August 30, 2010

WTF Beauty...

Hello, Beautiful!

It's after 1:00am and I just can't sleep. I'm tired, but I have beauty on my mind and felt like I needed to make a blog post. But not just any blog post, I wanted to bring you the first edition of WTF Beauty.

Yes, WTF really does stand for what you think it does. If you don't know what WTF stands for, it stands for "What The F*ck". Yup, nothing pretty about that! But hey, that’s the first thing I think of when a beauty product disappoints me. Basically, WTF Beauty is just like a ‘Don't believe the Hype' or 'Beauty Rant' type of post.

Anyhow, in this edition I will address fake cosmetics (one product in particular) and a few tips on how to shop smarter.

I warn you ahead of time, this post will be long. Shall we get started?


A few months back I purchased the Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder in shade Light from an online discount beauty retailer. It was only $29.99, although it didn't include the mini kabuki brush, and I thought to myself 'wow, that's a great deal - it's mine!'. And sure enough as soon as it arrived I had to test it out. I had heard such amazing things about this powder and was expecting to jump for joy over this.

No jumping for joy happened. It did give me a glow, but not right away. I think my oily skin was to thanks for the glow and not the powder. Considered this product talks up how great the “Halo Glow” is I really thought that would happen. Sadly, it just looked really powdery and dry. As it sat on my skin it just got worse as the day went on. It didn't look fresh and natural like Smashbox said it would. I kept thinking that it must be my skin and I'll just have to work with it. Time went on and I continued to work with it, but only having the same less than favorable results.

Then I recently picked up the Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder in shade Medium from that QVC kit I blogged about. I needed a darker shade, since the Light shade made me look really sickly pale. When I got this in the mail I immediately tried it out. Jumping for joy finally happened! It is like night and day from the Light shade to the Medium shade. It was almost like I had a completely different product.

The Medium shade did everything Halo claimed to. It went on beautifully, looked totally natural instead of totally noticeable, it made my skin look hydrated and healthy instead of dry and powdery, and best of all it gave me that Halo glow that I’ve heard so much about.

I then jetted up the stairs, into my closet (which is where my makeup table is set up), pulled out my Halo in Light and started to compare the two side by side. Right away I noticed the sticker on the bottom of the compact was different. They looked similar, and if you didn’t know any better you’d think they were the same. But there were differences – like the symbols being switched to the opposite side. Right there an alarm went off in my head and it was like I could hear someone yelling ‘It’s a fake, it’s a fake’! That’s when I said “WTF!”

Ugh, I was so angry! Who knows what I’ve been putting on my face for the past few months! I feel gross just thinking about it. I know that powder will never touch my face again – ever!

But I guess I should look at both sides of the story and try to piece together a rational explanation. Maybe, just maybe, Smashbox has re-formulated Halo. Okay – that seems silly. If they did it would be listed on their website and talked about in their demo’s on QVC. Plus, the product isn’t that old to need a reformulation so soon. Okay, so then maybe, just maybe, Smashbox changed their stickers and packaging ever so slightly. I mean, that could happen – I could see that happening. Ugh, who am I kidding?? It’s probably a complete fake! I’m 99.9% sure of it!

I'm going to eventually take pictures of the two Halo powders side by side for you to see and compare. Then we can all play 'spot the difference' to find the fakeness.


Another thing that ticks me off is a few months ago I purchased two other Smashbox products from the same retailer. One was a Jet Set Liner in the black shade. I thought at $6.99 this is a deal, esecially since it is $22 retail. Well when I got in the mail I looked at it and didn’t think it was authentic. The jar looked the same, but again, the sticker threw me off. But my original Jet Set Liner’s sticker was so worn that I couldn’t compare the two. The other product is the Photo Finish Primer. The bottle looks a little different, and the performance of the product really is not up to the same standards. Now after the Halo situation I’m questioning those products too. However, I should mention that I’ve purchased other Smashbox and other brands from this same retailer and they’ve been 100% authentic. Either way, I’m hesitant to make another purchase because I don’t know if I’ll get a real item or a fake one.

[NOTE: I purposely did not mention the online retailer’s company name or website address. I don't want to bash anyone on a public blog. However, I do want to protect my readers. If you’re interested in knowing the retailer I purchased these items from you can email me and I will let you know. I won't give you their website address or company name, but I will tell you clues as to who it is. From there you can decide to Google it or not.]


Here are some tips to help you all shop smarter:

1. Beware brand new products at unbelievable prices!
This one is tricky but I wanted to start here. Since I own and operate my own discount website, which carries cosmetics, I know a little about the discount beauty business. It's perfectly normal and common to see items at discount beauty retailers that are still in other stores at regular price. I've sold, and still sell, many items that you can see on store shelves at Wal-Mart and Target for full price.

However, it's not all that common to see brand new, just on the market beauty items at discount beauty retailers. Items that are limited edition, new collections, or a breakthrough new product, are generally items that won’t show up at discount beauty stores for awhile. For example, the retailer I talked about above had posted items from the Smashbox Heartbreaker's collection (they had a shadow palette and roller ball gloss), and that collection had just hit stores a week or so before. I thought "wow, who are their sources? I want that kind of availability". But the truth is their sources are probably not authentic, not even close to it.

It's incredibly easy to re-create popular high-end beauty brands. Companies overseas (mostly in China) can have a product re-created - packaging and all - and out to you in less than a week. It's crazy! Smashbox, NARS, and MAC are some of the most popular and commonly re-made fakes.

And remember to ask yourself why those products are so deeply discounted. Being in this industry I understand why most of the products are discounted. Discount beauty stores deal with store overstocks, manufacture overstocks, manufacture packing changes/formula changes, store closings, and discontinued products. So for example, if Smashbox wants to change their packaging, or re-formulate a product, they'll want to clear out all the original packaging or formulation to make room for the new changes.


2. Educate yourself with what the fakes look like and what the real deal looks like too!
One of the easiest fakes to spot are the NARS blushes - not just on eBay, but other discount beauty retailers too. You'll see a NARS blush with the word "NARS" imprinted into the blush. NARS never has, and probably never will, do that to their blush. That's an obvious fake! But not all fake NARS blush has that obvious imprint. But that's where educating yourself on what the real deal looks like is important. Go to the brands website and check it out. Then re-visit the product you're looking at. Compare and decide from there.


3. Beware sellers who use stock photos!
A stock photo is a photo the brand/manufacture has taken of that product. That image can be used at authorized online retailers worldwide. This can be tricky too, because a lot of retailers use stock photos - even eBay sellers (and not always with authorized use).

If a seller uses stock photos of certain products, but photos they’ve taken themselves of other products, that’s usually a huge red flag. They don't want you to see what the actual product you'll receive will look like because then you might know they have fakes. The pretty, perfect (and almost always photoshoped) stock photo is what lures buyers in.

Look for sellers that have taken the pictures of the products themselves. It's okay if they include a manufacture picture or two (such as a swatch) but you want to see exactly what you're buying.

But again, it can be tricky! I've seen an online retailer selling NARS blushes - with the 'NARS' imprinted in the blush – with nicely taken photos (taken by them) and photoshoped them pretty professionally. To an uneducated buyer the photos look like they could be stock photos from NARS. And to some, pretty professional pictures usually mean pretty, professional products.


So you see, there are many reasons we don't sell as many high-end/luxury brands at ValentineKisses.com as we would like to. It's extremely difficult to find authentic products and authentic dealers. It's a risk we as a small business can't afford to take, and we certainly don't want to sell anyone a fake product! We're lucky to have found an authentic Smashbox dealer, and from time to time we do get in some other authentic high-end brands - but it’s not all that often and we’re working on changing that.

I will write a more in-depth article about spotting fakes (and I'll do one for each brand that is commonly reproduced as fakes). But ladies, please beware and shop smart!

I think it's finally time for bed (it's nearly 3am now!), and I'm worn out from a full day of swatches, and then an evening out at Chuck E. Cheese with family. Won my son over 2,000 tickets - go me (and my husband)!

xoxo with love & beauty,

Crystal Valentine B.
- The woman who runs ValentineKisses.com

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