Sunday, February 16, 2014

on 56 comments

Spotting a fake OPI is getting really hard

I've been meaning to do this post for such a long time and I finally remembered to take some photos to go along with the post.

Last year, I received a set of mini OPIs from the bond collection.  It contained a mini bottle of golden eye.  I loved it so much that I needed to get a full sized bottle.  A few weeks later I was at a shopping centre and checked out a boutique nail polish and cosmetics shop.  They had a great display of OPIs and were selling them for $15 each (normal RRP in Australia is $20) or 3 for $30.  I jumped at the 3 for $30 and picked up three OPI polishes I had been wanting, including Goldeneye.

It was a few weeks later that I grabbed my new full sized bottle of GoldenEye and saw that it was noticeably different to version in the mini bottle. It was only several months later when I was having a catchup with my fellow local nail polish enthusiasts that we all talked about how we believed that the bricks and mortar store was selling fake OPIs.

But even when I closely compared the two bottles, I thought it was bloody hard to tell them apart.  There are a lot of great blog posts already done about spotting a fake OPI - such as this one from Nailedblog. I had done my research and thought I would be ok, but when you're not actually comparing two bottles next to each other, it's easy to walk away with a fake.

There are a few things that most of the articles say to look for, which I found were now all on the fake bottles. Such as:

Writing on the front of the bottle. Genuine bottles have "mL" and "Fl" at the bottom. Fakes apparently don't capitalize the letters correctly. Not any more. My fakes have the fonts right.


Bottle numbers. Most of my bottles have stamped numbers rather than engraved numbers. This may be a regional thing, I don't know. What I do know is that my fake OPIs also have stamped numbers too.


The labels on the bottle are getting harder and harder to tell apart. The font is slightly different, but unless you are comparing them side by side, then you probably wont pick it up.


Fake OPI bottles used to not have the gears on the inside of the lids, they do now!


Fake OPI's didn't used to have the OPI embossed on the side of the brush shaft, they do now!

Fake OPI's didn't used to have that little dot in the middle of the P, they do now. But notice that the cap texture is much smoother on the fake bottle. That was one of only two things I could really pick them apart with.

The only other thing I could still see as the difference was the symbols on the back. But because OPI has changed these over the years, it's pretty difficult to use that as a measure for whether a bottle is fake.

This is OPI Big Apple Red. It has three symbols. It is genuine and received from the PR company.


These are the three OPIs I bought from the dodgy retailer. From left to right OPI Fly, Goldeneye and No room for the blues. Goldeneye is most definitely fake and I suspect the other two are too, but they all have the three symbols. Without comparing them to genuine versions I wont know if they have the right logos.


I have since purchased a new full sized version of Goldeneye and have compared the backs. The genuine version has the addition of the book and hand icon.


But that book and hand icon is on my definite fake version of Mad as a hatter.  And aparently that book icon used to be at the beginning of the icons series too.  See how OPI have mixed it all up.


Here are some more fake and genuine OPIs, with the book and hand icon circled on the genuine ones.


In the end, the only real way for me to show one is a fake it to compare them side by side.  For polishes like Goldeneye and Mad as a hatter, it's much easier to pick the differences.  But with creme polishes, it can sometimes be impossible to tell.  In fact I'm still not certain if my Fly and No room for the blues are fake or real!  They both apply nicely, and they don't smell offensive. Arrrrgghhh.

Anyway, lets look at the comparisons between the fake and real goldeneye. These are three coats of each polish.  The difference is so obvious in real life.





So there you go! Are you set to spot a fake OPI now or are you confused. I sure as shit know I'm confused and probably will end up purchasing fakes from unscrupulous sellers in the future.Good luck OPI lovers!

56 comments:

  1. Wow, I didn't even know people bothered to make fake nail polish. I guess people will do anything these days. =/

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    1. In places like Australia where OPI retails for $20, you can resell cheap fakes and make a very good profit!

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    2. In Romania a Genuine OPI is 10-12$ and you can buy fake OPI with 2$

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    3. Andreea M do you have a link that i can order a Genuine OPI is 10-12$???? thank you :)

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    4. In Sweden OPI costs more Than 20 US$ :( i order from eBay, and i compared one which i bought in a trusty store with one from eBay and the bottle from the store looks like the fake nailpolish in your pictures. The one from eBay looks exactly like the genuine pictures :o

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  2. o_O Wow, I would never nave noticed the fake. Now I'm wondering if some of the ones I have might be fake too! Hm.

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    1. Oh now but I guess if the smell ok and you are happy with the colour and formula, then they are probably ok.

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  3. I have a fake OPI that was bought online and I was not aware that it was a fake until I compared it with all those helpful swatches posted online. I also noticed that the inscriptions outside the fake bottle is not as pronounced as the original. The glass bottle bottle felt smooth in comparison to the original.

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    1. Thanks for the tips on other things to look for.

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  4. I live in Qld and last October I was walking past a Terry White when I noticed a stand of OPI, it wasn't a real stand they were just on boxes and every bottle was full of dust, I gathered that these had just arrived and they were unpacking them, they were $10 each, I think I looked at every bottle on display, some had labels on the bottom that looked genuine but others only had a black font and not as much writing as OPI labels have. I didn't buy any. Next time I went to the store, they were on a proper stand and all those on the highest shelves had white and green labels, all those on the bottom rows had black and white labels.
    Now OPI is popping up everywhere, Cosmetics Plus is selling them 2 for $20, Chemist Warehouse had a small selection, I think theirs were $11. Our market here seems to be flooded with these cheap OPI's and thank you very much for this post, and yes, I am more confused than ever. I usually buy my OPI's from a US ebay seller and the bottles look the same as one I purchased in person in the US, but damn, how would I know if that one was even genuine.

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    1. I've noticed them popping up in more and more stores too. I think we will need to carry a real OPI bottle in our bags to compare the polishes to and spot a fake.

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    2. I just moved to QLD myself :)

      OPI is quite reasonably priced in the US, so if your seller is reputable then I think it's safe to assume it's real. Faking it wouldn't be worth the trouble there. I miss my cheap polishes!

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    3. Years too late with this reply, but they sound like black label OPI (manufactured before 2006) from before they went 3free.
      Some of those are worth quite a bit of money now.

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  5. It sure was easier in the old days, now copys of most things is hard to tell apart from the original with out bringing it to the store (do is still hard to tell a lot of then apart... ) :/

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    1. yep - it was easier in the old days, and like you said, you need to compare them these days and even then its really difficult to tell.

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  6. This is crazy, now I'm getting paranoid. My No room for the blues has four symbols and I'm pretty sure it's genuine, I was thinking, could it be that the once with the four symbols are newer versions and the once with three are older??

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    1. Hmm, if your No room for the blues has four symbols, then its looking good for you, and bad for me! Although I actually do like my fake and use it quite a lot.

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  7. Do you have any more side by sides of front bottle shot comparisons, of the fakes vs genuine? In the first picture the front labels look pretty different, the fake looks like the mLs don't curve with the bottom and the whole label itself looks shifted up, if that makes sense

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    1. I'll take some more font bottle shots, and shots of the bottoms and will add them to the end of this post.

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  8. Wow! Thanks for this comparison! i Love OPI but sometimes don't like the price so I'm always looking online for deals but now I am slightly more apprehensive to purchase online; definitely not sure if I will be getting a real or fake!

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    1. I'm very apprehensive bout buy them online, but I now have a few suppliers that I know I can buy from with confidence!

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  9. Fantastic comparison Cathy! If only they got better at duping the actual polish, then it wouldn't be such a problem for us... just the company! :P

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  10. The ridges on the bottom of my fake opis that i got from the same store are vastly different to the real ones :/ But it sucks they're still selling them and they just shrug if you tell them grrrr.

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    1. I've gotta check the bottoms of the bottles a bit more now!

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  11. I bought a fake OPI last year, Fly, actually. I got my money back for it, and got to keep it too - I bought it on eBay.
    I wrote about it in this blogpost:
    http://rainbowifyme.blogspot.dk/2013/03/opi-fly-with-dots-and-iridescent-glitter_17.html

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    1. Funny that one of my fakes is Fly too. Great you got your money back. The store here wasn't at all interested in hearing our comments about them being fake!

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  12. Thanks for this helpful post! I bet that producers of fake polish actually started out as polish lovers, and know to search the blogs to see what "we" have found out about how to spot fake bottles. So they adapt their production and the difference gets harder to spot. :(

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    1. Absolutely!, the more we expose them the better they get at making the fakes.

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  13. I wasn't really aware of fakes before reading this but I had walked past a display of OPI's recently when I did a double take because I knew it wasn't an official retailer and the price was $10. Now I know. Thanks.

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    1. It's amazing how many shops are selling cheap OPI now days!

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  14. I've been duped in buying - funnily enough - a fake OPI goldeneye too! Bought it from a dodgy ebay seller. There's a store in Sydney that sells OPI for $14 and I've bought a couple of (seemingly genuine) OPIs.. the second one's top of the lid is really smooth in texture though so now I'm wondering if it's a fake? Last time I was in there they had new stock in and the labels on the bottom of the polishes didn't look like the real OPI labels at all. Bigger font, greener, missing barcodes. I guess scammers are realising there is lots of money to be made here as none of us want to pay $20-$22 per bottle of polish. They can sell us knock offs for $5 less, we'll be thrilled to pay less but run the risk of fake products.
    Why do we pay so much for nail polish and make up in general here? Is it government taxes? If it is, it's backfiring! Fakes are being imported illegally and sold fraudulently, we're turning to overseas sellers to get a proper deal…. they really need to sort the ridiculous price of beauty in this country out! ;)

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    1. Totally agree with you about the price we pay for beauty products here. With your bottles, if they seem genuine enough then they probably are, and you will only ever really know if you have an exact shade to compare to.

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  15. Note also the upper edge of the bottle. There is a sharper ridge to the fakes, and a shorter distance from the lid to this edge. These bottles are made in China.

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    1. Yes, absolutely, and it's quite noticeable when you compare them side by side. Maybe I need to always carry and OPI bottle in my handbag just some I have a real bottle to compare to.

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  16. I am confused now! I took a look at my bottles of OPI and noticed a variance in textures of the brush handles, some are smoother some are more rough. Other than that, the polishes don't appear to be fakes, what do you think"?
    Does the smoother texture of the handle automatically make it a fake?

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    1. I wouldn't think that just because it has a smoother texture it would be a fake, it's just something that I noticed in common with mine. I'd also compare the bottle shapes and the font sizes, as that is the other main differences.

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  17. Wow. Thanks for the information! I moved to Oz at the start of this year and just bought my first OPI today. Fortunately it was from Myer, was the full price (gawd, paying $20 instead of $8 is rough), and appears to be the real thing. But wow. Faking nail polish--and that well, at least on the outside. Now I've seen it all. Sorry you ended up with fakes, though. The real Goldeneye is SO lovely.

    Luckily I am a massive font nerd. Now that I know to check that, I'll hopefully not be fooled... until the swindlers catch on and fix that too >.<

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  18. Hello, have you considered that the "fake" ones are simply new features that OPI has added to their bottles? Companies change fonts, etc, all the time. I'm sorry but I don't see how those are fake.

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    1. Just as Katherine says below, Goldeneye is an obvious fake, because the actual polish is nothing like to real one, which is far superior in finish and formula. Like I said, the cremes are hard to tell, but it's unlikely the bricks and mortar store I bought these from would have a mix of fake and real polishes, they would have got them all from the same place!

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  19. The Goldeneye that she purchased cheap is obviously a fake, you can tell from the brush and the swatch shots how different it looks. Cremes are airways harder to tell but if one is fake, why wouldn't the others from the same seller be too?

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    1. 100% agreed - and a big thank you for your reply to the above comment!

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  20. Omg !!!! I love OPI but i cant spend any more money if Im not sure is the original ... Im checking all my bottles ... Thats why i dont buy any nail polish on ebay

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  21. Great post. By the way, your link to Nailedblog is broken. You have an extra www in the url. ;)

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    1. Thanks Michelle - I've fixed up my link!

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  22. I can't believe how alike these are - I didn't even know people faked polish so this is a fantastic comparison! Its so bad but I can hardly tell the difference in the fake and to me it looks like a pretty decent polish anyway!

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  23. Oh wow! It makes me wonder if any of mine are fakes, but even the ones I've suspected to be fakes have genuine peel off stickers and are of a good quality! Infact, two of the most fake looking in my collection are from the official OPI UK stockist (opiuk.com!). Also, it's worth noting that in the past couple of years, OPI have added the book/finger sticker and it's still not standardised across all polishes, depending on batches etc!

    Pheww, OPI's are tricky! Thank you for such a comprehensive post, and sorry that you got duped x

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  24. Wow this is so weird. I actually get my nailpolish straight from the OPI factory in North Hollywood, but most of them don't have a serial number on the bottom side.

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  25. Had to come back to this post! I just bought four "OPI"s from one of those little kiosk-shops in the shopping centres. 2 for $15, so naturally I was suspicious. I bought four pretties and immediately came here to compare them with your post. One of them does appear to be fake, while three of them seem genuine. I'm scrutinizing them and comparing to swatches online. Fortunately the fake is a creme and seems to be well-done enough--smells and looks normal. I noticed that the cap has the smoothness and sharper edges you and others mentioned, and it also feels different when you're unscrewing it. Lind of squeaky and not-smooth--cheap, in a word. The embossing on the inside of the brush shaft is present but the font looks ever-so-slightly different and it isn't raised up as much as the real thing. I still like it, but I feel kind of dirty...lol.

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  26. I also bought 5 from one of those kiosks today for the same price. I actually found Black Spotted, Fiercly Fiona and the original duochrome version of Not Like The Movies. They all seem legit. I've checked over the bottles and they have all the same barcodes and engraved numbers as my other OPIs. There were definitely some fakes there though, the bottle was more elongated. They're not all fakes but if you didn't know it'd be hard to spot.

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  27. Maybe they put fake opi polish in the bottle instead of the whole thing itself being fake?

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  28. Did you dob them in? I certainly would have, and I know OPI would want to know about it. At least you can genuine OPI where you live. I have only one place in Hobart that I can buy it, and they don't have an OPI consultant, and certainly have nowhere near the full collection - I'd say about a quarter of it. So, guess you shops online! But now I'm going to have to be very wary. If I find any fake ones I'll definitely be dobbing them in to OPI and/or the authorities. Thanks for sharing this information. It was very helpful.

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  29. I've been really unhappy with the formula of the last several bottles of OPI I bought, it never occurred to me that they could be fake, but now I'm wondering! I got them from Sally Beauty Supply, which I thought was reputable, but maybe I need to find a different seller. Thank you, this was very helpful!

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    1. I would or maybe their older too. OPI hasn't changed except many of their mini bottle colors are hard to paint on...I haven't figured that out and why. I ordered the Alice Through the Looking glass kit off HSN. The big bottle was perfect OPI..smooth, easy on, pigmented and lasted the mini bottles thick and clumpy with streaks ??? Wasn't just me a lot of other reviews said the exact same thing...

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  30. hey i am a whole seller of good quality nail polish
    i supply to store owners and private individuals
    Email..... ...lyndagarcia92@gmail.com
    text or call.....4092034713

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  31. Damn I had just learned the authentic OPI and that took forever now these fakes are so freaking authentic looking! It pisses me off! I do my own nails and nothing goes on or last like O.P.I. also I have battled cancer for years and when on treatment I was not allowed in a nail salon..we don't know what this fake shit has for ingredients I am sure it is cheap dangerous chemicals!

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I live in Canberra, Australia with my husband, Mr Seven and Miss Five. My blog is all about nail polish, and a few other bits in between. You can contact me at morenailpolish@iinet.net.au