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Reports of counterfeit cosmetics being sold in Durham

A warning has been issued about the potential health risks of buying counterfeit cosmetic products, after reports of them being sold online from Durham.

Durham County Council's consumer protection service has issued a warning after receiving reports of a number of people, believed to be based in the County, selling suspected counterfeit cosmetics on social media sites.

Durham County Council issue a warning over counterfeit cosmetics Credit: Durham County Council

According to laboratory tests, some products such as eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss and foundation have, in some cases, been found to contain toxic levels of chemicals and harmful substances such as arsenic, mercury and lead.

All of these can cause allergic reactions, such as skin irritation, swelling, rashes and burns as well as leaving the user with longer term health problems. This is because a lot of counterfeit make-up is produced in un-sanitised and un-hygienic factories - putting the user at even greater risk.

Some of the products the council has been told about are even alleged to contain glue, urine and rat faeces.

Certain branded beauty products such as Kylie Jenner and Mac are becoming increasingly popular and are sold online legitimately, sometimes on social media sites by third parties, at significantly reduced prices.

Reports show that branded products are becoming increasingly popular online Credit: Durham County Council

However, checking the authenticity of a product seen online is more difficult than buying in shops as consumers cannot gauge the look and feel of what they are purchasing.

Some social media sites use generic stock images to deceive consumers into believing they are buying the real items.

Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection, said:

"I am very concerned at the apparent lack of concern from some traders who are selling cosmetic products which could contain harmful ingredients and could cause severe injury.

“These products are made to be used on the skin and without being tested, they could cause serious complications to the unsuspecting user.

"We shall continue to advise traders on their responsibilities and will consider enforcement action if we discover make-up products being sold which are fake and potentially harmful.”

– Joanne Waller, head of environment, health and consumer protection

Cllr Brian Stephens, Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, is urging consumers to always buy from known reputable retailers and to be cautious about buying from social media selling pages.

“When you buy from a legitimate source, you are covered by your consumer rights and the product will be genuine.

“We are highlighting this issue now because in the coming weeks, many of these counterfeit items may be bought as Christmas presents and could cause a serious reaction or worse, depending on the user’s skin.

"We want sellers to understand that there are serious safety concerns about offering cosmetics from an unknown source.

“Counterfeit cosmetics can cause real harm and there is no guarantee that they will be safe or match the ingredients listed on the packaging.”

– Cllr Brian Stephens