Makeup and using cosmetics are becoming an inevitable part of beauty these days. Irrespective of gender, people are trying out many cosmetic items in order to make themselves look more attractive and stand out in a crowd.
Makeup and women have an unbreakable relationship since ages. This could probably be the reason why the number of cosmetic products being dumped in the market is drastically increasing day by day, so much so that people can never get enough from a single trusted brand and try using whatever they get in the market. Malayalees, who usually do not even buy a detergent that is expired, are happily buying cosmetics that do not belong to any particular brand, and even if are branded contain carcinogens.
There is an even more crucial and serious dimension to the cosmetic story. For all those out there who say that one should only rely on branded cosmetic and makeup products as they maintain quality, 90 per cent of these “branded items” like L’Oreal, Maybelline, Lakme, ColorBar, Chambor, etc. that are sold in the posh shops could be duplicates. MAC, which is one of the world’s best professional range of makeup products and is used by runway models, is being sold even at the local ladies stores in cities. These are undoubtedly duplicates.
The distribution of MAC cosmetics in India has been taken up by Shoppers Stop, and therefore, these products are only available at Shoppers Stop outlets apart from direct company outlets. Shoppers Stop doesn’t have an outlet in Kerala, then from where are MAC products being brought in the state and sold at every cosmetic store? Moreover, this is a high-end product, which is expensive. The duplicate products are being sold at the same rate, which fetches a humongous margin to the producer and supplier.
Even though these resemble the original ones, the packing has many differences, which if the public is made aware of, can save them from using duplicate cosmetics that can prove lethal in long run. With such incidents rising in the state and more and more complaints being lodged, The Kerala State Drugs Control Department, under its ‘Operation Henna’, is conducting raids on wholesale distributor outlets and stockists who purportedly sell imported cosmetics items.
The raids have revealed that the distributors are selling underrated spurious products to the wholesalers.
A distributor, under the condition of anonymity, said, “It is a known thing among cosmetic distributors and stockists that a majority of the products that are being sold in the market are duplicate. As duplicate products of branded items started flowing into the market, the distributors deputed by the company were incurring huge losses and therefore even they started importing items from China, which are cheap and also have a huge margin when compared to original products. Moreover, the constitution of most creams of the same category are same. For example, the contents of a cold cream are more or less the same, it’s just that the price varies according to the quality of the ingredients used. There are hundreds of contract manufacturing companies in China that have these formulas but use substandard products as they have to produce cheap items. The distributors are nowadays coming up with their own brands in this manner. And as the quality check in our country is very poor, these items very easily get sold in the market. Nobody cares that these products have a long-term adverse implication on health because these serve the purpose on a short-term basis.”
“They buy branded products once and when these get over, fill the tubes and containers with the cheap products and charge the same amount for a hair spa or facial that is done using a branded product. The customer doesn’t have any idea that this is what is happening. The profit that these beauticians are making is huge because they use one facial kit worth Rs. 3,000 on more than five customers depending upon the quantity of the cream. Each customer is duped by the fact that branded products are being used for the facial and therefore it costs Rs. 2,000 and above. The profit made by these beauticians can, therefore, be calculated,” says the distributor.
The department conducted a raid in ten districts, and seized of a lot of products that had no name of the manufacturers or other relevant details printed on them. These items are being examined in the laboratories.
Officials at the drug department say that a majority of the cosmetics that are seized are duplicate, harmful, and many without even names and are made and brought from China. These items are preferred by the beauticians as they are cheap. They further said that as these products do not contain the name of manufacturers, the department is forced to charge the case against the distributors or stockists.
Commenting on the same, Angel Mathew, a certified beautician, says, “It is unfortunate that a majority of beauticians are unaware of this situation and trust the wholesalers when they enquire about different items. These days, many women start beauty parlours as a means of livelihood without even having formal training. It is very easy to fool them as they have no idea about international cosmetics, their ingredients, and their usage style. It is sad that the customers who pay for different beauty enhancing items are given serious health hazards packed in appealing containers.”
In the second phase of Operation Henna, the department is also planning to conduct raids on parlours and find those who are using such products and fooling the customer. The main aim of the government behind Operation Henna is to make the public aware of the chemicals they are using in the name of branded cosmetics that assure to give the best results.
Main photograph by donireewalker via Flickr.