Real or Fake OPI

Posted by Danica | Sunday, July 18, 2010 | , | 7 comments »

I want to start off by saying I assume most people know and understand what is going on with OPI lawsuits and what not right now. If not, I found the most unbiased and complete information here. I don't really understand why they are taking a stand now against one etailer, and why all of a sudden they need to be only sold in salons.
My post is not really about the lawsuit, it's more about the difference between a "real" or a "fake" OPI and who is an authorized OPI distributor. This is the part that confuses me the most. There are so many reasons to be curious about this. As consumers we don't always realize that when we buy from an etailer there is shady business going on before it gets to the etailer. As long as the package gets to my house in a reasonable amount of time and it is what I ordered and they don't steal from me that is fine by me. Despite this, now that these issues are coming up it makes me wonder. These lawsuits make me think of piracy issues. Does the liability go all the way down to the consumer, even if we paid for the product? Could I have gotten in any trouble for owning a stolen or fake OPI that I had no knowledge of or for just dealing with an unauthorized dealer? Probably not, but who knows. I think the biggest issue is with recalls and health. OPI is actually looking out for the consumer (along with the value of their name and product). If they have a recall and you have purchased a fake, it cannot be returned and therefore any health risk you have suffered from this fake go to the fault of whom? It's tricky, because OPI can stand by their product when there's a recall, but if it isn't really their product that you have on your shelf then what?

So, that was kind of my very short version of how I understand the lawsuit. So, what the heck is a fake OPI? I found some information online about how to figure out a fake one. Which got me so curious and I decided to look through mine. What I found was really perplexing. It seems all of my polishes are different. You can do a search for yourself and see what you come up with, but here is my take on it:
I decided to kind of split up the ones I bought at Ulta and Trade Secret with the ones I got online or somewhere else. From the lawsuit, what I understand is that the only places that were ever authorized OPI sellers are salons, which includes Ulta and Trade Secret. I've seen OPI at a discount store from my home town, CVS, Target, ebay & amazon of course, and etailers. Here are just some examples:
I bought The Violet-er The Better at Trade Secret. It was a Trade Secret exclusive last spring. The code at the bottom is fading or rubbing off. There are no bumpies on the bottom of the glass.
Shanghai Shimmer I bought at a discount store. That place is amazing, who knows where they get their stuff from. I've seen red and green holiday chocolate chips in June with an expiration date in October of that same year. So who knows where they get the OPI. This is the only bottle I have where I can feel and see where they buffed off the number - 1st pic. It's a very old bottle but see the bumpies on the bottom of the bottle - 2nd pic. I assumed the bumps were a sign of real quality, because they keep them from slipping around in a drawer or something.
My Private Jet I bought at Trade Secret. Bumpies on the bottom and NO serial number on the bottle.
No Room For the Blues and Brand New Skate were bought together from the same etailer. Brand New Skates is the only polish I own that doesn't have the bar code. That is supposed to be one of the main ways to tell, from what I've heard a few places. However, it's possible that it fell off, these things happen. Every other one has a label underneath, and I never peel off to see what's down there.

Maybe if you enlarge the picture you can see this. Alpine Snow I bought at Ulta. No Room for the Blues an etailer. The typefont on No Room for the Blues is much more clear. Like the difference between a typewriter (Alpine Snow) and a computer (No Room for the Blues).
Jewel of India. Bought at Ulta. Bumpies. No serial code on bottle.
2 DS I bought at a salon/beauty shop. One has that square on the label, one doesn't. Bought them at the same time at the same place.

Lastly, it sounds like the salon-bought ones have only 1 ball in them - really strange. The ones I bought from an etailer or elsewhere have 2, again from what it sounds like. Won't really know until after death, so just a best guess.

So, maybe if the font is not so pigmented, typewriter like, and it sounds like there is one shaker ball that's a true OPI. But actually I have heard elsewhere that the true OPIs have 2 balls, mine are just the opposite. Also, some that have been bought on ebay or amazon (aside from being non OPI colors or the wrong color in the wrong bottle or label) have only 3 of the warning symbols on the back, not 4. As far as the numbers go, who knows. I have some that I have bought at what I would think are authorized sellers that have no number, and they're all at the bottom. Why would there be something buffed from the top of the bottle when the number is on the bottom? I think the bottles are just different, plain and simple. Sometimes there's bumpies on the bottom, sometimes there's even a little groove on the bottom around the sticker, sometimes a sticker is missing, sometimes the serial number is on the front or the back, sometimes there are 1 or 2 balls, who knows!
Has anyone tried this? Look at your OPIs and compare. I looked at all of them and I found differences in every single one, even the ones I bought together or at the same store! I would like an official word from OPI though, which I just don't have the guts to ask. I think they would say, just buy from a salon.


  1. Pretty // July 18, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

    ooh I have had the same questions.. for me though this had kinda made me a little stressed out.. so I don't try to think about it anymore..

    I also am trying to limit my opi's I show on my blog.. because I read that internationally i.e. the Netherlands.. they cost 26 dollars!

    I would never pay that much for polish! Unless it was made of real gold...

    I feel bad because here in the states it cost less than $10... and I don't think that is just.

  2. Hélène // July 18, 2010 at 2:48 PM  

    This is very interesting, I wonder what other readers have to say...

    I'm not very into OPI because of the price they cost here in Canada (at least 15$ a bottle, too much when you can get a very nice China Glaze color for 3$!)

  3. L // July 18, 2010 at 4:21 PM  

    All my OPIS are different and Ive bought them at Trade Secret forever. I also have some from Target as well but I have mostly been getting them from a salon as long as I can remember. Only recently did I get any from an e-tailer. Confusing!

  4. Anonymous // July 18, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

    Hi, I thought I'd help ease your mind about some these.

    I am an avid OPI collector. On weekends, I am usually running around, to little/older beauty places, looking for that old OPI gem with the Golden Serial Numbers and many other traits too..
    With that said, I have bought many bottles, in dark rooms and cannot wait to get home and search for their "Golden Ticket Serial Numbers" lol!

    Now, the one without the bar code is actually ok. It is actually the sticker that is found under the top "peel here" sticker. The top sticker has just fallen off.

    The bottles that have the "jagged bottoms" for gripping onto surfaces better(though they really don't help too much)are a newer edition.
    My older type bottles, (with the original formula and the skinny brush or newer formula with older brush that may have both green and black or all black lettering on bottom stickers).... have the smooth bottom. So, no worries there.

    I am not too sure about the one with the slightly different print on the bottle. My best guess would be that it was probably made at different times. Especially since you bought it at a reputable store.

    Now for your bottles without having their 2 shaker balls...... OPI "Always HAVE 2 BALLS" inside their lacquers!!! Sorry dear...I believe those are not genuine. Please don't take my word as gospel...but I am pretty confident with this one! Sorry! ;(

    So, I would say that if your lacquers have 2 balls and you can see or "feel" any type of engraving of numbers on the can relax....a bit!

    Ok,About your bottles without their serial numbers.
    There are many reasons....A lot of bottles have had their numbers "ever so lightly shaved" away.
    Unlike now and day e-tailors (Transdesign)who shave a big chunk out of the glass.

    Or their numbered engravings have just.... "AGED themselves OFF".

    Over time, that area has just rubbed down to perfection with the flush of the bottle.

    If you cannot see evidence of this should be able to "feel" an "ODD" area that is not that smooth.
    That area is probably where the numbers were and should have an ever so lightly "different feel"

    Also, my hubby and I have found another cool way to try to find the "Missing Numbers"......

    Try "FOGGING" little areas at a time...with your "HOT BREATH" lol!

    Have a friend their with ya and they may be able to see something else you can't.
    You may just be able to see only 1 number! But, at least you know something was there before! Yay!

    There has been many times when I have seen a quick glance of a fogged # here and there and my hubby didn't see a thing.

    Heads up, sometimes the number/numbers may not appear again... for awhile! Odd I know, maybe its because the build up of slight dirt in the minor crevices, allow for a quick glimpse. LOL! I do not know why! Lol!

    So, have someone with ya!
    Have yourselves a fogging fest with your "bottles of treasure" lol!

    I hope I have helped you and many others!

    BTW,I love your site! Cindy

  5. KeysGoRound // July 19, 2010 at 1:01 AM  

    I have a set of bottles straight from OPI's PR firm, and it has a black label (not green or purple), bumps on the bottom of the bottle, and no engraved or printed numbers anywhere... Sooooo who knows anymore

  6. Jackie S. // July 20, 2010 at 5:39 PM  

    Its NOT an exact science, I have some super old OPI's that have no numbers anywhere, I believe the company was in a constant process of trying to secure their product and thru the years, they have tried different things...I agree with Cindy mostly! :)

  7. Danica // July 22, 2010 at 10:42 AM  

    Pretty - I totally agree. Although, at the same time there are brands that we can't even get in the US. However, in my opinion, OPI is highly desirable worldwide because of their amount of colors and their quality and their well-known name. Thanks for the comment.

    Helene - Yes, OPI is so expensive unfortunately. I've been really falling in love with China Glaze though, so that's good for you Canadians.

    L - Glad somebody else is having the same confusion as me.

    Cindy - Thanks for all that information. As far as having fake OPIs or not, I really don't care, so it's not really a "sorry" issue. I love all my OPIs just about equally. Thanks for visiting my site :)

    KeysGoRound - I heard the black label was some special thing. Maybe that's why is because it comes straight from them. I thought they were just the old formula with the skinny brush, but I have some of those and they're green labels, so maybe that clears that up, thanks.

    Jackie - that really seems to make the most sense. So, I say as long as you like the polish it's good, haha I don't know. It will always be a mystery and I'm sure as time goes on more things will change to confuse us! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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