Counterfeit cosmetics risk people’s health, economy

Counterfeit cosmetics risk people’s health, economy

Ceren Boztepe – ISTANBUL
Counterfeit cosmetics risk people’s health, economy Counterfeit and low-quality cosmetic products sold in markets, discount stores and online, a growing grey economy business, are imperiling the health of consumers and harming the country’s economy, according to sector representatives.

“Counterfeit cosmetic products can contain dangerous and strong chemicals which can severely harm a person’s health,” the president of the Turkish Dermatology Association, Güneş Gür Aksoy, told daily Hürriyet.

“People who use these products may be exposed to cancerogenic substances, have allergic reactions and become sensitive to sunlight. Such products may create extra sensitivity on skin and cause eczema,” she said. 

Some products that claim to be sun protective does not protect the skin but, on the contrary, lead to skin burns, according to Aksoy. 

Although the Health Ministry and experts continuously warn consumers about the health risks of counterfeit and low-quality makeup products, millions of people every day keep using lipsticks, mascaras, eyeshadows, blushes and other products they buy from markets, discount stores and online.

Fake products make up more than 10 percent of the market, according to Istanbul Chemicals and Chemical Products’ Exporters Association (İKMİB) chairman Murat Akyüz.

“I focus more on online sales rather than the ones in street markets because online they put photos of the original products but send people counterfeits. And this does not have any penalty,” he said.

“Consumers accept this because they do not want to spend time on it. But this encourages sellers to make even more counterfeiting,” he added. 

“I believe it is for the benefit of consumers if the Health Ministry also starts this practice as soon as possible in our country,” said Akyüz.

The black market is becoming widespread in direct proportion with the increase in consumption.

The makeup market, which makes almost $400 billion annually in the world, is also growing extensively in Turkey. The market size of cosmetics in Turkey is 8.5 billion Turkish Liras (roughly $2.5 billion), while domestic production accounts for 6.1 billion liras ($1.8 billion) and the imports stand at 2.4 billion liras ($700 million).

Fake products of well-known brands are being sold at very cheap prices, with counterfeits of a well-known brand’s limited edition foundation which officially costs between 179 and 144 Turkish Liras is sold for only 10 to 15 Liras in markets.

According to the current regulations on cosmetics in Turkey, it is not obligatory to mention any date on products whose expiry dates are longer than at least thirty months.

Experts say it is crucial to indicate the expiry date and place other forms of information on products.

“The proper use of cosmetics is as important as the medicines. Besides, the packaging of the product is also important. Wrong packaging can form harmful substances or lead to the growth of fungi and corrosions on products. Red and yellow dyes may also contain substances that can affect a person’s health,” Dr. Gülengül Duman, an associate professor at Yeditepe University, said.

Experts advise adequate consuming conditions must also be clearly written on products together with the production dates.

“We can see deterioration in product qualities such as in deodorants. For example, a person may not notice how easily perfumes or moisturizers can go bad in their cars,” said Consumers Application Center (TBM) honorary president Aydın Ağaoğlu.

“After issuing a notice with the Health Ministry, producers can start production directly without being inspected. But just like the food sector, its materials, ingredients and the formulations must be inspected and tracked,” said Ağaoğlu.