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Unpacking risks of counterfeit fragrances

Nyore Madzianike
SUMMER is upon us and rising temperatures mean that chances of sweating are also high.It is a time of the year when many people employ various methods that keep them fresh and energised.

One of the businesses that peak this era is that of selling fragrances as more people use the deodorising products to keep away odour that comes with sweating.

That zeal to retain the natural good smell on the body and control odour under arms, on feet or just to keep feminine hygiene will force one to find enhancers that comes in the form of deodorants and perfumes.

Although many a people do confuse the two — deodorants and perfumes — the end game is to bring the good scent as one undertakes his or her daily routine activities.

For the benefit of those who confuse deodorants and perfumes, here is the difference.

Deodorants are used on the body to mask the offensive body odour caused by sweat and bacteria while perfumes can be used on the body or clothing to produce ‘‘feel good aromas’’ that are attractive to the wearer.

Therefore, deodorant is used to stop bad smell created by bacteria while perfumes are used to bring new scent to a person.

Deodorants and perfumes are now a common feature on the street corners of most of the country’s bustling towns and cities-either in boutiques or on pavements.

Their availability and quantities has since given rise to the amount of counterfeit fragrances in flea markets with some being sold by street vendors. Men and women selling perfumes are now a common sight on the streets and they employ different tactics to lure customers.

Coupled with the cost of original brands, the demand and consumption of their counterfeit fragrances has reached alarming levels.

Some organisations and individuals are smuggling these counterfeit products into the country and some goes to the extent of locally manufacturing them at their backyards.

High density suburbs of Mbare and Mabvuku have been touted as the huge suppliers of these perfumes in Harare.

Most of these fake products usually carries brand tags that the phony product would be attempting to mimic and also have different font sizes or colour.

These deodorants and perfumes are usually priced way below the standard cost of the original ones, in a bid to draw the customers’ attention and gives an impression that they are found in limited stock.

It is the difference in texture, smell and the colour that tells a lot about what you may be buying and intends to wear although some are difficult to distinguish from the authentic ones.

There are many health risks and other social effects that comes with such products, which has left many people with life threatening ailments because of chemicals used when manufacturing them.

One of the alarming discoveries made on the streets of Harare is that some of the fake perfumes are sometimes made with urine, which in some cases can lead to a serious skin rash.

In the event that one has bought a deodorant or perfume made from urine mixed with other chemicals, one is likely to suffer from social embarrassment.

The use of urine in manufacturing the phony deodorants and perfumes is not only peculiar in this country with the president of the Authentic Foundation, Valerie Selembier, in United States of America having been quoted in the CBS New York confirming its use and other chemicals.

“What is often in fake fragrances are ingredients like anti-freeze, poorly based chemicals and urine. If it’s too pale, that means it’s heavy alcohol. If it’s too dark, it is most likely using faux chemicals.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in its findings also discovered that urine was also being found in fake deodorants and perfumes with 10 percent of the fragrances found on USA markets were counterfeits.

Dr Admore Jokwiro, a specialist in public health, said the consequences of using such products might be adverse to the extent of causing permanent injuries to the skin.

“Perfumes and deos from authorised dealers are generally safe but even then some cause hypersensitivity reactions (allergies) and trigger things like asthma or hay fever.

“With fake products the risk is even much greater as the products on the street are not quality controlled.

“Products in these fake sprays can contain harmful irritants which can damage the skin permanently and if inhaled or ingested can also affect lungs resulting in respiratory problems

“Other adverse health side effects include acne, psoriasis and eye infection. Acne and psoriasis are severe skin diseases.

“Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells and it causes white-heads, blackheads or pimples. They usually appear on the face, forehead, chest, upper back and shoulders.

“Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease that causes raised, red, scaly patches to appear on the skin. It typically affects the outside of the elbows, knees or scalp, though it can appear on any location of the body,” he said.

Dr Jokwiro advised people to buy products from authorised dealers who deal in authentic merchandise.

He said it reduces the risks and embarrassment that comes out with use of phony products.

“It is prudent that people buy products from dealers that they know sells genuine products. This will reduce the health risks associated with using fake products.

“The only set back that we face is of law enforcement authorities, like those responsible for quality checks, who are failing to put a stop on the inflow of counterfeits into the country,” he said.

Source :

The Herald

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