How To Tell If Your Beauty Faves Are The Real Thing Before You Order Them Off Amazon

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Online shopping is huge, thanks to the internet, when you can conveniently get everything your little heart desires dropped right at your doorstep. Is there anything you can't find on Amazon? From books to household items, the latest gadgets, and even trendy pieces of clothing. It's no surprise that Amazon is the most popular online store worldwide regarding e-commerce sales, per Statista. What makes online shopping with Amazon even more tempting is their Prime membership, where you can get products delivered within the same or the next day, so you don't have to wait or leave the comforts of your home. This giant online retailer sells more than 12 million products, which goes to 353 million when considering third-party sellers who pay a percentage of their sales to Amazon for using this platform, via Landing Cube

Having quick access to almost everything has never been easier, but the problem with buying things from third-party sellers is that they're not always genuine. It can be upsetting to find fake products or something that doesn't match the description, but it's worse to use fake beauty products. Using bogus beauty products is a strict no-no. Board-certified dermatologist Shari Marchbein told Sunday Edit that they can cause "mild reactions such as irritation, allergic reactions and redness, to more severe infections, swelling, blistering, burning and even potential permanent disfigurement." Amazon is a mecca for everything, including beauty products, and here's how you can tell if your favorite beauty products are the real deal.

Check the seller info

A January 2018 Investigation done by the United States Government Accountability Office reported that 20 out of 47 items sold by third-party sellers were fake, and that's almost half the products bought online. When you shop on Amazon, checking where the item comes from, whether it's first-party, second-party, or third-party, is essential.

Saoud Khalifah, the founder of FakeSpot, told RealSelf, "First-party is when the brand sends inventory to Amazon, then Amazon holds it in their own warehouse and they handle the sales, the returns, and everything like that." He added first-party sales are the best way to avoid buying fake products. Per Khalifah, second-party sales are when Amazon keeps the brand's products in their warehouses and mails them. Third-party sales are when sellers store and ship the products and tag themselves as third-party sellers. "With third-party, there can be issues with counterfeit and fake products, because there's no vetting involved," states Khalifah. You don't want to risk buying fake or expired beauty products, so it's best only to buy them sold directly by Amazon as first-party sellers.

Choose Amazon's Premium Beauty page

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) 2022 report, the beauty industry loses about $5.4 billion annually because of fraudulent sellers, which is not helping the business or the consumers. You can probably find every beauty product in the world on Amazon. One sure way of knowing whether the product is genuine or fake is by checking if they're listed under Amazon's Premium Beauty department (previously known as Amazon Luxury Beauty), as that would be a first-party seller. This ensures that Amazon is the authorized dealer for the beauty brand, with an added guarantee to the customers. Shopping from their Premium Beauty pages guarantees you're buying the real thing. 

A representative from beauty brand Boscia told RealSelf, "Because we are listed on Amazon Luxury, Amazon is able to assist with eliminating third-party sellers." Brands like Dr. Dennis Gross, Pureology, and Sunday Riley, who have Amazon as authorized dealers, will have their own pages. Here is the list of all beauty brands available on Amazon's Premium Beauty page.

Compare prices with the brand's website

We all love a good deal, but if a product costs way cheaper than the original price, there might be something fishy going on. Daniel Shapiro, Vice President of Brand Relationships at Red Points, told Money, "You can typically find similar price cuts on the brand's official website or their official distributors' platforms." If the deal looks a bit too good, check the brand's website and other authorized seller websites like Ulta, Sephora, or Dermstore, where the products are also sold, to check that the discount on Amazon is reflected on other sites too.

When a beauty product is top-rated or has gone viral, illegitimate sellers will sell fake or expired products online. It's best to research and ensure that the product you're buying is authentic. If it's too expensive, it might be best to shop for an affordable brand or wait for the original product to go on sale on authorized sellers' websites.

Contact the beauty brand

It can be hard to tell real from counterfeit products as you can only see the images online. If you aren't sure that Amazon is the authorized dealer of the beauty brand, you can contact their customer service to confirm. A Sunday Riley representative told RealSelf, "As a brand, we can only guarantee products sold by our authorized retail partners, and we encourage clients to reach out to our Client Care team to verify this, if they are ever unsure before making a purchase." This should give you confidence as you browse Amazon's vast beauty inventory.

If the products are authentic, the brand representative should contact you back, letting you know that. And if they don't retail on Amazon and an illegitimate third party is selling them, they can confirm that it is not them. The feedback will let you know how best to move forward.

Read reviews and check customer photos

It's wise to check reviews before purchasing any product online to ensure it's reasonable and legitimate. All reviews for products, whether sold directly or indirectly by Amazon, will be listed. You can also check feedback from individuals to see if they're honest or created by bots, via Business Insider, by doing a reverse search on the person leaving the review. If the assessment looks identical to others or doesn't relate to the product, it's probably not a real person.

It's possible to fake reviews too, and to know for sure, you can enter the link on FakeSpot, as they will analyze it and let you know if the review is genuine or fake. According to Money, many tech tools can help you understand and give you an honest average star review for the product based on genuine reviews. When in doubt, use these links before purchasing a beauty product. Also, if the product is fake, you might come across many reviews alerting others by pointing out spelling errors or packaging issues. Dermatologist Patricia Farris told Allure, "Every dermatologist is seeing counterfeit products," and added that one has to be cautious as these don't even do what they claim and can end up causing worse skincare issues.

Contact Amazon's customer service

If a product has too many genuine reviews and pictures but you can't tell if it's authentic, you can contact Amazon's customer service. They will most likely be able to tell you more about it. If you buy something that's not what it claims, Amazon has a great return and money-back guarantee policy.

Another thing to be wary of is what could be in the products. A 2018 Government Accountability Report found too many sketchy products being sold on Amazon as there's no proper line of filtering genuine from fake products when it allows third-party sales. In 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department seized counterfeit makeup worth $700,000, and it tested positive for bacteria, waste, and human feces, per CNN. Detective Rick Ishitani told CNN, "Those feces will just basically somehow get mixed into the product they're manufacturing in their garage or in their bathroom — wherever they're manufacturing this stuff." That is a whole new level of disgust.

Check shipping details

Generally, it shouldn't take so long for you to get the products after you purchase them if the photos, reviews, and product prices are all checked out. However, if the shipping cost is too high, or it's going to take an extraordinarily long time to arrive, you may have a reason for concern — the skincare product may be fake or old, per Business Insider.

Unfortunately, beauty products don't have to be FDA-approved before being sold, which is a big reason for so many counterfeit products on the market. It's vital to do your research because your health and hard-earned money are on the line. Dermatologist Shari Marchbein told Sunday Riley, "It is critical that cosmetics and skin care products only be purchased from authorized retailers and vendors so that you are not getting fake and potentially harmful ingredients as those producing counterfeits have no guidelines or regulations."