Amazon Beauty Shopping: How to Spot Knockoffs?

Openletr Fatima Bocoum.png

Openletr is launching an app to eradicate women marginalization. We need you!

When you think about shopping on Amazon the options are endless. Get your groceries, a cute outfit, some tech gadgets, and all the makeup you could ever want. But seeing as Amazon is not a big box store that gets all their products direct from the manufacturer, who can you trust? With third party sellers at the forefront, is buying your beauty products on Amazon always the best deal? Sure, sometimes you can get unbeatable prices, but with low prices also comes high concerns.

When you buy skincare from Sephora, foundation from Target or a serum from Nordstrom, you know you are getting what you paid for. You know the store is not ripping you off or selling you a knock off. But when you shop from a site like Amazon, there is a grey area a lot of consumers overlook for the benefit of a good price.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 1.png

Photo via Me

Surely you have heard of people buying furniture, dog beds, and even clothes on Amazon only to receive something that is the appropriate size for a doll, because they skimmed over the measurements, but how do you know what is real and what is fake when Amazon beauty shopping?

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 2.png

Photo via Musely

A couple of years ago, the Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask was one of the most popular on the market. But costing more than $30 for an 8 oz. jar made it out of reach for many beauty lovers. Naturally, people searched for deals, sales and coupons, so they could get the luxurious effects of this mask without the luxurious price tag. Amazon was one of the first places to pop up, and they were selling what appeared to be the same product for a fraction of the cost. Yet, once shoppers received the mask in the mail and used it, they were deeply disturbed, as the Amazon version was completely fake.

How does someone get away with this? Well, it can be hard to prove, plus with third party sellers anyone can buy the real product, empty the jar, and fill it with anything before shipping it off as the OG. It seems like Amazon should have a way to prevent this, but there are always a few to slip through the cracks. And when it comes to beauty products, it is more than a knock off of a cotton t-shirt or a hair brush; cheap alternative makeup and skincare products that you apply to your body can have dangerous ingredients; therefore impact your health.

So how do you prevent yourself from making this mistake, especially, when you are trying to live on a budget? First, you can only shop for beauty products at legitimate beauty retailers. Sephora, Ulta, and department stores have annual sales. You have to wait for them to roll around. If you still want to shop beauty products from Amazon you can, just be extra cautious. And to ensure you are not fooled, here are a few tips.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 3.jpg

#1 Check the seller.

When shopping on Amazon for books, usually buying from a random seller is totally fine. But for beauty products, you may want to do some extra digging to feel a bit more secure. For example, if you are buying a product from Laneige and the seller is someone other than Laneige check out the seller feedback. Do they have a 95% or higher rating? Then they might be legit, but if it is lower than 90% you might want to pass. However, if it says it is directly sold by Amazon you may have a much better chance at the product being legitimate. If it is fulfilled by Amazon, the chances that it is legitimate are better, but not as good as they could be. That is not to say every third party seller is a scammer, they may not. Just do your homework, if you are unsure.

#2 Drugstore products are usually real.

When shopping for drugstore brands like Maybelline or L’Oréal, Amazon usually has an agreement with them, so you should be just fine. Most of these products are sold directly from the manufacturer, which tells you they are safe to use. Plus the notable savings can actually make sense, as drugstore prices regularly vary from one store to another. Would it be worth it for a scammer to knock off a product that is only sold for around $10? Indie brands are also often sold through Amazon to get more traction, so you should be fine with independent brands as well.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 4.jpg

#3 Compare ingredients.

Always check the ingredients list. If it is not listed on Amazon that is already a read flag. But if the list is there, compare it to the ingredient list on the brand’s official website or a trusted website like Sephora. If there is a difference with the order, the number of ingredients, or the ingredients themselves, avoiding it is the better choice.

#4 Compare prices.

Yes, that is probably why you are shopping for beauty on Amazon anyway, but if the savings seem unreal, and too good to be true they probably are. If there is a difference of shipping costs then it makes sense. Find out the shipping costs from the brand’s website, and if that is the price difference on Amazon you may have found a winner. But if the discount is more than 20% off you may want to pass it up. If you really want a discount on name brand beauty products, you can always check out the beauty section at you local TJ Maxx or Marshalls.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 5.png

#5 Always read the reviews.

This is the best way to know if you can trust a product. Yes, some people just won’t like certain things, so do not just skim the reviews, actually read them. Also, always look at the customer images to compare the packaging to the original. If more than a handful of reviews say the product is a fake, you should probably trust your fellow shoppers.  

#6 Amazon Prime does not mean the product is perfect.

Just because a third party seller has their product being sold through Prime does not guarantee you are getting a legitimate product. It can be tempting to give in to a good price, especially when it ships for free, but if it is a fake you wasted your money, and have been duped.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 6.png

Photo via Checkfresh

#7 Double check when it arrives.

Say you took a chance, and ordered a beauty product that you were not sure about on Amazon, you can still check to see how legitimate it is. Head to a website like or, and type in the batch code that is stamped or printed on the item. It will tell you when this product was manufactured. If it was made more than 3 years ago, screenshot what you discovered, send it over to the seller, and request a refund. Otherwise, congratulations, you bought a real product.

With all that being said, if you are just not sure, do not risk it. Saving a few bucks is just not always worth it. But there are some beauty products sold on Amazon that I can personally vouch for. I have bought these numerous times from Amazon and they are always legitimate and wonderful.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 7.png

Photo via Thayers

Thayers Witch Hazel Toner - I have raved about this many times, and have used it consistently both morning and night for years. I prefer the lavender one, as my skin reacts well to it, but there are a handful of versions from cucumber to rose petal, the new coconut water, and the unscented one. These go for $10+ at Target, but are usually around $7 and change on Amazon.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 8.png

Photo via DHC

Most DHC products - DHC is a cult favorite brand. They are mostly in the middle when it comes to price range, but they have some truly moisturizing and natural products sold on Amazon. And they are 100% legitimate. Everything from their Deep Cleansing Oil to their Lip Cream, and my current favorite their Lash Tonic are on Amazon for your purchasing pleasure.

Amazon Beauty Shopping - The Good and The Bad - Openletr 9.png

Photo via Batiste

Batiste Dry Shampoo - This is a holy grail for anyone with greasy roots who wants a voluminous lift and a pleasant scent to their locks. And just about every version from the original to the tropical, and even the limited edition ones are sold on Amazon for usually under $7.

Of course, there are so many more worthwhile beauty products sold on Amazon, just watch out for scammers the next time you are trying to treat yourself to some affordable beauty treats.