Friday, June 7, 2013

OPI Cast Off/Diversion, What It Means, How To Spot It And What To Do About It.

  So, I have been wanting to do this post for quite sometime. But I am just getting around to it now. The issue I want to discuss today is diverted product also known as cast off. I have purchased a few "OPI" products online and noticed that the bottle was defaced. Which makes me a very unhappy girl (I like pretty bottles not mutilated ones). So I got to wondering about why a seller would do that. Which lead to me Googling until my eyes felt like sand paper and my head hurt. Once I recovered, I decided to go right to the horses mouth and fire off an email directly to OPI to see their stance on the topic. So this post will be about what I have found out about the topic of cast off/Diversion, it's dangers, why it's bad, how to spot diverted product, what you can do about diversion, and the sellers that I have found to have Diverted product (and yes I reported all of them already). 

What Is Diversion/Cast Off:

Diversion/Cast Off is when when OPI products meant to be sold in salons and other professional channels end up being sold by third, forth and sometimes even fifth party sellers. Basically a diverted OPI Product is any product not purchased from licensed professional OPI acknowledged/approved seller. This means no mass sellers (Target, Walmart, etc), no internet sellers (Ebay, Amazon, etc), no drug stores (Walgreens, RiteAid, CVS, etc), and no grocery stores (Kroger, Albertsons, etc). OPI sells only to distributors that sell exclusively to Salons and other professional channels. So if you bought it from at any of the a fore mentioned sellers then you have a diverted/cast off product.

Why Is Diversion/Cast Off Bad:

  • Counterfeit/fake products: With diverted product there is a high likelihood that the product you receive could be a fake. And if you are as invested in nail polish as I am, finding out that a polish you have wanted (nay lusted after), forever and finally bought is a fake is heart breaking. 
  • Expired: Products that are old or past their expiration date can not only separate, but they can change formula, change color, and sometimes even become hazardous due to changes in formula over time. Most nail polishes have a shelf life of 24 if the polish you just ordered online is from a line released more than two years're polish is probably past it's prime. Also here's a picture of the expected product life that should be on the back of every OPI bottle:
  • 24M =24 months or 2 years. The number shows you how many months before the product expires. 
  • Illegally Obtained: With all diverted products there is the likelihood that the product you received is stolen. Sure that polish is pretty....but do you want it if it's hot? OPI's are small bottles and would be very easy to steal. Personally I can think of a handful of times when if I were the type to do so, it would have been beyond easy to steal one or many of them. I wouldn't (because I would get caught...that's just how my life works...) but I could have. Specifically when I was left alone in a local JC Penny Salon while waiting on a stylist for 15 minutes (unsupervised mind you) sitting right next to the OPI display (with no security camera). It would have been easy to load up and haul ass. But I didn't. But that doesn't mean that others would do as I did (and not steal), and then turn around and sell them on Amazon or eBay. So the bottom line is do you really want to chance the fact that you are buying stolen goods? 
  • Inferior Quality: There is also the chance that diverted products are watered down, altered version of the originals. Mind that the alterations, and watering down are done with no professional/hygienic standards nor are they allowed or taught how to do so by OPI. Which leads me to "Ewww! What did they put in there?" Do you really want to know? Are you really willing to chance the fact that a foreign substance may be in your polish? Basically you have no way of knowing what may or may not have been done to alter, or water down your product if you didn't buy it through the proper channels.
  • Bacteria: There is a slight chance that diverted products may be contaminated or improperly handled resulting in bacteria or fungi infestations. I don't know about you ladies but I'm a level 3 germaphobe (1 being the worst level, 5 being the mildest). The thought of germs from improper handling skeeves me out. Whether this part is true or not (there are a lot of chemicals in nail polish that would seem inhospitable to germs and their disgusting cousins fungus) are you willing to chance that in the 3rd of 4th person seller that they were all handling in hygienically? The odds are not in your favor here. If working with the public since I was 16 has taught me anything it's this: People can be very, very gross, and they are grosser when they think no one is looking. So ask yourself if you are willing to chance it?
  • It Hurts Salons Owners: Diversion deprives small authorized businesses of their profit margins. Wouldn't we all like to keep our money local anyway? 
  • It Hurts The Consumer: If you buy diverted product you do not have access to assistance from OPI or professionals who know and understand the products. Also if you buy diverted product then you are not covered by the OPI warranty and quality standards. You are kind of on your own. 

OPI's Stance On Diversion:

Direct Quote (from email): "OPI is so passionate about fighting diversion. Diversion is the sale of professional products outside of professional beauty channels. OPI has spent tens of millions of dollars in the fight against diversion, to ensure that our OPI brand professional-use products are used only under the supervision of trained professionals." They went on to say that they pursue all leads on unauthorized sales of their products, support all industry wide anti-diversion efforts, will take legal action against divertors, will hire private investigators and lawyers, and they have a dedicated staff that record and follow up on diversion reports. So bottom line OPI is not happy about diversion and if they catch you doing it it's not going to be pretty. So don't divert OPI is one of the general thesis's of this segment...the other being that they get more than a little PO'd about Diverted product.

Is Diversion Illegal:

Technically no...but it's in the gray area of legal. It depends on if the product was stolen, or fake and a whole host of other tiny legal loop holes,  mumbo jumbo and a whole mess of tiny type (and lets face it tiny type is never anyone's friend). It basically comes down to contract violation and that is a whole other issue in and of itself. It's kind of a moral issue as well. I mean are you okay with the fact that it might be stolen, or altered, or that it may be all together a fake? Hence the morally gray area, that meanders into the legally gray area and makes everyone without a law degree go..."Wait, what?" 

How To Spot A Diverted OPI:

There are several ways to spot Diverted product, here are few sure fire ways to see if you have a Diverted/Cast Off OPI. 

Check the tags: Diverted OPI has missing or altered tags: 
Note the shorter tags on the Altered tags

Note the removal of the patent number.

Serial Numbers have been removed:

Very thin filing.

Worst defacement of the bottle. Only "I" remains of the OPI logo. 

And in some cases there is a gouge out of the handle where they removed the serial number. 

Labels on the bottom of the bottle have been removed or defaced:

Bar code has been removed. Also handle and bottle serial number have been removed. 

Bar code removed and bottom label torn. 

A combination of filed off serial numbers but bottom label still intact:

I have also seen lines drawn through bar codes at brick and mortar stores. Any of these things tells you that you have a diverted product.

Sellers Known To Sell Altered & Diverted OPI Product:

This is a list of sellers that are known to me as sellers of diverted product, through personal experience. This list is by no means complete but if I find new ones I will be adding them periodically as they come up. 
Sellers On Amazon:
Brick And Mortar Stores:
  • Target
  • Fred Myers
  • Smiths (A Kroger Brand Grocery store)

What You Can Do About Diversion: 

If you think you have found some diverted OPI products contact OPI at 800-341-9999 or email them at Also buy from the proper channels. Shop salons, trade secret, and Ulta to make sure you are getting legit real authentic OPI Products. If People quit buying diverted/cast off products then people will quit selling them. And the problem resolves it self.

     So there you have it. A very long, very wordy post on diversion/cast off. In fact I am pretty sure this is my longest post ever. But I figured this was an important issue that let's face it hasn't been addressed much in the nail polish community (for some reason), so I though why not me, and why not now. Specially since I have been MIA all week due to a mini vacation/concert. This post idea was kicking around in my brain for the last few months. Now felt like the right time to finally write up the post and share the information with my lovely Valkyrie minions. I personally loath defaced bottles and from here on in will only be buying my OPI's through proper channels. Because defaced bottles make me crabby. My OCD tendencies come out and I'm all "They don't match! Why don't they match?!?!?" Basically it's up to you guys to decide if the benefits out weigh the risks. I would rather be sure I was getting the polish I want, and not have to question it. I also hope that this post helps clear up some of the gray area around this topic and that now you are better equipped to make up your own mind on if you are willing to buy diversion/cast off or not. Anyway, that's all I have for you guys today. Until next time, stay classy, and stay polished.


  1. Hi there! You posted this a year ago, but I am only now reading it. Excellent post -- the best one I've read yet on diversion. I just found out a bottle of OPI I bought on ebay is a diverted product (serial #'s scraped off the label and bottle cap). I've reported the seller to eBay, and I guess I'll call OPI tomorrow and see if they want to do anything about it. This seller has over 5000 positive feedbacks, so she/he definitely sells a ton of the stuff. Thanks again for doing the research and sharing it with us.

    1. You are most welcome. It's always nice to know that this post helped someone. :)