As the home to the second-largest consumer market in the world, the news should come as no surprise that India, too, is plagued by the abundance of counterfeit products in every major industry and cosmetics, naturally, is one of them too. Globally, brands like Benefit, MAC, L’Oréal, and Nars continuously report how their customers become victim to the side effects of fake products. In India, the similarly exist with the Shahnaz Husain Group and other such companies. However, unlike counterfeit apparel and footwear, where all your losses are restricted to the quality of the product, with cosmetics, that loss comes at the cost of your health. Recent investigations have revealed that counterfeit cosmetics contain carcinogenic heavy metals and too, at dangerous levels.
Counterfeit cosmetics will cause skin cancer
The National Center for Biotechnology Information of the US lists the following four heavy metals as the top skin cancer-causing agents.
And believe it or not, laboratory test results of seized counterfeit cosmetics all around the world have shown that every fake item contains all four in outrageous amounts along with a few more disturbing ingredients. MAC’s independent inquiry showed that their confiscated batch of counterfeit products contained lead in the range of 5 to 300 times more than the permitted amount. Other similar investigations by government and private agencies showed that arsenic, cadmium and chromium are common elements as well.
In 2018, the counterfeit cosmetics seized in the UK and the US came back from the lab with reports of containing animal waste and even human urine. Evidently, along with carcinogenic metals, fake cosmetic items carry with them potentially dangerous bacteria and viruses as well.
Why do they contain such ingredients?
Counterfeiters add such metals to their products to bring the same shade of color, texture, density and feel like the original product. Plus, they are not bound by law to conduct tests to ensure their permitted levels and hence, they pour in the metals without bounds. Also, some cancer-causing metals find their way into the counterfeit cosmetics due to contamination or as a side-ingredient and counterfeiters rarely take the precaution to prevent their inclusion. As for the animal waste and human urine, that comes from the unhygienic ambiance the products are made in. Understandably, none of the regulations are followed which the original brands are bound to under the law.
What are your chances of developing cancer?
Lead poisoning is a common cause of many types of cancer. Arsenic bio-accumulates, which means they enter the human body and builds up over time. Prolonged use of counterfeit items will exponentially grow the toxicity levels and your skin being in the direct line of impact will naturally suffer from cell damage. The ultimate effect will be cancer as the levels in which it entered the body was 300 times more than normal.
Counterfeit cosmetics come at a bargain price for a reason. The absence of safety tests and hygienic regulations drive down their prices. The average cost to treat cancer in India is around Rs. 20 lakhs, combined with the pain of the treatment and life-threat. No one should be taking that bargain in order to save a few hundred rupees.