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Online Cosmetic Sales Dangers
It's expected that by 2016, nearly 200 million Americans will do their shopping online.
That could be dangerous if you're shopping for cosmetics.
The federal government is issuing new warning about products you may be buying.
"It's a big business right now, especially with all of the anti-aging and beauty products coming out," said dermatologist Matthew Bakos.
Women spend millions of dollars every year on cosmetics, from anti-aging serums, to moisturizers and makeup -- much of it quite pricey.
"These items represent a lot of money making potential, so companies that pop up and do counterfeiting will replicate the packaging down to the letter," said Paula Provenzano, a skin care expert.
Put them on the internet for a bargain price.... and the savings are pretty attractive....
"If you buy it, you may not get what you think you're buying, and may get something dangerous," Provenzano said.
Kim Kelly has a lot of problems with her skin, "I break out a lot and it makes me feel self concious," Kelly said.
Kelly's had a rash of reactions to cosmetics. "I just make sure I buy it from a reputable source."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve cosmetics for sale -- but it does get involved when consumers or companies report adverse reactions, incomplete or incorrect labeling, or a product that doesn't look or smell like it should.
"We do go through and look, and if something is unsafe we will go through legal aspects we can to get the product off market," said Linda Kat, a scientist with the F.D.A.
Alerts on the F.D.A website warn of products which don't do what they claim -- as recently as last month the F.D.A. warned about dozens of companies -- including Avon, L'Oreal, and Almay exaggerating anti-aging claims.
An alert updated last month details dozens of cases of contamination -- in cosmetic products manufactured overseas -- Estee Lauder made this list. These products never made it into the country.
And the FDA even stopped fake or unlicensed Botox shipped from Canada, China, Britain, and Brazil.
But when consumers buy on the internet -- they're bringing beauty products right into their homes.
"Makeup is like big girl candy. It's pretty, it's colorful," Provezona said.
Websites that sound like a great deal, are often too good to be true.
"You've got to be careful. If you get a large enough exposure to it, it could have systemic side effects," Bakos said.
To make sure you're getting the real deal on cosmetics look for a batch number on the box or base of the product, notice differences in package color or font, or the size of lids or applicator brushes.
Or even easier - shop with stores or websites you know. And get to know someone who is educated on what's in the products you put on your face -- like an esthetician or even the associate at your favorite department store.
If you have a problem with a cosmetic product you can report it to the F.D.A. on their website at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators/