Remember when we warned you about counterfeit cosmetics being sold online? The danger is still out there and you have to protect yourself.

We recently sat down with Andrew Brodsky, Commercial Director of NetNames. NetNames specializes in online brand protection and anti-counterfeiting services. Check out what this expert had to tell us on how to keep our cosmetics collection counterfeit-free.

What exactly are counterfeit cosmetics? Is this the makeup equivalent of a fake designer bag?

While they are both fake and both mislead the public, counterfeit cosmetics pose a very real danger. They often contain high levels of harmful materials. For example, fake versions of cosmetics by MAC and Benefit have been found to contain up to 19 times the legal level of lead.

While a counterfeit bag and counterfeit lipstick are both fake, the lipstick is far more dangerous. It can possibly contain arsenic, mercury, copper and cadmium.

How long has the market for counterfeit cosmetics been around?

Counterfeit cosmetics have been offered online since virtually the beginning of ecommerce. Any time a new product is launched, whether it's an iPhone or a makeup compact, you can bet that a counterfeiter is going to produce a fake copy of it.  

What type of beauty products are most typically counterfeited?

In a shipping container recently confiscated by the U.K. police, they found over 4,700 fake versions of popular MAC products. These included lip gloss, mascara, foundation and bronzer. As a rule, the more popular a product is, the more likely you'll see it being counterfeited.    

What are the dangers in purchasing counterfeit beauty products?

The toxic levels of mercury, lead and arsenic in many of these fake formulations have led to serious illness, severe allergic reactions, long-term health problems and in at least one reported case, death. The buyer must definitely beware.

This article was originally published on Fashion Times