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Spot the Not! How to Compare Fake vs Real Makeup

Spot the Not! How to Compare Fake vs Real Makeup

We previously talked about how not to get scammed when online shopping, but this time we delve deeper into the products themselves and how counterfeits differ from authentic makeup. These days, it’s tough telling apart the fakes from the real ones—and we’re not just talking about friends! Online shopping has been the new norm, so who knows which ones are the real deal.

But we feel like it’s still important to address the problematic effects of buying cheap knockoffs especially since your health could be on the line. We don’t need to stress any further how damaging some ingredients in fakes are but we do feel compelled to give you a few tips on how to spot them.

Just remember the 4 P’s when purchasing makeup:

Price tag

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Though not always the case, counterfeits are sold at extremely reduced prices. So even before examining it or making a purchase, you can already see red flags when the price is super affordable. For instance, lip products from high-end brands like MAC, Fenty Beauty, NARS, or Kylie Cosmetics are always above P1000. 

To compare, there are fake versions of these lipsticks that sell from P180-P350 on popular retail websites. That’s a HUGE discount and also a huge warning sign. You’re not getting a good deal—you’re getting a good chance of skin irritations. Either these products are way past their expiration date, already been used, or just plain fake.


Where do we even begin with differences in packaging? There are a lot of A-class imitations so it could be difficult to tell if something’s authentic or not. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. There are so many things to look at when spotting a fake, including but not limited to:

a.) Size & weight

If you already bought the same product previously (and know for a fact that it was authentic), you can compare the box size or the weight of the products. As an example, fake MAC bullet lipsticks are wider in circumference and bigger compared to the original.

b.) Font

Compare the text on the package. Are they consistent? Are the font styles and font size exactly the same? Don’t forget to check the spacing between words as well—those tiny details are still indicators that it’s fake.

c.) Labels

Check the labels—are they in sticker form or printed on the package itself? Additionally, observe if words or serial numbers are the same. A lot of imitation products have glaring errors in labels alone, but there are still a few that look almost identical to the original. Inspect wisely!

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d.) Bar Code or serial number

If a product is fake, the first 2 to 3 digits on the barcode most probably won’t match the country of origin indicated on the packaging. More often than not, the serial number is missing whereas the original will have a serial number. 


This one is probably the easiest to spot. If you’re looking to buy a product, make sure to swatch it first—whether it’s lipstick, eyeshadow, or foundation. Shades of fake makeup are often way off from the original. If you’re buying at a tiangge, always ask to swatch it and compare the color pay-off to pictures online.

If the shade is totally different, it’s probably fake. Don’t get duped with BS sales talk that claim it’s a new formula or it’s a different release—always fact-check and look for any announcement from a legitimate source. 

Product quality

You might think everything checks out from the outside and say it seems legit. But when you swatch, do observe the consistency, smell, and overall formula. Fake products may smell and look different because they use cheaper ingredients and chemicals which are actually dangerous for skin. Some even contain arsenic, mercury, or aluminum—all of which are health hazards and have side effects in the long run. 

The best way to guarantee that you’re buying authentic ones is to check the brand’s website and go through their list of official retailers, resellers, or partners. Established or renowned cosmetics e-commerce sites like Sephora or BeautyMNL will always carry genuine products. Remember, when shopping for makeup, you’re paying for quality and safety—don’t ever scrimp on your safety. Yes, you might save on some cash with a fake but at what cost when your health is at risk? Stay safe, stay beautiful.

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