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NOW READING No, I Don’t Want No Fakes (and How You Can Spot Fake K-Beauty)
November 16, 2017

No, I Don’t Want No Fakes (and How You Can Spot Fake K-Beauty)

Yes, even the most veteran of K-beauty gurus have fallen prey to fake K-beauty products. Learn from contributing editor Sheryll Donerson’s experience and never let a counterfeit product ruin your day (and complexion).


Let’s all sit around the campfire for story time.


When I lived in Vietnam, I took a trip to Bangkok for a short holiday. Bangkok had (at the time) way more diverse beauty shopping, so I planned on spending my hard-earned coins on sheet masks and some other things I had my eyes on. I went to a Boots drugstore in the shopping district and stocked up on a whole lot of My Beauty Diary masks. Pleased with my purchases, I posted them online to my Instagram page.


But then, one of my eagle-eyed readers sent me an email that still haunts me to this day. One of the boxes of masks I’d bought was allegedly a fake. She sent me a link on how to spot fake My Beauty Diary masks, and what do you know — they were indeed fraudulent. I threw them away and thanked her profusely for saving my face from who knows what disaster.


Spotting fake K-beauty isn’t easy, especially when most of our K-beauty shopping is done online. I’ve come up with some tips to help you make sure your hard-earned coins aren’t going to waste!


fake k-beauty


1. Look for reputable sellers


Whenever I shop online, I read reviews for the seller, especially on Amazon and eBay. I make sure that the seller is a reputable one and that there aren’t any sketchy reviews lurking around. As an extra precaution, I always do a Google and reddit search of the seller to make sure that they’ve never been linked to fake products.


For example, when I search for COSRX Pimple Patches on Amazon, the first storefront is a seller by the name of florasumi90. I can then click on her name and read reviews from customers. So far, this storefront has a 100% rating and when I Googled the name of the shop, nothing bad came up. Wins for everyone!


P.S. The COSRX Pimple Patches are heaven-sent, and you should buy them.


2. Check the packaging


When I lived in Phuket, I used to go to the night market almost every weekend. Some of the biggest (and most popular stalls) were the ones selling counterfeit beauty products. One stall even sold fake Innisfree sheet masks, complete with a different brand name.


fake k-beauty
The fake Innisfree mask: Most fakes won’t be this easy to spot.


Some fakes won’t be that obvious, but when in doubt, cross check the packaging of your product with a Google image search. Don’t be alarmed if it is different though, as longtime K-beauty products sometimes go through a rebranding and a lot of brands change their packaging quite frequently.


Besides the actual look of the product, make sure to check the physical packaging. Does it look like it’s been tampered with? Does it have a safety seal? Has the safety seal been damaged in some way? Do reviews say the packaging should be in a heavy glass bottle, but instead it’s cheap plastic? All of these clues are tips that your product may not be real.


fake k-beauty
What the Innisfree masks should look like


3. Touch it, smell it


One of the biggest giveaways for a fake product is its texture and scent. Nine times out of ten, the fake will have a completely different consistency and smell than the real product. Again, if you are unsure if your product is real, check the reviews. Most beauty bloggers will comment on scent and texture in some form. However, if there aren’t any reviews available, go with your instinct. If it doesn’t feel or look right, message the seller about your concerns and absolutely do not use the product if you don’t feel comfortable.




4. The dolla dolla bills


There’s a saying that if it’s too good to be true … then it probably is. I always cross reference prices when buying K-beauty online. Typically, most online stores have the same price range, plus or minus $10-$15. If you come across a product that is ridiculously cheap (and not on sale), this could be a sign that the product you want to buy is not real. You’re never going to find the full size Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing mask for under $40, unless it’s on sale or a part of a discount code or something so don’t even think about buying a tube for $15.


worth the hype fake k-beauty
Find out what makes this overnight mask so good


5. Don’t freak out


If you use a product and it breaks you out, this does not mean it is fake. Fakes are not that common, and more than likely, your skin does not agree with a certain ingredient. Before you use any product, again, double check the packaging and make sure you’ve bought from a reputable seller and you’re good to go!


Have you ever bought a fake K-beauty product? How did you know it was fake and what happened? Share your experience with me below.


Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.



First of all thank you so much for this article. As if we weren't already purchasing a majority of our stuff online , now covid has forced us to go 100%. We all love Amazon but I would never want to purchase skincare items from there. I've always been afraid of getting a fake item. So, this article further supports how I felt. Thankfully, with websites as great as Beautytap , we have reliable sources to indulge in our favorite skincare products. If anyone would like to network/ follow my skincare journey via Instagram my handle is @skincare.assistant

Skin is our largest and most exposed organ! It absorbs everything we put on it. It is EXTREMELY important to verify you're making a safe purchase. Thank you so much for this great article and all the lookouts to keep in mind when beauty shopping.


Always buy from a reliable seller, read reviews as much as possible and check the main website of any products your buying.

I agree! Amazon in general is a sketchy place to purchase skincare from. Majority of the reviews are from people who broke out or realized the smell and texture was off.


Wow! Really surprised that a drugstore fell prey to fake MBD mask :( Just wondering, is the Boots you're talking about the UK chain?


I never worried too much about getting fake products, but I also don't buy so often and I only buy from sellers I trust. When I buy something from a seller I don't know (and I'm not talking only about cosmetics), I always check the ratings and reviews.
Thanks for the tips!


I buy my beauty products just from w2beauty I trust them ?


Oh man, I've gotten so used to ordering so many products online that I never thought about if the item I'm buying is real or not! I always check for ratings from sellers and that's usually how I decipher if they are trustworthy or not but I'm definitely going to keep my eyes out for any fakes!


I also do the same


I once asked a friend, living in the UK at the time, to get the Urban Decay naked 1 and 3 palettes for me, as Urban Decay is not available at my local Sephora. My only request was to buy it from a brick and mortar store. So, the friend came back after a couple of months and I got my palettes. As soon as I opened it, my heart dropped. I instantly knew it was fake. The packaging felt cheaper. There was no safety seal or product code. The shades seemed different. When I asked my friend where did... Read more


I saw so many fake Urban Decay Naked palettes in Bangkok. I mean, really? Is it worth the risk? I'm so paranoid I can't even buy beauty on Amazon. The only K-beauty I ever bought on Amazon were the COSRX Acne Patches because I figured they can't mess those up too badly, right?


Great tips!