Make sure your Christmas fragrances aren’t fake!


Christmas shoppers are being warned to buy the real deal rather than fake perfume after Plymouth City Council’s Trading Standards seized goods which could be dodgy.

Raids over the last few weeks in addresses across the city have brought in a haul of counterfeit cosmetics and bottles of fragrance, labelled as designer brands like Chanel, Giorgio Armani and Miss Dior. The products are currently being tested but as they were found with £250,000 of smuggled and fake fags and tobacco, trading standards officers believe they are fake.

Counterfeit make-up often contains high levels of potentially dangerous substances, as seen in a case taken by Plymouth Trading Standards in 2017.  On that occasion, fake lipstick was found to contain over 300 times the permitted safe levels of lead.

Plymouth Trading Standards Manager Alex Fry said: “While we are still carrying out testing, we have our suspicions because of how they were found. Fake perfumes could contain high levels of chemicals that can cause nasty reactions when sprayed onto the skin. Counterfeiters have no concern for safety or who the products are sold to. Their only interest is cheap profit.  The livelihoods of local Plymouth shopkeepers are threatened – they cannot compete with sellers of fake goods.”

With Christmas around the corner, Alex has put some top tips together. 

Place:  Always buy from a reputable stockist (including internet sites and platforms) or dutyfree outlet.
Price:  If a deal looks too good to be true, it most probably is.
Packaging:  Look out for poor quality labelling, including spelling mistakes and poor grammar.
Product:  Look out for fake versions of well-known brands and be wary of unusual brand names you haven’t seen before.

Also check the following:

  • Look for specific words which might suggest that the product is only a copy, such as ‘similar to’
  • When buying online check the website to make sure it is a licensed seller and that the product description actually states that it is an original.
  • Don’t provide your bank details until you’ve checked the seller has procedures to protect your information and has a secure online payment system.
  • If you have an app on your mobile that scans bar codes, scan it and see if it’s listed as the correct product.

He’s also reminding shoppers about the ‘Real-Deal’ charter which is seeing its 10th anniversary this week. The Real Deal ‘Fake Free Markets’ Charter reassures consumers that they can expect to buy only genuine brands and quality goods when they shop at any local market displaying the ‘Real Deal’ logo.  Plymouth City Council introduced the Real Deal Charter at Plymouth Market in 2014. Look out for the Real Deal logo on online buy and sell groups. www.realdealmarkets.co.uk

Anyone aware of someone selling counterfeit or illegal goods should report it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454040506.