Consumers warned after arsenic found in fake beauty products
Consumers have been warned about counterfeit versions of leading beauty products that are tainted with dangerous substances such as lead and arsenic.
Prolonged exposure can cause damage to organs such as the brain and kidneys.
The toxic fake make-up brands include counterfeits of Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner and Urban Decay.
The warning by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) followed tests carried out by the HSE on several of the 728 counterfeit and imitation products it seized.
The "high-end" beauty products are on sale through certain outlets, markets and websites in the lead-up to Christmas.
The counterfeit products detained by the HPRA include, Kylie Holiday-Burgundy and Bronze eye-shadow palettes, Kylie Matte liquid lipstick and lip liner, and Urban Decay eye-shadow palettes.
"The Christmas season is the peak time of year for rogue sellers of counterfeit products and shoppers are strongly urged to avoid these potentially harmful products," said a spokeswoman.
The watchdog said that over the past few months significant quantities of counterfeit and imitation cosmetics had been seized on entry to the country by Revenue's customs service.
"The majority of counterfeit cosmetic products seized have been eye-shadows and lip products," she added.
"Some of these products can be purchased online from websites based outside of the EU and are being sold to Irish consumers online and through social media. They have also been found in some trade shows and at markets throughout the country."
Commenting on the risk Aoife Farrell, cosmetics compliance manager of the HPRA, stressed: "The HPRA is extremely concerned that highly toxic substances, such as arsenic and lead, have been detected in products which are available to Irish consumers.
"Prolonged exposure to both of these banned substances can severely damage your health causing potential harm to your brain and kidneys, among other organs. The suppliers of these products are unconcerned about the health of the consumers who purchase them.
"We can't emphasise enough the need for consumers to be vigilant when purchasing cosmetics this Christmas. While they may be sold at a cheaper cost than legitimate beauty products, it is never worth gambling with your health when buying these products."
She added: "As well as the possible toxic ingredients which may be contained in counterfeit cosmetics, the way the products are manufactured and the safety and cleanliness of the production environment is unknown, which is another reason to avoid purchasing and using these cosmetics at all cost."
The genuine Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner are currently available only from the company's website in the US, and other bona-fide high-end cosmetic products are usually available only through high-street stores or pharmacies.
"The HPRA and the HSE advise extreme caution if consumers are offered such products at markets or through non-reputable websites," the spokeswoman said.
"In Ireland, the market surveillance of cosmetic products is carried out by the HPRA and environmental health service and public analysts' laboratories of the HSE."
It pointed out that beauty brands usually listed their licensed retailers on their websites, enabling consumers to ensure they were buying a genuine cosmetic product.
"If a product is much cheaper than in a high-street store or pharmacy, consumers should be immediately suspicious and think twice before buying."