Skip Nav
DIY Beauty
Sally Hansen's New DIY Chrome Nail Polish Kits Are Damn Gorgeous
Beauty Tips
Your Hairstyle Could Actually Be Aging You — Here Are 11 Ways to Avoid That
Beauty News
10 Beyond Moisturizing Hand Creams to Slather on This Fall

How Can You Tell If Products Are Diverted?

Find Out How to Spot Diverted Products

When it comes to professional hair care products, do you know if what you're getting is legitimate? Last week, L’Oréal USA filed suit against Sally Beauty Holdings Inc. for allegedly selling Matrix products to a wholesaler without authorization; eventually, these products ended up at CVS and Target.

The process of products going through unapproved retail channels is called diversion. It's often caused by third parties offering underground deals to those who have a legitimate contract with the manufacturer, like shady salons. Once the arrangement is made, the products are then sold to mass retailers, who technically don't have the right to resell the product. Find out some tips on spotting diverted products, along with some other reasons why you might think again before making a purchase, when you


  • Pro only: If the label says something about the product being for sale only in professional salons, then only purchase the product in the salon or the brand's website. The manufacturer cannot guarantee that it hasn't been tampered with, replaced with cheaper product inside, diluted, or has been stolen unless it's purchased through the appropriate channels.
  • Old stuff: Since many of these underground products sit in warehouses for months at a time, they are often outdated, or worse, contaminated in some fashion. Ick.
  • The packaging: Think about it. If the product looks dirty or dented on the outside, what's really in the inside? Plus, if you notice that the caps are different colors, or something is off about the packaging in any way, put it down.
  • Batch codes: Check the labels. If batch codes are rubbed off or missing, this could be a sign that the product is counterfeit or that the third party is trying to erase evidence of original purchase.
  • Not really cheaper: Even though diverted products may end up on the shelves of discount retailers, the prices are often not all that much of a difference. In fact, diverted products often cost more, as a result of being shuffled around the gray market.

Source: Flickr user banna123456

MicheleOlson63084 MicheleOlson63084 4 years
I wonder why they don't just sell the real product in the chain stores? I think they would make more money and make my life easier. The whole concept of "one stop shopping" is great for many people. I don't want to make extra stops just for a bottle of shampoo.
grlykool grlykool 8 years
I always see these products at CVS Target and even TJ Maxx. I worked at CVS for a bit, and I never inquired about how we got these products. They would come in boxes just like the other products. Maybe there are deals and the labels just don't want to acknowledge them. Think about if these brands only relied on salon sales, they wouldn't be so well known and they wouldn't make so much money.
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 8 years
I tend to not buy the obviously out of place stuff like loreal pro kiwi/old artec stuff (especially if it still says artec!) but havent had a problem with some of the tigi stuff, ive always felt that was more drugstore anyway. but its odd seeing some stuff i had to go to a salon for (back to basics and paul mitchell) at grocery stores. ill know not to give it a second look now. thanks!
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 8 years
I noticed this years ago at our local grocery stores. They sell Matrix, Tigi, Back to Basics, Paul Mitchell, Kenra, all the major brands seen at the salons. They actually devote as much shelf space to salon products as the regular brands. The bottles always look old and dingy. And really the price may be only one or two dollars cheaper. I asked my stylist about it once and she told me that they are usually old products that have gone bad from sitting in heat and such. I recommend getting products from the salon when they are on sale. I always wondered why the places selling them don't get in more trouble.
CoronaLove CoronaLove 8 years
I noticed Bumble at Target too. Like Bella said there really was not much of a price difference. I once bought a Paul Mitchell shampoo at a drugstore cant remember which one and it irritated my scalp. Its really not worth the risk of our beautiful locks or scalp :)
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 8 years
Is this why Target and Walgreens all of a sudden have Bumble?
Jerrod Blandino on Bad Beauty Habits
Beauty Products You Shouldn't Use Too Much Of
Halloween Special Effects Makeup Tricks
Warm or a Cool Undertones Quiz
From Our Partners
Latest Beauty
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds