Irish agencies warn of fake cosmetics containing ’rat poo’

Irish agencies are warning consumers to only buy beauty products from reputable sources, after it was revealed some fake cosmetics contained rat droppings, arsenic and even human urine.

The information was released as part of London police’s Wake up, Don’t Fake Up campaign which found ingredients in counterfeit cosmetics could be putting lives at risk.

 The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) warned products could also contain cadmium and lead, harmful substances which can cause adverse affects on the body if used repeatedly.

 “The HPRA monitor the distribution of cosmetics on the Irish market in conjunction with the Health Service Executive,” said a HPRA spokesperson.

 “The purchasing of fake cosmetic products online is an issue in Ireland. Websites are just one of the possible sources of such products. They can potentially also be present in stores and markets.” 


 Almost €850k worth of fake beauty products were seized by Revenue in 2012 and 2013.

 The organisation said counterfeit products can pose a significant risk to customers and also damages legitimate businesses.

 “At best, fake goods do not deliver the expected and promised results of genuine products while at worst they can seriously injure consumers. This is particularly true for counterfeit medicines and consumer goods that do not confirm to accepted safety standards,” said a Revenue spokesperson.

 “Perfumes, cosmetics and household cleaning products also pose serious health risks as they may contain unregulated dangerous substances. Likewise, medicines purchased over the internet also pose serious health risks.”

 Lab tests reveal counterfeit perfumes often contain poisonous chemicals such as cyanide while fake eyeliner, mascara, lip gloss and foundation have been found to contain toxic levels of arsenic, mercury and lead.

 Fake electrical products, such as hair dryers, curlers and straighteners, could also pose a danger as they are not subject to the same rigorous safety test as legitimate products.

 As such, they could cause electrocution or overheat and catch fire, potentially burning hair, skin and scalp, as well as putting homes at risk.

 The HPRA has advised consumers to only buy beauty products that are labelled with a European address and to report any adverse reactions to a healthcare professional, the manufacturer listed on the label, and to the HPRA directly on

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