In the previous entry, I dabbled a bit about coming across counterfeit makeup. I’ve seen Internet talk about their existence and even saw news reports about them, but to see them in person is a bit of a rarity.
You see, in NYC, counterfeits of major makeup brands is rare to see – there’s just far too many SephUltas in Manhattan alone that buying counterfeit seems… well, counterproductive.
But that isn’t to say that I’ve never seen counterfeit makeup being sold in the streets of NYC – I actually did, and it was in the last place I expected to come across: 34th Street, a.k.a. Herald Square.
Why unexpected? Herald Square is where the flagship store of Macy’s is located, which has an entire 3-floor space dedicated to genuine makeup products from the brands themselves. And Sephora’s biggest store is located right across the street from that floor.
There are vendors that set up shop along 6th Avenue leading to 34th Street – they usually peddle perfumes and handbags, but a quick glance during one of my trips in the area revealed Naked 4 or 5 palettes and Kylie Cosmetics lip kits, along with fidget spinners. I’d have orbited those booths for a closer look but I decided against it.
If only spotting counterfeit makeup was just as easy in the Philippines.
What made it hard to spot the genuine brands from counterfeits was the packaging: back in the day, counterfeit makeup was easy to spot because the packaging was so poorly made. Nowadays, packaging alone can’t tell you if the product is genuine or not.
The packaging that I saw from “local” (and by local, I really mean brands that are not available in the US) brands were far too similar to the cheap, so-so quality brands that you’d find in a borough wig and beauty supply store. The fact that they were available in a major drugstore chain, bazaar mall, and standalone stall did not help.
The proximity of the Philippines to South Korea meant that I’d have more access to K-beauty products than in the US, but it was even harder to tell which products were genuine and which were counterfeit: I wasn’t well versed with K-beauty brands, so I had no choice but to avoid them. It sucked a bit because I know K-beauty brands are still trickling into the US market despite their rising popularity.
But South Korea wasn’t the only country that had beauty products to offer: Australia came swinging with one of their own brands, BYS. At first, I wasn’t sure if they were genuine or just a cheapo brand (no offense to anyone from Australia or is Australian). The packaging reminded me too much of wig-supply-store-brand that I was wary of buying from them, but upon seeing that they recently did a collab with a social media star, my caution was slightly relieved.
The packaging on the collab was definitely attention-grabbing, but their permanent line left me wishing that more effort could be made to make them a little bit more distinct from the counterfeits.
Little did I know, buying the BYS collab made me swear off buying makeup in the Philippines.