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Great Makeup Dupes for High-End Products

By Elise Marquam-Jahns May 02, 2024 Beauty

Today we’re going to be talking about something that’s become an intrinsic part of the makeup industry: makeup product dupes.

We’ve all been familiar with dupes for many years in the food and beverage industries. In those industries they’re called private label brands. Even department stores such as Macy’s have their own private label clothing brands.

There was a time – and you may also remember it – when you could count on one hand the number of drugstore makeup products that actually performed really well. High-end makeup ruled the beauty business for many years, but today we’ve reached a point where high-end and drugstore brands are really fighting it out for our beauty dollars.

Part of the reason for this battle is the proliferation of amazing dupes that drugstore brands have created. And who among us does not love a great bargain priced dupe for a far more expensive product? So in today’s article and video I’m going to be sharing a number of really excellent dupes and demonstrating a number of them.

Great Dupes for Brow Products

The first dupe I want to share with you is from the drugstore brand NYX. It’s their Micro Brow pencil which costs $11 dollars and is a great dupe for the $25.00 Anastasia of Beverly Hills (ABH) Brow Wiz. Both the size of the eyebrow pencil tip and the formula are very similar.

Since many drugstore and high-end brow products are made by the same manufacturer, a good drugstore dupe is a great alternative to a higher priced brow product. And by the way, the prices I’ll be referencing are the prices listed on the website of the brands. But it’s certainly possible to find a lower price for these products by doing a little searching.

If you’re looking for a great brow gel that holds those wiry brow hairs in place, Elf’s Brow Lift is a great dupe for the far more expensive ABH Brow Freeze. I recently purchased the new Rare Beauty brow gel called Harmony Flexible Lifting Gel for $17.00. The Rare Beauty product is really good, but I definitely plan to check out the Elf dupe.

Excellent Eyeshadow Palette Dupes

There have been some amazing dupes of high-end eyeshadow palettes – primarily through a company called Alter Ego. Currently, you’ll find 10 eyeshadow palettes on the Alter Ego website which include dupes of eyeshadow palettes from the higher priced brands Natasha Denona, Pat McGrath, ABH and Huda Beauty.

I have their dupe for the very expensive Natasha Denona “Metropolis” palette. Although there are some slight differences in the formulas of several of these Alter Ego eyeshadows, on the whole, this Alter Ego palette called “Artemis” is quite an amazing dupe.

And talk about a hefty price difference! Although the Natasha Denona palette is no longer available on her website, it did sell for $129.00 and the Artemis palette from Alter Ego costs $28.00. At the time I filmed the video, it was on sale for $20.00. And many of the other Alter Ego palettes are also on sale. In the video I create an eye look using the Natasha Denona palette on one eye and the Alter Ego palette on the other eye.

Blush, Highlighter and Lip Gloss Dupes

Now let’s have some fun with blush, highlighter and lip gloss dupes.


The Elf Putty blushes are a great dupe for the Fenty Beauty cream blushes, but today I’m going to focus on a liquid blush – specifically the Rare Beauty liquid blush in the shade “Happy” which costs $23.00 and the Elf Liquid Blush in the shade “Pinky Promise” which sells for $7.00. In the video I show comparison swatches of each of them.

I recently did a video that specifically focused on these new Elf liquid blushes. So if you’d like to learn more about them and see more of the colors, you can find the video here.

In today’s video I apply the Elf blush on one side of my face and the Rare beauty blush on the other side. Both are very pigmented, so to make sure I don’t end up with way too much blush, I’ll first put some of the blush on the back of my hand, then swirl my brush around in it and then dab some of the blush off the brush before I apply it.

Be sure to check out Elise’s YouTube channel which specifically focuses on makeup tips, techniques, and product reviews for those of us 50+. Don’t forget to subscribe!


Next, I have three different – and amazingly similar – highlighter dupes. The first dupe is another one from Elf. It’s their Halo Glow Liquid Filter which sells for $14.00. And this product is a dupe for Charlotte Tilbury’s far more expensive Flawless Filter which costs $49.00.

These products can be used in a variety of ways. They can be applied all over the face before applying foundation, they can be mixed with foundation to create a glowier look or they can be placed strategically on different areas of the face to highlight those areas. In the video I’ll show you how close these products are to each other in terms of both formula and color.

The next dupe is for another Rare Beauty product – their Positive Light liquid highlighter. And this time the dupe is from Wet and Wild. It’s Wet and Wild’s Megaglow Liquid Highlighter which has been one of my favorite highlighters for a very long time. The Rare Beauty product costs $25.00 and the Wet and Wild dupe is $5.00. In the video you can see the swatches.

There is a large size difference between these bottles, so I’m more than a little puzzled by the fact that they both say they contain point five fluid ounces of product. That is a bit of a mystery!

The next highlighter comparison is – I think – the most interesting one because it’s a dupe of an iconic Charlotte Tilbury product – her Beauty Light Wand highlighter in the shade “Spotlight” which retails for $42.00. This product comes in a sponge tip applicator squeeze tube and the color is unique. It’s described as a rose gold with silver light, and I’ll swatch it for you in the video. But weighing in at only $14.99 is a beautiful dupe from Flower Beauty in the shade “Opal” which is described as white gold.

I think you’ll be amazed at how similar the shades and formulas are. And, even though the Flower Beauty product is only $14.99, it – like the Charlotte Tilbury product – does have an applicator which can be twisted shut so the product doesn’t leak and get messy. In the video I’ll apply the Charlotte Tilbury highlighter in “Spotlight” on one side of my face and the Flower Beauty highlighter in “Opal” on the other side of my face to see if we can tell a difference.

Lip Glosses

Now let’s move on to lip gloss. In the video I already applied this gloss, so I’ll swatch it for you. It’s the Maybelline Lifter Gloss in the shade “Opal.” This Maybelline gloss comes in 15 shades and is priced at $10.99. It’s a pretty close dupe for the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb which sells for $21.00 and comes in 8 colors.

All of the Fenty glosses are shimmery but not all of the Maybelline colors come in a shimmer formula. In the video I’ll share the Fenty Beauty gloss in a really stunning shade called “Fuchsia Flex” which used to be a limited edition shade but has now become a permanent shade in the Gloss Bomb lineup.

Other Interesting Dupes – Including Foundations

So those are all the dupes I have to demonstrate for you today, but I do want to share with you a few other dupes that I thought you might find particularly interesting. I’ve not actually tried these dupes, but I’ve heard from others that these products are quite good.

Two of them are dupes for well known foundations. The first one, L’Oreal Infallible 24 Hr. Fresh Wear Foundation, is a dupe for one of my favorite foundations from Nars – their “Light Reflecting Skincare Foundation” – which I’m wearing today.

The other foundation dupe is from the drugstore brand NYX. It’s their “Born to Glow” Foundation which is a dupe for the “Luminous Foundation” from ABH.  

The Elf “Hydrating Camo Concealer” is a dupe for the “Born This Way” concealer from Too Faced. And the mascara from Too Faced – called “Better Than Sex” – is very similar to L’Oreal’s “Lash Paradise Mascara” which is excellent.

And there’s also an interesting powder dupe for Laura Mercier’s Iconic translucent loose powder. It’s the powder from No. 7.

I hope you found this dupe rundown helpful. And if you’ve found any great dupes for high-end products, please let us know about them in the comment section below.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you enjoy using dupes of high-end makeup products? Do you have a favorite dupe you especially love? If so, please share the name of the dupe below.

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Sue McKnight

Do you have any suggestions for eyelashes? Mascara for thin eyelashes? I wish I could afford LATISSE!

Elise Marquam Jahns

Hi, Sue–Unfortunately, some of the eyelash growth serums have ingredients that can be harmful to the eyes, so a good mascara is a wise choice. If you have sensitive eyes, several clean beauty mascaras that are excellent are ones from Tower Beauty and Gwen Stefani’s brand GIVE. Other good drugstore mascaras are L’Oreal’s Lash Paradise and their newest one called Panorama, Maybelline Sky High and Lash Princess from Essence. Hope this helps!


What I want to know about dupes is not just how they look right after you put it on, but how well they last. Some drugstore brands do not have enough intensity in the pigments and are off the face in a short time.

Elise Marquam Jahns

Hi, Faxon–You are so right that it’s important to know how well they perform and last in the long run. I appreciate your pointing this out and should have mentioned it in the video. All the products I mentioned definitely performed well for a good period of time and had a good amount of pigment. Even the eyeshadow palette from Alter Ego initially applied well and the pigments were long lasting. However, over an extended period of time–two years–they lost their initial long lasting and more pigmented quality.


I agree with Peggy’s comments. While I love to save money on cosmetics, many of us, including myself, have very sensitive skin so it’s important to include “clean” cosmetic brands. A great resource that I always use to see how safe the products are is EWG’s skindeep website. I don’t purchase any cosmetics or personal products without looking them up first. Check it out!


For me – it’s my lips that have become extremely sensitive. I have yet to find a lip gloss or lipstick that doesn’t burn my lips for days after I have used it. Believe me I’ve tried. Recently made a trip to the drug store and purchased several different products. None of which I could wear. HELP! These faded lips are dragging my face down.

Elise Marquam Jahns

Hi, Laura–Have you tried any lip products from some of the well established clean beauty brands? Some of the clean beauty brands that I’ve found to be top notch are Kosas, Ilia, Doll 10, Tower Beauty, RMS and Kjaer Weis. However, even though I have extremely sensitive eyes, some of the clean beauty brand mascaras don’t work for me, but some do. Since we all react differently to product ingredients, trial and error testing is unfortunately sometimes our only option. And as Jojo mentioned above, sometimes it can also be helpful to check out the ratings of skincare and makeup products on the EWG (Environmental Working Group) website.

Elise Marquam Jahns

Hi, Jojo–thanks so much for mentioning the EWG website. It’s a fantastic resource for those of us with sensitive skin as well as for those of us who just want to be aware of product ingredients.


Love the premise of this article! But bear in mind some of us have very sensitive skin and eyes and you should address this problem too with cheaper brands. And what about mascara and eyeliner? Mascara can really clump and eyeliner is so hard to remove these days. And ridiculously long eyelashes and slightly bushy eyebrows seem to be the style now!


I have been using along handled small brush and powdered eye-shadow for my brows for years and it really works. Easy to remove, and much softer on the lids than eyeliner, either wet or pencil. It also gives that nice “smokey” look when used where you would ordinarily use eyeliner.

Elise Marquam Jahns

Hi, Louise–I definitely agree with you on how well eyeshadow performs on our brows. And eyeshadow is also a great substitute for eyeliner. In fact, it not only performs beautifully (although some eyeshadows are longer lasting than others as eyeliner so you do have to do some testing), but multi-tasking with eyeshadow on our brows and as our eyeliner is also a great way to save money.

Elise Marquam Jahns

Hi, Peggy–Yes, those of us with sensitive skin and eyes definitely have to be especially careful in the products we use. For many of us, clean beauty products are a wonderful alternative. Although even some of the clean beauty products will work for some of us and not for others of us. And even within the same clean beauty brand, some of the products might work well for us and others might not. For instance, I have very sensitive eyes and some clean beauty mascaras irritate my eyes and others don’t, but I definitely haven’t been able to yet find a drugstore mascara that works for me although there might be one out there that I haven’t yet found. As Jojo points out above, the EWG website (Environmental Working Group) is a great way to find products that might work the best for those of us with very sensitive skin and eyes.

The Author

Elise Marquam-Jahns is a professional makeup artist who is passionate about helping women 50+ get their glow back. She is the founder of Boomer and Beyond Beauty and runs the “Boomer and Beyond Beauty with Elise” YouTube channel. Elise has authored the free guide The Top Four Research-Proven Makeup Techniques That Help Us Look Our Best Now.

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