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Human urine, cyanide and rats' droppings are just a handful of poisonous ingredients found in fake beauty products hitting the U.K., according to findings announced by the City of London Police.
It is estimated by the police that consumers in the U.K. spend at least £90 million ($141 million) each year on fake cosmetics, and this total is expected to rise dramatically as consumers shift more towards online shopping.
Police said that laboratory tests on counterfeit products found that that some fake perfumes show traces of human urine and cyanide; while toxic levels of mercury and arsenic have been found in lip gloss, eyeliner and foundation. These substances can trigger allergic reactions, such as swelling and burns. With many products being produced in un-sanitized factories, there have been cases where rats' droppings and poison were discovered in the fake cosmetics.
Without proper safety checks, the police warn, fake hair styling tools and other electronics could cause burns to a person's hair, skin and scalp, as well as being a fire risk. Fake sun cream products have also been linked to causing skin irritation, without providing sun protection.
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) have revealed the most gruesome of ingredients that individuals are using, to tie in with their awareness campaign "Wake up – don't fake up!" launched today.
Maria Woodall, detective superintendent of the City of London Police, said in a statement that many individuals are unaware of the dangers behind fake beauty products.
"Criminals are exploiting every opportunity to fool customers into buying counterfeits in order for them to make some quick cash - putting peoples' health, homes and lives at risk. Beauty products are meant to enhance your features however the fakes can in fact do quite the opposite," said Woodall.
Health isn't the only risk factor. Woodall warned that many who used the online fake makeup stores also risk online and identity theft.
Having seized over £3.5 million ($5.49m) worth of fake products in the last 18 months alone, PIPCU has suggested that if a product offer looks "too good to be true" it probably will be.
Methods suggested in checking product authenticity includes only dealing with reputable online sellers, checking the shipping address, and asking if there's a returns policy.