There are no laws against product counterfeiting and diversion (2015).
I had an experience a couple weeks ago that made me really mad, sad, and upset. I recently got a haircut and needed to buy some new hair products because buying the right kind of product for your hair makes or breaks the way you can style it. Because I was trying to get the best deal I could find, I resorted to buying two professional hair care products from Amazon.com. Well I’m here to tell you that the two products I bought from Amazon were total fakes or counterfeited products. Today I’m going to talk about to avoid buying counterfeit hair care products and why you should never buy professional hair care or beauty products from any drugstore, grocery store, or online store. And why the only place you should be buying from is a professional salon.
Like I mentioned above I got a haircut a couple weeks ago and asked my hairdresser what hair care products she recommended for my new do. She told me to buy a pomade and a good hold mousse. So she walked me over to where they sell hair care products in the salon and I couldn’t believe how expensive they were. $24 for pomade, and $12 for mousse?! I’m a girl who’s always looking for a good deal and I wasn’t going to drop $36 on hair products when I just spent $35 on a haircut. So I went onto Amazon that night and found the prices to be a lot cheaper! This is what I ordered:
Enjoy Creamy Pomade 3.35 ounces $13.09
Osis Grip Volume Extreme Hold Mousse 7 ounces $12.93
When I got the product I was really excited to start using it, but after using it a couple times I instantly noticed some differences.
My hairdresser used both of these products on my hair after I got it cut and I can remember my hair felt amazing days after.
The first thing I noticed was that the two products I bought from Amazon smelled a lot different from the ones my hairdresser used on me in the salon. I remember them smelling really, really, really good and that was one of the reasons why I like them. The products I bought from Amazon had a very faint scent, and the scent didn’t smell very good.
Second, I noticed my hair never looked or felt the same after my hairdresser applied these two products to my hair. I know, I know your hair never feels the same after you get it cut and washed in the salon. When my hairdresser used this mousse on my hair and pomade in my hair it created this kind of thick and gritty texture in my hair (sounds kind of gross, but it’s awesome for styling short hair). I didn’t get this feeling whatsoever with the mousse and pomade I bought from Amazon.
I was getting kind of suspicious and did some research online and looked at the bottles a lot better. I found there were a lot of similarities with these two products and counterfeited ones. My heart sank.
I went back to my salon and talked with my stylist about the products because I wanted her thoughts. I showed her the two products I got online and we were able to compare the ones from the salon side by side. My stylist Ashley could tell there was a difference between mine and her products. I ended up buying a bottle of mousse and pomade from her so I can show you guys the difference.
Ashley told me another reason she tries to educate her clients about buying from her is because the same products you buy at drugstores don’t look, work, and feel the same as the ones you buy at professional salons, she’s tried it herself. She said expired and counterfeit products smell different, have a separated consistency, and they have a slightly different texture than the real deal.
I came home and did some more testing on the potential counterfeit and the REAL hair care products.
The pomade I bought from the salon had a very sticky and pliable consistency and had a very pleasant smell. The pomade I bought online felt and looked like it was watered down and it wasn’t as sticky and had a faint smell that didn’t smell good. When I smeared both samples on a black piece of paper you could tell the one I bought online was wetter and the one I bought from the professional salon was a lot creamier.
Then I tried the both of the two bottles of mousse and boy, you could tell a huge difference immediately, can you see it?
The mousse I bought online looked like it was diluted and within a few minutes the mousse broke down or evaporated and left a wet spot on the black paper. The mousse I bought in the professional salon stayed that way for over an hour until I threw away the paper. So who knows what kind of crap is in the online bought mousse!
After I did this experiment I logged onto my Amazon account to investigate if I could return the items. To my disappointment I couldn’t return both of the items. The pomade had a seven day return policy and the mousse is considered a “fire hazard.” I was upset. So I wrote an email to Amazon telling them that I was a loyal customer, loved their site, and was disappointed that I was sold counterfeit beauty products by them. No joke, an hour later I got an email back from them saying that they were really concerned with my email and offered me a full refund without having to return the products (what the what?!) and told me to dispose of them. They told me that they had forwarded my email to upper management to discuss my matter.
I don’t know what will become of my email, and if I hear back from them I’ll let you know but I was really happy Amazon was really generous with me and responded back so quickly. Even though they sold me crap, I still have a lot of respect for them.
Amazon is not the only place where you can find professional beauty products. I see professional hair care products at Target, Smith’s, Walgreens, and Rite Aid to name a few. So if these products are only suppose to be sold in a professional salon, how the heck do they end up at some of our favorite stores?
What happens is that the world’s “grey market” will buy salon products from a legitimate distributor like Enjoy or Big Sexy Hair, then set them aside in a warehouse for years until the barcode expires so they can’t be tracked. During this time, not only does the barcode expire but so does the product inside, warping from heat, or crystallizing from freezing temperatures and in time turns those products into an ineffective shadow of its former self. Then they’ll go and sell them to stores like Target and other drugstores.
Ok so what are the red flags to counterfeited hair care products?
1. Differences in ingredients, instructions, and logo. If you look at a counterfeit product and compare it to one you got from a salon closely you’ll be able to tell subtle differences in the ingredients, instructions, misspelled words, and even the logo.
2. A barcode sticker. Counterfeited products ALWAYS have a sticker slapped over the original barcode printed on the bottle. This is done by the wholesalers to keep track of it. If you notice when you buy a product from a professional salons they always use the barcode on the bottle. Both of my products from Amazon had barcode stickers on them.
3. Dirty, dented, or sticky. Professional hair care companies take a lot of pride in the way their product looks, so if you come across one that is messy looking, don’t buy it.
4. Missing batch code. If you see batch codes missing on the bottom, that’s another red flag.
5. Higher price or significantly reduced. At first I didn’t believe it. I talked to my hairstylist and she told me a red flag when it comes to counterfeit product is the price is slightly higher. My mousse was $12.93 on Amazon and the mousse at my salon was $12. $.93 isn’t a huge difference but counterfeit products are generally more expensive because they’ve gone through so many different “grey market” hands they have to jack up the price of them so those shady people can get a profitable cut. The pomade I bought on Amazon was $13.09 , almost half the price of the one I bought from my salon for $24. What I learned from this lesson is sometimes when you see items selling for 50% off the normal price, it’s almost too good to be true. Which this was the case for me.
6. Not sold in a professional salon. Professional hair care companies like Enjoy, Paul Mitchell, Biolage, Big Sexy Hair, and others only sell to professional salons. They don’t sell their product to Target and other grocery or drug stores.
7. Doesn’t work as well. This was one of the first indicators that something wasn’t right with the two products I bought from Amazon.
Conclusion. I still don’t know whether the two products I bought from Amazon were either counterfeited or expired. But I know they didn’t work the same as when I use the ones I bought from my salon.
Ok, so what do we as consumers do? The crappy thing is there’s no laws against product counterfeiting and diversion which is why it’s allowed to go on. The only thing that is illegal is if an authorized dealer (a professional salon) sells the product in the purpose for it to be resold or sells to an unauthorized dealer or distributors. So where it comes down to is if you want to protect your health, your money, and your hair, make sure you only buy from a professional salon. Period.