DIY Cosmetic Products: Women Turn to Web

"I had an 'Oh-my-God' moment," Potozkin said, "when I looked at her and I saw this huge abscess on her cheek. Then she told me it was from a filler that she ordered from an Internet Web site and injected into herself."

Although Alex's condition was serious, it could have been worse. Potozkin told "20/20" that if she had gone just a few millimeters in the wrong direction, she could have "literally punctured an eyeball," or hit a blood vessel -- potentially causing blindness.

The product Alex ordered from was labeled "Vitalift," but there is no such product on the list of FDA-approved pharmaceuticals.

Other products for sale included injectables "Restylin" and "Artefil," and a "chemical peel" whose description included a "mystery" ingredient.

Prescription Strength Cosmetics Easily Obtained Online

At ABC News' request, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Alan Gold purchased several products from and described his experience. "I felt it was important to try to bring this to the public attention," he told "20/20."

Gold shopped from a list of at least 11 different prescription strength medications. The Web site never asked him for a prescription, proof of a medical license, or a medical history to rule out potential negative drug interactions.

"The only thing they wanted was my credit card information," he said.

Two days later, Gold received a package. It contained nine different products with crude labels and mysterious names; no bar codes or authentication holograms that genuine pharmaceuticals would have, he said.

The homemade packaging also concerned Gold: "Getting things in a little plastic baggie is not acceptable to me."

What about the injection how-to videos D'Alleva tells customers to follow? "I hope people who order this don't think it's as easy to inject the product as it was to order it," Gold said. "She doesn't appear to be a very experienced or very skillful injector. It's the blind leading the blind."

Woman Contracts Infection From Chemical Peel at Home isn't the only website selling treatments normally reserved for a doctor's office. Chemical peels are readily obtainable from dozens of Web sites, and like Alex, the people who buy them don't always know what they are getting.

Diana Negron of Florida found a Web site selling high-strength chemical peels. "I thought, you know, why not do it Friday? And I would be beautiful by Monday," she said.

Negron and her sisters, Jesse Mayoral and Jessica Suarez, were convinced that the products were safe. The Web site promised "affordable, non-surgical cosmetic procedures made safe and easy," Mayoral said.

The sisters purchased and self-administered the peels, but instead of erasing wrinkles, each experienced burns. Negron said that as a result, she contracted a bacterial infection.

"My first reaction was, 'Why did I do this? I'm a relatively intelligent woman,'" she said. "I could probably use my photo as the poster woman for what not to do."

Although some kinds of chemical peels are available without a prescription, there are "some things that should only be used in a doctor's office," according to Negron's physician, Dr. Flor Mayoral.

Dr. Mary Lupo, a New Orleans dermatologist, agrees. One young woman she treated who self-administered a chemical peel had a dark complexion, which made her a bad candidate for the product. "A good dermatologist would peel her mildly, if at all," Lupo said.

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