Save your eyebrows, stop buying make-up online

Buying online isn't the problem. Buying online from where is the problem, she told me. If you're buying a Clinique moisturiser from Clinique's UAE website, that's fine - sensible even, if you don't want the hassle of parking in a mall.

By Nivriti Butalia (Meanderings)

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Published: Sun 21 Jan 2018, 9:32 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 Jan 2018, 11:33 PM

In April 2017, Ronaldo Mouchawar, CEO and co-founder of Souq.com, had come down to the Khaleej Times office for one of our 'Meet the CEO' sessions. I wanted to know what the head of this huge e-commerce platform doesn't buy online. I asked him. I thought he'd say shoes. He said, medicines. He would never buy medicines online. After that, I mentally swore off buying medicines online, thinking Mouchawar must have done his homework to feel strongly about it.
Last week, a friend reminded me of Mouchawar. She works for one of those big beauty brands in New York. I pinged her to get a dumbed-down, non-dense - also no-nonsense - version of how a product that retails for Dh185 at a Paris Gallery or a Sephora sells online for Dh115? Is the cheaper one definitely fake? Also, am I an idiot for being in two minds? And if it's fake, why isn't the law coming down heavier on the randos peddling dodgy stuff? I wasn't enjoying the feeling of being an easily manipulated consumer.
All is not fake, friend said. Buying online isn't the problem. Buying online from where is the problem, she told me. If you're buying a Clinique moisturiser from Clinique's UAE website, that's fine - sensible even, if you don't want the hassle of parking in a mall. But she was telling me to watch out for the shady third party sellers on websites like Amazon. She told me never to buy lipsticks online. And that's not only because the colours aren't the same on the computer screen. But they're so cheap!, I wailed.
"Sometimes you are so innocent," she told me, then continued to use words like villain and genuine and ethical and "methods of eating away the business". Then, she said this thing that hit home: that it affects people's salaries and bonuses and jobs potentially. My heart melted thinking, my God, in my bid to save Dh30, I don't want my friend missing out on a bonus! Or anyone else. Oversimplifying, of course. But several things that don't usually cross my mind every time I buy a product surfaced in that chat. Things like, even if the product isn't fake, chances are it could be old, lying in a warehouse with iffy regulations. Are those places even temperature controlled? I wouldn't want a jar of moisture surge losing its zing lying in some dank barracks for 18 months.
My friend was getting late for a meeting, but she was throwing figures at me because it's one of those issues that get her worked up. "At my current job, we are losing $15 million worth of revenue to (name of huge e-retailer). We don't supply to them. So it's obviously a gray market."
And here's a horror story if you need one: Last month, in the UK, one Charlotte Knight, to save a few bucks, bought an eyebrow tint online from eBay thinking it was the same Korean retailer. Turned out her eyebrows turned into tar. Daily Mail quoted her saying, "I put it on for a bit over two hours and it started to go rock hard and it was stuck to them like tarmac. "I was crying and trying to peel it off. I was worried they would fall off."
Once you start digging around for the truth about counterfeit make-up, there's enough to make you wary of where you buy your lipsticks and night creams from. According to a report on Bloomberg called Code Rouge, "Cosmetics companies have been fighting counterfeiters for as long as they've been in business, but the scope of their efforts isn't widely known. The Estée Lauder Cos., the $30-billion company that owns MAC, Clinique, and other brands, has waged an especially aggressive campaign." It's probably the right thing to do, no, to give them a hand? Obviously, it's not just medicines then that you've got to watch out for when buying online.
-nivriti@khaleejtimes.com



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