What Exactly Are Makeup Dupes? Everything You Need to Know

Many consumers want the look and feel of a luxury makeup product, but they don’t want to shell out all that cash for it. Luckily, many makeup artists and influencers regularly test out possible dupes for luxury products to give consumers more options.

Makeup Dupes (or duplicates) are usually a product that functions similarly to a higher-end one but at a more affordable price. A makeup dupe is usually a near-identical shade and/or formula to a more expensive product. There are makeup dupes for every type of makeup product, from foundation to blush to mascara.

As the makeup industry continues to grow, more and more affordable brands are able to create higher quality dupes for more well-known or expensive products. Keep reading to learn everything there is to know about makeup dupes in the beauty industry.

What Are Makeup Dupes?

Do you have a go-to mascara or foundation that you absolutely love but don’t want to spend all that money replacing it every time you run out? Or do you have your eye on a high-end contour palette but don’t know if it’ll really be worth the money at Sephora?

This is where affordable, and quality makeup dupes come in. Particularly for cult-favorite products and brands that most makeup enthusiasts love, there is probably a drugstore product that works just as well for a fraction of the price.

Benefits of Trying Makeup Dupes

Besides the amount of money you can save by choosing a comparable but affordable product, there are other good reasons for trying out a makeup dupe of a high-end product.

Here some benefits to trying a makeup dupe:

  • You can test out the shade or color.
  • You can figure out if the finish or look of the product works with your routine.
  • You can better keep up with current trends without breaking the bank.

Makeup dupes have been around for quite some time, and beauty blogs continue to test out and list possible dupes for high-end products as they come into the market. Consumers are eager to keep up with the latest innovations, styles, and trends, but they don’t always want to pay a high-end price for a product that may not fit into their routine or go out of style later on.

Are Makeup Dupes as Good as High-End Products?

When searching for a more affordable dupe for a makeup product they want to try, customers often wonder if the dupe will truly perform as well as the high-end product. Is it worth it to just fork over more money for the real deal? Or is it better to buy the more affordable alternative because it will work just the same?

The answer: It depends.

It really depends on the product you’re testing out. Some makeup consumers try out a dupe and find that it works even better than the original higher-end one. Others may try out a dupe and find that it really is worth buying the more expensive option because it’s better quality.

Although the term dupe is short for duplicate, many drugstore dupes for high-end products won’t perform exactly like their pricier counterpart. Some makeup duplicates share similarities in packaging to a popular high-end product but differ greatly in the formula.

It usually comes down to what aspect of the high-end product are you trying to replicate? Do you want a shade or color that exactly matches but with a different formula? Or are you wanting to collect a makeup palette for the beauty of the packaging and aren’t too concerned about how it applies to the skin?

Think about what aspect of the higher-end product you’re looking for at a more affordable price, and you’ll likely be able to find a dupe that works for you.

Makeup Dupe vs. High-End Original

There are plenty of pros and cons to checking out a makeup dupe versus the high-end original.

Usually, a drugstore dupe is created by a brand that sees the popularity of a certain higher-end product and wants to make it an accessible option for their customers. As stated earlier, they aren’t necessarily exact dupes. Often they differ a bit in the shade, ingredients, formula, etc. Well-tested dupes are often described as products that get close enough to the more expensive original that the consumer will find it works great for them.

However, drugstore dupes, because they’re more affordable and accessible, don’t always have the same quality of ingredients or as smooth of a formula or application as the higher-end product. This isn’t always the case, but there are some products that makeup gurus and enthusiasts will say are well worth the money because they are truly exceptional products.

If you’re looking at checking out some dupes for a high-end product you like, it’s never a bad idea to take the plunge and visit your local drugstore. And if you find that you really don’t think the dupe is close enough to the original, you can always go back to what you know works best for you.

It’s usually worth checking out popular drugstore dupes because they often don’t cost that much money, and you can often pick them up really easily at your closest drugstore.

Most Popular Dupes for High-End Products

Brands like NARS, Giorgio Armani, and Tarte Cosmetics boast having cult-favorite products that continue to keep customers returning again and again to repurchase their favorite blush, mascara, or foundation.

It can be tricky to figure out which products work best in your routine. And once people find the makeup routine that works best for them, they tend to stick with what they know will work for them. Trying out a new shade of foundation or eyeshadow can be a bit of a risk. Unless you’re able to try it out right there in the store, you don’t know if it will really work with your skin tone, eye color, or with the other products in your routine until you give it a try.

And rather than waste the time or money trying out different products, when consumers find that perfect foundation color or mascara that makes their lashes look just right, they aren’t likely to mess with it.

Nonetheless, there are some really great drugstore dupes that even hardcore high-end makeup consumers will say might be worth the switch.

Some dupes that have been mentioned across the web include:

These are only a few of the many viable dupes out there. New makeup products and campaigns are constantly coming out. With every new high-end product that consumers love, there are plenty of enthusiastic drugstore makeup users and bloggers that will find a more affordable option for anyone that wants it.

Where Can I Find Makeup Dupes?

If you’re in the market for a good drugstore dupe to your fav high-end beauty product, there are plenty of great resources across the internet that probably have your perfect answer.

Some of the best resources for all things beauty related include:

  • temptalia.com: This website is one of the go-to resources for makeup consumers looking to find some good photos of makeup swatches, reviews, and advice from people who test it out for themselves. There’s an entire section on the website dedicated specifically to dupe options. You simply type in the high-end product you want an alternative for, and you’ll get a drugstore option recommended directly to you.
  • BuzzFeed: This is also a great place to find good dupes tested and reviewed by the BuzzFeed team themselves. They often include a variety of skin tones and textures to help give tailored advice to their audience who are looking for possible makeup dupes.
  • Pinterest: When it comes to great comparison photos for makeup dupes, you can’t beat the endless amount of info available on Pinterest. It works just like a search engine; simply type in the product you’re looking for possible dupes for, and you’re likely to come across picture after picture and list after list of recommendations from plenty of different users. Pinterest users create boards just like this one that is specifically dedicated to collecting different dupe options.

These are some of the most popular resources, but different beauty and lifestyle magazines often put out articles each year of the best dupes for the previous year’s beauty favorites.

Makeup trends come and go, but the best information on possible dupes is usually going to be for popular high-end products. These are the ones that drugstore and more affordable brands are likely to try and create similar and comparable products to. Once brands know that consumers really value a certain product with a good formula, that’s when they’re most likely to create similar lines and campaigns for products that consumers looking for more affordable options will be likely to buy.

Are Makeup Dupes Ethical? Difference Between a Dupe and a Fake

The question about makeup dupes, as opposed to luxury fashion or designer brands, can get a bit tricky. Makeup dupes are often created with large influences coming from popular high-end products.

But this is quite different from designer bag knockoffs or counterfeits. These are forgeries that attempt to pass as the real thing but aren’t actually produced by the designer brand itself. These knockoffs usually sell for a much lower price than the real thing, but they do violate copyright law, causing many in the fashion industry to agree they’re highly unethical products to produce and buy.

Different beauty experts and bloggers have different opinions about whether drugstore makeup dupes should be so popular.

If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to go for the cheaper dupe, the answer for most beauty enthusiasts is it’s perfectly okay.

Not everyone can spend 50 dollars on a single makeup product like a foundation, but they still want to look put together and achieve a certain makeup application. This is where drugstore brands become useful and necessary. It’s likely that consumers that can afford a high-end product are likely to buy it, while those who want to stay on trend but can’t afford the high-end product should have access to something that works for their budget.

Copyright and fair use in the makeup space gets a bit confusing. Some high-end brands have attempted to sue drugstore products that clearly attempt to replicate the original product, usually in the packaging more so than the formula, which can be argued as a way of deceiving consumers.

However, the beauty industry has been known to overprice many products, and consumers end up paying higher prices for the packaging or presentation rather than the ingredients or formula. This is the main reason dupes are seen in a positive light throughout the makeup community. If those who want to express themselves with makeup can do so without having to break the bank, then that’s often seen as a definitively good thing.

When Not to Use a Drugstore Dupe

While drugstore and affordable dupes can be a great option, sometimes it is better to splurge on that higher-end product for the quality or finish. While sometimes higher-end brands in places like Sephora can be more expensive, mainly for the luxury packaging, sometimes they also simply have better formulas and apply smoother to the skin.

For some people, it’s worth spending the extra money on a product that’s very important to their routine. If you really love the formula of a certain foundation or eyeshadow palette that works well no matter the look you’re going for and is worth the money, searching for a drugstore dupe may not be worth it.

Other times, spending more on a product can be the best option if drugstore dupes use different ingredients to irritate your skin. If you try a drugstore setting spray or other product that irritates your skin while the higher end one doesn’t, that’s a pretty strong signal that your skin doesn’t like the ingredients in the dupe product, and it may be best to invest in the higher-end product.

Best Makeup Brands with Affordable Dupes

While drugstore and other affordable brands can be seen as having less quality than high-end products, that isn’t always the case. As innovation and trends in the beauty space have evolved, drugstore and indie brands like ColourPop have provided consumers with safe, high-quality products at a more affordable price.

Formulas and ingredients have continued to get better and better. Leaving the difference between high-end products you may find at department stores and Sephora and those at the drugstore or online to be fewer and fewer.

Drugstore brands continue to step up and create products that consumers continue to come back for. Some of those brands include:

Brands like E.L.F. create setting powders, primers, and tools like brushes and makeup sponges that rival high-end brands, and they do for it practically a quarter of the price. Makeup from drugstore brands like that one helps makeup become more accessible and available to wider audiences.

These brands have consistently created products that are reviewed and tested by many different beauty bloggers and influencers that have certified the formulas and application are quite similar to their high-end counterparts. And even in the cases where the drugstore brand works better than the high-end brand, these reviews often help people save plenty of money.

Tips for Shopping Makeup Dupes

While there are plenty of lists online for dupes to high-end products, there are plenty of small ways to make sure you actually find a dupe that will work for you. As stated earlier, everyone’s makeup routine, skin type, skin tone, and style are different. This means the same dupe that works for one person may not work for another.

If you’re looking for a good dupe for that favorite lip color or mascara formula, here are some tips for researching online:

  • Prioritize opinions and sample photos of people with similar skin tones or types as you.
  • Finding a dupe works best for viral or extremely popular products, so look out for those.
  • Take a peek at the ingredients for the dupe compared to the original. Bonus: the order in which the ingredients are listed gives clues to the formula as well.

Final Thoughts

New makeup products are always coming out, and it can get difficult to keep up with the trends. There is a makeup dupe out there for almost every viral makeup product. In the world of makeup, the options are endless no matter your budget, skin type, or style.

You may even find that you prefer the look and feel of a dupe rather than the high-end one. The same exact product may perform very differently depending on the user’s skin type or routine.

By combining high-end quality products with more affordable and comparable dupes into your makeup routine, you’ll look just as good as if you used all high-end products, but your wallet will thank you for it.