Weeding out the fakes


Promoting awareness: By partnering with reputable cosmetic companies, educational institutions can provide practical experience and insights into best practices in the cosmetic industry. — Filepic

Cosmetic science education crucial in wiping out dangerous counterfeits

The appeal of beauty products is universal, driving a multibillion-dollar global industry. However, there’s a rising concern within this vibrant market: fake cosmetics.

These counterfeit products aren’t just an economic problem; they pose serious health risks to consumers.

In Malaysia, where the beauty and personal care market is booming, the threat of counterfeit cosmetics is becoming more significant.

A friend of mine also fell prey, suffering an allergic reaction due to a counterfeit skincare product. Such incidents highlight the urgent need for greater public awareness and education to address this growing concern.

As a formulation scientist, I understand how dangerous these products can be, and I believe that cosmetic science education can play a key role in preventing the counterfeit cosmetic industry from flourishing.

Counterfeit cosmetics

Fake cosmetics are typically produced in unregulated environments with little regard for safety standards. These products potentially contain harmful substances, including heavy metals and other contaminants, which can lead to risks such as skin irritations, infections and even long-term health issues.

Despite these dangers, the allure of much lower prices for seemingly high-end brands makes counterfeit cosmetics an attractive option for many consumers.

The global market for counterfeit cosmetics is substantial, partly driven by online sales and dishonest vendors.

Addressing this issue requires a well-rounded approach, with education at the heart of the solution.

Consumer education

One of the most effective approaches to combat counterfeit cosmetics is through consumer education. By equipping the public with knowledge about the dangers of fake products and how to identify them, we can significantly reduce demand for these items.

Cosmetic companies can play a crucial role by organising public seminars and workshops to disseminate information on how to spot fake products, and the importance of purchasing from authorised and reputable sources.

Students in cosmetic and pharmaceutical science programmes also learn to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit products by examining product packaging, labelling, and ingredient lists. This knowledge is not purely academic; it empowers future industry professionals to educate the public and advocate for cosmetic product safety.

Regulatory knowledge

A robust understanding of national regulatory standards is also important in the fight against counterfeit cosmetics. By educating students about national and international cosmetic regulations, they can work effectively within the legal frameworks that govern the industry.

This includes understanding the roles of agencies like the Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, and international bodies such as the United States Food and Drug Administration and the European Union regulatory authorities.

Hence, graduates who are well-versed in these regulations can contribute to stronger enforcement and compliance measures within the cosmetic industry.

They can work alongside regulatory bodies to ensure that products on the market meet safety standards and identify counterfeit products instantly.

Additionally, collaboration between academia and industry is one of the effective approaches against counterfeit cosmetics. By partnering with reputable cosmetic companies, educational institutions can provide students with practical experience and insights into best practices in the cosmetic industry.

These collaborations also facilitate the development of technologies and methodologies to detect counterfeit products more effectively.

The fight against counterfeit cosmetics is a complex and ongoing battle, but by fostering a well-informed and vigilant community, we can support legitimate businesses and ensure that beauty and personal care remain sources of confidence and joy without risk or harm.

Through cosmetic science education, we can shine a light on the dangers of fake products and work towards a safer cosmetic industry for all.

Dr Chloe Chin Chai Yee is the Pharmaceutical Technology Department head and School of Pharmacy lecturer at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Taylor’s University. She is a passionate biopharmaceutical formulation scientist whose research focuses on developing innovative controlled-release drug delivery systems and pioneeringbiomaterials for wound healing and skin diseases. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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