Fake Cosmetics in Kenya: How to Identify Them

Article by Maureen Kasuku
Posted: July 03, 2020  

According to Statista  the value of the global cosmetics market in 2019 was 507.8 billion U.S. dollars. The market is projected to value at about 758.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. Whew! That’s a lot of money (and time) being spent on beauty enhancing products.

With an increase in use of social media and TV consumption, there’s been a surge in the demand for makeup in Kenya pushing the value of the market from an estimated 5.4 billion Kenyan shillings ($53.3m) in 2014 to 12 billion Kenyan shillings ($118m) in 2018. This is according to global market research agency Euromonitor International

Makeup lovers in Kenya really want to keep up with the beauty influencers on Youtube. Everyone wants the latest Kylie Jenner Lipkit and Fenty Beauty highlighter. But they don’t come cheap.

The average Kenyan isn’t going to fork out Ksh 3000 for lipstick. They wouldn’t mind spending Ksh 300 though. That’s why Kenya is awash with counterfeit makeup that’s placing consumers at risk of buying harmful products.

Dubois Street a long River Road in Nairobi is the Mecca of cheap knockoff cosmetics in the country. It’s your plug for wholesale/retail shops that stock counterfeit products for a fraction of the price. 

Beauty connoisseurs  on a budget from all over the country and even the East Africa region get their fix from the hundreds of shop stocking fake designer makeup brands. The repercussions of using lead laced cosmetics notwithstanding

A bulk of these fake cosmetics are shipped  from China and the Middle East and a small fraction of them are manufactured locally. For years, consumer lobbies in the country have been appealing to  the  Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) and The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS)  to crack down on the sale of counterfeit cosmetics but alas…new shops selling knockoff makeup pop up everyday. 

Fake makeup has some really gross ingredients and is harmful to your health. It’s really not worth it. Go bare faced or invest in quality products. Authorities are not doing enough to protect you the consumer from these products. You have to look out for your own interests.  Here’s how to identify counterfeit cosmetics:

  • Buy Cosmetics from authorized dealers only 

All the major brands you can think of stock their products with these authorized dealers in Kenya: Lintons, Madora, Maybelline,MAC cosmetics, Yves Rocher and Goodlife Pharmacy. They don’t come cheap but we’d suggest you don’t skimp on quality products

  • Check the packaging 

Pay attention to the packaging of the product. Visit the manufacturer’s website and see if the product you’re looking at matches the pic online. If there’s a mismatch with the font, the color or size of the packaging, or even the weight of the product that’s a fake.

  • Check the barcode, serial number and manufacturing information

Most of the fake cosmetics don’t have barcodes on their packaging. And if they do, the first 2 or 3 digits of the bar code may not match the country of origin listed when scanned either on the packaging or product itself. Also, the serial number is most often missing. Genuine products feature a “peel-to-reveal” barcode stickers, which can be peeled back to show the full ingredient list, that’s a sign it’s genuine.

  • Check the shades

Fake cosmetics in the market are often produced in shades that are not used in authentic products. Avoid fakes by visiting the manufacturer’s website to see which colors of each makeup product are real.

  • Test product before purchase

Always use the testers in the stores. Remember, high-quality cosmetics should not smear or slide off during the day and don’t smell foul.  A genuine lipstick should always apply smoothly and evenly, and authentic designer mascara will never crumble.




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