (heaps of them at Queen V market) but I think they’re smarter than to sell counterfeit cosmetics like these here. They’re rife in Asia, especially at markets near major hotels where Western tourists hang out. It’s terrible. Buying a knockoff bag is okay, applying knockoff beauty products on the skin is absolutely not. Check out Aliexpress; they have heaps of Too Faced makeup there. All fake.

  8. Kate

    I’ve seen fake make ups / skincare / perfumes being sold from a popular spree-er in Singapore. I used to join the sprees until a friend and I went to the warehouse for collecting our stuffs, and my friend pointed out the fake make ups and that’s that. We figured we have the dumb luck to purchase non-popular items so the spree organizer had no choice but to order, instead of giving us the fakes.

    Given the talent some people have, in Singapore or elsewhere, it’s no longer surprising to have the real deal and fake one placed together and not being able to pick out the real deal immediately. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    My cousin bought a sealed box of kenzo perfume at SGD25 in Bangkok from a push cart at MBK. We didn’t open up to check because it was a gift. She gifted to her friend only to find out that the bottle inside was half filled and the perfume smell like an old man…. We were so angry and amused at that time.

    Well, we learned from our mistake. I would rather pay full amount than to purchase something from a dodgy source.

    1. Tine

      I’ve heard a lot about spree-ers in Malaysia and Singapore. There are a few popular ones in Malaysia who somehow manages to snag makeup very cheaply from goodness knows what sort of “warehouse sale”. I must admit, I’m highly wary of such practices because even if the products are real, chances are they could be long expired. Estee Lauder has some sort of “warehouse sale” here too in Australia, the proper legitimate kind, but even then, they’re selling discontinued makeup from many years ago. Goodness knows how long the item has been sitting there.

      Aww I suppose it gave your friend something to laugh about even though she got scammed at MBK. I saw heaps of fake NARS makeup at MBK, all so cheap selling at about 1000 baht each. Yeah right, NARS at 1000 baht each. πŸ˜›

  9. Jue

    I was young and the office admin was trying to sell some MAC stuff.

    I had a feeling there were fake because Sephora and me used to be best friends before I returned home.

    Anyway, office newbies had to purchased. It was cheap enough to say yes.

    It was gritty and the powder was all over the place. I probably let my niece play around with it couple of times before chucking it.

    I rather buy highstreet brand than buy fake

    1. Tine

      Good on you. The real deal of highstreet brands are far better than cheap but fake so-called high end makeup.

  10. Mel

    I really hate fakes! So disgusting like you said. I saw some whilst on my honeymoon in Thailand a Couple years ago. Even though I was a makeup newbie back then, they were so obviously fake!
    Mel recently posted..Tarte Cosmetics 30% Off Makeup Haul + Price Comparison with SephoraMy Profile

    1. Tine

      I know right? Why the heck would people want to buy them when they already look fake? I understand if they look like the real thing but the fake-looking ones? Ish.

  11. Ellie

    Hi, I’m almost certain that I’ve bought a fake Maybelline ‘The Rock Nudes’ palette – what should I do? It was at a market stall, selling for €3, I’ve looked online for help, but all it comes up with is help for people who’ve bought fake MAC and Urban Decay products. I haven’t tried it on, only swatched two of the colours, and they are very pigmented. I’ve heard that counterfeit makeup often has a different smell to the real thing, however I don’t know if the smell counts as ‘weird’, what should I do?

    1. Tine

      If you’re not 100% sure, then I would suggest you to not use it. It could be real, it could be fake; honestly we wouldn’t know especially if it wasn’t purchased in store. Since it’s something that goes very near the eyes, I’d err on the side of caution and not use it. Better to lose the €3 than risk an eye infection. Hope that helps!

  12. alshiva

    Hello, I was wondering about something and I hope you can help me

    Counterfeit is the imitation of a makeup product, so it is not produced by the factory that produced the real ones, but what about Factory Reject Makeup? The seller told me that it was from the factory that produced the real products (Too Faced) and she said that the only difference is on the packing or the brand labelling, but not the product itself so it is considered authentic somehow? I purchased the peach eyeshadow palette because I can’t find it anymoree on the store πŸ™ now I’m unsure of the product tho πŸ™

    1. Ella Jones

      This is common. If you actually travel around Asia you will notice the cluster of factories and how they all produce products, the cheapest wins basically. The factory rejects, with spelling mistakes, size differences etc can be made in the same factory but moulded incorrectly.

  13. Jasmen

    Hi Beautyholics Anonymous,

    It’s crazy what people can do to make some money. As these counterfeit products are so common, it is simply near impossible to track them all down. Hence, I believe education consumers will be the most valuable. My name is Jasmen and I have started a social campaign called Quit the Fakeup. My aim is to educate young people about the harm that counterfeit cosmetic products can do to your skin and body.

    Over the years, counterfeit cosmetics in the market have increased dramatically with the advent of online shopping sites like eBay and Mercari. Tests have found dangerous levels of lead, mercury and cyanide in a lot of these imitation products. Also, the factory of manufacturing is unhygienic and unsanitary. Although consumers may be purchasing these products to save money, most are unaware of how it is made and the ingredients used. I hope to raise awareness so consumers of beauty products can make safer decisions about the type of makeup they buy. I highly recommend all my readers to only purchase from authorised retailers and resellers. I also urge my readers to check the ingredients of their products to look for any harmful chemicals.

    Have a look at my WordPress blog and social media for more information and updates about my campaign.

  14. Anastasia

    Hi Tine, I know this post is a little old and this is a stupid question but is it okay to get makeup products from Ulta or Sephora? I mean, are they genuine?

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