They seem tempting when you’re searching for a deal online, but cut-price cosmetic rip-offs come at a price, says our editor-in-chief

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

Given the economic climate, it’s no surprise that people are searching for bargains. But a report in the Daily Mai l  has highlighted a frightening new trend: counterfeit make-up.

Now, there is a tendency to assume that cosmetic brands are all on the make, charging consumers a fortune for something that doesn’t intrinsically cost that much. But however much big brands may mark up their products, one thing’s for sure: they would never cut corners on safety. It simply wouldn’t be worth their while.

According to the Mail’s story, some products bought online at knockdown prices are not the real deal but fakes created by low-standard manufacturers.. While the packaging may look the same, what’s inside may be substandard product in terms of texture, colour and packaging; makers also play fast and loose with EU regulations about ingredients.

In lab testing, some of the fakes contained illegal levels of arsenic, lead, copper and abnormally high levels of bacteria. Given that these are products to be used on the skin and around the eyes, very worrying.

So please be careful when you go bargain-hunting online. And if you have purchased something that you think might be dodgy, please feel free to email me at, and I will pass it on to the relevant brand to have it checked out.

Five ways to spot a fake-up

1. If the fonts aren't quite right on the packaging: subtle differences from the official branding may be evident.

2. If the texture is wrong. Good-quality make-up will have a rich feel and not be lumpy, dried-out or talc-y.

3. If the colours are brash. We like our neons at times but overly sharp colours can be a giveaway.

4. If the smell is harsh: most luxury brands work hard on a delicate scent, so if your make-up arrives smelling like something you'd clean the bathroom with, send it back.

5. If it's too cheap. Can't understand how the stated price could cover the product's development, testing, packaging, advertising and ingredients? It's probably not the real deal.