not a professional. just crazy.

The Highly Convincing Skin-Care Dupes My Followers Filled Me In On

Photo: Courtesy of retailer

A year ago, I wrote about something my followers and I are equally passionate about: unearthing a good beauty dupe. Beyond the obvious (it’s nice to spend less), there’s something gratifying in feeling like you’ve outsmarted the beauty industry. Whenever I discover a new dupe, I simply 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 even created a Reddit account just so I could contribute to a beauty-dupe-focused thread. 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 via a friend saying: “You wouldn’t believe the dupe I found.”

Last week, I put out the call on Instagram once again, asking my followers to share their all-time favorite beauty dupes and explain what formula they mimic and why they love it so much. Below, a selection — from the toner that replaced someone’s precious P50 to the essence that’s as effective (and half the price) of SK-II.

Dupe for NARS’s Primer

“I use this in place of NARS’s Primer. When applied properly, it holds up all day, doesn’t crease, and a tiny bit goes a long way. It’s slightly neutralizing and takes away redness and discoloration on the eyelid, so even if it’s just worn alone (without shadow) it makes your eyes look brighter. I love it.” — Emily Elisa, makeup artist

Dupe for Creme de la Mer Moisturizing Cream

$25 for 3

“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 $7 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 $120 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.” — Sofie Pavitt, esthetician

Dupe for Biologique Recherche P50

“I was a devout P50 user for years and thought that nothing could ever be as good, until I tried this toner from Moon Juice. It gave me those same intensely brightening, skin-clearing, and pore-tightening effects that P50 did when I first started using it. I know it’s not drugstore-cheap or anything, but it’s far cheaper than P50 (which is around $67 a bottle.)” — Maya Kambe, director of development of Paramount Animation

Dupe for Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in Rose Bronze

“The Milani Dolce Pink blush is my all-time favorite dupe for the Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in Rose Bronze. 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 $8!” — Joelle Hyman, associate visuals editor at Allure

Dupe for Benefit’s POREfessional Face Primer

“I used to love Benefit’s POREfessional Face Primer because it completely blurred and knocked out any pores or textural issues so that my skin was supersmooth 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.” — Phoebe Gillan, public-relations coordinator

Dupe for Glossier’s Haloscope

“I was on my way to an art fair in a rush and didn’t have time to stop home to put on makeup. So on a whim, I picked up this Maybelline strobing stick. And I loved it. It’s creamy, pearlescent, buildable (so it’s good for day and night), and cheap as fuck. This is such a good dupe for Glossier’s Haloscope.” — Sierra Pittman, art adviser’s assistant

Dupe for Dr. Barbara Sturm’s Enzyme Cleanser

“This is a dead-on dupe for Dr. Barbara Sturm’s ($75) Enzyme Cleanser. It smells and feels exactly the same and gives a really nice gentle, light exfoliation without overly stripping the skin.” — Elizabeth Kim, product developer

Dupe for Bioderma Sensibio

“I honestly haven’t thought about Bioderma since I bought this. There are a few versions of this micellar water, but I specifically love this all-in-one mattifying version. It’s the best because it gives me the same feeling Bioderma used to — velvety and matte without at all stripped.” — Kyle Smith, fashion content strategist

Dupe for First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream


“I love the First Aid Beauty Hydrating Cream, but this hydrating cream from Cerave is basically the exact same thing. It’s really hydrating and soothing and is the only thing I can use on my eczema without it freaking out.” — Jessica Leigh, artist

Dupe for Sephora Curling Iron

“I used to have a fancy curling iron from Sephora. One day, it broke and I really didn’t want to buy another expensive curler. So I decided I was going to try these curling coils. I never looked back! They’re so cheap, so comfortable, and you don’t need to use damaging hot tools. Also, it curls my hair in an hour, so I spend way less time thinking about and doing my hair.” — Paris Starn, designer of Paris99

Dupe for SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but … the Then I Met You Giving Essence is actually as good as SK-II. It’s equally as moisturizing, brightening, and replenishing on the skin. Admittedly, this is expensive. But it’s a quarter of the price of SK-II.” — Hayden Howard, student

Dupe for Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Hair Mask

“I bought it on a whim and noticed a difference after my first use. The mask made my hair so soft and helped calm frizziness and flyaways. I found it worked just as well as my previously beloved Briogeo Don’t Despair Mask. Plus I love that coconut oil and shea oil are among the first three ingredients.” — DeAnna Varilias, publicist

Dupe for Biologique VIP Crème

“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.” — Lili Chemla, creative director of Leset

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

The Convincing Skin-Care Dupes My Followers Filled Me In On