University of Campinas, Brazil

The only thing real about the perfume was the rash it left behind.

Fake perfumes are not only a financial problem for the fragrance industry but a health problem for consumers. As you might expect, bootleg perfumes are never tested for safety issues. Skin burning, rashes, and respiratory problems are the most common complaints.

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Adulterations and forgeries of high end perfumes are a big business everywhere, but especially in Brazil where the street markets are packed with unsuspecting shoppers looking for a bargain.

But Brazil also has a potent weapon in the fight against faux fragrances. It’s the Thomson Mass Spectrometry Laboratory located at the University of Campinas.

A normal analysis would take hours, but utilizing their own special method of identification and Waters mass spectrometry equipment, the scientists get back extremely accurate results in minutes. The perfume is sprayed onto a piece of paper, and then it goes to a Waters high resolution mass spectrometer. In no time, a chemical profile is produced and clearly identifies the product as authentic or fake.

And that’s as real as it gets.