Knock-off scents


You really want that R900 bottle of fragrance, but your bank balance just won’t allow it. A couple of days later you come across a street vendor selling you that “same” bottle for R150. What do you do?

No matter where you live, you’re bound to have come across that scenario before. We all know that, ethically, we should not be buying counterfeit fragrances – we understand that piracy is illegal and how badly it affects companies and individuals financially. But how does it react with your skin?

Dermatologists across the world have raised their concerns about the effects of fake perfumes on the skin and body. They’ve seen severe cases of rashes and allergic reactions, and more surprisingly, asthma, allergies, itchiness and even burns. The culprit is of course the shocking combination of ingredients found in these perfumes. Studies have shown signs of antifreeze, unregulated chemicals and even urine in some of the samples! As shocking as it sounds, the urine is often the ingredient used to give the fragrance a pale yellow colour.

These fakes have of course not been approved by cosmetic regulators, making you susceptible to all sorts of reactions. Bottom line… Not only is it unethical to buy counterfeit cosmetics, but you’re putting your health at risk too!

Follow these tips to ensure your fragrance is the real thing:
– Always buy from a reputable department store (such as Edgars, Red Square, Stuttafords, Truworths, Woolworts etc.) or online store (such as Red Square online). Don’t ever buy cosmetics or fragrances off the street or from the flea market – you don’t know where it came from or what it contains!

– Do a spell-and-grammar check. Fake products usually have some sort of hogwash written on the box, and bad translations and spelling errors are common.

– Check that the box is neatly wrapped and sealed with cellophane. If it isn’t, or you can see the box has been opened, stay clear.

– Do a quality check. A new bottle of legitimate fragrance will be in perfect condition – no cracks in the glass, scratches or scuffs, no chips in paintwork and it should look exactly as it does in the ad campaign. Plus, double check that the bottle is made from glass and not from plastic – this should be a dead giveaway.

– Check the liquid’s consistency. Fake perfumes are often oily and leave a residue on the skin, where legitimate ones are watery and won’t leave your skin oily.

– Trust your instincts – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Spot a fake fragrance
Fragrance bottles we love
Why we love old school campaigns
The scent of sustainable fragrances
Storing your fragrances

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2 Responses

  1. I tried a few knockoff scents in the past couple of years and I’ll never do it again. It’s not worth spending less and getting something that doesn’t sit right. Some even stain your clothing and end up smelling pretty foul.

  2. Fake perfumes never smell the same as the original. I came across a woman who tried to convince me that the perfume she was selling was CH 212, I wear it all the time and I could instantly smell the difference. Hers was more of a sweet scent profile while CH 212 has no sweet scent. I agree that buying the fake perfume is more economical especially when you pay R850 for a bottle of the original but I would rather save up and wear the original. Some things just can’t be replaced.

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