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What Are Makeup Dupes and Why You Should Try Them Out

by @ThereseBoccini
May 10, 2021


Have you ever fallen down a makeup-tutorial rabbit hole, watching video after video for hours on end? There’s something about seeing those beauty gurus apply perfect full faces of makeup while raving about all their favorite products that just makes you want to go on a Sephora shopping spree.

And then, when you start clicking the links to those recommended products, reality sets in. Makeup is so freaking expensive.

We’ve all experienced that painful, deflating moment. In that moment, you imagine all the amazing makeup looks you could achieve if only you could afford each and every item on your wishlist. Your life would change forever—if only.

In those instances of distress, there’s only one solution: dupes. Thanks to dupes, your dreams still have a fighting chance.

In this article, we’re going to lay out everything you need to know about makeup dupes, the ultimate savior of every beauty fan on a budget. Then, we’ll explore some of our favorite dupes and why you need to try them out right now.

So, let’s go!

What Are Dupes?

If you’re a makeup or skincare addict, there is no doubt that you’re familiar with the concept of dupes. If not, we’re about to change your life.

The word “dupe” is short for duplicate—this pretty much sums up the definition of the word. A dupe is an affordable product that mirrors a more expensive one in quality, formula, and/or appearance.

In other words, a dupe is a less expensive alternative to a pricy, high-end brand. The idea is that dupes are just as good as their counterparts.

Some people (not us) may refer to dupes with a less flattering label: knock-offs. However, this word seems to insinuate lesser value and quality, like a poorly-made counterfeit Gucci bag you’d buy in downtown NYC. On the contrary, the best dupes are meant to be equals with the expensive item they mimic.

So, next time you watch a raving review of some luxury makeup item, be sure to do a little research before dropping your whole paycheck on that must-have product. There are tons of high-quality dupes on the market today—you just have to know where to look.

How To Find Dupes

At this point, you’re probably thinking one thing: how can I get in on this?! Where should I even begin?

Well, like with most 21st century questions, the Internet has all the answers. Yes, the best way to find makeup dupes is to turn to Google.

To begin your search, simply type in [expensive product name] + [dupe]. Plenty of links to comparable, less pricey products should show up.

Of course, if you’d like to go even further in-depth, you’ll have to dig in for more research. Start sifting through product reviews, beauty articles, and shopping hauls to get the inside info on whatever dupe you’re seeking.

With the entire Internet at our disposal, finding good dupes is easier than ever before.

4 Reasons to Buy Dupes

If you’ve never tried out a dupe before, you might be a little skeptical. Yes, dupes cost less—that’s just a fact. But is it really possible to make a duplicate that is less expensive, but still high in quality?

Well, honestly, the answer to that question varies from case to case. However, it is safe to say that there are plenty of reliable, high-quality dupes available today that are just as good—if not better—than their luxury original.

So, without further ado, these are our top four reasons that buying dupes is worth it:

  • Dupes are cheaper. Yes, this is probably the most obvious reason to buy dupes, like, ever. But let’s face it: many of us simply can’t afford every single luxurious good we desire. That’s the sad truth of life.

  • When you buy dupes, you get the same value for less. Okay, maybe you don’t get the exact same formula, but lots of dupes are scarily similar to the original product they are replicating. This brings up the question: if you could save money buying a cheaper yet comparable product, why wouldn’t you?! At the end of the day, if you find a product you love, the price tag really doesn’t matter. If the dupe works just as well as the original, you might as well stick with the least expensive option. That’s just basic logic.

  • Dupes help you try out more makeup looks without breaking the bank. This is another compelling reason to opt for dupes. If you love experimenting with new styles, trends, and techniques, you’ll end up purchasing a lot of makeup—it’s inevitable. Of course, most of us makeup lovers can’t drop hundreds of dollars each time we want to test out a new look. That is why dupes are just so awesome.

  • Dupes take the pressure off beginners practicing their skills. Finally, having dupes as an available option gives beginners a chance to practice and hone their makeup abilities without wasting expensive products. For example, if a novice makeup artist sees a tutorial on YouTube that uses high-end products only, finding comparable substitutes is just so simple.

As you can see, we’re big fans of makeup dupes. Honestly, it doesn’t take much effort or convincing to prove that dupes are an amazing makeup option.

Our Favorite Makeup Dupes

Now that we’ve gotten introductions out of the way, it’s time to delve into the good stuff—that is, our recs for the best makeup dupes on the market.

From concealer to highlighter to eyeshadow palettes, our list of the dopest dupes is extensive. Here are some of the most notable contenders:

  • e.l.f. Cosmetics 16-Hour Camo Concealer (sub for Tarte Shape Tape). The original concealer here, Shape Tape, seems to have a cult following. The full-size tube goes for $27, while the dupe costs a mere $6. How do they stack up? Well, most reviewers agree that these two products are basically twins. Both are full-coverage, so a little goes a long way. Likewise, both brands offer over 30 shades. So, if you’re seeking a budget-friendly substitute for the popular Tarte concealer, e.l.f. is a very safe bet.

  • Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso or Dolce Pink (duplicate of NARS Orgasm Blush). Here we have another fan favorite: NARS Orgasm Blush. Makeup artists and amateurs alike adore this product, but it does run for $30. On the flipside, Baked Blush goes for about $7. We think this Milani Baked Blush is a spot-on dupe for Orgasm. Both shades, Luminoso and Dolce Pink, provide a glowing, long-lasting flush that’s very similar to the original product.

  • Maybelline False Lashes Lift Mascara (a dupe of Dior Diorshow Mascara). The luxury product here, Diorshow Mascara, has racked up 50,000 likes on Sephora’s online store. For $30, it will give you long, full, glamorous lashes—everyone’s dream, right? Well, if you’re not ready to drop $30 on that dream, check out the $9 dupe from Maybelline. It will achieve nearly the same result for only a third of the price. We have to stan.

  • The Ordinary High-Adherence Silicone Primer (sub for Smashbox Photo Finish Smooth and Blur Primer). Primer is one of those products that can make all the difference to your finished look. As such, you want to be absolutely sure that yours will get the job done. Anyone who’s looking for a high-quality primer at drugstore prices needs to try out this silicone primer from The Ordinary. It achieves the same smooth, even, flawless finish as the original Smashbox product. The first of these primers will cost you $5, while the second runs for $36.

  • e.l.f. Wow Brow Gel (a dupe of Glossier Boy Brow). Glossier’s brow gel, Boy Brow, seems to show up all over Instagram. It’s hugely popular, but is it worth $16? If you answered “no,” then you’ll want to check out this similar brow gel from e.l.f. Fans seem to adore this product, which costs only $4. It will leave your brows looking full, natural, and neat, just like Glossier’s original.

  • NYX Professional Makeup Ultimate Shadow Palette (a substitute for the Naked Heat Palette from Urban Decay). NYX is a consistently reliable, affordable makeup brand, and they did not disappoint with this palette. You can purchase this 16-shade palette for only $18, compared to Urban Decay’s $54 price tag. Available in 6 different color combinations, this palette is a solid adversary to the more expensive original.

As we have mentioned, plenty of brands offer a wide selection of reliable, high-quality dupes like these. While this list includes many of our favorites, there are so many amazing dupes out there that it would simply be impossible to name them all.

Skincare and Haircare Dupes to Try

If you’re new to the world of dupes, we’ve got some more exciting news for you: it doesn’t end with makeup. In fact, you can find dupes of almost any type of product in stores today.

Now, we wanted to discuss just a few of our favorite skin and hair-related dupes. As you surely know, those kinds of things can be insanely expensive, too.

Here are a few of our top recommendations:

  • Renpure Rose Water Weightless Hydration Shampoo (sub for Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk). Dry shampoo can be an absolute lifesaver, but only if you choose a high-quality brand. Fortunately, you don’t have to give an arm and a leg to get your hands on a bottle of great dry shampoo. This rose water dry shampoo from Renpure is only $7. It’s a gentle and effective formula that gives the $29 Klorane option a good fight.

  • Neogen Canadian Pore Clay Cleanser (a dupe for the Glamglow Instamud 60-Second Pore Refining Treatment). Applying a face mask is always a relaxing experience, but it can be hard to fully enjoy when you know you just spent way too much money on it. That’s why we’re so pumped about this dupe, a face mask that refines and deep-cleans pores. Like the Glamglow mask, it’ll make your skin feel soft and perfectly cleansed. The dupe will cost you $27, while the high-end version comes in at $42. Not the biggest price difference ever, but why not save a little money?!

  • Paula’s Choice C15 Booster (substitute for SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic). The beauty industry just can’t get enough of Vitamin C, an ingredient that shows up in countless kinds of skincare items. One of the most popular Vitamin-C-based products today is SkinCeuticals’ C E Ferulic, a serum with a whopping $166 price tag. It must be pretty great with a price that high. Well, if that number seems too ridiculous for you, we have an alternative option: Paula’s Choice C15 Booster for only $49. This formula contains the same concentration of Vitamin C as the SkinCeuticals version. As such, it should help to smooth and brighten your skin. This dupe is not quite as widely loved as the original, but it’s a very close second.

Well, there you have it—some of the best skincare and haircare dupes this industry has to offer.

Dupes: The Takeaway

Dupes, dupes, dupes—what’s not to love? These budget-friendly products give us regular folks a chance to experience the magic of every high-end, cult-favorite beauty and skincare item. We will be forever grateful to the brands who make that possible.

Now that you’re an expert on dupes, it may be time for a shopping spree. If you try out any of our recs, don’t forget to drop a review! Did we miss any amazing dupes? Add your review below!

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