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Seen At 11: Counterfeit Cosmetics May Be Harmful To Your Health

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For anyone using pricey skin cream, makeup, or shampoo, be careful what and where you buy.

Bogus beauty products may be harmful to your health and they’re being peddled to unsuspecting shoppers online.

As CBS 2′s Maurice DuBois reported Thursday, high-priced beauty products like skin serums may seem legit, but they may actually be counterfeit.

“Within one to two days of me using the same product that I had used for months, I broke out in a very bad rash,” Susan Moreira said.

Moreira said she found her product cheaper online, but it turned out to be fake, with no plastic around it and no label.

Dr. Whitney Bowe warns there may be serious consequences to buying skin products outside of authorized dealers.

“Counterfeit products have actually been shown to contain known carcinogens, including arsenic and beryllium. Many have been shown to contain very high levels of bacteria that can lead to infections of the skin,” Bowe said.

That was exactly what happened to Moreira.

Bowe pointed out the subtle differences between the real deal and unauthorized products, including the removal of seals and serial numbers. In some cases the product may be re-wrapped entirely.

Robert Trow, the owner of a high-end skin care line, said his company takes specific measures to make sure customers know they’re getting the real thing.

“We have to change our authorized seals periodically so that they can’t be counterfeited. It has to be sold through an authorized agent,” Trow told DuBois.

John Paul Dejoria, the founder of Paul Mitchell hair systems, said hair products can be counterfeit as well.

Dejoria had a blunt message for consumers: “If you ever see Paul Mitchell in any drug store or supermarket, it is by any question of a doubt either counterfeit or from the black/gray market. No ifs, buts, or maybes. We don’t sell it to them at all.”

Makeup is not immune from counterfeiters either, DuBois reported.

A counterfeit makeup brush may not pose a serious risk, but Valerie Salembier, founder of Dontbuyfakes.com, said fake cosmetics can also pose a big risk.

“Think about what you’re doing. You’re putting unregistered chemicals on your face,” Salembier said. “It’s simple. If the cost is too good to be true, guess what — it’s too good to be true.”

Experts say the bulk of counterfeit products are sold on the Internet and at flea markets. They say it’s important to always inspect the packaging and contents.

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