When you see a designer perfume at an extremely low price, be very suspicious. It may not be the great bargain that you think. It may smell the same, or if it's a scent you are unfamiliar with, it may appeal to you. But, you need to do your homework before you make that purchase, or you may be getting something you aren't expecting, and definitely do not want. That wonderful scent may actually be a counterfeit copy instead of the authentic product. Does this really matter? That has to be your decision, but know your facts before you hand over your money, and possibly risk your health.
According to a report on "Good Morning America", several counterfeit fragrances were tested and some of the active ingredients included antifreeze, bacteria and urine. Yes, urine. Do you still want that discount fragrance? According to the report, urine gives the fragrance its color, and may also be a ph balance stabilizer.
Because the ingredients are not the same as the authentic perfume, a faux version may cause you have a skin reaction. Some customers reported that it burned, felt strange or caused a rash.
We all love a bargain and getting a great perfume at a cheaper price isn't impossible. However, you need to know what to look for in order to detect a counterfeit perfume. This won't guarantee you have the real thing since crooks have found ways to make cheap copies of many items that are difficult to detect. Following a few simple steps will help you spot a fake:
1. Check the cellophane wrap around the box. If it's loose or has too much glue or tape, that's a sign of a fake.
2. Carefully examine the box. If the material seems lighter weight than usual, it's likely a fake. If possible, go to a reputable store and look at the same product to see how it looks and feels.
3. Look for the UPC code. Legitimate products have the code on the bottom of the box. If it is located on the side, or has no code at all, it is probably fake.
4. Carefully read the print. Copies often have misspelled words, or the print is a little different from the original.
5. Examine the bottle. Does it look like a quality bottle or does it look cheap? Does the cap fit well?
6. Consider the source. If it's being sold at a flea market or a discount store, it may be fake. Unscrupulous retailers may have the authentic item on display to lure you in, then actually sell the customer a faux perfume. If you know the usual price is $125.00 and you find it offered for $35.00, that's a red flag. Always use caution when purchasing from internet sites where you don't know the seller. Buying from a reputable department store is probably the safest way to be certain you are getting the real thing.
Not long ago, I spotted an old favorite of mine at a ridiculously low price. For some reason, I didn't buy it at the time, but later decided to go back and buy it. The store had sold out and I was disappointed, but after being educated about counterfeits, I'm delighted I missed out and will be vigilant before any future purchase.
Counterfeit perfume is big business. Saving money is always appealing, but sometimes it just isn't worth the risk.
Photos provided by Carol Alper McGeehan.