Diversion – True Crimes of the Hair Care Industry

By Ms. Hiltner

I have gone down the rabbit hole into the world of counterfeit beauty products. You read that right, counterfeit beauty products are a real thing. Diversion is what occurs when you purchase salon-quality products from an unauthorized dealer. Any reputable stylist is going to recommend products to keep your hair looking fabulous long after you’ve left their chair. Are they trying to upcharge you? Increase their sales? Circulate specific product? We’ve all thought it, which is why we wave off their recommendations. Target and Amazon carry the same products, right? And they’re more affordable. But what are those few saved dollars really costing you? Consider these factors:

Brand Integrity – the only way to guarantee your bottle of Redken is authentic is to purchase it from a salon. Stores like Ulta get around this by having one licensed stylist working the floor.

Brand Purity – diverted products are more likely to contain high levels of bacteria. Dilution often occurs, making the product not work as it should or putting you at risk of allergens.

 Money – remember, your stylist is the expert and knows what products will work best with your cut, style, and pH of your hair. Using anything else and they can’t guarantee their work.

So how are these products making onto store shelves? Shouldn’t it be illegal? Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s the breach in the distribution process that’s illegal. Somewhere along the path of distribution center to authorized dealer, product is getting diverted. Sometimes it’s after the product reaches the dealer – think back alley deals and under the table exchanges. How do we stop the cycle?

Recognize the signs of counterfeit or diverted products:

  • Labels or stickers over barcodes printed on bottles
  • Damaged or dented product
  • Outdated packaging or expired sell by dates

When in doubt, you can reach out to the parent company; they will have records of batch numbers and can verify your purchase.

Consumer awareness is the best solution to stopping diversion.

McCormick, L. W. (2019). Retailers gloss over diversions of professional hair careproducts. ConsumerAffairs. Retrieved from: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/04/diversions.htmlOsborne, S. (2019, September). Personal interview.
Radocchia, S. (2018, October 23). Hair product diversion is dirty business. Here’s whatit will take to clean up the supply chain. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/samantharadocchia/2018/10/23/hair-product-diversion-is-dirty-business-heres-what-it-will-take-to-clean-up-the-supply-chain/#59f439425ff6


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