During a recent late-night Instagram browsing session, someone posted some extremely high end eye pigments they had purchased on a to-remain-nameless website for an insanely good price. Curious, in the way that most insomniacs are when they are not sleeping, I popped over to the website to check it out. I was immediately blown away by the deals, and in mere moments I had purchased about 15 liquid lipsticks from Dose of Colors, Jeffree Star and Colourpop all for less than the cost of one tube from either of the first two brands I mentioned. Smug and self-satisfied, I drifted off to sleep.
The next day, because I tend to do things in reverse order, I started wondering how that was even a remote possibility. You know, the whole, “if it sounds too good to be true…” thing started to seem important with my caffeinated brain doing my thinking. I did a quick search to learn about the website that rhymes with fish. Had I not been boiling over with lipstick lust I would have rapidly seen the obvious – this site sells knock-offs made in China. I briefly contemplated trying to cancel the order, but honestly, it would have cost much more in time and personal frustration credits to undo what I had done. Plus, if I’m being completely honest, I was more than a little bit curious.
I then began to wonder how counterfeit cosmetics made in China compared to the real products, and in doing so, came across this article on Mashable that successfully instilled xanax-worthy levels of fear about toxins, unsanitary manufacturing conditi
ons, and my lips swelling to Kylie proportions before crumbling off right before my eyes.
But here’s the reality: I have tons of makeup that is made, entirely or in part, in China and I never think about it. In fact, many of my favorite brands including Tarte, Stila, Smashbox and Morphe are made in China. Even brands that are known for being made in the USA give in to the lure of cheap Chinese production. The much-discussed Becca x Jaclyn Hill collab – made in PRC.
Bottom line? I own a TON of cosmetics produced in China, so why are these any different? And, are they any different? I mean, I’m going to be PISSED if I’m buying $20 liquid lipsticks that aren’t any better than their $1 counterfeit counterpart. So, I puckered up and slathered the cheap stuff all over my face – in the name of science.
Navigating the ordering of specific colors is a bit of a gamble. With these fake Dose of Color lippies, they all come in the same package labeled “elegant red” and as you can see, the colors are all different. I’m not sure if these are the shades I requested, but they look like shades I would request, so we will just assume I got what I wanted. I apparently received colors from two different counterfeiters which you can tell by looking at the bottom of the tubes. The named labels look closer to the real product (and didn’t come in a box), the numbered ones are clearly fake. The two named lippies are lower quality than the numbered product. The colors wear very unevenly and wear quickly. Within an hour all but the edges was long gone. The numbered lippies are actually quite good. They apply nicely, dry quickly and last for quite a lon
The named fakes are going in the trash. The numbered ones are interesting and are absolutely worth the $1 I paid for them. I will wear them – probably quite often. I might even order them again – except I have no idea how I would go about making sure I ordered from the “good” fake manufacturer. Haha. Even if I went back to the website that rhymes with dish, I’m not sure how you can tell which seller is getting products from which producer. Plus, there are countless vendors selling the same types of products and I’m not sure which vendor(s) I purchased from. While it’s probably true that there is an account history that I could review, I’d still have to contend with trying to find which shade of elegant red I was ordering and which one I would actually receive. Line up all these factors and frankly, I would rather just pay the $17 Dose of Color convenience and understandability upcharge.
While the Dose experience was mostly pleasant, the Colourpop experience is extremely different. Now, why I bought a bargain basement $1 fake lippie for a product that retails at $6 I can’t explain other than to say it was some sort of frenzied buying binge. To start the Colourpop experience, the color-ordering process was the same, ie – a giant gamble. While I wouldn’t swear in a court of law that I didn’t order this specific color, buying a cotton candy pink lippie isn’t really something I would normally do. Of course, buying 20 knock-off lippies for a buck each isn’t something I would normally do either…
Comparing the fake Colourpop to the real is interesting. The fake is VERY good. The only noticeable difference is the size of the tube: the fake is slightly smaller. The labels on the bottom use a different font as well, but that is scarcely noticeable – and probably not something anyone would notice unless they were actively searching for discrepancies.
Now, the application experience here is TOTALLY different. I used the Power of Makeup method to compare the products side-by-side. the “donut” is streaky, applies very unevenly and takes a really long time to dry. The “bad habit” goes on like a dream, the color is perfectly even and the consistency is smooth and creamy. In the pic below, you can see how streaky the “donut” is on my upper lip. The bottom lip looks OK but that’s more a function of the lighting than it is of the product.
Usually, when matte lippies dry they have a slightly powdery feel. The real Colourpop certainly did. Some can be a little tacky for a short period of time and I’m used to that. This one feels really gross on your lips and stays really sticky. Not, a little tacky, full on sticky. Don’t take my word for it, I have photographic evidence. Now, there’s lots of stuff wrong with this picture, including really awful lighting, but the worst thing in this picture is the way the lipstick sticks to itself and pulls off in large chunks. This second photo was taken 15 minutes after the first, and obviously, the real Colourpop performs far better.
My knock-off Jeffree Star lippies haven’t made it across the Pacific yet. So, of the six products I have tried, three were a moderate success and three were epic failures. When you consider that the color you receive is a total crap shoot, the inability to confidently and easily reorder products you enjoy and a 50% success rate in regards to formula, this isn’t really the bargain it might look like at first glance. Those of you that enjoy the hunt, are open to receiving random colors and really love a bargain might find some joy in shopping this way. Frankly, I’m throwing away $3 worth of product – I’ve thrown away a LOT more than that on product I haven’t liked in the past. I will not order from this website again (or from similar sites) because I prefer a bit more quality control than this affords. I tried it so you don’t have to!
Thanks for reading. What do you think? Is this something you would enjoy? Is the gamble worth it for you?