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

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

Eg, £46 Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette vs £6 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, 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 this year at Aldi, Boots, Superdrug, and Primark, 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 my shampoo & shower gel downshift challenge guide for more info on what you could try.

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.

Which beauty dupes are available now?

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 £6 eyeshadow palette vs £46 Anastasia Beverly Hills, 87% 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, so go quick.

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

Aldi product

Similar branded product

New Lacura eyeshadow palette in 'Moon Dust', 14x0.65g - £5.99 Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette in 'Norvina', 14x0.74g - norm £46 at Lookfantastic
New Lacura eyeshadow palette in 'Revival Velvet' 14x0.65g - £5.99 Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette in 'Modern Renaissance', 14x0.74g - norm £46 at Lookfantastic
New Lacura eyeshadow palette in 'Desert Rain', 14x0.65g - £5.99 Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette in 'Soft Glam', 14x0.74g - norm £46 at Lookfantastic
New Lacura miracle oil spray, 100ml - £4.99 Elizabeth Arden eight hour miracle hydrating mist, 100ml - norm £13.45 at Allbeauty

New Lacura CC cream with SPF15 in 'Medium', 50ml (cruelty-free) - £2.99 (also available in 'Light' and 'Summer Glow')

Garnier BB cream, 50ml - £9.99 at Superdrug
Lacura cheek palette, blusher, highlighter & bronzer, 3x8g (cruelty-free) - £4.99 Benefit 'Cheeky camper' bronzer, blusher & highlighter, 4gx2 plus 3.5g - £21.20 at Benefit
It's back Lacura pink clay and golden glow masks, 2x50ml - £6.99  Sand & Sky pink clay porefining face mask, 60ml - £41.90 at Sand & Sky

Lacura caviar day cream, 50ml - £6.99

La Prairie skin caviar luxe cream, 50ml - £283 at Allbeauty

Lacura Q10 night cream, 50ml - £1.45 (also available, Q10 day cream SPF20 - £1.45) Nivea Q10 night cream, 50ml - £5.49 at Lloyd's Pharmacy
New Lacura Q10 multi-intensive serum, 50ml - £2.99 Nivea Q10 serum pearls, 40ml - £7.50 at Wilko
Lacura Men's facial cleansing scrub, 75ml - £3.99
Kiehl's 'Oil Eliminator' cleanser, 75ml - £9.50 at Kiehl's 

It's back Lacura Rejuvelate SPF30 day cream, 50ml (cruelty-free) - £3.49

L'Oreal Paris Revitalift SPF30 day cream, 50ml - £8.65 at Allbeauty

Aldi 'Moon Dust eyeshadow palette (left) for £6 vs Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Norvina' eyeshadow palette (right) for £46?

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 Anastasia Beverly Hills, Benefit, or Sand & Sky 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 £5.99 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 £4.99 called Je Suis Belle, which some say is a dupe for Lancome's La Vie Est Belle, normally over £80 for 100ml. See our cheap perfume guide for more smell-alikes. 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 £7 Lottie London eyeshadow palette vs £34.40 Urban Decay, 80% saving

We've featured three Lottie London bundles this 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

Glitter Switch lip gloss, 3ml - £4.66 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Ciaté Glitter Flip lipstick, 3ml - £13.60 at Lookfantastic (cruelty-free & vegan)
Slay All Day metallic liquid lipstick, 6ml - £3.99 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Kylie Cosmetics metal lip kit, 3g (with liner, 1g) - $16.80 (£14ish) at Kylie Cosmetics.
Slay All Day liquid matte lipstick, 6ml - £3.99 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Kylie Cosmetics matte lip kit (with 1g liner below) - $29 (£23ish) at Kylie Cosmetics.
Slay All Day lip liner, 9g - £5.95 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Kylie Cosmetics matte lip kit (with 3g lipstick above) - $29 (£23ish) at Kylie Cosmetics.
All About That Base foundation stick, 9g - £5.33 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free)  Anastasia Beverly Hills stick foundation, 9g - £26 at Anastasia Beverly Hills (cruelty-free & vegan).
Shadow Swatch eyeshadow palette in 'The Rusts', 12g - £6.67 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free)  Urban Decay Naked Heat eyeshadow palette, 15.6g - £34.40 at Lookfantastic
Shadow Swatch eyeshadow palette in 'The Smokes', 12g - £6.67 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free) Urban Decay Naked 3 eyeshadow palette, 15.6g - £34.40 at Lookfantastic (cruelty-free. 'The Smokes' is more like Naked Smoky, now no longer available)
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 Harvey Nichols
Arch Rival brow artist retractable eyebrow pencil, 9g - £4.32 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Brow Wiz' eyeliner, 0.08g - £23 at Lookfantastic (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 - £6.65 at Perfume Click (cruelty-free & vegan) Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit, 4.2g - £41 at Lookfantastic (cruelty-free & vegan)
Rainbow highlighter in 'Mermaid Glow', 9g - £3.99 at Lookfantastic* (cruelty-free & vegan) Ciaté highlighter in 'Mermaid Glow', 9g - £13 at Ciaté (cruelty-free & vegan)
Blush Crush blusher - £4.95 at Lottie London* (cruelty-free & vegan) Tarte Amazonian clay 12-hour blush, 5.6g - £22 at Tarte (cruelty-free & vegan)

Urban Decay Naked Heat (top) for £43 vs Lottie London 'The Rusts' (bottom) for £10?

From Urban Decay, 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 were snapped up – proving popular with MoneySavers.

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

New Glow cleansing oil, 100ml* - £4 (cruelty-free & vegan) Glossier Futuredew oil, 30ml - £23 at Glossier (cruelty-free & vegan)
New Glow Essence serum, 28ml* - £4 (cruelty-free & vegan, currently out of stock online) Glossier Superglow serum, 30ml - £24 at Glossier (cruelty-free)
New Glow Pineapple serum, 30ml* - £5 (cruelty-free & vegan) Glow Pineapple-C bright serum, 30ml - £46 at Cult Beauty (cruelty-free & vegan)
New Sleek MakeUP loose pigment powder, 1.9g* - £4 MAC Pigment mini, 2.5g - £12 at MAC
Sleek MakeUP cream contour kit, 12g*, £10.99 Anastasia Beverly Hills contour cream kit, 27g - £42 at Feel Unique

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

Benefit 'Brow Zings', 2.65g+1.7g - £22.95 at Allbeauty
Sleek MakeUP 'Matte Me' liquid lip*, £4.99 Kylie Jenner liquid lipstick, 3.25g - $17 at Kylie Cosmetics (about £13 before delivery)
Sleek MakeUP Copperplate highlighting palette, 9g*, £9.99 Huda Beauty 3D Highlighting Palette, 30g - £40 at Feel Unique
Botanics 'All Bright' radiance balm, 50ml*, £5.99 (vegan) MAC Strobe Cream, 50ml - £25 at Lookfantastic

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

Superdrug dupes - incl £7 hot cloth cleanser vs similar £27 Liz Earle hot cloth cleanser, 74% 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 - £27 at Lookfantastic
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)
B. Pro Longwear brow pomade cream, 1.6g, £5.99 (vegan & cruelty-free) Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Dipbrow' brow pomade, 4g - £19 at Feel Unique (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
New 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.

Primark dupes - incl £2 eyebrow pencil vs similar £23 Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow pencil, 91% saving

Primark has a whole host of beauty dupes, often quickly selling out as people rush to try out products at about 10% of the cost of the big brand. I wasn't able to find out the sizes or the cruelty-free status of a handful of the products, so it's worth checking if you spot them in store before buying.

Primark product Similar branded product
Lip liner and crayon duo, £2 Tarte 'The Lip Architect' lipstick liner, 0.5g - £21 at Tarte
Matte lipstick in 'Envy', £1.50 MAC lipstick in 'Smoked Purple - Matte', 3g - £17.50 at MAC
'Fake It' mascara, 9ml, £2.50 Too Faced 'Better Than Sex' mascara, 4.8ml - £22 at Lookfantastic (vegan & cruelty-free)
Foundation & contour stick, £2.50 Anastasia Beverly Hills foundation/contour stick - £27 at Lookfantastic (vegan & cruelty-free).
Jumbo eyeliner, £2 Eyeko 'Fat' liquid eyeliner, 3.5g - £12.80 at Eyeko (vegan & cruelty-free)
Eyeconic eyeliner, £1.50 Eyeko 'Skinny' liquid eyeliner, 2g - £12.80 at Eyeko (vegan & cruelty-free)
Brow sketch, £2 Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Brow Wiz' eyeliner, 0.08g - £23 at Lookfantastic (vegan & cruelty-free)
Wonderlash mascara, 9ml, £3 Benefit 'They're Real' mascara, 8.5g - £20.84 at Feel Unique
Liquid concealer, 8ml, £2 (several colours available, cruelty-free) Tarte Shape Tape, 10ml - £24 at Tarte (vegan & cruelty-free)

Primark 'Brow Sketch' eyeliner (top) for £2 vs Anastasia Beverly Hills 'Brow Wiz' (below) for £23?

As with Aldi above, Primark goes so far as to sometimes mimic the shape and colour of the packaging of branded goods, so these really are lookalikes (put them side-by-side and the visual similarity’s usually quite obvious).

MSE Debs picked up the matte lipstick, and although she usually uses MAC, she reckons Primark’s is pretty decent for the price, and the 91% saving. There's also a similar Primark lipstick for 90p which you might want to look out for, but it's the matte version that people reckon is a dupe for MAC.

While buying Primark instead of an expensive brand is always cheaper, in some cases you'll also get more of the product. Some big brands aren't cruelty-free, so if that's important to you, Primark has quite a few 'Leaping Bunny' certified cruelty-free products – a nice extra on top of an up to 90%ish saving.

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.