Health authorities have issued a strong warning to shoppers this Christmas after a number of counterfeit beauty products were found to contain harmful substances.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have issued the warning after testing 728 counterfeit and imitation products in Ireland.
A number of these counterfeit beauty products were found to contain harmful substances, such as arsenic and lead, which can be potentially harmful to people’s health.
Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner and Urban Decay were among some of the forged cosmetic brands which were found to contain these illegal substances.
The counterfeit products detained by the HPRA include Kylie Holiday-Burgundy and Bronze eyeshadow palettes, Kylie Matte liquid lipstick and lip liner, and Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes.
The HPRA warns that 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.
Over the past few months significant quantities of counterfeit and imitation cosmetics have been seized by the HPRA on entry to the country by Revenue’s Customs Service.
The majority of counterfeit cosmetic products seized have been eye-shadows and lip products. 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.
Aoife Farrell, Cosmetics Compliance Manager, HPRA, states:
“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.
“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 HPRA stated that the genuine Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner are currently only available from the company’s website in the USA, and other genuine high-end cosmetic products are usually only available through high street stores or pharmacies.
The HPRA and the HSE have advised extreme caution if consumers are offered such products at markets or through non-reputable websites.
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.
“Beauty brands usually list their licensed retailers on their websites and this is an easy way for consumers to ensure that they are purchasing 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 the beauty product,” Ms Farrell said.