Bootleg Makeup: Yes or Hell Naw?

Monday, January 14, 2013



We got the following email from one of our favourite ladies, SugarPuss 


Hey girls,

The meet up was awesome! I've been going on about it to all my friends, making them green, next time they all say. Loved the theme, Nairobi truly has some gorgeous women.

The make-up demos were good though there was something Wacuka said about some make-up products being fake. There are reputable stores that sell genuine MAC products i.e Lyntons Pharmacy, Lyntons at junction....ofcourse Mac don't have distribution networks in Kenya which to them translates to, they must be selling fake mac. What Lyntons do is actually ship them themselves kind of like how Kenyans from diaspora buy mac from abroad and bring them here, which makes them real expensive (ksh. 6,500 for studio fix powder) but not fake.

Also, recently, there has been an influx of MAC products in the market...they look exactly like the real deal, down to the packaging, only a real pro would tell them apart. They are fake but not harmful, infact they have a range of lipsticks which are amazing, pastels and corals, together with their lipgloss...lasts for hours and are not drying. Their blushes are good too, makes you look like a carribean princess. And I'm sorry to say, their studio finish powders set better then actual mac so you don't need to use a primer. They look better than the real deal and so much cheaper yoh it's a crime. I'm in contact with lots of suppliers in my line of work and the word is, these products are made by former mac employees, kinda like our Suzy Beauty, and instead of marketing their own brand, decided to ride on a known brand, very unethical and illegal. 

Personally, I don't have any guilt buying the "fake" Mac, because these product companies have not made any efforts to avail their products to the dark continent and don't care. Why should I care for their business, clearly am not their intended market. 

I have very sensitive skin that requires me to have monthly facials, have a face product artillery that would shame cleopatra's yet I have used the powder, lippy and blush for 2 months now without complaint or breaking my bank ( 1k for everything...shit just got real)...I'm done importing, decided to look local. At least the fakers appreciate the market here and avail a whole bunch or great products and contrary to popular belief, these suppliers know their market and are honestly making an effort to fill the gap with quality and affordable stuff. They are not river road gap-toothed salesmen with dollar signs in their eyes - although they are located on river road:) - they ask for consumer feedbacks from clients and local stores so they can bring in quality and relevant.

Same way the natural hair movement made the big companies start providing for their needs, us Africans need to make noise and have the local and international manufacturers provide for us!! 

I once wrote to a Mary Kay rep complaining that there was mary kay fakes in the market which are seriously harming people - zits that make u look like u shave. Do u know she replied back and said, we don't have a distribution network in Africa and yes there are reports that expired products are finding their way down there (read-they dump their expired goods here) so just find a way to buy from U.S....how treasured did I feel *sarcasm*

Sorry for the long rant, got a little carried away :) anyway, not to discredit Wacuka coz she's right and sh**, but y'all need to know.


 




We think that Sugarpuss has made some rather valid points (see bolded). We must admit that we have never ventured into the fake MAC products but have done what the thousands of Kenyan women do, send relatives into various duty free and MAC stores abroad. Do any of you use any of the fake MAC products (no shame in saying so)? If you do, how have they worked for you and would you recommend them?

Enjoy the week Ladies!

25 comments:

Masuka M. said...

I think I agree that companies make it difficult for African consumers to buy the real deal for many products because they don't see the value of direct representation. We have seen how mobile and electronics companies such as Nokia, LG and Samsung have gone big to market themselves here. But hair and beauty brands lag behind, as does the entertainment industry (the pirate bay anyone).

MAC finally opened a counter in the Edgars store here in Lusaka. However, the prices are unlikely to put the boutiques who sell knock-off MAC out of business. I had a terrible breakout a few years back due to fake MAC, so like you, I always depended on trips by myself or others to the US, UK or South Africa to get my MAC fix.

Sue said...

Interesting post and she does make some good points. She's right that the African market may not be on MAC's radar i.e. they don't care OR maybe they think that because of the price, not enough people would be able to buy it, so it's not worth the effort to setup a distribution network. Compared to "drugstore brands" like Cover Girl (CG), Revlon etc and "no-name" cosmetics, MAC is not cheap. I'm not much of a makeup wearer but I would compare MAC's price range to Clinique which I've had experience with. Decent products that sometimes apply better than something like CG which costs less. (That said, drugstore brands are not necessarily inferior, with some trial & error, you may find some that perform very well). Since MAC is an established name I can see why someone would use it to push their own knockoff version especially where they are not likely to be arrested for piracy. And it's obvious from this letter that the knockoff works just as well or even better. (Aside: On the expired product issue, there could be companies using Africa as a dumping ground, just a guess I don't know. Or it might be some unscrupulous businessperson. Policing this stuff is hard even in places where they are keen)

My only concern is whether these knock-offs are subject to any standards or any testing KEBS (Bureau of Standards).If KEBS does any testing what parameters do they look into? In the U.S., this would fall under the FDA but actually there aren't any standards for cosmetics sold in the U.S. I guess the assumption was that manufacturers would do their due diligence in ensuring their products don't contain unsafe levels of certain chemicals, heavy metals e.g. lead etc. Larger companies have extensive R&D teams that should look into this sort of stuff when creating a product. They also have a name to protect and if something went wrong, they are prime candidates for lawsuits. This may not be the case with smaller companies with lower budgets or run by people who are either ignorant or who don't care. That's why there's now a push for safety standard as well as products that claim to be "organic", "all-natural" etc.

In short, I hope someone is looking out for the Kenyan consumers, because brand-name or "no-name" it's important for people to know that whatever they are using will not cause problems down the road. BTW, some metals like lead or mercury tend to accumulate in the body and are toxic even in low doses. If present in a product, you may not really "feel anything". FWIW, I'm not trying to freak anyone out. Just think people should be aware of some of these things and ask questions, demand standards even as you ask for products that cater to your needs.

BellaNubian said...

Great post..okay the comment I made about there being no legitimate MAC in Kenya came from a rep from their parent company Estee lauder when they launched Clinque and Estee Lauder at Lyntons..meaning that Lyntons themselves were put under the radar and some of their products were not the real mccoy...the fake MAC is made in Korea and China and sold there too as well as other Asian countries(I saw loads in Bangkok). as for not availing their products in Africa ..MAC has stores in SA recently Zambia, West Africa and plan to launch here this year if they can find a great location (this is what they told us at the said launch)..as for using the fake Mac and having no problems with it..that's great use whatever works for you and it doesn't mean that the real deal cannot cause breakouts for some people..just like you everybody should be informed and just do them..Thanks Wacuka

Nyachomba said...

Hi Sue! Thanks for the comment, one reason that stops me from buying fake products in Kenya is the lack of standards and testing...you cannot even trust KEBS! You can find all kinds of products containing all manner of illegal chemicals or toxic substances. If I cannot make MAC then I use Sleek which is a great affordable brand with absolutely fantastic products.

Nyachomba said...

Hahahahah I can imagine how much MAC will charge in Nairobi, sadly more and more people will buy it due to Nairobi's growing middle class. I think we need to explore other brands such as Sleek which rival MAC in terms of quality and most importantly PRice!! Thanks for the comment

SugarPuss said...

Wow! Lead!!! Yikes!! consider me warned...I agree, is KEBS really that trustworthy...thanks sue, very informative, consider me educated :)

Nyash, yoh thanks for featuring my letter, av learnt a few things already

Sue said...

@Nyachomba & Sugarpuss, you are welcome :). I actually looked up KEBS website which lists cosmetics as some of the things they test. But it does not list the things they test for. Contacting them with this info of fake cosmetics in the market might be a good idea. You might do it as a group of concerned consumers or it could be a group of makeup artists or something.
I don't know if they are trustworthy either, just giving them benefit of the doubt. It's also not clear if they have the power to prosecute, maybe their job is to do tests only. Lots of girls/women are using these products, that alone is worrying.

Finally, I'm just puzzled by the prices of these cosmetics, for example why is the price at Lyntons Kshs 6,500 (~$75.60) when MAC has the Studio Fix powder listed at $27.00, the same price it's quoted under in some U.S. department stores. The markup is almost 3 times! Is it high taxation, duty? If they are an authorised dealer, aren't they getting it direct from MAC (Estee Lauder group)? Just don't understand it......

Anonymous said...

Firstly, have you guys noticed that the major brands eg. L'oreal, Neutrogena etc are overpriced here in Kenya? The other day I shamelessly paid about 2k for a L'oreal cleanser which is retailing for $5 in the US (I googled it). I understand price includes import duty, taxes etc but 2k, what’s up with that? By the way, I purchased this from one of those famous beauty stores in town. I was very shocked at the price I paid, I had to pop into beauty cosmetics. I found the same cleanser but for half the price!!!!! Ok, I understand competing, but a 1000 price difference is ridiculous. Isn't there any price regulation? Anyone who work for Kebs, please look into this. Oh and both shops had the fake Macs you guys are talking about.

Secondly, there is this spa I used to go to for facials. I will not mention the name, but it’s in an uptown part of Nairobi. Anyway, they also sell facial products. Being a woman, I’m always on the quest for flawless skin, so the esthetician introduced me to this moisturizer from Dermalogica. She told me it’s great for the skin. When I got home, I did my research online and found crazy reviews; everyone had good things to say about it - which meant woohoo I had purchased a winner. Apparently, it’s a very popular product range in the US, but I had not realized my bottle was a fake (for about a month). After 4 weeks of little to no success, I went back to the spa, told the lady it was just there - did nothing special for my skin and it really smelt bad, almost expired- then she recommended I try the mask from the same line. As usual, went home did my research and noticed an unusual anomaly- the mask was not part of the dermalogica product line. Immediately I picked up the moisturizer, I noticed even the way the dermalogica name was spelt on my bottle, was different from that on the net, the logo was different, the catch phrase was different- in other word I had 2 knock off fake dermalogica products. Needless to say, I never returned to that spa, if they can sell fake products, what does it say about the establishment.

I agree with all of you, I just hope someone is looking out for us consumers. The beauty industry is messed up , so many fakes, I thought HQ lightening products were banned but they are just there staring at me at the counters, lol.


lovely day ladies :P

Anonymous said...

This situation also applies to some facial/body skin products.

Firstly, have you guys noticed that the major brands eg. L'oreal, Neutrogena etc are overpriced here in Kenya? The other day I shamelessly paid about 2k for a L'oreal cleanser which is retailing for $5 in the US (I googled it). I understand price includes import duty, taxes etc but 2k, what’s up with that? By the way, I purchased this from one of those famous beauty stores in town. I was very shocked at the price I paid, I had to pop into beauty cosmetics. I found the same cleanser but for half the price!!!!! Ok, I understand competing, but a 1000 price difference is ridiculous. Isn't there any price regulation? Anyone who work for Kebs, please look into this. Oh and both shops had the fake Macs you guys are talking about.

Secondly, there is this spa I used to go to for facials. I will not mention the name, but it’s in an uptown part of Nairobi. Anyway, they also sell facial products. Being a woman, I’m always on the quest for flawless skin, so the esthetician introduced me to this moisturizer from Dermalogica. She told me it’s great for the skin. When I got home, I did my research online and found crazy reviews; everyone had good things to say about it - which meant woohoo I had purchased a winner. Apparently, it’s a very popular product range in the US, but I had not realized my bottle was a fake (for about a month). After 4 weeks of little to no success, I went back to the spa, told the lady it was just there - did nothing special for my skin and it really smelt bad, almost expired- then she recommended I try the mask from the same line. As usual, went home did my research and noticed an unusual anomaly- the mask was not part of the dermalogica product line. Immediately I picked up the moisturizer, I noticed even the way the dermalogica name was spelt on my bottle, was different from that on the net, the logo was different, the catch phrase was different- in other word I had 2 knock off fake dermalogica products. Needless to say, I never returned to that spa, if they can sell fake products, what does it say about the establishment.

I agree with all of you, I just hope someone is looking out for us consumers. The beauty industry is messed up , so many fakes, I thought HQ lightening products were banned but they are just there staring at me at the counters, lol.

Good day ladies

Anonymous said...

Btw I also noticed that what I believe is the same cosmetics shop in town that Anonymous above is talking about also carries the same fake MAC products (even noticed a fake MAC foundation tester there the other day). A while back, my mum purchased what she thought was the real Oil of Olay moisturizer from there. Upon further scrutiny at home, I found that on the box it said that it was made in Canada (or the US...can't really remember what the exact country was) despite the fact that most of the writing on it was in Arabic. Furthermore, on the product it was apparently marked as having been manufactured in the UK. What is that? Thank God that she hadn't used it yet. I took as my Christian obligation to take it back the very next day. Be careful girls. Always read the packaging and look out for typos...one sure way to spot fakes.

BellaNubian said...

Hey Sue,
Actually Lintons are not allowed to sell MAC as they are only authorized to sell Clinique and Estee Lauder so they were asked to remove them off the shelves..I also don't get the mark up (3 times) even though duties on cosmetics are really high in this country..

Anonymous said...

i bought a mac ruby woo in town two weeks ago on Moi avenue at a stall that was FULLY CRAZY stocked with mac products..i mean evvvveerryything was down to a tee from the colour to the code at the bottom to the sleek bullet shape. It only cost me 200/- and just like the way she said it isnt drying, my lips look fab and iv had no problem with it...honestly.its aaamazing!

Nyachomba said...

Thanks for the comment..its a good tip. Always check the packaging..you can easily be fooled :-)

Nyachomba said...

Hey! I love Ruby Woo..which specific stall did you go to..share :-)

keshiME&fashion said...

you guys can moove masses trust me...today i got myself iman loose powder..i hear its also good,buh here is the thing,i dont know which inexpensive moisturizer to buy...need help!

Nyachomba said...

A good inexpensive moisturiser is Nivea Soft Cream its like Kshs 200 and lasts an age..and moisturises so beautifully..try it

keshiME&fashion said...

you guys can moove masses trust me...today i got myself iman loose powder..i hear its also good,buh here is the thing,i dont know which inexpensive moisturizer to buy...need help!

SugarPuss said...

@Anonymous, boxes written in arabic/chinese are always something to look out for when telling the fakes....but these new mac have got it down to the manufacturer...the only way i could tell was the fake powder cake was inscribed with MAC inside but the original ones are just plain powder cakes...

Anonymous said...

its the stall on tom mboya street but you can approach it from moi avenue.the wbc building opposite from odeon...theres an alley filled with stalls that are right under hotel diamond.when you use it it leads you straight to caprice fries on moi avenue..the shop not only sells mac but sunglasses earings purses the sorts...look for the mac counter the lipsticks and lipglass foundation are all there..the shop assistants dont know much but they are really helpful and outright tell you when something wont suit you. :) tell me if this is helpful x

Real Hustler! said...

This is interesting topic, especially now that I am just starting my make up biz sending them to kenya trim UK. There are many fakes even in UK mostly sold online. mAc costs 22 pounds in the shop, I don't understand why sell it for 6500. That's more than double the price. I use fashion fair and MACbeoz they are the only 2 foundations which does aggrevate my acne, so am sure fakes wud break me out!

Mkamburi Chigogo said...

That price Kshs.6500 is crazily stupid... honestly. Who wants to pay that much money for a product that is sold at quarter that price in other countries. Here's how I feel. If the fake works for you go ahead! If it breaks you out and does absolutely nada for your skin, ditch it and get something that works for you. Its really that simple!

eastafricandaughter said...

I read this and my eyes popped... 6500??? (I wish that could be written in caps) That price is stupid in a crazy way. Here's what I think. If the fakes work for you why not? Go ahead. On the other hand if you try them and they do nothing for you ditch them. At times with make up; cheap isn't always bad and expensive doesn't translate to quality. So whatever makes your yacht sail.

Peps said...

Local Beauty Shop retailing "Original" MAC Studio Fix powder for Ksh 350?!! i was stunned!! Secondly they had NO TESTERS! I was wodering if customers are to guess their skin tone? We lack professionalism in our beauty shop.

Anonymous said...

hi. If you do not mind my asking, where did you buy the iman product? and is there fake iman? yesterday, I got a place on moi ave. that sells it at shs.400.. is that fair?
and how is dark and lovely lose powder?
please don't mind my many questions. I am new to make up:-(

Anonymous said...

Wewe ni ngombe! Kwani zinabebwa na punda mpaka Kenya? This is business, angalia kando!