December 20, 2016

Counterfeit Makeup: The Imitation Game

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but counterfeiting? We beg to differ. With beauty products, it’s a health risk and a violation of intellectual property rights.

As much as Dubai is famous for the opulent lifestyle of its citizens, even prosperity has a dark underbelly. The Department of Economic Development’s continued inspection and seizure campaign of counterfeit products has yielded over 10,000 beauty and skincare products in seized items earlier this year.

In the early months of 2014, the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection sector of the Department of Economic Development was able to confiscate a large stash of counterfeit beauty products amounting to over 9.5 million AED. This was the largest raid of its kind in the city. According to reports, the bogus beauty products included imitations of famous brands such as Max Factor and Revlon. The stash was a mix of counterfeit face powder, mascara, and lipsticks. Beauty soaps, skin creams, and shampoos were also discovered in the warehouse.

Protecting safety and trademark


The raid was just one of the many efforts of the government to rid the city of bogus products and ensure the complete protection of consumers and trademark items. The move underscores the city’s position as a safe and genuine business hub while boosting economic activity, upholding intellectual property rights, and protecting consumer welfare.

Every year, a campaign is held to educate consumers about the dangers of buying and using counterfeit cosmetics and other products such as accessories and luxury items. Counterfeiting is basically a parasite leeching on the success of another and any bestselling product can be a target for counterfeiting. With the UAE being a popular shopping and travel destination (Dubai specifically), it has become a central marketplace for counterfeit items. Authorities are not only cracking down on bogus beauty products, but also on medicine, bag, and clothing.

Safety concern


Counterfeit cosmetic products contain harmful and dangerous ingredients. Some counterfeit products have more than the allowed amount of lead, while some are even found to contain arsenic and mercury. Among the harmful effects of the continuous use of counterfeit makeup are skin rashes, eye infection, lead poisoning, and bacterial infection.

As a preventive measure, authorities are encouraging consumers to read labels and ingredients lists, and be more critical when buying cosmetics. While the government is doing everything in their power to stop the production and trade of bogus makeup products, the authorities are relying on consumers to take the necessary precautions in order to avoid such accidents from happening, and report any counterfeit cosmetic product.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Emirates Intellectual Property Association (EIPA) and the Brand Owners’ Protection Group for the GCC and Yemen (BPG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for stricter enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights. This is also part of their efforts in eliminating counterfeit products trading in the country. The MoU provides the EIPA and the BPG common ground in pushing their campaign against illegal trade of counterfeit product, while promoting awareness.

Joint effort

Authorities are working together with brand owners to ensure the local market will be free of counterfeit cosmetics that not only diminish the quality of original products, but also put consumers at risk.

Different brands have set up their own efforts to ensure authenticity of their products such as issuing proper invoice or receipts. They also encourage consumers to only buy from legitimate sellers especially when they are doing online transactions.

Despite warnings from authorities, a number of Emiratis still buy counterfeit products. According to reports, some prefer buying counterfeits because they are cheaper. There are also cases when a buyer is unaware that the product they’re buying is a counterfeit, authorities explained.