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Fake Hair Products are Real: Here’s How to Find Them

Yes, fake hair products are a real issue!

Unless you are a hairstylist or very informed in the beauty industry, this may be a new topic to many people.

Many major hair product companies like Redken, Paul Mitchell, and Matrix have been facing this dilemma for years, and it’s not been an easy one to combat. 

Many of these major brands only sell their products to salons or retailers they “authorize.” These are places that have an agreement with the salon, spa, retailer, etc. directly.

Many grocery and retail stores sell “diversion” products which are products not authorized by the brands themselves. This is not illegal but is by no means safe. Redken issued a statement on their website addressing the fact that “diversions” of such products are not suitable for consumer use. The buyer is, overall, not getting the real product. These products can be altered, diluted, and expired which are not always nontoxic and harmless to use. This is not a new controversial  topic by any means. In fact, NBC2 News in Florida conducted an investigation in April of 2019 into this phenomenon and found that some retailers like Walgreens and Walmart and even Amazon contained watered down products…and in some cases, bacteria


So what can you do?

First things first, verify that the product you are buying is from an AUTHORIZED retailer.

Paul Mitchell has on their website a salon locator so consumers can identify legitimate products. Here you can type in your zipcode or location and easily find an authorized retailer near you. A lot of other big name brands have this feature on their website as well.

Ulta Beauty is also one of the world’s largest authorized retailers as they operate a salon in most of their locations as well. Subsequently, believe it or not, JCPenny is one as well. No need to worry if you already get your Matrix, Pureology, and Joico products at either of these locations, you’re safe.

But if you’re not 100% sure if a salon you go to has legitimate products, here’s what you can do:

  1. Look at the pricing! If a product price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Look for uneven fonts or misspelled words -if you’re not a grade A speller, this tactic may be tricky
  3. Is the box different from the actual product packaging? Nothing should seem “off” or not fit. Product should fit into box. Cap should stay securely on bottle. 
  4. Check the expiration date. Believe it or not, retailers will still put a product out on the shelf even if it is expired. 
  5. The “fake” product might also not have a serial number which is usually located on the back of the bottle/box not on the bottom.

Look for this type of serial/manufacturers number

Not this type of stamped-printed serial/manufacturer number

If you know what the original product looks and smells like, you probably will be able to spot a fake. This is why I suggest that someone who is new to a high-end hair product, to familiarize yourself with the brand/product from an authorized retailer. This way, you’ll be less likely to be duped into buying something fake.

No need to panic, however! As long as you do your research and go shopping prepared, you’ll already be at a better advantage.

I'm a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My major is Communication with a concentration in public relations. Writing has always been my passion and HC lets me utilize my love for it. On the weekends you can find me binge watching Netflix shows like The Office or Parks and Rec. I'm also a sucker for Dunkin Donuts and cute puppies!
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