1. L’Oréal Voluminous Mascara vs Dior Diorshow Mascara
Left: L’Oreal Voluminous Mascara; Right:Dior Diorshow Mascara
The Similarities: L’Oreal Voluminous is one of the most popular mascara dupes out there and for good reason. It has the same tapered brush shape as the award-winning Diorshow, which helps separate and elongate lashes.
Main Difference: The Dior has a clumpier formulation which tends to dry out easily and produce flakes. L’Oreal goes on much more smoothly and evenly. Both black mascaras look totally indistinguishable when on.
The Verdict: Save your money and go for L’Oreal.
2. Sleek Blush in Rose Gold vs Nars Orgasm Blush
Left: Sleek Rose Blush; Right: Nars Orgasm Blush
The Similarities: There are plenty of dupes for this best-selling Nars product, but Sleek Rose Gold is one of the closest. Both have the same shimmery pink with tiny gold flecks.
Main Difference: The matte Nars case definitely feels more luxurious. The Sleek is highly pigmented, while Nars is more finely-milled and requires more building up. Both have the same flattering shimmer, although Sleek is a slightly brighter pink while Nars leans more towards coral.
The Verdict: If you’re looking for a more natural look, Nars is your blush. But you can’t beat Sleek for sheer value for money.
3. MUA 12 Shade Undressed Palette vs Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette
Top row: Urban Decay Naked Eyeshadow Palette; Bottom row: MUA 12 Shade Undressed Palette
The Similarities: Both palettes contains highly pigmented 10 metallic shades and two matte ones. Almost every MUA colour matches up to one in the Urban Decay palette.
Main Difference: The MUA eyeshadows are slightly chalkier, but the shimmery shades are just as intense if you layer them on. The matte colours are a bit too powdery to do anything. The brush in the Urban Decay palette is from their cruelty-free collection, while the MUA applicator is pretty cheap and throwaway.
The Verdict: MUA gets the job done at a fraction of the cost. Plus Urban Decay’s velvet case with “NAKED” in gold letters is a bit “night out at the Moulin Rouge”, you know?
4. No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter vs Benefit Watts Up
Left: No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter; Right: Benefit Watts Up
The Similarities:These highlighters come in a wind-up stick and deliver a dewy glow to cheekbones. The creamy formulation glides on and dries quickly to a powdery finish.
Main Difference: Watts Up has an obvious golden sheen while the No7 is a more subtle champagne pink. Benefit also includes a fairly useless built-in foam eraser to blend the highlighter into your skin. (Seriously, just use your fingers.)
The Verdict: The Benefit might be better for darker or more tanned skin. The No7 is a great drugstore bargain, especially if you nab one of those £5 off vouchers from Boots.
5. Rimmel Kate Matte Lipstick in Kiss Of Life 111 vs MAC Ruby Woo
Left: Rimmel Kate Matte Lipstick in Kiss Of Life 111; Right: Mac Ruby Woo
The Similarities: The super-saturated crimson colour is identical, right down to its intensity and blue undertones.
Main Difference: Ruby Woo is very, VERY matte. It works best with some lip balm slicked over the top so your lips don’t dry out. The Rimmel is slightly more moisturising, although it’s marketed as a matte lipstick too. Once Ruby Woo sets, it’s impossible to smear, while Rimmel lasted for about five hours.
The Verdict: Definitely Rimmel. When it’s on, nobody can tell the difference between it and Ruby Woo.
6. Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer vs YSL Touche Eclat
Left: Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Concealer in Ivory; Right: YSL Touche Eclat in Luminous Ivory
The Similarities: Both Touche Eclat and the Maybelline contain light-reflecting particles to brighten the under-eye area. The formulations feel equally creamy and are dispensed in a pen.
Main Difference: YSL does ten colour options, while the Maybelline has a disappointingly limited collection of three shades. Touche Eclat offers noticeably lighter coverage, though it creases less than the Maybelline and doubles up as a highlighting pen.
The Verdict: Neither. Touche Eclat doesn’t work too well as a concealer, but the Maybelline dries out too easily. But if I had to pick, I’d go with YSL, if only because they cater for a wider range of skin tones.
7. MUA Bronzer in Bronzed Perfection vs NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna
Left: MUA Bronzer in Bronzed Perfection; Right: Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna
The Similarities: These bronzers are a matching shade of tawny brown. Both claim to have a slight shimmer but it’s not anything that shows up too obviously in the compact.
Main Difference: The shades look identical, but their formulations are totally different. The MUA bronzer is chalkier and needs to be patted on, while NARS has a finer texture and can be easily built up in sheer layers. NARS also looks more natural on fairer skin.
The Verdict: NARS is a better investment, because the subtle colour suits pretty much anyone. But if you’re looking to experiment with bronzer, you can’t go wrong with the £3 MUA.
8. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge vs Beautyblender
Left: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge; Right: Beautyblender
The Similarities: Both sponges are “ergonomically-designed” (whatever that means) to give foundation an even, finished look.
Main Difference: The flat edge of the Real Techniques sponge makes it way easier to use around the eyes, but the Beautyblender holds foundation better without soaking it up too much. The two sponges feel markedly different; the Real Techniques feels more like a conventional makeup sponge, while the Beautyblender has a firmer, suede-like texture.
The Verdict: I used the Real Techniques sponge to apply foundation on the left side of the face and Beautyblender with the other. There is NO DIFFERENCE, so I’m going with Real Techniques. Who wants to spend £16 on a sponge?
9. Maybelline EyeStudio Colour Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow in Creamy Beige vs MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork
Left: Maybelline EyeStudio Colour Tattoo 24hr Cream Gel Eyeshadow in Creamy Beige; Right: Mac Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork
The Similarities: These smoky taupe eyeshadows are matte and extra creamy. They make great bases for other shades but take a little while to dry.
Main Difference: The Maybelline creases a little faster than MAC, which is more durable. You get 1g more of product with MAC, but it still works out more expensive than the Maybelline. Otherwise, the two shades are exactly the same.
The Verdict: The Maybelline is a totally faultless dupe. If you’re super worried about creasing, use a eyeshadow primer first.
10. Sleek Brow Kit in Light vs Benefit Brow Zing in Light
Left: Sleek Brow Kit in Light; Right: Benefit Brow Zing in Light
The Similarities: Twinsies! The packaging is exactly the same, right down to the two miniature brushes and ridiculously tiny and very fiddly tweezer. You’re meant to brush on the pigmented wax and set it with powder.
Main Difference: Sleek offers four shades (light, dark, extra dark and black) while Benefit only do three. The Sleek eyebrow wax and powders are pretty much indistinguishable from Benefit in terms of texture.
The Verdict: Sleek, hands down. Girls with darker eyebrows need love too.
11. Essie Nail Polish in Sole Mate vs Dior Vernis in Nuit 1947
Left: Dior Vernis in Nuit 1947; Right: Essie Nail Polish in Sole Mate
The Similarities: Nuit 1947 and Sole Mate are both dead ringers for Chanel’s best-selling (and more expensive) Rouge Noir, a vampy deep burgundy that’s great for winter.
Main Difference: Dior leans slightly towards a darker shade and has a thicker, more jelly-like consistency. If you painted an extra layer of Sole Mate on, you’d probably achieve the same depth of colour. The main selling point of Dior? Its precision brush is wide, flat and rounded at the tip for ultra-easy application.
The Verdict: The Dior brush is a total game-changer if you’re hopeless at painting your nails. If not, go for Essie.
12. Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner vs Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner
Left: Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black; Right:Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink
The Similarities: Maybelline’s Blackest Black and Bobbi Brown’s Black Ink are a true, rich black – comparable to MAC’s bestselling Fluidline gel liner in Blacktrack. Both water-resistant gel liners come in a little glass tub and are ophthalmologist tested for use on sensitive eyes.
Main Difference: The Maybelline has a creamier consistency that doesn’t adhere to the lashline as well as Bobbi Brown. It also smudges faster than Bobbi Brown, which lasts all day if you use a good primer. I swear Bobbi Brown is also slightly blacker than Maybelline, although that doesn’t show up on the eyelids. Maybelline, however, does throw in a surprisingly high-quality stiff eyeliner brush.
The Verdict: You can’t beat the classic Bobbi Brown liner. It’s got an amazing rep for a reason.
13. No7 Skin Illuminator Radiance Boosting Beauty Fluid vs Smashbox Halo Highlighting Wand
Left: Smashbox Halo Highlighting Wand in Pearl; Right: No7 Skin Illuminator Radiance Boosting Beauty Fluid in Pink
The Similarities: These creamy highlighters lend a luminous shimmer to cheekbones and eyelids. Think glimmer-y, not glittery. No7 and Smashbox both do a gold version and one that comes in pearly pink. Both have a very subtle brightening effect.
Main Difference: Smashbox comes in a narrow pen, which makes it a breeze to use in tricky areas like under the brow. The No7 comes in a honking big flat brush, so it’s best to fingers to apply as a highlighter. The Pearl highlighter from Smashbox has a slightly darker flesh tone which looks more natural on darker skin.
The Verdict: The No7 wins hands down; you get a general highlighter and an all-over radiance fluid in one. The big brush does get annoying though.
14. Rimmel Colour Rush Stain in Not An Illusion vs Clinique Chubby Stick in Mega Melon
Left: Rimmel Colour Rush Stain in Not An Illusion; Right:Clinique Chubby Stick in Mega Melon
The Similarities: Clinique’s cult balm-meets-lipstick has spawned legions of imitations, but not too many match up in terms of colour options. Rimmel not only has similar packaging, but has an identical nude pink called Not An Illusion.
Main Difference: The Rimmel has a noticeable vanilla scent, while the Clinique is fragrance-free and contains a few more moisturising ingredients like shea butter and jojoba seed oil. You also get 0.5g more product with Clinique. Other than that, both are pretty much the same in terms of staying power and pigment.
The Verdict: It’s gotta be the Rimmel. But the Clinique might be a better option if you’re allergic to fragrance or your lips are drier than the Sahara.