Don’t get scammed by diverted beauty products

Confession time: I’ve bought diverted products in a moment of despiration and I KNOW better! A couple years ago, I realized that I didn’t have enough foundation to last through an upcoming trip. Because of my poor planning, I didn’t have time to run to the store that carried the brand, and there wasn’t enough time to have it shipped directly from an authorized retailer. I caved to the temptation: I ordered it on Amazon Prime for 1 day shipping. My foundation arrived and I immediately realized it wasn’t quite right. The label didn’t match the original label. Instead of the shade being printed on the bottle, it was attached with a crooked sticker. It was orange. I’d been fooled. Not only was I out the money for a fake bottle of foundation, I was still out of foundation for my trip.

What does it mean if a product is “diverted?”

Diverted products are not sold through authorized channels. Many people think of shampoo and conditioner, but this is common with skincare and cosmetics too. Some lines are intended only for sale by licensed professionals or authorized distributors. Products sold outside of these channels are likely to be expired, diluted, adulterated, have not been properly stored, and are definitely not gauranteed by the manufacturer. Sometimes, these products contain dangerous additives or ingredients that are not on the label, so you can’t be certain a diverted product doesn’t contain ingredients you are allergic to.

How to spot a diverted product:

If you see a salon or spa brand, or any exclusive cosmetic or personal care product at a drug store, grocery store, or discount clothing and home goods store, chances are it is diverted. This In-Style article offers helpful tips for spotting diverted items, including looking for inconsistencies in the labels or packaging, covering bar codes to make them harder to track (look for bar code stickers or markered out bar codes), and prices that seem significantly lower.

This bottle of hair spray has a telltale sign of diversion: A sticker over the real barcode. Note how old the product and sticker are. This was on the shelves at a Des Moines grocery store today.

Am I getting a better deal at a big box store? 

Many professional quality hair and skincare lines dictate the prices that their authorized distributors can charge. No authorized licensed professionals or distributors are allowed to charge less. Ironically enough, many diverted products cost as much as, or more than, a guaranteed product sold from a legitimate distributor, and you truly can’t know what you’re buying if it isn’t from an authorized retailer.

This bottle of Redken Shampoo sells for $15.99 from an authorized salon, but was on the shelf at a local grocery store with a sticker over the real bar code today for $19.99.

Professional skincare lines like Rhonda Allison, our exclusive skincare line, are only available through licensed estheticians or dermatologists. According to Rhonda Allison:

“Consumers need to be aware that if they purchase from an institution such as eBay or Amazon, their product may be diluted, expired, or counterfeit. Such product may not be safe to use or perform as tested and Rhonda Allison will not take responsibility for the purchaser’s dissatisfaction…these products are considered “diverted” and constitute a high risk to the consumer.”

A quick check of Amazon showed a few Rhonda Allison products, and almost all of these diverted products were priced higher than our products! Some appear to be bottles that are either older designs or not “quite right.”  For example, I found a bottle of Rhonda Allison’s Drops of Essence today on Amazon selling for nearly $50 more than we sell it at East Village Spa. Our product is guaranteed to be exactly what it says, comes with expert advice, and we’ll happily ship it to our clients!

Diverted and seriously overpriced product on Amazon.

If diversion is so bad, how are stores getting away with it?

According to Consumer Affairs, the illegality comes from people within the supply chain diverting the products to stores like big box or online retailers, which is a breach of their contract. For example, if a distributor unethically sells their products, including those that are expired, damaged, or used, to a big box store, they are breaching their contract with the manufacturer. Some individuals sell stolen goods. The products then go to a warehouse where the products bar codes are destroyed or covered to make them hard to track. When a big box store buys diverted products from these unethical operators, this is not illegal, but it is unethical because the retailer cannot guarantee the authenticity or safety of the products.

The only way to reduce this practice, short of passing legislation making it illegal for retailers to purchase unauthorized products, is to educate consumers about product diversion and encourage consumers to purchase directly from their salon, spa, or wellness professionals. This is the only way to guarantee that you are getting what you pay for, and more often than not, you’ll end up saving money. Plus, you will be supporting small business owners instead of online or big box retailers engaging in unethical practices without concern for your health.

We are thankful

The first time I got a massage, I was 24 and had just gotten injured at work. I booked a 30 minute massage on a whim to try to help. I literally had no clue what to expect, I even kept my tank top on under the sheets. That massage was so incredible that when I was done, I knew that I needed to help people feel that way too. Within a year, I enrolled in massage therapy school.

Our team is so fortunate to do what we do, and Thanksgiving is always a time to take a step back and really reflect on how grateful we are to be in the spa profession. I asked the crew at East Village Spa to share their favorite part of their career and why they are thankful to be in this line of work.

Brandi: My favorite part of being a licensed massage therapist is making space for others in a compassionate way. And, I am thankful for my co-workers!

Jamee: I am thankful for being able to help people move past challenges that are holding them back from leading their best lives. I would normally be begging people to let me treat them, but now I get to make a living doing this!

Kanika: Being a cosmetologist, esthetician, and massage therapist, I am thankful for the gift of human touch. My career cannot be completely taken over by a robot, computer or technology.

Becky: I like that I never stop learning! I love helping educate my clients and myself. I’m thankful that I get paid to hang out with friends at work!

Jennifer: I love building trusting relationships with clients. My favorite part is getting to see them again and again. I am grateful for the community that therapists bring, they share knowledge and information.

Hannah: I really enjoy the process of talking to my client and listening to what is going on, then helping to put all the clues together. It is like doing a puzzle, but you are still “working.”

Molly: I’m thankful for being able to build relationships with co-workers and regular clients. I love getting the chance to educate and help clients with skincare needs. Oh, and I LOVE doing extractions!

Cassandra: I enjoy getting to know my clients. I learn where I need to travel, eat, and other fun stuff! Also, I get to play and have fun. I say play, because I get to use all the nail polish colors at the spa, not just the few I have at home. Plus, we get to mix things like masks in the facial room and get to test out and play with all the new products.

Camdine: I love getting someone back to what they love doing (running, biking swimming, chasing grand kids) following an injury or surgery. I’m thankful for a job where I can help people get back to “normal” life when dealing with an injury like frozen shoulder. One of the best compliments I can get is someone telling me they can do something without pain anymore or they don’t have to take pain meds or muscle relaxers to get through the day.

Lindsay: I love customizing things to meet someone’s needs so I get to do something different almost every treatment or service.

Conny: I get paid to be relaxed!

Kelly: I am thankful to work with like-minded people who happen to all be amazing. I love my team.

Cassie: I’m so thankful I found a career where I can be my true self and I get to see other people reveal their genuine personality too. Every day I work with caring people and witness incredible acts of kindness and compassion. In our stressed-out world, we get to see people at their most relaxed. It is truly a gift.

Visit a wellness provider who lives his or her career, I promise you’ll notice the difference! Click here to book your appointment with any of our incredible licensed massage therapists, estheticians, and nail technicians.

Get to know Jennifer Phipps, LMT

Jennifer Phipps, LMT, joined our team as a full time massage therapist in 2018, but she’s had many years of experience prior to that, including work with several of our massage therapists who were thrilled to welcome her to the East Village Spa crew!

How long have you been in the industry?

I graduated from Body Wisdom Massage Therapy School in 2006 and have worked as a massage therapist ever since!

What are your specialties?

My specialty is truly a mixed bag, but I love working with specific concerns. For example, if someone has limited mobility, I can really focus in on increasing mobility and tracing the muscle back to the original point of trauma.

Why did you chose this profession?

Honestly, the profession chose me.

Describe your massage style in 3 words:

Warmth, Escape, Exhale

What is your favorite service to give?

Hot stone and deep tissue massages

What is your favorite service to receive?

Same! Hot stone and deep tissue massage

What are some of your interests outside of work?

I’m an aerialist (a beginner), but I love to “fly.”  I recently did the 500 mile Carmino de Santiago walk in Spain. I love anything outdoors!

Why should guests book with you?

I provide a space of trust and my style is relaxing, yet effective.

Book with Jennifer online here! If you wish to request her specifically, be sure to choose “Specific Therapist” from the drop down menu, and then her name.