Let me start by saying that I am still a poor college student, so if I can get something on a sale, on ebay or otherwise, I will do it, rather than buying products full price.
So of course, after wanting a MAC 187 stippling brush for about 6 months, I decided to get one. On eBay. Yes, I know how many fakes there are, but I am also not stupid and have been buying things on eBay for years, so I thought I would be safe. Guess again.
So I went on eBay, and simply did a search for MAC 187. Not too many results came up, but I decided to pick a seller without an eBay store, because this is where all the Hong Kong sellers dwell and sell fake MAC brushes. I picked an individual seller from Brooklyn, NY. I emailed "Wendy" to ask her about the brush. She told me that she received it as a gift from a friend, but already had one, so she is selling it on eBay.
Okay, I though. So I looked at the picture she posted, which looked fine:
It had the grooves set in pretty well, and the bristles were even, so I am thinking the the brush pictured is real.
I purchased it and it came in the mail today. Unlucky for "Wendy," I also went to MAC counter and purchased a real MAC 187 for comparison (I plan on returning it, as I cannot afford it, of course).
So I put the two side by side:
Marker #1: The packaging will include a bar code on the real brush, as shown here:
Marker #2: The grooves on the steel part of the brush will be very distinct on the real brush and yhe lettering on the real brush will be somewhat engraved, very slightly and the numbers will be close together:
Marker #3: The real brush is slightly longer, and has tiny specks of glitter in the handle, fake one is absolutely black:
Marker #4: The bristles will be more evenly together, as opposed to more bristles in one spot, less in another:
Marker #5: The bristles will be the same length on the real one. On the fake one, you can see how the black bristles are different lengths, very visible:
Still unsure? Take it to the MAC counter and ask them to check for you. I am sure they will be more than willing to help, because that will increase their chances of selling you a real model, in case this one is fake.
What to do if you bought a fake brush on eBay? Hint: always pay with PayPal. First, contact the seller. Tell them that they misrepresented their item and sent you a fake and you would like to return it for a refund. If they get hostile or don't want to help you or refuse a refund, file a claim with PayPal and file a SIGNIFICANTLY NOT AS DESCRIBED claim. There is a checkbox specifically for "Imitation" items, which are illegal to sell on eBay in the first place. You will most likely be asked to send the brush back (make sure you do so with a tracking number!), and seller will be forced to give you a refund.
There are always risks of buying things on eBay, but most of the time, it has worked out for me. If it does not work out - there's always PayPal resolution center, where you can dispute your case and will most likely be right.