Consumers warned after counterfeit make-up found to contain arsenic and lead

The HPRA is advising consumers to be vigilant this Christmas

Counterfeit make-up, HPRA, harmful substances, arsenic, lead, consumers

Make up brushes | Image: Zak Hussein / PA Archive/PA Images

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has issued a warning to consumers over counterfeit make-up products.

The HPRA says it has identified "harmful substances" in a number of counterfeit cosmetics intended for the Irish market.

It is advising consumers to be vigilant of counterfeit 'high end' beauty products being offered through certain outlets, markets and websites in the lead up to Christmas.

Tests carried out by the HPRA on a number of these counterfeit products found that some contained harmful substances - such as arsenic and lead - which can be potentially harmful.

Among the counterfeit products are MAC, Urban Decay and Benefit.

The HPRA warns that the Christmas season is the peak time of the year for rogue sellers of counterfeit products and shoppers are strongly urged to avoid these potentially harmful products.

The HPRA says recent seizures of counterfeit perfume by Revenue's Customs Service, as well as several recent instances of counterfeit make-up identified entering, or on, the Irish market by the HPRA, are prime examples of counterfeit cosmetics intended for the Christmas present market.

According to Aoife Farrell, cosmetics compliance manager with the HPRA: "Long periods of exposure to substances such as arsenic and lead can have potentially harmful effects on the body such as damage to numerous organs and systems, such as the kidneys, as well as the central nervous system".

"Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, headaches and vomiting. Even those products that may not contain banned substances are often manufactured in unhygienic conditions using poor quality raw materials. These products may lead to skin irritation or possibly eye infections".

The HPRA is advising consumers to:

  • Ensure that the product is labelled with a European address (this means there is a company in Europe responsible for ensuring it complies with quality and safety requirements)
  • If you have any concerns about a product you have purchased that you think may be counterfeit, do not use it. Contact the supplier and the European manufacturer listed on the label
  • Report any sellers of fake cosmetic products to An Garda Síochána on 1800-666-111
  • Report anyone who is illegally importing counterfeit cosmetic products to Revenue on 1800-295-295
  • Report any undesirable health effects to your healthcare professional, the manufacturer (contact details on product packaging) or directly to the HPRA