Arsenic and lead found in counterfeit make-up products

Shoppers warned over purchasing knock-off Kylie Cosmetics and Urban Decay palettes

Counterfeit high-end beauty products sold online and in street markets have been found to contain arsenic and lead, following tests of confiscated items by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The products were on sale in market stalls in the run-up to Christmas and being sold online over social media. The forged make-up sets included popular eyeshadow palettes from Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner, Kylie Matte liquid lipstick and lip liner, and Urban Decay eyeshadow palettes.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and the HSE have issued a warning to consumers over buying beauty products from "rogue sellers", due to safety concerns over the counterfeit products.

The HSE recently carried out tests on 728 fake or imitation brand beauty products, the majority of which were eye shadow and lip products. Illegal substances identified in some of the products included arsenic, which can be harmful to people’s health.


In the run up to the Christmas shopping period Revenue have seized "significant quantities" of counterfeit cosmetic brands at customs in recent months, a spokeswoman said.

Revenue said the products in many cases are bought from websites operating outside of the European Union and then imported to Ireland, where they are sold to customers online on social media, or in street stalls or markets.

Highly toxic

Aoife Farrell, cosmetics compliance manager at the HPRA, said the regulator “is extremely concerned that highly toxic substances, such as arsenic and lead, have been detected in products which are available to Irish consumers.

“Prolonged exposure to both of these banned substances can severely damage your health causing potential harm to your brain and kidneys, among other organs.”

Ms Farrell said the suppliers of the products are “unconcerned” about the health of customers purchasing the items.

“We can’t emphasise enough the need for consumers to be vigilant when purchasing cosmetics this Christmas; while they may be sold at a cheaper cost than legitimate beauty products, it is never worth gambling with your health when buying these products” she said.

She added the production environment of the fake materials is also unknown, which raises health and safety concerns. “If a product is much cheaper than in a high street store or pharmacy, consumers should be immediately suspicious and think twice before buying the beauty product” she said.

The regulator advises customers to purchase genuine cosmetic brand products from high street stores, pharmacies, or the brand’s official website.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times