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10 less expensive swaps for luxury beauty products

10 less expensive swaps for luxury beauty products
Posted at 7:30 AM, Oct 19, 2023

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Do you have to strike it rich to afford high-quality skincare and beauty products? Sometimes it feels that way. After all, not everyone can shell out over $100 a bottle for an award-winning foundation or wrinkle-fighting serum.

But imagine learning that there are affordable versions of luxury products — and that they’re just as effective at what they do. What if you could moisturize your skin and line your eyes and gloss your lips (and all the rest) while keeping to a responsible budget?

It’s not a pipe dream.

“Luxury doesn’t have­ to come with an exclusive price­ tag,” says Sarah Roberts, a licensed beauty and skincare consultant/specialist and the founder of the site A Beauty Edit. In fact, industry insiders like her can tell which “beauty dupes” are credible just by looking at the ingredients list.

“When opting for budget-friendly products, remember to consider your specific skin type and needs,” says Ryan Thompson, editor of the style guide Men’s Flair. “But several dupes [of luxury products] can help you achieve a similar look and quality without the premium price tag.”

MORE: Makeup artists’ top tricks to help you look more awake

So, we asked three experts in the field to offer their recommendations for less expensive — but equally effective — swaps for 10 popular beauty and skin care products. Read on and consider which product you might try in place of a much pricier one.

Luxury Product: SK-II’s Facial Tre­atment Essence, $190 for 5 fluid ounces

This Japanese facial treatment is a cult favorite among women hoping to reduce the signs of aging skin. Its star ingredient is a fermented yeast strain called Pitera, which is designed to lock in moisture, improve elasticity and give skin a more youthful look.

Less Expensive Swap: Missha Time Revolution The First Tre­atment Essence, $29.98 for 5.07 fluid ounces


$29.98 at Walmart

An excellent swap for that high-end essence? Try Missha Time Revolution The First Tre­atment Essence Rx — which also contains powerful ingredients that tackle the signs of aging.

“This budge­t-friendly option contains fermente­d yeast extract similar to Pitera, which he­lps improve your skin’s radiance and texture­ without breaking the bank,” says Roberts.

Luxury Product: Drunk Elephant’s TLC Sukari Babyfacial, $80 for 1.69 fluid ounces

Drunk Elephant’s “pro-quality AHA/BHA facial” is extremely popular, and for good reason. Its fans swear by its ability to give their skin a radiant glow. It has a 25% concentration of AHAs (a blend of glycolic, tartaric, lactic, and citric acids),  which makes it very effective at treating wrinkles, uneven skin tone and unsightly pores. It also has a 2% BHA concentration of salicylic acid, which exfoliates and reduces oil.

Less Expensive Swap: The­ Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution, $9.50 for 1 ounce


$9.50 at Ulta

But take a look at the ingredients in The­ Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution. This product has even more AHAs and the same level of BHAs — for a much better price.

“If you’re looking for an exfoliation tre­atment without breaking the bank, The­ Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution is a great option,” says Roberts. “This product de­livers similar benefits and effectively and affordably resurface­s your skin, improving its tone and texture.”

Luxury Product: MacStack Mascara, $28

The MacStack has been all the rage on social media, with people going bananas for its clump-free formula that allows you to build on multiple coats for a dramatic look and no smudging. People also like how long it lasts (though the downside is that it can be hard to remove).

Less Expensive Swap: Maybelline Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara, $12.99


$12.99 at Ulta

Lots of beauty editors also recommend Maybelline’s answer to the MacStack. Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara delivers a dramatic look, too — though it accomplishes this through an effective delivery system. Its Flex Tower mascara brush bends to extend the lashes from root to tip, which in turn boosts their volume. (It’s also easier to remove.)

MORE: 8 basic makeup essentials to keep in your makeup bag

Luxury Product: La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Luxe­ Cream, $595 for 1.7 ounces

This iconic face moisturizer harnesses the power of caviar — yes, fish eggs — to smooth, moisturize and firm the skin. The fact that the brand is still going strong (despite selling its creams for the price of a nice living room couch) attests to its beloved status among skincare purists. But the extravagant price tag forces most people to look for other options.

Less Expensive Swap: L’Oreal Age Pe­rfect Cell Rene­wal Moisturizer, $18.97 for 1.7 ounces


$18.97 at Amazon

Luckily, you can pick up some L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect day cream for a much more reasonable price. And while it doesn’t contain caviar, it does feature components proven to moisturize and firm aging skin.

“This more affordable­ alternative is enriche­d with powerful ingredients like­ Natecium DHC and hyaluronic acid to keep your skin looking youthful and we­ll-hydrated,” says Roberts.

Luxury Product: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, $69 for 1 fluid ounce

Armani’s foundation has been appearing on beauty editors’ “best of” lists for years, mostly due to its patented Micro-fil technology. Basically, this liquid foundation is said to lay flat across the contours and rough patches of your face, making fine lines and wrinkles seem to disappear.

Less Expensive Swap: Maybelline Fit Me Dewy + Smooth Foundation, $6.94 for 1 fluid ounce


$6.94 at Amazon


Maybelline’s drugstore foundation is also known for smoothing over rough patches — for a much lower price.

Thompson says, “Maybelline’s option gives a similar radiant finish at a fraction of the cost.”

Another less expensive option is L’Oréal ParisTrue Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup. This foundation is hydrating, contains antioxidants, and is formulated for all skin types.

“It’s a great dupe for the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, as it provides a glowing finish and has an extensive array of shades,” says Liis Hainla, a beauty and skincare expert and editor-in-chief at Vegan Avenue.

Luxury Product: Dior Addict Lip Maximizer, $40

This pricey lip gloss has scores of fans on TikTok, where it’s beloved for being long-lasting (it claims to offer up to six hours of volume and shine) without being sticky. And there are a plethora of shades to choose from.

Less Expensive Swap: e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Plumping Gloss, $7


$7 at Ulta

But Hainla says she’s experienced “the same advantageous effects at a much cheaper price” from e.l.f. Cosmetics Lip Plumping Gloss.

Thompson also recommends this gloss. “It offers plumping and glossy lips without breaking the bank,” he says.

Luxury Product: Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Contour Duo, $76

This liquid contour product has a cushion applicator to help you blend and sculpt your cheekbones, nose and jawline. People especially love it for helping them carve out gorgeously defined cheekbones. In fact, they love it so much that it’s often out of stock.

Less Expensive Swap: NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick, $11.94



$11.94 (was $14) at Amazon

The truth? There are other contouring options out there — and at a much more affordable price. Tilbury’s magic wand may be easily replaced by NYX Professional Makeup Wonder Stick, says Hainla — who’s found that NYX’s product also works “for effective contouring and highlighting.”

Thompson seconds this suggestion. It also happens to be on sale at Amazon right now.

And if you like Charlotte Tilbury’s Hollywood Contour Duo for its “dewy glow” effect, Thompson also recommends L’Oréal True Match Lumi Glow Amour Glow Boosting Drops.

MORE: Makeup remover pads are eco-friendly alternatives to disposable makeup wipes

Luxury Product: Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Eyeliner, $25

This powerful, long-lasting, opaque eyeliner sets the standard for liquid eyeliners. It gets rave reviews for how easily it slides on. It’s also waterproof and smudge-proof and doesn’t need much time to set.

Less Expensive Swap: NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner, $7.99


$7.99 at Amazon

NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner shares many of the same features people love about Kat Von D’s liner. It’s also opaque, waterproof, long-lasting and easy to apply. While the jet-black color isn’t quite as dark, its drugstore price makes it a great option if you’re on a budget.

Luxury Product: Clé de Peau Beauté Concealer SPF 27, $75 for .17 ounces

Widely considered the creme de la creme of concealers, this iconic product gets rave reviews from industry insiders. People say it doesn’t just conceal flaws but also makes skin look naturally airbrushed — especially under the eyes. Unfortunately, it’s priced to match its illustrious reputation.

Less Expensive Swap: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer, $8.80 for .2 fluid ounces


$8.80 (was $9.99) at Walmart

Among those in the know, Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer also has a reputation — for being a great alternative to Cledeapeau’s product.

“It offers great coverage, but it’s quite affordable,” says Hainla. Thompson seconds that notion, adding that it also “brightens the under-eye area effectively.” And it’s on sale at Walmart right now.

Luxury Product: Pat McGrath Labs LiquiLUST Legendary Wear Lipstick, $34

Liquid lipstick with a matte finish can be drying. That’s why so many people love this lipstick’s creamy-feel-with-a-matte-finish combination. It’s also easy to apply and lasts up to 12 hours. And Pat McGrath’s wide range of colors means you’re certain to find one you love.

MORE: This face massager can be a relaxing addition to your skincare routine

Less Expensive Swap: ColourPop Lux Liquid Lipstick, $10



$10 at Ulta


Happily, ColourPop’s lipsticks also have lots of color options and a similar knack for maintaining its creaminess. It’s also incredibly easy to apply.

As Thompson points out, “it comes in various shades and has great color payoff.”

This story originally appeared on Don't Waste Your Money.