Makeup Dupes

Categories: Makeup
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makeup dupesI hate spending a lot of money on cosmetics and makeup, so I’m always on the lookout for makeup dupes. What’s a makeup dupe? It’s a cheaper identical (or very similar) version of a high end makeup product. So why splurge on an ultra expensive lipstick or eyeshadow if there’s a cheaper version waiting for you at the drugstore?

• Why do makeup dupes exist?
There are several reasons why you can find almost identical versions of your favorite expensive makeup, but sold by affordable brands. Even though there are thousands of makeup brands out there, several big companies own many different brands. For example, Estee Lauder currently owns 27 brands including prestige brands MAC, Smashbox, Clinique, La Mer and Bobbi Brown, plus they own the cheaper brands Flirt! and American Beauty, which are sold at Kohl’s. Drugstore brand L’Oreal Paris is part of the biggest beauty company in the world – L’Oreal – and L’Oreal makes cosmetics for luxury brands Kiehl’s, Lancome, Skinceuticals, Shu Uemura, and Giorgio Armani. But they also own drugstore brands Maybelline and Garnier.

Even though the same companies own many brands at different price points, the products still get manufactured at the same places, and many of the formulas in prestige brands are nearly the same as their drugstore counterparts! Another reason why makeup dupes exist is because inexpensive brands blatantly rip off the higher end makeup brands. Is this legal? I’m not sure. But if you see an awesome new Chanel nail polish color, don’t be surprised if you wait a few months and another company comes along with almost an identical shade – for $5, instead of Chanel’s $25. Ironically, sometimes expensive brands copy the ingredients of cheap brands – have you seen my post about my discovery of a Creme De La Mer skin care dupe for 99 cents?

• How do you find makeup dupes?
While there’s not a cheap twin for every eyeshadow or foundation, with a little research you may be able to find a dupe for a lot of your favorite products. For example, you can find dupes for several MAC products from drugstore brands Rimmel, NYX, E.L.F., Wet N Wild, Maybelline, L’Oreal, and Milani. Here are resources to find makeup for less: has a Makeup Dupe List where you can search by brand, shade, or product type. If you find a new makeup dupe, you can also submit it to be added to the list. has a Makeup Dupe & Swatches Forum where you can read about all sorts of dupes, or ask if anyone knows of a dupe for your favorite product. has several makeup forums including MAC chat, Product Swatches, and Recommendations, where you can find info about makeup dupes. has a makeup board where you can post messages. Plus if you read the reviews of your favorite product on MakeupAlley, someone may have commented about a dupe they’ve found for that product. is now free for everyone. This website doesn’t list many makeup dupes, but it has product reviews, and some of the reviews list similar, or better alternatives to that product. You can also search the site for the best products in different categories, if you are open to finding a better alternative to your current foundation or powder, for example. The site also lists the ingredients for all products, so if you’re looking for a skin care dupe, you could type in the first 5-10 ingredients of a coveted product into Google and see if another cheaper product comes up with those same core ingredients. – Go on YouTube and type in “makeup dupes,” and there are all sorts of videos about great dupe finds. This might be a hit-or-miss way to find specific products, but it will give you ideas of ways to save money on cosmetics. Or you could type in a specific product, and someone may have made a video about it, and compared the item to a cheaper version. – to find cheaper makeup alternatives, try searching for your favorite product, plus adding the word dupe on the end. So, for example, you could type in: “Benefit High Beam dupe,” or “Urban Decay Primer Potion dupe.” If you want to see what a new product looks like, as an example, you could search for: “Les Jeans de Chanel swatches” to see if people have pictures of what that nail polish collection looks like. Many times bloggers will review the item and then compare it to a cheaper, similar version.

What are your tips for finding makeup dupes? Do you bother trying to track down low cost alternatives, or are you happy sticking with higher end makeup if you find a product you love? Feel free to share any makeup dupes, or skin care dupes that you know about. Or if you have a blog and write about makeup dupes, leave a comment. Personally I tend to be drawn to makeup swatches I see on blogs, and since I like to try products before I buy them, I then find myself at Sephora or Ulta trying out those various expensive eyeshadows or nail polishes on myself. But I also hate spending tons of money on makeup, so I will definitely be searching more diligently for makeup dupes in the future. How about you?

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10 Responses to “Makeup Dupes”

  1. sandee Says:

    I like this blog – because she mostly just buys cheap drugstore makeup and does reviews on affordable makeup.

  2. Scatterbraintures Says: has a dupe list too. :)

  3. Jeni - Savvy Skin Says:

    Scatterbraintures, I went there when I was writing this article but I didn’t see a dupe list. I remember reading some emails from Paula Begoun that talked about dupes, but I couldn’t find that either! I’ll look again.

  4. Scatterbraintures Says:

    It;s just one article, but here it is. They made a table of drugstore doubles.:) I hope they update the list more often :)

  5. Celeste @ Becoming Beautiful Says:

    Thanks for sharing the dupes lists! I didn’t know of many of the others and it’s always handy to have them around. =)

  6. Skincare Says:

    Wow, I had no idea that one big brand owned so many smaller brands, especially L’Oreal – I’ve always seem them as great products and Maybelline as a bit cheaper, but they’re actually part of the same company! I wonder if the same is true of skincare brands, not just cosmetics?

  7. Naomi Says:

    Thank you for this post – you gave a lot of great tips for saving money on cosmetics (I LOVE buying new products, so this really helps me!).

    @Skincare: To answer your question, I think a lot of companies have their budget and premium lines. Sometimes, they are even sold in the same store! It’s crazy, but that’s why consumers should really do their research. (I’m thinking of Old Navy and Banana Republic as a non-cosmetic example).

  8. Maria Says:

    Silk Naturals is a fantastic company and makes absolutely wonderful dupes of Mac, Nars, BeneFit, etc. Good natural products, fabulous prices and I’m a huge convert. I love their stuff.

  9. annie Says:

    I don’t mind using dupes as long as it doesn’t irritate my skin or eyes.

  10. Amber Norell Says:

    Thank you for posting this. It’s a total bummer that many cosmetics come out of the same manufacturing facilities with the same ingredients but get marked up because of the packaging or brand name. Clients always want to have you use a specific brand on them whether it is identical to something else or not lol. Fortunately, pro discounts help even out the costs for artists.

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