By Georgia Norton / Lion Staff
To anyone unfamiliar with the beauty product realm, Becca, Anastasia, and Kat Von D could easily be strangers on a sidewalk, and it might sound nothing short of obscene to spend $32 on a single Fenty Cheek-Hugging Highlight brush, but to a Sephora VIB Rouge member (a highly-esteemed title earned by spending over $1,000 at Sephora in one calendar year) the concept is as familiar as family.
Although I am no VIB Rouge (yet), I still find myself spending an ugly price each trip through the Tarte and Too Faced aisles, and one day, while eyeing a tempting new $30 product that I already own eight different versions of, an idea struck me.
Could it be that the drugstore products I so often turn my nose up at on my way to the gum aisle are just as good as their triple-priced counterparts? Could I live in a world where I could buy four mascaras for the price of one Benefit BTS? The prospect was tempting, and so the next day, I set out to Walgreens to see how many cult-products I could dupe -- you know, for the sake of journalism. (For all you makeup newbs, a dupe ismeans a cheaper, equally effective product.)
1.Tarte Shape Tape concealer ($27) for the No7 Cover Blemish Stick ($11.99)
I’ve been relying on Shape Tape for years to cover my under-eye circles and ease the look of having been repeatedly punched in the face due to chronic lack of sleep, and the high-coverage, blendable formula has done the trick.
While browsing the overwhelming selection of drugstore concealers, this one stuck out with it’s minimalist packaging and a brand name I’d never even heard of. I admit, the price is heavy for a drugstore product, but I decided to give it a try anyways.
First impressions: This concealer was disappointing. The stick applicator is obviously different from Shape Tape’s creamy, liquid formula, and it is very dry. Honestly, I have no idea why I thought this would even be a close dupe because the products are about as different as concealers get. SureNonetheless, it covered pretty well, but unfortunately, that’s all it offered. It wasn’t blendable and it was incredibly dry.
How it Held Up: Long story short, it didn’t. Okay, I did go on a long run which probably would’ve killed any concealer, but this one faded exceptionally fast due to the almost-powdery formula. Because of the first-day-fail, I gave it one more shot. Unfortunately, though I didn’t sweat it off this day, it was incredibly patchy as soon as I applied it and only got worse throughout the day. It did stay on for a long time, so it might be good for covering small blemishes, but it didn’t work on large areas like under-eye circles because it was just so ridiculously cakey.
Listen, this is no Shape Tape. If you (like me) are used to a higher-end concealer, this will not cut it. I have absolutely no idea how it has a 4-4.5 star rating, and this concealer was, to put it gently, a colossal disappointment. It’s really expensive forwhere CVS is concerned and it doesn’t look nice. I liked that it was matte, and it’s probably good for smaller areas, but aside from that, I got nothing.
2. Benefit Brow Zings ($32) for Soap and Glory Archery DIY Brow Bar ($18)
Okay. This one was expensive. I seriously considered not trying it, but hear me out.
When I saw this kit, I was instantly reminded of Brow Zings, my go-to brow kit. Both kits come with two angled brushes, brow wax, and powder, but while Benefit stops there, Soap and Glory also gives a second, lighter powder, an arch highlight, and a spoolie brush. I looked it up before the purchase and it has the exact same rating on Ulta (a generous 4.6/5) as Brow Zings and said that 100% of respondents would recommend it. I was intrigued, to say the least.
First Impressions: Wow. Okay, I think we have a winner. The spoolie brush was actually extremely useful and the wax applied easily to keep brows in place. The powder brush was worse than Benefit’s because it was less precise, but the two different colors of powder made for a more natural look. The highlight surprised me and was a cream, rather than a powder, so it looked very natural.
How it Held Up: The wax in Soap and Glory’s version held up SO MUCH better than Benefit’s, and my brows kept perfect shape all day. The powder gripped the wax to also lock in place, so none of the pigment faded. This product withstood my run (the same on that the concealer couldn’t deal with) and stayed on all day! I was very impressed.
This price is almost high end, I get it, but it’s still a whopping $14 cheaper than Benefit’s. The kit comes with double the product, an extra brush, and cute packaging, and it holds up better than Brow Zings. Where it falters is the number of The only places it falters are that it’s sort of annoying how many more steps it takesthere are to apply this one (wax, powder powder again, imprecise powder brush slows down the application process, etc. versus Brow Zings gel and then powder), but overall, this is a score.
3. Laura Mercier Foundation Primer ($38) for Milani Prime Light Strobing + Pore Minimizing Primer ($9.99)
I was into this one because it’s strobing, which is a really big trend right now. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it basically means it makes your skin “glowy” and highlighted.
First Impressions: This felt okay to begin with, it was smooth and applied easily, honestly a little too smooth. It didn’t have much “grip” for a foundation to go on top, which is the entire point of a primer, but it did strobe very well, actually too well… it almost looked oily.
How it Held Up: I wore half a face or the laura mercier primer and half of the milani to really compare. Honestly, they both looked the same with a BB cream overtop, both gave a dewy, hydrated eaffect. Despite this, the Milani primer did not keep my makeup on and quite frankly, it did nothing.
I’m not impressed. This, quite honestly, was a waste of money. It’s fine, but it doesn’t do its job, so if you’re actually trying to keep your makeup on all day, I suggest you splurge on the good stuff. Sorry.
4. Benefit POREfessional ($31) for Maybelline Baby Skin Pore Eraser ($6.99)
Please. Don’t fail me Maybelline. I’ve had too many disappointments in pursuit of this article.
First impressions: Okay, a little goes a long way with this product, but it does the job. The product really does blur out pores. It’s so soft- almost greasy, but thankfully not quite- and it fills pores and creases very well. It’s perhaps a bit heavy, but honestly, I didn’t mind.
How it held up: I’m happy to say that this worked well! I wore it as a base under my BB cream and it kept my skin looking really nice all day. The product is a bit greasy, but because my skin is combination -not oily- it wasn’t a problem. It was very gentle so my skin also wasn’t irritated which is impressive since it’s sensitive.
Honestly? I recommend it. My skin looked really nice and I feel like it filled pores and creases just as well as POREfessional does. Obviously it isn’t perfect, but what were we expecting, it’s almost ⅙ of the price. If your skin is oily or acne prone, maybe stray away from this, but overall I liked this a lot.
Now, I’m not saying I’ll give up my overpriced and unnecessary product obsession, but maybe next time, I’ll stop for a minute before impulse purchasing more than my savings worth. If I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that sometimes, you get what you pay for. But, there are also gems hidden on the CVS shelves, and, if you’re willing to hunt and sacrifice that prestigious VIB Rouge title, these beauty dupes could save you a fortune.