Consumer warning: Counterfeit hair products

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- They may look like top-of-the-line shampoos, conditioners and hairsprays. But as 3 On Your Side's Gary Harper found out, some of those high dollar hair products you see might not be the real deal.

Professional hair care manufacturers say they have been fighting this battle for years, but the problem continues. And you, the consumer, never knows the difference.

Fashion is a high dollar industry, and whether you're male or female, there's one key component in the fashion world.

"Hair is so important to people in general," said AK Mack, the Education Director at Toni & Guy Academy in Scottsdale. He's been with the company for nearly 20 years.

"I can impact people through the medium of hair," Mack said. And an important part of getting the right hair style is buying the right hair products.

But professional hair products are exclusive and are only supposed to be sold at authorized salons or by licensed professionals.

"Nowadays, counterfeiting and diversion is a good bad business," Mack said.

Mack tells us that's because professional products, some real and some knock-offs, are being sold at unauthorized locations.

"It creates this illusion that any product out there with a particular name is just a as good as the ones that are guaranteed on our shelves, Mack said.

And in some cases, consumers may not even be buying the real deal. "They may not be the actual product," Mack said.

Paul Mitchell products are probably some of the most recognizable in the market. But even Paul Mitchell himself had to put out a warning telling consumers to watch out.

3 On Your Side spoke with numerous big name product manufactures on this issue. "TIGI Bedhead" tells us they only sell to hair professionals and their products shouldn't be found anywhere else.

Another manufacturer, Sexy Hair, addressed the issue by saying, "This is a challenge for not only Sexy Hair, but for all our competitors as well."

And as for Paul Mitchell, they were pretty direct by saying, "We do not do business with any drugstore, grocery store or discount store."

So, if you find these products on shelves where they shouldn't be, the companies we spoke with say they may be counterfeit, expired, damaged, or discontinued items.

"If you're not paying attention to it as a consumer, you're going to make an emotional purchase because you think, well it's got the name on there, it looks like it, it must be it, but it might not be true," Mack said.

And it might surprise you, but professional hair care products are usually cheaper when you buy them in a hair salon.

That's because when products are diverted to an unauthorized retail chain, the price is marked up and you pay more. And don't forgot, the product might be counterfeit.