Australian women who purchase fake make-up are risking infections and allergic reactions in order to save a few dollars.

New research has revealed counterfeit make-up may expose users to dangerous chemicals.

Figures released from national health retailer Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse found a third of Australian women bought cheaper make-up online, many of which were found to be counterfeit. It’s these imitation products, says researchers, that pose a threat to health.

According to Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse’s beauty expert, Justine Mok, fake make-up isn’t just annoying, but can also pose a threat to our health.

“Unfortunately it is very hard to tell the difference between real and imitation make-up online as the packaging is often very convincing…buying from a new or unknown website puts you at risk of buying a cheap fake,” she says.

Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse’s beauty expert, Justine Mok says fake make-up isn’t just annoying, but can also pose a threat to our health.

“Unfortunately it is very hard to tell the difference between real and imitation make-up online as the packaging is often very convincing…buying from a new or unknown website puts you at risk of buying a cheap fake,” Mok says.

“Fake eyeliner tested in the United Kingdom was found to contain up to 46 times the permitted amount of copper while counterfeit mascara contained lead and traces of copper, arsenic and mercury.

“Even if it means spending a little more, it’s always safer to go in-store to buy make-up and skin care products as you’ll know they are the genuine article,” Mok says.

Dr Shobhan Manoharan, the director of Westside Dermatology Brisbane says the biggest issue with purchasing fake cosmetic products is you can’t be 100 per cent sure on their contents.

With the research pointing to counterfeit products containing lead, copper, arsenic and mercury, Dr Manoharan says these can create internal and external problems for the body.

“Arsenic for example has been associated with the development of skin cancer.

“Some people can develop allergies, which they might have to deal with for the rest of their lives,” he says.

He suggests if you notice immediate inflammation, irritation, redness or scaliness the product may not be right for you, with some people experience those side-effects as well as dryness and swelling around the eyes only weeks after using the product.

Dr Manoharan says the Westside Dermatology Brisbane practice offers allergy patch testing for those who wish to find out which cosmetic components cause a reaction with their skin.

“It is nice to know what components to avoid and it makes the next time you pick a cosmetic product a lot easier,” he says.

Where fake cosmetic products are putting Australian women at risk, the products that were once safe can over time become just as risky.

Many cosmetics including foundation, mascara and lipstick have shelf lives of six months or less and are breeding grounds for bacteria.

Beauty expert, Justine Mok says with 66 per cent of women admitting to keeping their make-up in a damp or warm environment, such as a bathroom, bacteria can easily grow and multiply.

“It’s recommended that you throw out old make-up products after six months to minimise risks. There are plenty of affordable options out there so it may be wise to start the new year with a make-up bag detox,” she says.

Have you ever purchased fake cosmetics, on purpose or by accident? Did you experience a bad skin reaction?