MAC COSMETICS - HOW TO SPOT FAKES by EXPERIENCED SELLER
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MOST RECENT UPDATE: There are now fake Lady Gaga eye shadow palettes! I'm sure there will be or already are, other items as well (MAC has only made a Lady Gaga lipstick and lipglass - so far). ***I removed my guide that focuses only on fake pigments, due to the huge number of different versions of the counterfeits and it was impossible for me to keep up with them.
RECENT UPDATE: 9/27/10: Much of the information regarding MAC, contained in this "guide" only covers older counterfeits now, because I can no longer keep up (some NEW info is given too). Unfortunately, the counterfeiters have finally found a way to make ALL MAC PRODUCTS - and that look real! I am so unbelievably appalled at the websites with "wholesalers" from Hong Kong, China, etc. selling thousands of fake MAC items (previously that had never been counterfeited), AND THE SELLERS HERE ON EBAY (and ALL other auction sites) with thousands of feedback (and few negatives for fakes), selling several hundred items per month, THAT ARE ALL FAKE MAC. Those not familiar with MAC and color names, are being sucked in, as are those who ARE familiar with their MAC! After what I just witnessed on Ebay tonight, I had to add this comment and remind people, to CHECK FEEDBACK! If a seller has even 4,000-5,000 feedback, but multiple negative feedback claiming their MAC is fake, THEN BEWARE! It is possible for a seller to get 1 or 2 feedback for fakes, when it's not really fake MAC - IF that's out of thousands of feedback of course, but any more than this and you should heed their warning (sometimes a buyer will get mad at the seller for some reason and retaliate by claiming a product is fake or tell other lies or errors in identifying the fakes could possibly happen - although rarely, so anymore than 1 or 2 claims of fakes and you should believe it). Even if the neutral or neg. FB's are many pages back and you have to search, then search until you find what the FB says (sometimes a buyer will leave a seller 4 or 5 bad feedbacks, for NO valid reason, they don't speak English, etc. so always check to see what the FB actually says and don't assume that all neutrals/negs are for fake MAC).
Again, even products that had never been counterfeited before, including PRO ONLY products, have now been faked! This includes the limited edition items in special packaging! The latest batch I just saw tonight is counterfeits from the Liberty of London Collection, which is fairly new! The color names were NOT produced with that collection! Regarding some of the newer fake pigments, check the MAC website to see if the color exists. If it's not listed on there, then contact a seller who knows their MAC and just ask if it IS a true pigment color name! Many of these fakes have the color names of MAC eye shadows, and those were ONLY eye shadows, NOT pigments! You have no idea what ingredients are in these fakes! They can cause skin problems, eye irritation and even blindness! They are NOT manufactured under sanitary conditions. "Wholesalers" are selling these pigments, eye shadows, etc. in lots of hundreds and thousands, for .10 cents-$3.00 per piece. You CAN'T BUY MAC FOR THESE PRICES - unless it's fake (and this much MAC doesn't just fall off of the back of trucks)! So, be sure to purchase MAC from reputable sellers only, and if the price is too good to be true - there's a reason for it! However, some of the fakes I've seen, are priced just like the authentic products, but this isn't common and it's usually dirt cheap. If people are not bidding on the auctions, that's a good indication that the products are fake and those who are very familiar with MAC, can tell the difference. Unfortunately, I have also seen MANY of those darn cream eye shadow palettes (with at least 12 colors - and more), selling in auction for very high prices because they are pretty - but they are NOT MAC products. Goodluck & be careful!
**To The Beach Collection has also now been counterfeited. AGAIN, BEWARE OF THE LIBERTY OF LONDON FAKE LIPSTICKS, even being sold by sellers with a few thousand feedback.
**I HAVE ELIMINATED THE MAC BRUSH GUIDE, BECAUSE IT WAS GETTING TOO DIFFICULT TO KEEP UP WITH THE CHANGES, BUT THERE IS STILL ALOT OF INFORMATION IN THIS GUIDE, ON BRUSHES - updated through 9/2009!
**SEE MY GUIDE ON MAC PIGMENTS FOR MUCH MORE INFORMATION ON HOW TO SPOT THESE FAKES.
** UPDATE: Many of the fake pigments and eye shadows, will have boxes that if scratched lightly with your fingernail, it will leave a "scratch" (not into the paper, but they are marks). It is not like this with authentic MAC boxes. Also, many of the fake pigment lids, are very shiny black, not matte black (I have found a few authentic pigments where the lids are somewhat shiny - and very close to the fakes, but they are real - one of these is on Night Light). Compare a questionable lid, with a known authentic one. OBVIOUSLY, it should go without saying, that if there is a typo on the box or jar information, then you have a fake! There are too many typo's and differences to list (including spaces or no spaces between certain numbers or letters, on the fake boxes - which is different from the authentic boxes).
***6/2009: MAC HAS CHANGED THEIR PACKAGING - their new packaging has the color name and code numbers (like the UPC code), that are PRINTED WITH THE BOX, THEY ARE NOT STICKERS NOW. In the information below, in this guide, it tells you that if the color name and UPC code is printed with the box, then they are fake, but this isn't true now. I am leaving that information in this guide, since so many of those fakes do exist. I guess all you can do, is look at several reputable sellers' pictures, of the new MAC packaging, and compare it, if you have questions - or take it to MAC. As always, buy from a reputable seller
***NEW UPDATE ON FAKE HELLO KITTY, FAFI, BARBIE & Dazzleglass - I am sorry but there are too many fakes now, for me to keep up with them and this has been the case for quite some time. However, I wanted to at least warn buyers that the Dazzleglass, Fafi collection, and even Barbie, has been counterfeited and NOW HELLO KITTY HAS BEEN ALSO! There is alot of fake Dazzleglass on Ebay (they are giving the colors, real names, rather than listing by #2, #3, etc. so you won't know they are fake until you get them, and then only if you know that Dazzleglass do not have a color number like this). There is a TON of different Hello Kitty fakes, including something like 16 shades of lipglass, lipsticks (even has the kitty head engraved on the lipsticks), 8 blush colors, foundations, makeup remover, many different eye shadow palettes (at least 2 different styles, all with more than 4 colors each and MAC only made TWO quads), eye shadow singles (large eye shadows), including "mineralize" E.S.'s, and too much to list (TONS of fake Hello Kitty is has been on Ebay for quite awhile, including items that did not even come out with the collection, like eye liners, mascara, eye makeup remover, foundations and much more - also the real Hello Kitty blush, does not have the Kitty face embedded IN the blush or printed on the back of the box)! There is a TON of these fakes on the i-offer auction site too, so you can get a good look at them ALL on that site. I can not buy all of the fakes available, in order to compare them and list all of the differences, so you will need to either buy from a very reputable seller, or take the items to MAC (if they still have them in stock or if they remember what the items looked like), but Paypal hasn't been refunding the buyers who are purchasing fakes, so you're throwing your money away. I am very sorry, but I am not able to keep up with all of the questions about these fakes either & Ebay doesn't seem to be able to get them off of Ebay either (i.e. the cream eye shadow palettes have been rampant on Ebay for at least 2 years now - MAC never made a cream eye shadow palette, TONS of fake eye shadows, pigments, brushes, blushers, eye liner pencils, liquid eye liners, foundations & MUCH more). I'm sorry, but it would take someone working full time at least, to keep up with these fakes and to answer all of the emails, so again, all I can do is warn buyers. Also, you may think the colors are pretty (and MANY items' colors, are almost dead on duplicates of the authentic one's) & since they are cheap, you may not see the harm in using those fakes but remember, that you have NO idea what is really in those products or if they are safe for the skin, eye's, lips, etc. OR what conditions they are manufactured under since there is probably no government control over sanitation, etc. Below are older updates on fakes - all still sold on Ebay, although most fakes are now almost impossible to tell apart from authentic products (it's not just MAC either - it's Bobbi Brown, Nars, & several other luxury brands).
***NEW UPDATE: 3/18/08: RE: #169 ANGLED BLUSH BRUSH FROM THE FOLLOWING COLLECTIONS: SPECIAL EDITION RACHEL WELCH, SHAPE & SCULP, AND BEAUTY BLUSH - This brush was re-released with each of these collections, however, MAC had some left over from the Raquel Welch collection, so at least in most MAC stores, they were just mixed in with the new ones from the other 2 collections. **SOME OF THESE BRUSH HANDLES SAY THEY WERE MADE IN CHINA - AND SOME WERE MADE IN JAPAN (the information below, states that if the brush says it was made in China, these are fakes so I want to clarify this since they have now made a limited edition brush in China, and it could be other new limited edition brushes also - but NONE OF THEIR REGULAR BRUSHES ARE MADE IN CHINA). THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN VERIFIED BY MAC. SO FAR, THE 169 BRUSH IS THE ONLY ONE THAT WILL SAY MADE IN CHINA (AND SOME OF THE WILL SAY MADE IN JAPAN SINCE THEY ARE LEFT OVER'S FROM THE OTHER COLLECTION).
It can be very difficult to spot fake MAC products on Ebay sometimes, so ASK THE SELLER QUESTIONS IF THERE IS INFORMATION MISSING REGARDING THE ITEMS. I have even seen many sellers stating in their auctions that their products are authentic when they know for a fact, they are not!
I recently read a few of the guides regarding fake MAC and not all of the information is accurate and some have been written by inexperienced MAC users and/or sellers. For example: MAC DOES HAVE SAMPLE PRODUCTS they use for display and/or testing by customers and many times they don't use all that they receive for this purpose. However, they are usually still boxed and ALWAYS will give the color name, then say SAMPLE, ON THE LABEL. So these ARE authentic MAC and are the exact same size as the full retail sizes. One of the best ways to protect yourself from these fakes is to know how to spot them and buy from a reputable seller! I realize that few people are voting on any of the guides anymore (it takes less than 1 min.), but it is just impossible now, to keep up with all of the counterfeits. I'm also aware that those who vote that they did not find the guides helpful, are probably the sellers who have/had something to hide, & this info will affect their sales if they continue with these types of items.
There have been buyers who claim a MAC product is fake, if there are subtle differences, such as the type slightly higher or lower than usual or other minor change. Remember that MAC products are made by machines, so they will NOT all be perfect. Also, MAC does change their packaging, labels, etc. at times, so never accuse a seller of having fakes, unless you have confirmed the fake with MAC (talk with a manager because there are some newer makeup artists who aren't familar with all MAC or older MAC products and they will say the item is fake, just because they aren't familar with it. I am seeing changes in alot of my new stock from MAC (straight from MAC), including the new UPC code stickers. Some of the information on their boxes is also changing (including the pigment boxes), so please do not assume it is fake if different from products purchased in the past. MAC is constantly making changes to their products and boxes (though for years, they didn't make any changes). I just do not have time to keep up with this due to my new business (very exciting if anyone is interested - it is not what some people think when they read my about me page)! It is so easy & profitable!
Here are some ways to identify the fakes (please see my other guide on the fake pigments because there wasn't room in this guide, to includes pigments):
- ALL MAC brushes will have the MAC name AND number printed ON the brush handle. If it does not, these are fakes - they are NOT misprints! If the listing doesn't state the brush number or if they use a stock photo from MAC, be sure to ask if the name/number is on the brush handle. Just because a brush isn't in a plastic sleeve, this does NOT mean it's fake, but these days, they usually ARE. Brushes can slide out of these sleeves, even when shipping so they can get lost or damaged, but this is rare. ***NEW INFO ON FAKE MAC BRUSHES 2/10/07: There are several sellers (some with over 200 all positive FB) who are selling FULL SIZE, all black brushes with the MAC name and number on them - but they are all black, including the metal part. The BIG difference is that the brush handle also states, "China" or "Japan", written in WHITE OR GOLD. ***Some of the authentic MAC brushes, DO have a very faint "Japan", "USA", or even "France" imprinted on the handle. I have never seen an authentic MAC brush with "France" or "Japan" written in white or other color (it should be basically, slightly carved into the handle, or stamped INTO the handle and some are very, very, very faint so you can barely feel them). The fakes are getting better but can still be spotted, although
you may not be able to tell this until you receive them, unfortunately. RE: ALL BLACK BRUSHES: There ARE AUTHENTIC special edition sets (short handled brushes) that are all black. The ALL BLACK, FULL SIZE brushes (even the metal part is black): are FAKE (not short handled sets as these are real - at least MAC did make a set like this, but they have been counterfeited too) and these face and/or blush brushes are much fatter than the real MAC brushes and are pretty obvious fakes.
6/2/07 NEW FAKE BRUSHES THAT ARE VERY, VERY CLOSE TO AUTHENTIC MAC BRUSHES. There are new fakes being sold (and most buyers AND SELLERS do NOT know they are fakes until they use them a few times), that are FULL-SIZE and most are almost identical to the authentic brushes. If you do not have the authentic brush to compare these fakes to, you will be fooled. There are very small differences with most of these brushes but the best way to tell you how to spot these fakes is to simply say that THE HANDLES HAVE A SHIMMER TO THEM when looking at them out of the plastic, with the naked eye (this does NOT apply to special limited edition sets that have colored handles - they may have slight shimmer and are authentic). NOTE. 6/2009 - NOW SOME AUTHENTIC MAC BRUSHES DO HAVE A TINY BIT OF SHIMMER to the handles, BUT LESS SHIMMER THAN THE FAKES DO. So now, the only way to tell if the brush is fake, is to take it to MAC, since the UPC code stickers have also been counterfeited and now the authentic brushes are no longer strictly matte black. The special edition SHORT HANDLED SETS that come in different colors, usually ARE AUTHENTIC too of course. **9/2010: Now even the short handled holiday sets have been counterfeited, so some of the information previously listed & listed below, is no longer valid. The FAKES with a fair amount of shimmer on the handles, will also have a strong odor of lacquer (unless they figure out a way to reduce the odor). Authentic MAC brushes will often have a slight lacquer odor also, but with the fakes, it's very strong. The best recommendation I can make, to avoid getting fakes, is to BUY FROM A SELLER WITH ALOT OF FEEDBACK, NOT JUST A FEW HUNDRED AS THESE SELLERS ARE BUYING THEM FROM THE SCAM ARTISTS AND DO NOT KNOW THEY ARE FAKES (they do not have enough experience with the brushes). OR if the seller has even 100,000+ feedback, but sells NO MAC except a few MAC brushes, then be careful! I have seen this, so they are only buying them due to the great price they're getting, and they don't even realize they're fake. Some sellers, especially inexperienced ones, don't realize they are reselling fakes, so if you get a fake, always email the seller, as they will usually give you a refund if they didn't know their brushes were fake. There are other sellers on Ebay right now, who DO know they are fake, and are selling them anyway. Those with fake MAC brushes, will many times, also carry fake Bobbi Brown and fake Chanel brushes. This is all I will say about the differences in fake versus authentic MAC brushes, because it will get too confusing, but there are other slight differences you can see if you compare them to the authentic brushes. The ONLY exception to shimmery handle rule for fakes, is the #187 Duo Fiber or "Stippling" Brush (skunk brush)! It has the same matte handles that real MAC brushes used to all have so you must compare the metal ferrule, with an authentic one, at a MAC store. The authentic one's have DEEP INDENTIONS in the "rings" on the metal ferrule, rather than very shallow lines. Some of these fakes, DO have a deeper indention, but not as deep as the real one's. If you can find an authentic one on Ebay (look at the indention on the rings in the metal ferrule), compare it to a known authentic one on Ebay (if you can find one now). This fake will also "bleed" when washed. **This brush DOES shed but the fakes ones, shed more than the authentic ones (THE real #187 SHEDS MORE THAN OTHER MAC BRUSHES). BUY FROM A REPUTABLE SELLER! It is very hard to spot these new fakes now! I realize some of this is confusing but unfortunately, since all of MAC's brushes are not the same and they are changing them - and the fakes are always changing, it IS confusing. Remember that there may still be some of the fakes with the MAC name paint on the brush (at least these are easily spotted in a picture), but the main ones being sold right now are the ones with the shimmery handles and strong lacquer odor (real MAC brushes DO have lacquered handles, but have a very faint odor (or none at all) - believe me, you will smell this when you open the package on the fakes, unless they have been aired out or washed well, and NOW authentic MAC brushes do have a very slight shimmer to several of the brush handles that I've checked)! ***NEW INFO: The counterfeiters have now counterfeited the UPC code stickers, so now you can't use this as a way to be sure the brushes are authentic any longer - how sad.
**Some of these fake brushes are sold individually, but others are being sold in 8pc sets (or 9, 10, etc.), and most with a MAC brush case (not real either). I can not stress enough to only buy these brushes from a reputable seller! Someone with 100-200 FB, who have sold 20-30, MIGHT have all positive feedback on these brushes, because the buyers do not know they are fakes (most I have talked to, realize they are fake AFTER they leave feedback). **There are also some sellers now (powersellers) with over 1,000 feedback who are selling these fake brush sets with the black roll type brush case or a rather flat one that zips on 3 sides (several different cases out there now). I had made a note before, that the short handled brushes, limited edition sets, were all AUTHENTIC, however, I have now seen fake sets on ioffer (the one I just saw has gold handles with a matching brush case and this is NOT an authentic set - but is made to look like one of the holiday sets). Could possibly be on Ebay now too. **If a HUGE seller, with hundreds or thousands of listings, sells brands OTHER THAN MAC, but then starts listing ONLY MAC BRUSHES (or only MAC pigments), beware! They might have gotten a great deal, and since they are not familiar with the MAC brand, they may not know they are fake.
- Eye Shadows: They do NOT have a little mirror and applicator! If they do, they are fakes. Some sellers of the fakes will say that European countries use a number code, instead of a color name, but this is not true. Although most (not all) MAC eye shadows DO have a number (such as A75, they do NOT have numbers such as 02, 03, 9, 6, 8, etc.), and the authentic MAC again, will also have the color name along with this letter/combination (if they have a number at all) - THIS IS IN ALL COUNTRIES! It is possible for the little color label to come off of the top of the box, BUT IT WILL NOT COME OFF OF THE BOTTOM OF THE EYE SHADOW ITSELF, UNLESS IT'S BEEN REMOVED. Also, all of the fake eye shadows. when you receive them, will have the name Prismique, Lustre then a number like 02, 03, 6, 7, 9, etc. Last, if you see an eye shadow box that is an odd shade or color, or has 3 colors of eye shadows in one pot, these are obviously fakes. The fake eye shadow boxes are not quite the same size as the real ones, but you won't be able to tell this unless you compare them side by side. **MAC does NOT make an eye shadow palette with 8-12 different colors of cream eye shadows. There are a ton of these eye shadows on Ebay right now. They ARE pretty, but they aren't real either! MAC has recently started making a cream type of eye shadow, but there is only 1 color per eye shadow pot. **As of approx. 7/08 - MANY/MOST ALL of the standard and limited edition eye shadows, have been counterfeited. There are too many to list, and in order to tell if they're fake, you have to destroy the pot/eye shadow. Sorry, there is no easy way - and now, you can't even depot them, to spot the fakes! Limited edition colors do take awhile before they are counterfeited, so if it is a new release - you are probably safe.
- Blush: This is another common counterfeit product. It's usually the peach color, called Peaches, #08. Again, all others are fakes if they do not have the color name or JUST HAVE a number such as 08, 06, 7, 5, etc. UPDATE: Many blushes have now been counterfeited - too many to list.
- Lipglass: These are the easiest to spot if you can see the box. The fake boxes have little windows in the boxes so you can see the colors and the real MAC does not. These fakes are called Pro Moist. They are also represented by the same numbers (02, 03, etc.), rather than real color names. I agree that the fake lipgloss tubes are thinner and longer, but MAC's Lacquer's are also longer than the lipglasses so make sure you know what you are looking at. UPDATE: There are now fake lipglasses, that do not have the window in the box. Sorry, but as I've said, almost everything MAC, has been counterfeited now and it's impossible to keep up with them all - especially since MAC keeps changing their packaging too.
- LipGelee: There will be no box and the name on the tube is different than the color (all of the fakes will have the same color name and they will be the pinks/corals). The seller will say that they are misprints. True misprints are very, very rare. If you know your lipgelee colors, then you will be able to tell if it's authentic. I have never seen a fake in: Who's That Lady, Dame In A Dress, or Cool & Aloof (these shimmery ones haven't been counterfeited). Again, they are not fakes if they are in their retail boxes too.
- Foundations in the compacts & liquid: These fakes in the compacts that are advertised that they come with a free refill - the real ones do NOT. There are also liquid MAC foundations.
- Loose Powders: There are alot of these being sold on Ebay that are NOT BOXED (but the new fakes ARE boxed, such as the Hello Kitty fake foundations). If not boxed, ask the seller if the regular color label is on the bottom of the jar or if just the color (i.e. NC20) looks stamped or typed on the jar (and no label). The authentic ones will have a label on the bottom of the jar with the color and it will say MAC (all of the jars will say MAC on the front of them). I have asked a MAC manager about these loose powders without the labels and she could not confirm they are fakes, however, I have seen the sellers with all of the other fake MAC, selling these powders in lots of 20-100 or more. So if not boxed, ask the seller if the label is on the bottom and if not, either call MAC and ask them or buy at your own risk.
**As of approx. 9/08, there have been fake MAC glitter eye liners also seen on Ebay. The counterfeiters are capable of coming out with new fakes at any time, and I can not keep this guide up to date like I would like to do, so just be careful.
IMPORTANT: All of these fakes (except pigments), whether it's eye shadows, blushes, lipglosses, etc. the UPC code "sticker" is printed WITH THE BOX AND IS NOT A REAL STICKER at all (THE AUTHENTIC MAC WILL HAVE STICKERS FOR THE UPC CODE -see update below b/c this is no longer true!!). Also, even though the fakes will have a NUMBER STICKER on the top of the box instead of a color name sticker, the fake UPC code area (that is meant to look like a sticker) WILL have a letter/number, like the real ones do (i.e. A23, B32, etc.) BUT THE STICKER ON THE TOP OF THE BOX WILL STILL ONLY HAVE THE NUMBERS LIKE 02, 03, 6, 9, ETC.). UPDATE: NOW MAC IS PRINTING THE UPC CODE AND COLOR NAME, WITH THE BOX - THEY ARE NOT STICKERS (not everything is being done this way - it seems they started to do this with all new items, then suddenly went back to the old way, of using stickers again, so they are keeping it mixed up). Also, if you receive more than one eye shadow, or other item, but in different colors, look at the UPC code numbers. If they ARE older fakes, they will have the exact same UPC code number on all boxes, no matter what the color is - newer fakes will have CORRECT numbers. There are several sets of numbers in the UPC code: there is one set of numbers (in the middle) that ARE the same as the authentic MAC numbers (73602 is the middle set on all real & fake UPC code numbers), but all other numbers will be different from MACs, and again, all colors will have the same UPC numbers if they are fakes (UPDATE: THIS IS NOT TRUE ANY LONGER, SINCE CODE NUMBERS ARE NOW MATCHING MAC'S, ON SOME ITEMS). Each color and category of items of the authentic MAC WILL have a different UPC code number (except for the center set of numbers - they are the same, even on the fakes). The different sets of numbers, tell the MAC registers/computers, which item and which color you are buying. This sounds rather confusing, but if you have a MAC box in front of you, you'll understand.
Most MAC sellers are honest, and would never risk losing their Ebay account (or feedback), by selling fakes (which is why most sellers of the fakes, only have 20-40 feedbacks - if they get suspended, they have nothing to lose). However, I am now seeing sellers with 4000-5000 FB, who have all FAKE MAC and few bad FB reporting the fakes! If you buy fakes or see fakes being sold on Ebay, REPORT those auctions to Ebay so we can get these fakes off of Ebay.
Have a safe, and happy shopping experience!
LAST UPDATE: 10/22/09, 9/27/2010, 10/22/10Source: www.ebay.com