Are you being conned by Fake Skincare?

So, you're scrolling through Facebook or Insta one night, and come across and ad for a facial serum. Great photos and it speaks to you click on the link to the website. It will give you great looking skin by fixing, acne, ageing or what ever your skin concern is. But is it really made by some small artisan maker in Australia who lovingly mixes it up using all their knowledge to create something amazing that will fulfill the need you have? Well, let me tell you, the fake skincare business is on the rise. And I'm going to tell how you can tell the fakes from the real deal. But first a bit of a back story.... so bear with me.

I've been making skincare for more than 20 years and in this time I've seen small skincare businesses come and go. Some succeed, many don't. And those were the legitimate ones. Now fast forward to now and it seems to have reached a frenzy of new skincare lines launching everyday. And it's a really unregulated business. There are very few things you need to comply with, so pretty much anyone can sell skincare. Due to easy to build websites, and advertising, cheap manufacturers in China, the cosmetics industry has exploded, it's big business and for some, this is just another avenue to make a quick dollar.

Large manufacturers have hooked onto the whole craft movement and are offering "skincare in a box" to anyone with a few thousand dollars and the dream of becoming an "insta-entrepreneur". And they don't care if you only buy from them once. They've made their money and there are plenty more customers.

Craft and hand made has become big business, think craft beer and gin, artisan and farmers markets and the giant Etsy has become. (As at December 2018 Etsy's gross turnover was 3.9 Billion USD)
Customers are embracing small, homegrown brands in favour of the big faceless corporate products. And its become big business. So new skincare brands are popping up overnight. And online selling is just another avenue to sell.
And the majority will die off just as quickly. But for most, that is actually their business model. Run massive ads on Facebook and Instagram with huge markups and when the product has had its run, move on to the next thing, whatever that may be. 

So how do they do this? It's called White Labelling.

And this is how it works.. 

Apart from the fly by nighters that are here one minute and gone the next, there is also mr/ms budding entrepreneur who decides they would like to have their own brand of skincare. So they may start to research making skincare and find that it's complicated and hard to do and takes years to learn how to formulate, but there is a solution, a factory in China or US or even Australia will do it all for you. That's called White Label or Private Label manufacturing.

As an example, you choose from 5 or 10 different ranges. Choose from 5 different packaging style, 10 different label styles and voila! In approximately 2-4 months your box of skincare will arrive on your doorstep. They'll even do a photo shoot for you and supply you with Instagram ready picture and Facebook posts. And it's very affordable, with a start up as little as $5000 which is why there are plenty of customers for the manufacturer.

Now I'm not saying all these products are bad, but, they are put together from a marketing point of view FIRST. They are generic. Same stuff in different bottles marketed in different ways. The new entrepreneur selling said cosmetics in a box, probably knows very little about how the skin actually functions and even less about cosmetic formulation.
In many cases you will be paying a lot more for diluted and lower quality skin care simply because there are more people making money from it and each takes a cut. From the formulations I have tested that are out there, they tend to be less effective because same recipe is made in huge amounts and needs to be able to be marketed for a myriad of uses.

So how can you tell if the skincare brand that's popped up on your Facebook/Instagram feed is legit and likely to do what it says it will?

Here are my tips on kicking the sub-standard and fakes to the curb!

Checkout the person behind it, and I don't just mean their well curated pic and videos.
Check the website. Do they have an actual physical address? A phone number? An email address rather than just a contact box you fill out. Is there a real person behind the contact us?
It's surprising how many don't have an easy way of actually contacting them or they are faceless.
Read their about page. Who are they? How did they come about having this skincare brand? Where are they? How are their products made? Why are they doing this?

Look at their claims with some healthy skepticism. Remember that old saying "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" If they are making crazy claims that don't really make sense. Avoid it and save your money.

Are they selling a miracle one ingredient product? It's great for marketing! I've seen so many ranges and single hero ingredient products come and go. Aloe Vera range, Tea Tree range, Evening Primrose, Emu Oil, Jojoba oil and now more recently, Prickly Pear oil and Marine Plankton..and the list goes on. 

Now there's nothing wrong with some of these ingredients, some of them are excellent and it's a pity that they are being sold as a cure all for every skin type and problem. It's the equivalent of the snake oil salesman. No one ingredient is anti-aging, cures acne, reduces wrinkles, sensitivity, increases collagen etc.
It might be a great ingredient however it can't do EVERYTHING. But it sure makes marketing a product a whole lot easier.

Do they have retailers on board?
Not vital as there are some excellent products you can only buy online, however, selling your product wholesale to retailers is a whole level up in what you as the cosmetic brand need to do to get a retailers confidence. Retailers are used to seeing brands come and go so they need to be confident the brand is here to stay before parting with their hard earned cash. So if they have stockists it can at least give you another level of confidence.

What is their refund policy like? Is it vague, reasonable or even overly generous? Vague speaks for itself.
An overly generous refund policy might sound good but it can also mean they are wanting to convince you to buy and bank on the fact most people don't ask for a refund or they could be planning to sell as much as possible quickly and then shut shop. In this day and age of drop-shipping style businesses this is not an uncommon business plan. So the really generous refund policy may be a red flag.

Do they have reviews? Read these carefully. You can buy fake reviews for your page and write your own. Look at the way they are written. If the website is put up quickly often the reviews have been too. So look for unusual language that doesn't make sense. Are the reviews all from overseas? Are they all similar? Are they all great with no negative ones? That can be a red flag. It's actually better to see some reviews with concerns, even better if they have been addressed.

Labels. Look at the website product photo. Does it have the content amount on the front? I have seen an increase in illegal labelling. In Australia the contents amount must be on the front of the bottle and the font must be legible and of a certain size. It is illegal not to have it there. I am seeing so many labels that have nothing but the name on the front. A lot of times I really have to hunt to find out how much product the bottle actually contains. Often the bottle looks larger than it is. Some bottles are as small as 10ml and can cost $50. Check the ingredients if you can. A company that is honest will most likely list their ingredients on the website.

So by looking at these things it can build a picture for you. One thing may not necessarily mean that they aren't a legitimate cosmetic business. But a few of the above should raise red flags. So I hope this helps you when deciding to buy some skincare online.


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