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Fake Perfumes Are Everywhere: Here's How to Spot One Yourself

We asked the experts!
Fake Perfumes Are Everywhere: Here's How to Spot One Yourself We asked the experts!

Fake beauty products are everywhere, and the dangers of using them are definitely not worth the coins you'd save. But then, spotting a counterfeit is not as simple as it seems. Fake perfume alone has been making its rounds online literally right under everyone's noses, hidden under the guise of the monickers like "Class A"  or "SG authentic" to give off a vibe close to the real thing.

And we get it—fragrances cost a pretty penny, so snagging a copy at a lower price can be tempting. That said, if you intend to buy an original of a scent and steer clear of fakes, here's a breakdown on the real difference between counterfeit and authentic perfume:

Is "Class A" perfume fake?

Fragrances that are labeled as "Class A" are realistic imitations of an authentic, original item. It's essentially a fancy term for a counterfeit product, commonly used for fashion, beauty, and tech products (usually from higher-end brands) that are sold at significantly lower prices. It's one of the most popular terms used for fake items to sound legit, right along the lines of "Class B" and adding a country to the word authentic like "Singapore authentic".

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Personal shopper Kamille San Pedro of My Goodies for Luxe tells Preview, "Class A perfumes are usually manufactured anywhere around the world; purchased by the source from the gray market. They smell very much identical to original perfumes but are made of lower quality or less pure ingredients."

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How can you tell the difference between fake perfume and an authentic one?

As visually convincing as some fake products can be, it's not that difficult to tell them apart from an original. Here are some things to take note of when in doubt:

1. The packaging

"You can spot an authentic one versus an imitation right off the bat just with the packaging," says Holly Rayos, marketing manager of Shiseido Philippines' fragrance division that includes Dolce & Gabbana, Issey Miyake, and Narciso Rodriguez. "When we go around for market visits outside our stores, we look into the packing if it's seamless, [the] labels if they show correct info on the product that normally customers can verify by cross checking the brand's site, barcodes, and color codes."

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Even without the codes, a quick Google search of the perfume's original packaging can help you compare it with the possible counterfeit!

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2. The color of the liquid

Holly says that another telltale sign of fake perfume is the color of scent itself—or the juice, as she calls it. "Even the slight difference in juice color could mean that this is counterfeit. More so when you try the juice itself," she notes.

"Authentic perfumes are manufactured carefully to the dot to make sure there's consistency in terms of quality regardless of how many are produced. They're known to be created with only the best quality ingredients that have gone through years of research."

3. The scent's longevity and notes

Counterfeit fragrances excel in mimicking an authetic perfume's smell, but that's about where it stops. "The scent could seem similar but quality and longevity would definite be weaker than authentic perfume," explains Holly.

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From her experience as a personal shopper, Kamille points out that fakes don't have the "layers" of scent an original would have. Throughout the day, an original fragrance should evolve and reveal the top, heart, and base notes that the brand says it has.

4. The price

"Class A perfumes prices will always be significantly lower that an authentic one," notes Kamille. Because aside from being a copy and having lower quality ingredients, these products are not obtained from the original retailer so they're able to price it lower.

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"Perfumes from international drugstores will always be tempting because of their low low prices. Some shoppers may charge you a full price but end up getting from a different source in order to gain profit. Also, if prices are too good to be true then it’s definitely a red flag," Kamille tells us.

One way to measure if you're being offered counterfeit price is looking at how much lower it is from regular selling price. Holly Rayos of Shiseido Fragrances expounds, "If you come across perfumes being sold higher than the usual brand discounts of 10-15% off from SRP you need check authenticity. Import tax for fragrances is high here in the Philippines, so if a store will sell more than the average discount it may mean that their product cost might be too low vis a vis product quality might be questionable."

How do you make sure the perfume you're buying is original/authentic?

1. Choose where you buy your fragrances wisely.

The easiest way to ensure that you're getting an original perfume is to buy directly from the brand's stores or from reputable retailers. Shopping in department stores like SM Beauty, Rustan's, Landmark, and Robinsons would be a safe bet locally.

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When shopping online, Holly advises to be extra critical while purchasing. Ask them to send photos, receipts, and other proof of authenticity. She adds that if you're still unsure, try reaching out to the brand through their official website to verify. "We'll confirm if the channel you're buying from is an authorized retailer or if the product your purchase is guaranteed authentic," the marketing manager shares.

If the scent you want is not available locally, personal shoppers based overseas can help you out. To make sure she provides only authentic perfumes for her clients, personal shopper Kamille shares that she only purchases from the designer boutiques directly or from established department stores, avoiding buying from beauty drugstores or even online. "We can never be too certain if these shops get supplies from the grey market. I also make sure that I purchase them myself," she says.

2. Do your research.

When buying online or through a personal shopper, ask the seller (if it's not the brand itself) where they source their products, read reviews of the store, and compare the official price of the fragrance to the seller's. Watch out for misleading terms that present the product as original, and only push through with your purchased when it's guaranteed authentic.

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"You have the right to question your shopper when it comes to authenticity and make sure [you're getting your] money’s worth," Kamille stresses. "If you are to purchase online for the first time and are wanting to give them a chance, make sure there is a return policy or a moneyback when proven fake policy for your protection."

Is using fake perfume bad for you?

Let's say you bought a non-authentic bottle by accident. Should you still use it? You can, but be aware of the risks.>

According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Gaile Robredo-Vitas, the main concern with using knock-off perfume is its unpredictability. "Counterfeit perfumes don't have to pass manufacturing standards so you never really know what's in them," she explains. These products could contain poor quality, unregulated, and possibly toxic ingredients, which puts the user at risk of allergic reactions.>

And even when it won't cause allergies, the derm notes that counterfeits are very likely to have an extremely high concentration of alcohol (given the poorer quality) that'll cause the scent to fade right away. In short, if you want to smell good on a budget, you might be better off with a nice bottle of cologne.>

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