Update: Buying and selling counterfeit cosmetics in L.A.’s famed Santee Alley has continued since this piece was released, but that might finally be changing. The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed last week that it confiscated $700,000 worth of knockoff makeup in the downtown L.A. shopping district — some of which tested positive for high levels of feces and bacteria.
This story was originally published August 14, 2017.
When Haven Cruise woke up on a scorching July morning in Florida, it felt like shards of glass were tearing through her fragile undereye skin. She ran to the mirror and was shocked to find that the area around her cheeks and temple were raw, bumpy, and painfully dry. “It was almost like something had entered my pores and was hanging out in there,” she remembers. “It was so gross.”
The office manager noticed that the reaction was in the exact spot where she had “baked” her concealer with Ben Nye powder — a trick she learned from the beauty vloggers she follows on YouTube. The only problem? The product she used wasn’t legit; it was a cheap knock-off that she found for $6 (originally $22.50) online. “I just hit ‘add to cart’ excitedly and didn’t do my research,” she says. “I was so excited to try it — it even said in the title of the posting that Kim Kardashian uses it.”