‘Beauty Dupes’ offer bargains on high-end cosmetics

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Finding the perfect makeup product can be pricey. But what if you could achieve a flawless face without spending so much money?

WREG put this theory to the test by trying out five “beauty dupes” — beauty products that can be found at a lower cost than the high-end versions.

We shopped in store and online and teamed up with makeup artist Zaniesha “Zii” Davis for some help.

“We’re all in different areas of our lives, and we shouldn’t be limited by the price of a product, based on where we are in our lives at the time. So, you can still look good and feel good on a budget if you would like,” said Davis, who also teaches beginners makeup classes called Better Than YouTube.

We met Amber Harris outside a cosmetics store. She’d been shopping for her MAC foundation, which runs her about $34 with tax.

Pam Collins said the costs quickly added up on her receipt as she bought her favorites including shampoo, conditioner and few makeup must haves.

“A little eye shadow, little mascara, my husband’s gonna be thrilled,” Collins exclaimed.

The Products

  • High End-Beauty Blender-$20               
  • Dupe: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge-$3.59
  • High End-MAKE UP FOR EVER Ultra HD Foundation-$43
  • Dupe: Loreal True Match -$8.99
  • High End-NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer-$30 
  • Dupe: NYX Can’t Stop Won’t Stop Contour Concealer-$8.49
  • High End-Anastasia Brow Wiz-$23                                      
  • Dupe: Morphe Micro Brow Pencil-$5.00
  • High End-MAC Lipstick-Heroine-$19.00
  • Dupe: Milani-Matte Glam-$5.99

The products in our higher end bag cost $135 compared to $32 for our dupes. That’s a difference of more than $100.

But will a difference in price mean you have to sacrifice a difference in your look?

Zii says no. “I believe that you can absolutely look flawless on a, using a lower end product or a drug store brand, just as much as you can with a high end brand.”

Zii started our test on her client Danielle with admittedly, one of her favorites, which is the Beauty Blender.

“You can use it to apply foundation, you can use it to apply your concealer, to blend your concealer. You can also use this to apply your setting powder,” Zii said.

Zii then used the Beauty Blender to apply the Makeup Forever Foundation. It’s also a product she uses on a lot of her clients.

“It gives you a natural look and also gives you a nice amount of coverage.”

Next up was the NARS concealer. Zii explained, “Because it is creamy, it is very moisturizing which is really great for all skin types because we all need moisture, underneath our eyes.”

The next product is Anastasia Brow Wiz, which Zii said is “super popular.”

And with that, the first part of Danielle’s look was ready.

Zii put all of the higher end products on one side of Danielle’s face, then she moved to the other to apply the bargain buys in the same order. First, she grabbed the Real Techniques sponge and immediately notices a difference.

“The pores of the Beauty Blender are actually a little bit wider, so they have larger pores to absorb product and also to help it blend a little bit better. These pores on here are not as wide”

It’s a difference Zii said the average person wouldn’t notice.  In addition, she said the sponge also felt different in her hand.

Zii used the Real Techniques sponge to apply the Loreal True Match foundation.

Foundation seems to be the one product many women are reluctant to try in a cheaper version for fear it won’t match.

“It can be scary, trying a drug store foundation, but here’s the relaxation in that. The relief is that you can return it back to the store if it does not work.”

Zii explained one of the keys to matching foundation, “It’s really good to test along the jaw line, and what you want to do is kind of make sure that you are getting a similar color to your neck.”

After applying the foundation, it was on to the NYX concealer.

“It’s a great dupe to the NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer because it pretty much has the same texture.”

Then after some highlighting, it was on to brows with the Morphe pencil.

“Again, very comparable to the Anastasia brow pencil because it does have a micro brow tip at the end the color pay-off is amazing as well.”

Zii spiced up Danielle’s look a bit, then added the finishing touch with both lip colors. Following the pattern she’d used, Zii put MAC Heroine on the right, Milani Matte Glam on the left.

“So here you have a finished look. Now, can you tell the difference is the true question?”

Danielle took her first look in the mirror and answered. “Oh my God! Oh my gosh! If you would have…if I wouldn’t have been awake to know you did this half and half. The brows and everything! Yeah. That’s amazing. I love, love, love, love. I don’t know which side is the dupe.”

The Makeup Artist’s Takeaways: High End vs. Dupe

  • Sponges: High End

Zii said: “If I could choose the products that I would use, I would definitely stick with my Beauty Blender. I really love this Beauty Blender because the material that it’s made from it’s very different, and it’s very impactful, better and softer than the Real Techniques sponge.”

  • Foundation: Both

“This Makeup Forever HD is really my go to for my clients, but on myself, I use Loreal, I use Maybelline Fit Me.”

  • Concealer: Both

Zii had a similar thought about the concealer. She said people can use the dupe on a daily basis and save the NARS for a special occasion.

  • Eyebrow Pencil: Dupe

“They’re competing and they’re really, really good competition as you saw. These give off the same results so I would definitely go with a lower price point.”

  • Lipstick: Dupe

MAC Heroine is a popular color and Zii said clients love it. However, she said she stumbled upon Milani Matte Glam and uses it herself!

Dos and Don’ts with Dupes

  • It’s not your mother’s makeup counter – All stores are offering larger varieties of cosmetics, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
  • Try Before You Buy – Even drug stores offer testers these days, so swatch the color before leaving the store. From Walmart and Target, to CVS and Walgreens, displays also contain pertinent info about products to read them.
  • Know your Skin – Zii said this is key for matching products, no matter how much they cost. Are you dry, oily, or a combination?
  • Get a Refund – If it doesn’t work, take it back. Yes, you can return cosmetics. This doesn’t mean you should use a lot, then return and empty bottle, but if a color doesn’t work, return it. Of course, as always, read return policies carefully.
  • Beware of Fakes – Be careful with too good to be true prices online. These could be counterfeit and contain harmful chemicals.
  • Avoid Unverifiable Products – If you can’t dig up any info on the product or manufacturer, you may want to steer clear. Zii said this is especially the case with some of the products in beauty supply stores.

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