However, as one might expect on a beauty blog, the conversation turned to counterfeit make-up and I was asked to see if I could do a follow-up post, focusing on fake MAC make-up in particular. A lot of you wanted to see what it looked like, what the quality of the products were like and, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do such a post.
Morally though, I had a dilemma. Being so staunchly anti-fake, I couldn't bring myself to spend any money ordering "fake-up" and, consequently,supporting and contributing to the black market. So, I put my feelers out and, thanks to a family friend and Dee from DeeLightful Thoughts, I soon had an alarming collection of fake MAC at my disposal including two foundations and three eyeshadow palettes.
It's hard to know where to start a post like this as there is so much to say but, I think I took a pretty comprehensive set of photos depicting the fake MAC that I have and also comparing it to the real deal where possible so, you'll be able to make your own deductions further than what I have to say here.
Apologies in advance for an extremely lengthy, text and picture-heavy post but, I wanted to give the broadest representation possible! Be sure to read to the end of the post as there are some interesting and scary facts about using fake-up!
I'm going to look at each palette one-by-one and comment on any obvious issues with packaging, labeling and product as well as anything else that sets it apart from the real deal.
Packaging: Clearly this palette has been through the wars but, it's still clear that this is not "standard" MAC packaging. While the logo is correct, MAC, to my knowledge, never denote what is contained inside by printing "Eyeshadow," on the face of the compact.
Label: This is probably the best representation of a MAC label of the three palettes I have. However, it is missing the standard period-after-opening (PAO) symbol that, according to the EU Cosmetics Derivative, must be carried on all cosmetics with a shelf-life of at least 30 months.
However, the real issue with this label is that it, allegedly, contains "6 Warm Eyes" yet, only 5 shades are listed; Brule, Honey Lust, Jete, Beauty Marked and Showstopper. Furthermore, none of these shades are the ones actually contained in the palette which, look to me to be more like rip-offs of Dazzlelight, Electra, Carbon, Sumptuous Olive, Mythology and Bronze.
Palette and Brulé (L) and Beauty Marked (R) which are supposed to be included.
Product: Aside from the naming issue, the quality of the shadows isn't stupendous. There is a lot of fallout and they are very chalky. They also stink of talcum powder which probably accounts for the powdery texture. Pigmentation is very poor and requires multiple swatches to build up a discernible shade.
Labeling: Seriously? THIS is meant to be a genuine MAC label? They didn't even try. Not only is Shimmer Brick a Bobbi Brown product but, there is absolutely no brand information as is customary on a MAC label, let alone a POA symbol or shade names.
Product: Again, this is just a joke. These eyeshadows were a thick, crumbly mess. Swatching them meant powder flying everywhere and they seemed to disintegrate under my touch, especially the taupe shade in the middle of the palette. Talcum powder was the predominant scent and it was extremely strong in this case. My main issue though was how difficult these were to remove. I had to scrub at my arm and the blue shades stained my skin which you can kind of make out in the last picture.
Packaging: This palette is the most laughable out of the three; the counterfeiter didn't even try to replicate a MAC palette. Just the brand name was used and what appears to be the logo from the Fafi Collection way back in 2007. This looks to be more reminiscent of an ELF or NYX palette than a MAC one.
Labeling: Wrong logo, bad naming scheme and an out-of-place "professional make-up artists". The only thing that is right with this label is the MAC website address. Again, no shade names.
Product: Kudos to Randy Rip-Off for adding a nice embossed floral design to each of the 8 shadows in this palette. Really makes up for the fact that these will probably burn through your eyelids.
The same issues that I have noted for the previous two eyeshadow palettes are applicable here. Overpowering smell, very soft, chalky and powdery with heavy fallout. These eyeshadows are reminiscent of nothing in the MAC line, even the worst finish they have which is Lustre.
Finally, we're onto foundations. Comparing and critiquing these was much harder than the eyeshadows were as it's harder to capture on camera what I can see and feel when I swatch them but, I will do my best to explain.
Packaging: The face of this compact isn't too bad. The logo and text placement are all correct but, the font used for "Studio Fix" is incorrect. If you Google pictures, you'll notice that the "o" in "Studio" should look more like a zero. In terms of the bottom of the compact, the trellis-like base is correct but, as far as I can see, there is no solid piece peeping out from behind the label on the legitimate compact.
Labeling: The label always seems to be what gives fake-up away. The font used and lack of detail make this scream "FAKE." I don't have a compact of Studio Fix to compare it to but, here is the fake label compared with a Mineralized Skinfinish Natural Label showing the font used and amount of detail MAC include for all products.
Product: Unfortunately I don't have a comparison swatch but, from what I know about Studio Fix, this powder isn't thick enough or heavy enough coverage to be considered the same product. It smells heavily of talc again and is extremely dusty.
Packaging: I used to use Mineralize Satinfinish for many years so, I feel I can give a good account of how the fake one differs. On first glance, nothing looks too suspect. The bottle is frosted as is the real one and the text and font are all correct. However, once you put the real and the fake side-by side, you can see the subtle inaccuracies between the two.
The lids are different sizes, with the fake one being slightly bigger. The lip on the lid of the fake one is also deeper than that on the real. The false bottom on the bottle is larger on the fake than on the real and, I would hazard that there is less product in the fake one as a result.
I do have the fake packaging for this one and, it is perfectly believable save for the funny looking shade sticker.
Labeling: Because the fake foundation contained so much information on both the box and the bottle, I had my sister read out the real labeling to me to compare. This is almost a perfect dupe with very little inconsistency, if any. The only labeling issues are the aforementioned sticker on the box and the third picture above where the sticker on the end of the bottle has clearly been applied manually as opposed to mechanically and is peeling and full of air bubbles.
Product: Mineralize Satinfinish is an extremely lightweight, low coverage foundation. The fake one appeared to have a thick texture and consistency and heavy coverage that is more akin to Studio Fix Fluid. I'm not sure how well that translates in the pictures but, you're just going to have to trust me!
Real (L) and Fake (R)
So, there you have it, my comparisons between the real and the not-so-real. Clearly there are some really good fakes (Mineralize Satinfinish) and really bad fakes (Palette #3) but, regardless, a fake is still a fake and, the one thing really worth noting here is that none of these products included any semblance of ingredient information.
You have absolutely no idea of what you are putting on your skin and near your eyes. The Irish Examiner ran an article in 2010 outlining the dangerous compounds found in fake-up that had been seized by Customs. Lead was found in MAC lipglosses while cadmium was prevalent in other cosmetics tested, both of which can lead to poisoning and, in worse case scenarios, death.
A BBC article also warns of the dangers of fake-up, cautioning that use can cause rashes, allergic reactions and even burns to the skin. This isn't too hard to believe given how my skin was stained after swatching the second eyeshadow palette and, while it could be my imagination running wild, my arm was itchy and hot for a good while after swatching the fake Mineralize Satinfinish.
So, whatever about the moral complexities of supporting the black market, when it is putting your health at risk, buying counterfeit cosmetics to save a few bob really isn't worth it.