How to spot fake Botox, or 'Faux-Tox,' and other beauty knockoffs

ByCheryl Mettendorf and Nydia Han WPVI logo
Monday, June 24, 2024
How to spot fake Botox, or 'Faux-Tox,' and other beauty knockoffs
How to spot fake Botox, or 'Faux-Tox,' and other beauty knockoffs

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Fake Botox, skincare dupes and counterfeit cosmetics are not only impacting wallets but can also pose major health concerns.

Since Botulinum, widely known as "Botox," is a toxin, it must be stored and handled carefully.

"Faux-Tox" is a term used to describe fake Botox and it is unsafe. The CDC is warning consumers that it could cause muscle paralysis, blurry vision or even death.

But plastic surgeon Dr. Shwetambara Parakh said there are ways to possibly spot the Faux-Tox and other bogus beauty products to protect yourself.

"If you are an unlicensed provider or a med spa trying to save some cost, how do you save costs in this? By buying cheap Botox," said Dr. Parakh.

Dr. Parakh said she often receives offers to buy discounted Botox from companies outside of the United States.

The FDA has seized knockoffs and other fake vials have been found across the country.

"These are things that if someone buys a counterfeited product, that's really dangerous," said Yoav Keren with Brandshield.

Some victims have had to be hospitalized, and all the affected patients had one thing in common: they were injected by untrained individuals at nonhealth care settings like homes or spas.

"So as a consumer, as a patient, it's okay for you to tell the doctor or the provider, 'Hey, can I see the bottle of the Botox if you don't mind?' In the U.S., you only get a 100-unit or a 200-unit vial. A lot of the fake ones have been 150 unit," said Dr. Parakh.

You can also check to make sure the vial has a seal that hasn't been torn or tampered with.

And, look carefully at the packaging. There should be a lot number and an expiration date. The name should start with an O - "OnabotulinumtoxinA."

The vial should also have the manufacturer's name, like Allergan.

And it isn't just Faux-Tox you have to worry about.

Cybersecurity company Brandshield reports a major increase in fraudulent websites selling bogus beauty products. It issued a warning about copycat sites that use legitimate company logos and names to sell counterfeit cosmetics and scam skincare.

"The picture looks legitimate. The price maybe, you know, reasonably discounted. Yes, if a price seems too good to be true, then it is," said Keren.

Experts tell us deeply discounted prices on Botox are also a sign it can't be real. They also advised to look very closely at the website address since typos are red flags.

And avoid clicking on links that come in the form of special offers sent via email or social media, since many of those could be phishing scams.

Both experts said it is best to shop the store or brand's official website or in person at a reputable business.