Top 8 Rules to Safely Buy Cosmetics from Amazon, Walmart & More

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With just a few easy-to-follow steps, buying skincare from your faves like Amazon, Walmart & eBay will be a breeze and you won’t have to worry about counterfeit products or even rat poop in your skincare….yes, rat poop.

Ok, I’ll admit. Hello, my name is Lauren and I am an Amazon Prime addict. I use Prime for EVERYTHING. The ease of finding my favorite products with one click, knowing it will be at my door in two days (or less!) But, with the amount I’ on Amazon, I knew I had to make sure everything I was buying was safe and legit – I do not have time for counterfeit products! Here is a little background about why being a savvy Amazon shopper matters and what to look for when buying your products.

Let’s Talk About Poop
According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that some sellers are not being totally honest when it comes to the products they’re selling – and some sellers are acting downright dangerous. The report details that some sellers in the beauty and cosmetic categories were just selling outright counterfeits of our favorite brands. Meanings they bought the branded bottles and labels but filled it with unbranded lotions, serums and more. Buying a counterfeit product is bad enough, but once tested, some of the fake formulas contained cyanide, mercury, and even rat droppings. YES YOU READ THAT.

This is a huge problem among sites with third party sellers that even the FBI weighed in to offer their own take & a ‘buyer beware’. “Phony cosmetics often contain things such as arsenic, beryllium, and cadmium (all known carcinogens) along with high levels of aluminum and dangerous levels of bacteria. Some of these products have caused conditions like acne, psoriasis, rashes, and eye infections,” the FBI advised.

In light of this report, the FBI warning, and all the news articles I could find on this subject, I’ve compiled a list of how to smartly and safely buy your skincare and cosmetics from Amazon. *Though I am writing this from a skincare perspective, these tips can be helpful for makeup (according to the above linked report, Urban Decay has a terrible fake product problem on Amazon) to shoes to mugs to food.

Safety Tips to Follow When Shopping for Skincare Amazon, eBay, & Walmart
1. Shop directly from your favorite brand’s website or trusted skincare professional
Ok, ok this is obviously not what you want to hear since we are talking about how to safely buy from other websites. But, there are a few reasons I’m listing this option that a lot of people might not be aware of. When you shop on sites like Amazon, the seller has to pay a hefty to Amazon in order to list their product. This might not seem like a big deal but to smaller brands, their fees can make or break them. Buying from their own website ensures the safety or your product and also removes the middleman and their ridiculous fees.

2. If the deal is too good to be true, it isn’t worth it
A lot of people shop sites like Amazon and Walmart because they can get their favorite brands at a steeply discounted price or even bundle for an even larger discount. But if you come across brands like Dermalogica or Skinceuticals at half price, it is most likely too good to be true.

3. When in doubt, buy directly from the brand
Most brands have a presence on Amazon as a seller and this is one of the safest ways you can buy skincare on Amazon. Why buy from the brand on Amazon and not directly from their site? A lot of brands will house their skincare in an Amazon warehouse or locker and give the option of a prime delivery so depending on where you live, you could have your skincare product same-day delivery which you typically won’t see when buying directly from the brand’s website.

4. Become an expert at spotting fake reviews
Finding a massively discounted product with hundreds of 5-star reviews might seem like you hit the jackpot, but it is worth taking a closer look. Even when the review says it is verified, it can still be suspicious – there are companies whose sole purpose is to leave mass reviews on Amazon product pages. Yikes! So what can you do? Well, there are ways to figure it out. Check out this website/ extension called Fakespot that runs through each item’s reviews and let’s you know if the reviews are real. The New York Times even created a diagram on how to spot fake reviews by learning a few key phrases.

5. Super long delivery/ ship times
If your item will take a couple of weeks to ship then another couple of weeks to arrive to your door, it is most likely from a fake seller. Apparently, they will continue to push out delivery times so Amazon won’t be able to take action against them.

6. Wonky Product Photos
This issue is more noticeable with clothing in my opinion. When you see a super cute, well-styled woman with her head cropped out, it is most likely a stolen image from a fashion influencer selling a fake product that will look nothing like the image. In cosmetics, you can use this same method. If the product is highly styled, it is most likely a stolen photo. You can try to Google Reverse Image search to double-check!

7. Weird Packaging
If you do get to the point of ordering and your product comes in a timely manner, make sure to check out the packaging. Both the box and the actual product packaging. If there are any typos or misaligned branding or if the packaging is old, these could all be red flags. There are also great YouTube videos showing fake vs. real packaging.

8. Odd smells and textures
This one really only works if you are aware of the product’s smell and texture or can crowdsource information from a skincare community (love you, Reddit). If a product smells old or too chemically or feels too sticky or too runny, it might be a fake item.

I hope the next time you are on your favorite seller’s site, that you take a closer look at the products you are purchasing and go through this list to make sure you are getting what you paid for!


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