A stark warning comes this week as hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of counterfeit cosmetics, including make-up and perfume, have been uncovered by Trading Standards officers across the country. The Local Government Association has announced that many of the products seized, including counterfeit versions of top fashion brands, have been found to include ingredients such as mercury which can damage the nervous system, eyes and lungs.

According to Trading Standards, fake make-up is flooding the market and the hordes of products recovered across the UK over the past year represent only a small proportion of those available. Many black market traders are still tempting customers with cheap prices but could leave them exposed to potentially lethal side effects. Local authorities have warned those using fake cosmetics that they are in danger of chemical burns and skin rashes and that there is a risk of toxic materials harming important organs.

Charlene King, an associate in the product liability team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “You can understand why consumers are attracted to these products when they come with a much lower price tag. Whilst they may be making a saving, they are also exposing themselves to potentially hazardous products, however legitimate they may initially seem. We strongly encourage individuals not only to purchase from a reputable retailer, but also to ensure that they check the ingredients listed on any cosmetic product and, to be safe, perform a skin test before using it. Any negative reaction should be reported to Trading Standards.”