24 Shocking Counterfeit Cosmetics Statistics (2024)

Counterfeit Cosmetics Statistics

The global cosmetics industry brings in billions of dollars each year. However, the constant growth of this industry also leads to the overflow of counterfeit cosmetic products sold across the globe.

Moreover, the digital age, with its thriving social networks, has only aided in the fake industries’ growth. Furthermore, brands that thrive on strong content and influential campaigns are seen as more appealing and exposed to forgers.

This is why we have collected the latest counterfeit cosmetics statistics, hoping to provide you with a detailed summary of its current state. So let’s take a look.

Contents show

Top 10 Counterfeit Cosmetics Stats & Facts

  • The US counterfeit cosmetics market is about $75 million.
  • The annual loss credited to cosmetic counterfeits is calculated to be around $5.4 billion.
  • In 2020, governments made more than 1,500 fake Estée Lauder products seizures.
  • Social media contributes to above 50% of counterfeit cosmetic sales.
  • The field of counterfeit cosmetics is growing at an astonishing rate of 264% yearly.
  • Lead represents one of the most dangerous ingredients in counterfeit products.
  • 67% of consumers who intentionally buy counterfeit cosmetics do that for personal use.
  • 52% of US consumers lost trust in a brand after unintentionally buying a fake version of its products online.
  • 19% of respondents to a 2020 research have unintentionally bought a counterfeit beauty or personal care item.
  • Lower prices drew 73% of customers who bought fake cosmetics online.


Counterfeit Cosmetics Stats Worldwide

The following figures should give you an idea of how the industry is doing globally and how certain counterfeit beauty products are influencing some of the brands’ reputations.


1. Counterfeit goods, which are illegal fakes of an original product, totaled $464 billion in 2019, or 2.5% of the overall trade.


Furthermore, in 2017 and 2018, phony cosmetics and perfumery products marked about 4% of all customs seizures. A year later, that number increased to 10%.

It appears that, with the outburst of the Covid-19, industries either boomed or ultimately failed, and counterfeit cosmetics definitely belong to the first group. This comes as no surprise since more and more people turn to online channels to purchase their beauty products, which is much more unreliable than retail stores.


2. The counterfeit cosmetics market in the US is valued at an estimated $75 million.


The market value also represents approximately 8% of total sales. In comparison, in 2020, the US cosmetics industry reached $90 billion.


3. In 2016, the perfumes and cosmetics industry accounted for 5% of the total value of seized and pirated goods.


When it comes to the industries affected by counterfeit products most, reports show that with 22%, footwear took up a high first place. According to the same reports, the total value of counterfeit and pirated articles traded globally amounted to more than $500 billion.


4. The annual loss attributed to counterfeit cosmetic products is about $5.4 billion.


The cosmetics and personal care industry loses $5.4 billion dollars in sales every year due to fake products, and this negatively affects the reputation of consumer brands.

The same stats show that the cosmetics industry loses more cash to fake products yearly than any other industry.


5. In the first half of 2020, fake product sales were up by 56% across Red Points’ hundreds of brand clients.

(Vogue Business)

Although over 1000 companies rely on this platform to fight counterfeits, piracy, and distribution abuse, there is still an increase in counterfeit products sold.

Cosmetics, skincare tools, and haircare brands have been struck particularly hard, and among Red Points’ beauty clients, counterfeit sales increased by approximately 37%.


6. In 2020, over 1,500 counterfeit Estée Lauder product outbreaks were reported by government authorities.

(Iowa State Daily, Allure)

From 2011 to 2013, global seizures of fake beauty products rose 25%, while in 2017 and 2018, counterfeit cosmetics and perfumery products accounted for roughly 4% of all customs seizures. In 2019, that percentage rose just under 10%.


Social Media Influence & Other Fake Cosmetics Statistics

The following section deals with global challenges imposed by the Covid-19 outburst, such as the rise of online cosmetics sales, which also influenced the rise of fake beauty products sales through social media. Read on to find out more.


7. Social media is responsible for above 50% of fake cosmetic sales.

(Cosmetics Business)

In 2018, research found that social media was responsible for more than half of the fake cosmetic sales.

Out of all social media platforms, Facebook independently comprises a tremendous 42.1% of those fake sales, followed by eBay and Instagram, at 30.4% and 9.2%, respectively.


8. 60% of beauty and personal care brands suffer from brand misuse throughout online media.

(Smart Protection)

Even higher percentages suffer from counterfeits within digital marketplaces. Moreover, as per the same survey, 40% of the infringements are within marketplaces, 30% are noticed on social networks, and the remaining 30% are counterfeit or rogue sites that emulate the look and feel of the official brand in order to mislead gullible clients.


9. The annual growth of counterfeit cosmetics has been estimated at 264%.


Furthermore, the statistics regarding the European market show that 35% of the counterfeit cosmetics purchased in Europe are sold on the primary market.

This is concerning since, in secondary markets, most consumers deliberately prefer to buy counterfeit perfumes or cosmetics than the original, but the buyers don’t even expect to get scammed in the primary market.


10. Lead is one of the dangerous ingredients in counterfeit products, where it is found in 5 to 19x greater amounts than the legal limit.

(Red Points)

This concentration of lead can have consequences, including reproductive issues, human developmental toxicity, and system toxicity within the liver, cardiovascular system, and sensory organs.

Arsenic, copper, mercury, beryllium, and animal feces are just a few of numerous other ingredients that can seriously harm people’s health.


11. Counterfeit MAC lipsticks have been found to contain lead at 300 times the permitted level

(Red Points)

However, numerous other lab results and sting operations show different numbers regarding the lead concentration, from 5x, 15x, to 19x, and the shocking 300x the permitted limit.

This indicates that while some counterfeit cosmetics are not that dangerous, some can be extremely bad for one’s health.


Interesting Facts About Counterfeit Cosmetics

Now that we’ve gone over some of the essential numbers about the counterfeit cosmetics and beauty industry, let’s take a look at some of the interesting stats and facts, most of which are quite staggering.


12. In 2018, the Police Department from LA intruded the Fashion District and captured fake cosmetics worth $700,000.


The Anti-Piracy Unit was informed that some vendors in Santee Alley were probably selling counterfeit makeup, so they executed a secret operation, purchased several products, and tested them. All of the products turned out to be fake, with high levels of animal waste and bacteria.

That same year, the Local Government Association in London also uncovered hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of fake beauty products of popular brands, including Chanel, MAC, and Benefit. Some of the products contained a highly toxic chemical, mercury.


13. In 2020, Red Points started working on removing 11,000 fakes sold across 180 marketplaces.

(Vogue Business)

This brand protection agency has worked with Foreo to help remove 2 million dollars worth of counterfeit goods.

While numerous popular names, such as L’Oreal and Estée Lauder, have committed legal and security teams focused on keeping counterfeit goods off the market, this operation came in handy for smaller brands that are less protected.


14. 67% of consumers who intentionally buy counterfeit cosmetics do that for personal use.

(Smart Protection)

What’s more, 39% of consumers purchase fake cosmetics as gifts for friends and family, while, shockingly, 37% of them buy fake products for their children.


15. A certain US department of security established Operation Plastic Beauty in 2015.

(Eminence Organics)

This department was created mainly to stop the spread of counterfeit cosmetic products.

A considerable amount of counterfeit goods come from China and are sold both on the streets and online. The results indicated that 20 of 47 products bought from mediator sellers were bogus.

The Estée Lauder Companies performed over 1,350 seizures and held around 2.6 million pieces of fake products in 2016.


16. Every year Amazon spends hundreds of millions of dollars to regulate the counterfeits on its website.

(Washington Post)

This comes from an increasing number of people making their purchases online. For example, only 22% of Americans declared having made an online purchase in 2000, while that percentage increased to 79% sixteen years later.

We’re supposed to be able to trust the things we buy online, right? But it turns out that’s just not the case, according to a recent Government Investigation report. They did an investigation of third-party vendors on sites like Amazon and Walmart and found that over 42% of items purchased during the investigation were fakes.


17. Influencer Jaclyn Hill lost nearly 70,000 followers due to launching counterfeit products.


The drama occurred when it was discovered that Jaclyn launched a range of lipsticks that were found to have hair and various texture irregularities on them. Shortly after losing thousands of followers, the influencer deleted her social media accounts.


More Fake Cosmetics Stats & Demographics

What are consumers’ responses to counterfeiting? In the following segment, we are going to discuss some of the available demographic data. Read on to find out this and some more interesting stats and facts about this market.


18. 41.5% of consumers who are tricked into purchasing counterfeit cosmetics from a certain brand commented that they would quit purchasing products from that brand.

(Smart Protection)

32% of consumers who are cheated into buying counterfeit cosmetics stated they’d cease connecting with social posts, while 26.18% would not trust sales and promotions.

The same study showed that 60% of respondents had deliberately bought fake cosmetics online, while 90% of them revealed that they would do so again.


19. 19% of respondents have unintentionally bought a counterfeit beauty or personal care item.

(Smart Protection)

However, 16% of respondents stated they were unsure whether they’d bought an original or counterfeit product. This number is significantly lower compared to those in the US, though, where one in three consumers had unintentionally purchased a counterfeit.


20. In a survey about cross-border e-commerce platforms and overseas shopping users in China, 45.5% of respondents stated that they had purchased fake toiletries. 


A survey conducted in 2019 in China showed that 45.5% of respondents had bought counterfeit toiletries. Over 39% of respondents stated that they had bought fake beauty and makeup products.

In Russia, on the other hand, online sales were much lower, measuring at 31% share, while more than two-thirds of fake cosmetic products were sold via offline channels during the period from the first half of 2019 to the second half of 2020.


21. 21% of people who purchased a counterfeit product knowingly did so because they think it supplies the same quality as the official item.

(Smart Protection)

18% of respondents stated they were inspired to buy a fake cosmetic product after reading positive reviews and ratings, while a slightly lower percentage of consumers purchased a counterfeit because it was the first one that appeared when they searched for a product online.

What’s more, fake beauty and personal care products also appear in Google search listings, often due to paid media campaigns, while the same person usually submits positive reviews and ratings.


22. 73% of people who purchased fake cosmetics online were attracted by the lower prices.

(Smart Protection)

Furthermore, 43% of consumers claimed that inadequate product ingredients are one of the main dissimilarities between authentic and counterfeit items, while 38% stated they worry about what fake products could do to their bodies.


23. 52% of US buyers stopped believing in a brand after buying a counterfeit version of its products online by mistake.

(Vogue Business)

The 2019 report also shows that 64% of those consumers said they would also lose trust in the marketplace that bogus goods were bought from.


24. 16% of consumers believe that the official brand is accountable for the number of bogus beauty and personal care products marketed online using their brand name.

(Smart Protection)

Moreover, 9% of consumers stated they are unsure who to blame.

When it comes to their reaction to purchasing a counterfeit by mistake, two out of five (40%) consumers would exclusively shop on the authorized brand website in the future, while 28% said they would alert their friends and family about the brand.

However, 21% would lose trust in offers and discounts, while one in five (20%) would quit shopping with the official brand altogether.


Related Questions

How can you spot counterfeit makeup?

While sophisticated digital marketing campaigns are often deceiving consumers, there are some signs to look for when buying cosmetics that will tell you whether or not it is real or fake:

  1. Think about the price; if it is significantly lower than on the high street, that is not good.
  2. Physically check for uneven fill levels of a product, faded packaging, misspelling, slight differences in the name of the product or shade, or different fonts or styles on the container.
  3. Check whether the distributor is listed on the beauty brand’s website.


What will fake makeup do to your face?

Using counterfeit cosmetics is potentially quite risky due to all kinds of ingredients put into them. Using counterfeit cosmetics can cause numerous damaging effects such as swollen lips, chemical burns, eye infections, and sometimes even some long-term health issues.


Can you buy fake cosmetics on Amazon?

Several years ago, when investigators discovered that some resellers had been trading unauthorized imported cosmetic products, Flipkart and Amazon devoted themselves to preventing unregulated and phony cosmetics sales.



When it comes to spotting fake products, many shoppers think they have what it takes. They figure that counterfeit cosmetics are easy to spot because they’re of inferior quality and have cheaper packaging. However, nowadays, counterfeiters are becoming more skilled at imitating official items, which means you should be extra cautious when shopping online.

After listing all of these counterfeit cosmetics statistics and facts, we surely hope consumers have become a bit more aware of the growth in the prevalence of fake products and the dangers behind using these types of products.

If you want to ensure you’re using 100% legitimate products, it’s best to buy directly from the manufacturer or authorized reseller (i.e., a store in the mall). This way you can guarantee that your cosmetics are not fake and potentially harmful.

I hope you found this article helpful. I know there was a lot of information, but you’re now equipped with what you need to know to make informed decisions about your purchases and help others become aware of the dangers counterfeit cosmetics pose.

What do you think? Is your health more important than a new lipstick or an eye shadow palette?

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading!

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