Guide to identifying & avoiding fake Mac eyeshadows

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Purpose of Guides

I'm dismayed by the huge amount of counterfeit Mac on eBay, and how many bidders are still fooled by these fake items. I've bought some of these fakes on eBay myself, and not known until they arrived that they were not genuine and want to spare others the disappointment I experienced.

My best advice? - DON'T buy Mac on eBay - MOST of what is for sale is FAKE - this is directly due to eBay policies which have driven most sellers of genuine Mac cosmetics to sell elsewhere (including me) or not at all!

Short of time? See the Summary at the end, which gives the main points to look for.

Want an update on current fake eyeshadows being sold? - see the Update section at the end. There are increasing types of fake Mac palettes now being sold.

See photo comparisons of some fake and genuine eyeshadows in the examples section (these did start off high quality, but eBay reduced this when I put them in the guide). I'd love to add more photos of fakes, but there is a limit to how much of this rubbish I want to spend my own money on to do so!

 

Mac Single Eyeshadows:

This is one of Mac's most popular products, so it's not surprising that many fake items sold seem to be eyeshadows. These are available as a standard range of shades (well over 100) as well as limited edition shades, that are only available until the stock is sold.

Genuine Mac single powder eyeshadows come in a range of finishes - lustre, frost, matte, veluxe pearl etc. All the eyeshadows have a colour name (e.g. Motif ) and a finish type (e.g. frost ) - there are no exceptions to this. A genuine eyeshadow has a label on the back with the colour name, and below that the finish type in smaller letters. Any eyeshadows sold with colour numbers instead of colour names are not genuine Mac product. If the eyeshadow is just sold with a colour description e.g. sparkly green or shimmery pink - I would expect this to be fake (usually this is just a description of the colour by the seller, and not a colour name). The standard range of shades and the limited edition colours that are still in stock are shown on the website (eBay won't let me include the website address in this guide) - this will give you a feel for genuine colour names, and only sold out limited edition colours are not shown (though there are lots of these).

Every colour name is different - so if you see more than one colour sold with the same name these are not genuine Mac eyeshadows. For example, I have seen single eyeshadows in a range of different colours all sold as Mac 'Prismique lustre' eyeshadows which is nonsense. In this case, Prismique is actually the name of one colour shade, and not an eyeshadow finish. The original eyeshadow (the one they copied the label from) is colour Prismique, in a lustre finish so the label on the back shows 'Prismique' and then below that in smaller letters 'lustre'.

Genuine Mac single powder eyeshadows are supplied in a round black pot with a hinged lid. They do not come with an applicator. I have bought eyeshadows sold as Mac that come in a pot that looks convincing in the photo, with a base that hinged open to reveal a mirror and applicator. These are sold to USA buyers as European packaging, and to UK buyers as Asian or USA packaging. A contact of mine at Mac showed one of these to a Mac international trainer, who sees the products sold in all countries, and they confirmed that Mac sells no eyeshadows in this type of pot.

The box should have a small round black sticker on the top with the colour name of the eyeshadow - though these do sometimes fall off. On the counterfeit boxes I have seen, many have a printed barcode on the bottom - this should be a barcode sticker for a genuine Mac eyeshadow.

Finally, there are some older and rarer eyshadows still sold in screw top pots, or older style boxes that are perfectly genuine. If the seller can give you the finish type and colour name, and this is confirmed on the eyeshadow and box, then I'd expect these to be an authentic Mac product.

 

Examples:

These are two genuine Mac eyeshadow boxes for the same shade, Motif. The one on the left is older style packaging than the one on the right. At the top of each is a sticker with the name of the eyeshadow, on the bottom of each is a bar code label.

Two view of the Motif eyeshadow, from the boxes above, to show the compact, and the way this is labelled.

Two fake eyeshadows - it looks convincing in the photo on the left (this is the sort of photo that is used to sell these), but when you see the top of the box (right) there is only a number and no colour name.

More of the same fake eyeshadows showing the compartment at the bottom with mirror and applicator. If you bought these you would find the barcode on the bottom is only printed - it should actually be a label. All these eyshadows were called Prismique lustre, and the seller said this was a range of eyeshadows rather than a single colour (which is rubbish).

This shows the box and back label for a genuine Mac Prismique eyeshadow (lustre).

 

Summary

So to sum up:

General

Firstly, since eBay's recent changes the amount of genuine Mac for sale on eBay has reduced. The amount of fake Mac has increased and now significantly outnumbers the genuine products. This situation only seems to be getting worse with more different fakes on eBay every month. The latest fake single eyeshadows are complete with correct name labelling and packaging, and superficially look very similar to the genuine item. You cannot tell most of these fakes from the genuine product in a photo - especially the poor quality photos often used on eBay.

Be very careful who you buy from. High positive feedback or powerseller status is not a guarantee that items are genuine, as many sellers are selling counterfeit Mac cosmetics in ignorance. Be sure you buy from a seller who will refund you if they have unknowingly sold you a counterfeit product (not all sellers know enough to tell). Sellers who sell a range of different types of Mac products - lip colours, blushes or eyeliners etc are more likely to be selling genuine products. Brushes, pigments and eyeshadows are the most faked items - I'd avoid any seller who only sells some or all of these.

Single Eyeshadows

Every Mac single eyeshadow should have a unique colour name (e.g. Motif ) and a finish type (e.g. frost). If the colour name is not given, just a description - ask the seller what it is (no reputable seller will mind this). If the seller does not give a shade name in the listing and will not supply one when asked do not expect the item to be genuine.

For eyeshadows in the standard range or in-stock limited edition shades, you can find the name and description on the Mac website.

There should be no applicator or mirror in the bottom of the pot. Mac has never made eyeshadows in compacts like this.

The barcode on the box should be a sticker, and the name should normally be on a sticker on the top of the box, box as well as printed on the label on the back of the eyeshadow.

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No Mac items should have 'Mac' and below this  'Paris' on the front. Mac cosmetics are based in Canada (where their central warehouse is) and this will be the address for Mac on all product (the majority is still manufactured in Canada too, though many shimmer powders and all Mineralize powders are made in Italy).

Fake quad eyeshadows and mineralize eyeshadows are now being sold - see below.

 

Update: September 2008

I estimate that well over 50% of the Mac sold on eBay is fake, so things are still getting worse. The latest fake single eyeshadows are complete with correct name labelling and packaging, and superficially look very similar to the genuine item. You cannot tell most of these fakes from the genuine product in a photo - especially the poor quality photos often used on eBay. A high proportion of the Mac pigments sold on eBay together with almost all Mac brushes are also fake, and these are now very sophisticated.

Be very careful who you buy from. High positive feedback or powerseller status is not a guarantee that items are genuine, as many sellers are selling counterfeit Mac cosmetics in ignorance. Be sure you buy from a seller who will refund you if they have unknowingly sold you a counterfeit product (not all sellers know enough to tell). Sellers who sell a range of different types of Mac products - lip colours, blushes or eyeliners etc are more likely to be selling genuine products. Brushes, pigments and eyeshadows are the most faked items - I'd avoid any seller who only sells some or all of these.

Clearly the restrictions by eBay are not just pointless but also totally counterproductive, as the amount of fake Mac has not fallen, but the amount of genuine Mac has plumeted - daft I know. Many sellers of genuine Mac have stopped selling altogether (I personally know many sellers who have done this), or started selling elsewhere instead (as I now do - I'm fed up of competing with fake products on eBay), leaving mainly just the rubbish for sale on eBay.

Single/Individual Eyeshadows

There are fewer fake eyeshadows sold singly, these are mainly now sold in batches or lots instead. These are sold from the UK, Phillipines, China, Australia, Thailand and Malaysia mainly. There are many fake Mac eyeshadow palettes in all sorts of configurations (see below).

There are still some UK sellers selling the old style fake eyeshadows with an applicator and mirror in the bottom, and some have the nerve to claim they are genuine. Mac have never made anything like this (that goes for blushes with a brush in the bottom too). These items are openly sold in Thailand, so it's not hard to fill a suitcase and say you bought them 'duty free'. I'm sure no import duty was paid, but that's not quite the same now is it.

Fake Mac Barbie eyeshadows are being sold. These are sold in lots (as above) but have Barbie's head imprinted on the eyeshadow (as the eyeshadows in the 2007 limited Barbie Love's Mac collection). These should be easy to spot as again they are usually sold quantities of 8-12 different colours. There were only 6 Barbie eyeshadows ever made - vibrant pink, pale pink, pale gold, grey brown, warm brown and green. If you see more shades than this, or other colours included, these cannot possibly be genuine.

I have seen fake Mineralize eyeshadows from a UK seller plus sellers in Thailand, Phillipines and China. They were not referred to as this by name (just as Mac) but it was clear from the photos what they were copying. I have seen both the split-pan two-colour version (not the marbled shades from the Antquitease collection, but 2 solid shades as used in the previous release of mineralize duos) - this was labelled 'eyeshadow of 2 colours' (which should be a real giveaway that it was fake). The other was a copy of the multi-shade single eyeshadows released as part of the Flashtronic collection (Ether etc). The box labelling was correct, but the eyeshadow looks wrong - instead of the being complementary shades swirled together, these looked more like splodges of different glittery colours. Unless you saw these originally, and they are clearly identified with the shade name, I would not buy these on eBay.

I saw a wierd fake Mac eyeshadow the other day on eBay, so far I have only seen one of these. The compact was round and labelled with the Mac brand, but inside the eyeshadow was octagonal. Only seen one of these so far, but it may be a new trend starting.

I would not buy anything from seller nemesisdragon2007. Lots of items are sold individually by this seller,  but I have not seen any I thought were genuine

Fake Mac Eyeshadow Palettes - from abroad and UK sellers

Sales of fake palettes are growing exponentially, in all shapes and sizes. I have tried reporting these fakes to eBay - but have yet to see any action taken against even one listing or seller as a result - draw you own conclusions!

12 shade eyeshadow palettes

These can be 2 rows of 6 round eyeshadows, a 3x4 grid of square eyeshadows, or a row of 12 rectangular eyeshadows. None of these are genuine. Mac makes no 12-colour eyeshadow palettes, and no palettes of cream eyeshadows either (the only recent cream eyeshadows in compacts are the Dec 2007 Metal-X cream eyeshadows which were only available in single shades). Many of these eyeshadow palettes have numbers (Mac palettes always have names, not numbers) and contain sponge-tip applicators. If a genuine Mac eyeshadow palette contains tools, this will always be one or more brushes, never sponge-tip applicators.

4 shade eyeshadow palettes

Mac often releases one or more limited edition quad eyeshadows with their collections. These are good value as instead of paying £10 each, you get 4 shades for £29 many of which are often exclusive to the collection. Counterfeits of these are now being sold singly and in bulk on eBay. The colours have been chosen to superficially resemble genuine limited edition quads, but the clearer photos show the quality is very different. Lots of these are currently being sold on eBay!

Genuine Mac eyeshadow quads always have names - eg. Well Plumed Eyes 4, Corps de Couleur. The name of the quad will be on circular label on the top edge of the box. In addition, the back of the palette will name the 4 shades included and give the initial of the finish types. E.g. Tickles (l), Restless (s), Bravado (vp), Take Wing (m). If a palette and box do not have these, then it is not a genuine Mac limited edition quad.

I have seen a four pan compact with a cicular window on the lid only last week - again Mac have never made any thing like this.

Duo palettes

Mac have only made due eyeshadows as part of the Mineralize eyeshadow collections. There will be some genuine pull-out duos released towards the end of the year. These are limited edition and will not be available for at least a month (probably November here).

There are eyeshadow duos of 2 side-by-side rectangular eyeshadows in a pull-out drawer compact currently being sold. Mac has not yet sold an eyeshadow product like this.

Finally

Please note, I now sell my Mac items on a different auction site instead of eBay (I'm fed up of the  extortionate fees, fake items outnumbering genuine, and the general way eBay seems to view sellers as second class citizens).  I can offer a wider choice and charge less postage than I can do on eBay. I will still continue to answer your questions and keep these eBay guides up to date, so do feel free to contact me here, and I will do my best to help.

A brief word about Pigments

A lot of fake Mac pigments are for sale on eBay at this very moment. Mac pigments always have a shade name - if there is no name, just a number, then it is NOT genuine, whatever the seller may say. As with the eyeshadows, there should be a round black sticker on top of  the box with the shade name printed in it, and a round sticker on the underneath of the jar with the shade name printed on it. If the photo does not show the name label on the top of the box - this may be because there isn't one - so you know what to think. There is a UK powerseller selling items like this as I write this, so look carefully before you bid. Guide to fake pigments coming soon...

Please bear aware that these counterfeit pigments can be bought wholesale on eBay for less than £1 each for quantities of 50 or more. So it's no wonder there are so many of them here for sale individually. I personally know of over 50 shades of Mac pigment and glitter that have been faked and are being sold on eBay - complete with authentic-looking labels.

I strongly advise against buying Mac brushes on eBay at all - I believe only about 5% of brushes for sale are actually genuine.

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