Here's the deal with fake MAC or any other fake cosmetics out there. Most, if not all make-ups are manufactured in China. It just makes good business sense. Why make something in NA for $10, when you can make the exact same item in China for 10 cents and then sell it for $50? (We all know China is the world's factory). Ok we all get it.
Now when MAC HQ places an order for lets say, a seasonal collection to their factory in China, the factory makes an initial test run on sample batches of lets say 10,000 units to test for quality assurance protocols. Now when MAC approves of the quality control, they go ahead with a production run and they place an order of lets say 150,000 units and that 10,000 unit sample batch is supposed to be destroyed... At least on paper. In reality, the factory sells those 10,000 units to third party reseller websites like eBay.
Now the factory inflates the initial production run from 150,000 to 200,000 units. The extra 50,000 units are listed on paper as waste or damaged product. (Yes in factory settings that does actually happen, but to lesser numbers). Remember, factory machines do break down all the time, and who knows if something spilled on the product if a hydraulic line burst, or if a dry product line burst, or if a packaging / labelling line jammed up that made a certain number of products unuseable or unmarketable, and it happens in small batches, and they put those small batches aside, and they pile up, which also means that there are no quality control procedures over what happens to it after the fact, and now they are selling that potentially tainted product to third party resellers. It's all about profit at the expense of consumer safety.
Now here's the interesting kicker. We all have seen, I know I have, a few reseller sites dedicated to selling MAC, and those sites look legit with the official logo and page layouts etc, etc. We all know they're fake because we ALL know MAC's terms of agreement and how they do business. But does MAC know? Of course they do. Corporations are not stupid. So, what are they doing about it? Should they spend millions of dollars shutting these sites down? Chasing the bad guys? Or perhaps they are getting kickbacks? Tax breaks? A profit? Only the second set of books know...
Which brings us to the Blackmarket. It's been with us since the birth of Human Civilization. And we all know what it is. Ok, next.
Now, what is fake In this context? We all know, and some of the above posters have already said it: Inferior and wrong ingredients, packaging, and labels.
But what about the legit units that are listed as being damaged or wasted products during a real production run? Those ingredients and packaging have already been approved by MAC. Yes? Well, here's the grey area. On the offical paper trail (the paperwork that is for share holders, stock holders, and for tax purposes.) MAC approved only 150,000 units. The other extra 50,000 units were deemed damaged and/or destroyed during the official production run, so it doesn't "officially" exsist on paper, (because the paperwork said it was destroyed), and if it doesn't "officially" exsist, then it's deemed fake.
In reality, this happens all the time whether we like it or not. All we can do is make educated decisions with the best information we have at the moment.
Now what does that mean for us, the consumer, Pro or not? Sure it's cheaper than the real deal, but the market is being flooded and undermined, which means inflated prices for the rest of us. Then there's reputation and quality. Most Pro MUA's, like myself, make our living on purchasing authentic products from reputable sources.
I've been to IMATS as have most of you here, and none of you have ever seen fake products being sold or demonstrated there. I know IATSE MUA's in both the US and Canada that only use legit products because we can't afford to risk the health and safety of our multi-million dollar actors that sit in our chair.
Then there are those who really don't care about where they get their product from. They only care about cheap as possible. And what does that say about their integrity and character as a person? I know they don't care. We've all known people like that that come into our lives at one time or another.