A version of this story originally appeared on the Strategist US.
I love unearthing a good beauty dupe. Beyond the obvious wallet-friendly perks, there’s something so undeniably gratifying about it — as if you’ve outsmarted the beauty industry and unlocked one of its precious proprietary secrets. It’s for this reason, whenever I discover a new dupe, I cannot shut up about it: I text every beauty lover I know, post about it on Instagram, and share it here on the Strategist. I’ve even created a Reddit account just to contribute to a beauty-dupe-focused thread. The sneaky, investigative nature of uncovering them is what makes them so incredibly fun to share with friends and likeminded beauty enthusiasts. I mean, some of my holy-grail products (like NYX’s Control Freak Brow Gel, which replaced my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel) came into my life through a friend’s recommendation.
So I put out the call on Instagram, asking my beauty-obsessed followers to share their all-time favourite beauty dupes — breaking down what formula they mimic, why they love it so much, and how much cheaper the product is. Here, a few great beauty dupes that my followers claimed changed their lives.
Rio, Strat Writer
I’ll start this off! I picked up this E.l.f. concealer at Ulta and fell in love with it immediately. Just like Fenty’s concealer, this £5 one is super full-coverage, so any kind of under-eye darkness or hormonal spots immediately disappear when I buff it in with my Real Techniques concealer brush. It’s also very matte, so it stays put all day long without having to powder or bake. I also love that E.l.f. has a really awesome shade range so it’s easy to find your perfect match.
Sofie Pavitt, Esthetician
Dupe for Crème de la Mer
Nivea is essentially an old-school cold cream. It’s such a great moisturizer (especially for dry skin), it still has that classic, clean-soapy scent, and it’s £5 for a giant tin. La Mer is basically a fancy cold cream: Yes, also a great moisturizer for dry skin, and it too smells amazing. It, however, is £125 dollars for a pretty, three-ounce jar. The ingredient list is essentially identical (except La Mer has petrolatum). The only other big difference is La Mer has a lot of antioxidants. The seaweed alpha hydroxy acid in La Mer isn’t, in my opinion, a reason to spend the extra money on it. I would just use the Nivea alongside a cheaper AHA exfoliating product.
Phoebe Gillan, Archiver at Marc Jacobs
I used to love Benefit’s primer because it completely blurred and knocked out any pores or textural issues so that my skin was super smooth for makeup. But then I found The Ordinary silicone primer, which has similar hydrating and blurring effects but for half the price. It’s so good; I love how long it helps my makeup last. Also, I initially wanted to find a dupe because I noticed Benefit’s primer was actually breaking me out. The Ordinary gives me that same smooth feeling, but I’ve found it’s actually a lot less greasy than Benefit’s primer.
Joelle Hyman, Associate Visuals Editor at Allure
The Milani Dolce Pink blush is my all time favourite dupe for the Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in Rose Petale. What I love so much about both of them is that they give this really amazing natural flush effect. It gives off something in between a true look of being in the sun and flushed baby cheeks — without any red tones. But the Milani one is only £12!
Cat Garrett, Partnerships at Purple
Dupe for Diptyque Feu de Bois scented candle
Diptyque Feu de Bois and the Muji Green Log Fire (which subsequently also says “Feu de Bois” on the can) both smell wintry and the right kind of smoky and woody. I wheel it out when the weather gets cooler and it makes me feel like I’m in an expensive hotel hanging around the crackling fire. Also, try Muji’s Blackcurrant for Diptique’s Baies … I’m less into the scent but it’s an identical smelling dupe.
Lili Chemla, Creative Director of Leset
Dupe for Biologique Recherche Crème VIP
I love the Biologique VIP Crème, but this Bioderma Atoderm Moisturizer has the same texture and gives the same hydrating, brightening results. I always use this Bioderma moisturizer when I’m breaking out because its super simple and extremely hydrating since I overload on products that dry me out during breakouts.
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