Beauty Downshift Challenge – Is it worth ditching big brands for cheaper ‘dupes’ to save up to 90%?

Beauty Downshift Challenge – Is it worth ditching big brands for cheaper ‘dupes’ to save up to 90%?

Eg, £90 Sisley Paris facial mask vs NEW £7 Aldi lookalike

At MSE, we’ve challenged you to ‘downshift’ your grocery shop for years (check our Downshifting Guide), but you can also save on make-up and beauty products by downshifting from brands to much cheaper ‘dupes’ – lookalike products, where often even the packaging is similar to the expensive brand.

I’ve looked into just how 'cheap and cheerful' these cheaper versions are, including a host of brand new products out this month. Though I must stress this is purely a price comparison and I’ve not tried them all myself, though as you’ll see below, many beauty bloggers and MSE users like them. Nevertheless, as they’re affordable, you could always try them and if you like them, great. If not, you’ve not lost much.

What are the key things I need to know about dupes?

  • Many are widely praised by beauty bloggers and MSE Forumites for being just as good, if not better than, their pricier counterparts. Of course, we’re not skincare experts and we haven’t tested all the products ourselves – but since first publishing this guide in 2018, we've seen many positive comments including these...

I’ve been using Liz Earle’s hot cloth cleanser & really can’t see a difference to Aldi! Lacura’s moisturisers are just as good as Clarins also... I can buy the whole range I need from Aldi & still have money left over!

– Justine W.

The Lottie London collection is influenced by current Instagram trends and includes a number of Anastasia Beverly Hills and Kylie Cosmetics dupes without the designer price tags. When comparing it to the other palettes in my collection it definitely outperforms bigger brands.

– Lifestyle blogger Roxie Watt

  • Whilst duplicates might have very similar ingredients and properties they most likely won't be exactly the same – always read the packaging and check ingredients if you have any allergies or skin concerns. The exact formulation of most beauty products are a closely-guarded secret.

  • All these products are sold by reputable retailers – such as Boots and Superdrug – so they're quality-checked and aren't like something you might buy at a car boot sale. The British Skin Foundation told us all cosmetic products are subject to the same stringent tests, so just because a product is cheap, doesn’t mean it’s less effective or unsafe for the skin.

I've picked out some of the most highly-rated beauty dupes I’ve heard about at Aldi, Boots, and Superdrug, plus some other brands, along with how much you can save if you take the Beauty Downshift Challenge. While you can usually find dupes at other retailers throughout the year, these are the biggies. Only make a switch if you’re happy to try something cheaper to see if you can achieve the same results.

Check our cheap beauty & make-up deals for more offers. If you're interested in shampoo, conditioner, or shower gel dupes, see the shampoo & shower gel downshift challenge guide for more info on what you could try.

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Do I get the same amount?

While some dupes do give you more, looking at the sizes of products at other stores, in most cases the beauty dupe is either the same size, or a smaller size than the big brand – but even if you were to buy multiples to get the same amount, you would almost always spend significantly less.

If you still prefer the big brand, it might be worth waiting for discount events such as Black Friday, Boxing Day and January sales, or department store discount days before you stock up.

New. 11 brand-new beauty dupes now available

Here's a comparison of what’s available in stores or online now, dependent on stock, and how much extra you’d pay for the similar big-name near-equivalent. I've noted below where products have been confirmed as cruelty-free and/or vegan – where I've not indicated either way, it doesn't necessarily mean they aren't, I’ve just not had confirmation.

Aldi dupes - incl £7 facial mask vs £90 Sisley Paris, 92% saving

Aldi has a host of beauty dupes on its shelves – look out for its own-brand ‘Lacura’ on everything from day cream and concealer to a ‘Liz Earle-alike’ hot cloth cleanser. Stock varies between stores and can sell out really fast, especially online, so go quick.

I've highlighted some of my top picks from Aldi's beauty range below:

Aldi product

Similar branded product

New Lacura 'Ebony Rose' facial mask, 60ml - £6.99 Sisley Paris Black Rose cream mask, 60ml - £89.95 at Allbeauty.com
New Lacura Naturals eyeshadow palette in 'Nectar', 12x1.08g (cruelty-free) - £5.99 Urban Decay eyeshadow palette in 'Honey', 12x0.95g - £34.40 at Lookfantastic (cruelty-free & vegan)
New Lacura moisture boost moisturiser, 50ml - £4.99  Clinique Moisture Surge 72-hour moisturiser, 50ml - £37 at Lookfantastic
New Lacura hyaluronic & marine algae hot cloth cleanser, 200ml (cruelty-free & vegan) - £3.99 Dr Dennis Gross hyaluronic marine meltaway cleanser, 150ml - £30 at Lookfantastic
It's back Lacura miracle cream, 50ml - £4.49 Elizabeth Arden eight hour cream, 50ml - £14.95 at Allbeauty

It's back Lacura original hot cloth cleanser, 200ml (cruelty-free & vegan) - £3.99 

Liz Earle 'Cleanse & Polish' hot cloth cleanser, 200ml - £22.80 at John Lewis
It's back Lacura 'Too legit' waterproof mascara, 14g - £5.99 Benefit 'They're Real' mascara, 8.5g - £20.80 at Allbeauty.com
It's back Lacura 'Larger Than Life' mascara, 8g (cruelty-free) - £5.99  Too Faced 'Better Than Sex' mascara, 8ml - £22 at Lookfantastic (vegan & cruelty-free)
Lacura caviar day cream, 50ml - £6.99 La Prairie skin caviar luxe cream, 50ml - £299.95 at Allbeauty
Lacura Q10 multi-intensive serum, 50ml - £2.99 Nivea Q10 serum pearls, 40ml - £6.50 at Wilko
Lacura Rejuvelate SPF30 day cream, 50ml (cruelty-free) - £3.49 L'Oreal Paris Revitalift SPF30 day cream, 50ml - £6 at Morrisons

Lacura pink clay and golden glow masks, 2x50ml - £6.99 (sold out online)

Sand & Sky pink clay porefining face mask, 60g - £36.90 at Sand & Sky

Aldi 'Ebony Rose' facial mask (left) for £7 vs Sisley Paris 'Black Rose' cream mask (right) for £90?

Aldi's duplication of big brands even goes so far as to mimic the appearance of the packaging. Reviews on Aldi's site are mostly positive, though it seems some reviewers didn't get on with the face creams. From the feedback we've seen, if you're an Urban Decay, Benefit, or Sisley Paris fan – or you enjoy caviar-based skin care – it might be worth checking out Aldi's alternatives as you could save up to 97% by downshifting to Lacura.

Unsurprisingly, Aldi dupes sell out quickly online (though you'll hopefully still find some of them in stores), which perhaps shows how many people out there have caught the bug for downshifting.

Aldi also has a £6.99 line of 100ml perfumes that look and smell suspiciously like Jo Malone fragrances – which are also usually much pricier, at £90 for 100ml. Currently, there's also a 100ml perfume available in store for £6.99 called Pure Noir, which some say is a dupe for Tom Ford's Black Orchid, normally over £100 for 100ml. Unfortunately, a lot of Aldi’s beauty dupes aren’t available year-round as they’re labelled ‘Special Buys’, so you may need to keep your eyes peeled each time you shop there.

Lottie London dupes - incl £9 highlighter vs £31 Fenty, 71% saving

We featured several Lottie London bundles last year, and MoneySavers are big fans of the small price tag as well as the striking similarity to big brands. You'll also be able to order many of the products online, either direct from Lottie London*, or via other beauty websites such as Lookfantastic* or Feel Unique*.

Lottie London product

Similar branded product

New Diamond Bounce highlighter, 8g - £8.95 at Lottie London (cruelty-free & vegan) Fenty Diamond Bomb highlighter, 8g - £31 at Boots
New Eye Foil liquid eyeshadow, 5.5g - £4.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Stila Glitter & Glow liquid eyeshadow, 5ml - £23 at Lookfantastic (cruelty-free)
New Ready Set Go translucent loose setting powder, 15g - £5.45 at Feel Unique* (cruelty-free & vegan) Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder, 11.3g - £25.60 at Lookfantastic 
New Dewy & illuminating setting spray, 80ml - £8.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Iconic Prep-set-glow setting spray, 120ml - £22 at Lookfantastic (cruelty-free & vegan)
New Arch Rival Microblade eyebrow pen, 0.7ml - £6.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Ciate Microblade eyebrow pen, 0.7ml - £13.90 at Feel Unique (cruelty-free & vegan)
New Sweet Lips overnight lip mask & balm, 9g - £6.95 at Lottie London (cruelty-free & vegan) Laneige lip sleep mask, 20g - £16.50 at K-Beauty.
Glitter Switch lip gloss, 3ml - £6.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Ciaté Glitter Flip lipstick, 3ml - £12.75 at Debenhams (cruelty-free & vegan)
Slay All Day metallic liquid lipstick, 6ml - £5.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Kylie Cosmetics metal lip kit, 3g (with liner, 1g) - £14ish at Kylie Cosmetics.
Slay All Day liquid matte lipstick, 6ml - £3.95 or £5.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Kylie Cosmetics matte lip kit (with 1g liner below) - £23ish at Kylie Cosmetics.
Slay All Day lip liner, 9g - £3.95 or £5.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Kylie Cosmetics matte lip kit (with 3g lipstick above) - £23ish at Kylie Cosmetics.
All About That Base foundation stick, 9g - £7.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free)  Anastasia Beverly Hills stick foundation, 9g - £21.60 at Beauty Bay (cruelty-free & vegan).
Lottie London eyeshadow palette in 'The Rusts', 7.2g - £4.95 at Feel Unique* (cruelty-free) Huda Beauty Obsessions eyeshadow palette in 'Topaz', 10g - £25 at Feel Unique
Arch Rival brow artist retractable eyebrow pencil, 9g - £6.45 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Brow Wiz' eyeliner, 0.08g - £13.75 at Beauty Bay (cruelty-free & vegan)
AM to PM eyeliner pencil, 2.59g - £3.95 at Feel Unique* (cruelty-free & vegan) Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliner, 1.2g - £12.80 at Lookfantastic
Shimmer Squad highlighter palette in 'Holographic Haul', 16.8g - £5.55 at Perfume Click (cruelty-free & vegan) Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit, 4.2g - £32.75 at Beauty Bay (cruelty-free & vegan)
Rainbow highlighter in 'Mermaid Glow', 9g - £5.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Ciaté highlighter in 'Mermaid Glow', 9g - £6.50 at Ciaté (cruelty-free & vegan)

Lottie London 'Diamond Bounce (left) for £9 vs Fenty 'The Rusts' (Diamond Bomb) for £31?

From Fenty, to Anastasia Beverly Hills, Ciaté and more, Lottie London's got an alternative for under a tenner. With the range being affordable already, discounted bundles are always snapped up – proving popular with MoneySavers. If you aren't signed up to our MSE weekly email, join for free so you don't miss the next time we feature a Lottie London set.

Personally, I really like that a lot of Lottie London products are vegan, and they're all cruelty-free. I've used the Shimmer Squad highlighter in 'Holographic Haul' (norm £8ish), and even though some people say they don't think the colours are as strong as the branded Anastasia Beverly Hills alternative (norm £41), at 81% cheaper I can say I certainly felt shimmery enough.

Boots dupes - incl £5 Glow pineapple serum vs similar £46 Glow 'Pineapple-C' serum, 89% saving

It’s worth checking out your local Boots stores as we’ve heard there are quite a few dupes available for popular big brands such as MAC, Glow, Huda, and Benefit.

Product at Boots

Similar branded product

Glow cleansing oil, 100ml* - £4 (cruelty-free & vegan) Glossier Futuredew oil, 30ml - £23 at Glossier (cruelty-free & vegan)
Glow Essence serum, 28ml* - £4 (cruelty-free & vegan, currently out of stock online) Glossier Super Glow serum, 30ml - £24 at Glossier (cruelty-free)
Glow Pineapple serum, 30ml* - £5 (cruelty-free & vegan) Glow Pineapple-C bright serum, 30ml - £46 at Cult Beauty (cruelty-free & vegan)
Sleek MakeUP cream contour kit, 12g* - £10.99 Anastasia Beverly Hills contour cream kit, 27g - £33.60 at Beauty Bay

Sleek MakeUP brow kit, 3.8g* - £8.49 (vegan & cruelty-free)

Benefit 'Brow Zings', 2.65g+1.7g - £18.09 at John Lewis
Sleek MakeUP 'Matte Me' liquid lip* - £4.99 Kylie Jenner liquid lipstick, 3.25g - £13ish before delivery at Kylie Cosmetics
Sleek MakeUP Copperplate highlighting palette, 9g* - £9.99 Huda Beauty 3D Highlighting Palette, 30g - £40 at Feel Unique
Botanics 'All Bright' radiance balm, 50ml* £7.99 (vegan) MAC Strobe Cream, 50ml - £20.80 at Debenhams

Boots Glow Pineapple serum at £5 (left) vs Glow 'Pineapple-C'  serum (right) at £46?

Superdrug dupes - incl £7 hot cloth cleanser vs similar £23 Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser, 69% saving

I’ve taken a look at feedback online, and tried a few of these products myself, and these are some of the best dupes I’ve come across at Superdrug. Its own products often match or exceed the cruelty-free and/or vegan status of the expensive brands they appear to be emulating.

Product at Superdrug Similar branded product
Superdrug 'Naturally Radiant' hot cloth cleanser, 150ml - £6.99 (vegan & cruelty-free) Liz Earle 'Cleanse & Polish' hot cloth cleanser, 200ml - £22.80 at John Lewis
ELF 16 hour 'Camo' concealer, 6ml - £5 Tarte Shape Tape, 10ml - £24 at Tarte (vegan & cruelty-free)
ELF Mineral face primer, 14ml - £7.50 (vegan & cruelty-free) Smashbox photo-finish primer, 30ml - £28 at Smashbox (vegan & cruelty-free)
New Revolution brow pomade cream, 2.5g - £5.99 (vegan & cruelty-free) Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Dipbrow' brow pomade, 4g - £15.20 at Beauty Bay (vegan & cruelty-free)
B. Liquid blush, 10ml £6.99 (vegan & cruelty-free) Glossier 'Cloud Paint' blush, 10ml - £15 at Glossier (cruelty-free)
B. Pro make-up setting spray, 50ml - £6.99 (vegan & cruelty-free) MAC Prep and prime fix, 100ml - £21 at Lookfantastic
Revolution Shimmer Bomb lip gloss in 'Starlight', 4.5ml - £5 (cruelty-free) Fenty 'Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer' in 'Sweet Mouth', 9ml - £17 at Boots
Revolution Conceal & Define concealer, 3.4ml - £4.99 (vegan & cruelty-free) Tarte Shape Tape, 10ml - £24 at Tarte (vegan & cruelty-free)

Superdrug 'Naturally Radiant' hot cloth cleanser for £7 vs Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser for £27?

Superdrug's own beauty dupes can often be subbed for other vegan and cruelty-free products, like the Smashbox photo-finish primer and ELF mineral face primer. All Superdrug B's products are vegan and cruelty-free, and all Superdrug-branded items are labelled as being suitable for vegans or vegetarians. 

Some dupes are hard to compare if they're vegan and/or cruelty free and the alternative isn't, but there are a lot, like Superdrug, that now label what is and isn't suitable.

Would you give up your favourite brand and downshift to a dupe? What are your favourite beauty dupes? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter.