Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Beauty

Makeup Dupes & Alternatives for High-End Products

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

Many people wear makeup;  not just women and not just people who are insecure. For many, makeup is a form of art and self-expression. However, it is also a multi million dollar industry and the reason it is like this is because it costs a lot of money.

YouTuber Shane Dawson has created a series he did with Jeffree Star,  the owner and creator of Jeffree Star Cosmetics, billionaire, and gender non-conforming business mogul. Jeffree revealed in the series that many high end makeup brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills and Kylie Cosmetics would make a palette that costs them $3 dollars to make (since they make it in China) but then sell it for $40 dollars. Now, when I heard that, I felt like I was being scammed. Sometimes we are just paying for the name of the brand. While owning fancy products might be nice, often times, the quality isn’t any different from a drugstore product. Sometimes I find that cheaper products can work better. So I decided to put together a list of some of the most popular, most coveted high end makeup products and provide some budget friendly options of products that work the same or even better. However, sometimes the bigger price tag equals better quality and I will show those products too.


  • Expensive: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Pomade ($21), or Benefit Gimme Brow ($24)
  • Cheap: Elf Brow Pomade ($4)



  • Expensive:
    • Estee Lauder Double Wear ($43) — this one is actually worth the price
    • Too Faced Born This Way Foundation ($39)
    • Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r ($39) — also worth the price
  • Cheap:
    • L’Oreal Infallible Foundation ($13) — Has matte and hydrating versions for different skin types
    • Maybelline Fit Me ($5) — I hate this one because it makes me oily, but it is a favorite for many


  • Expensive: Tarte Shape Tape ($27) — It’s literally the number 1 concealer, and for good reason! It’s great!
  • Cheap: LA Girl Pro Concealer ($5) — I say it’s just as good, and it’s cheaper if you buy it at WalMart. 

Setting Powder

  • Expensive
    • Laura Mercier ($39) — Another one that is worth the price tag
    • Sacha Buttercup ($22) — This is great if you have darker skin
    • Beauty Bakerie ($24) — This one has shades for every skin tone, with cute packaging as well!
  • Cheap: NYX Setting Powder ($6)

Beauty Sponges

  • Expensive: Beauty Blender ($20) — Way too much for a sponge!
  • Cheap: Real Techniques ($6), or Morphe ($8) — I’ve never tried the Morphe sponge, but I’ve heard great things


Most brushes that are popular are actually at a reasonable price. The expensive ones are usually designer brands.

  • Expensive: Mark Jacobs Collection ($78)
  • Cheap:

    • Morphe brush sets ($20-70) — The YouTuber collabs are more expensive. Individual Morphe brushes range from $6-20

    • Elf brush sets ($12-30) or individual brushes ($1-8) – With some brushes, you get what you pay for, but some are great.
    • BH Cosmetics brush sets ($20)



  • Expensive: There are soooo many palette options because now, every beauty YouTuber has one out, but I would say that some of the most popular ones are:
    • James Charles x Morphe ($39)
    • Any Anastasia Beverly Hills palette ($42-$50)
    • Any Jeffree Star Cosmetics palette ($45-$58)
  • Cheap: Drug store eyeshadow is tempting, but in my experience and with my skin tone they aren’t worth it.
    • Any Morphe palette that is not a collab ($12-$30)
    • Any Juvia’s Place palette ($15-$20)
    • Any BH Cosmetics palette ($20 and under)

Setting Spray

  • Expensive: Mac Fix Plus+ ($28) — Very famous,  never used it though. I can’t justify paying that much for water I am going to spray on my face.
  • Cheap: Morphe Setting Spray ($16), NYX Setting Spray ($9), or Elf Setting Spray ($5) — My personal favorite

Lip Color

  • Expensive:
    • Kylie Cosmetics lip kits ($29) or individual lip products ($18)
    • Bare Minerals ($18)
    • I love both these products actually. The bare minerals glosses are amazing. Anastasia Beverly Hills and Mac also have amazing lip products. All of them are $18. Almost all high end lip products are this price. 
  • Cheap:
    • Wet ‘n’ Wild ($1-4) — Cheap, easy, and they work!
    • Maybelline lip products ($6-9)– although their liquid lipsticks are drying
    • Colourpop lip products ($7) — love them!
    • NYX Butter Glosses ($3-5)


  • Expensive:
    • Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes ($40) — I wish they sold them individually because there is always only one color which is amazing but I don’t like the rest
    • Fenty Killawatt Highlighter ($36) — Everything Fenty is amazing but also costs a lot.
  • Cheap: Wet ‘n’ Wild highlighters ($5) — Soooo pigmented, sometimes even better than the high end ones


  • Expensive: Lilly Lashes ($30) — The most famous; they are so pretty and sooo expensive
  • Cheap:
    • Ardell ($4) — Reasonably priced, and good
    • Kiss ($4) — Similar to Ardell
    • Beauty Supply Store lashes ($6) — They have dramatic faux mink lashes which I love. They look more expensive than they are, and I love the drama

There are other products — like mascara, primer blush, contour, and liner — but I think they are product categories for which the drugstore version would work just fine. If you’re looking for high-end version, Mac is a pretty good bet, as is Benefit for mascara.

I hope this helps, whether you are a person who is into makeup looking for some new products on a budget, or someone who wants to delve into the high end spectrum and wants to know what’s worth it. Also for people who don’t wear makeup at all who want a place to start on their makeup journey.


Elyce Afrifa

Conn Coll '22

I was born and raised in Bronx, NY. I attended Herbert H Lehman High School where she participated in an acting club. I currently attend Connecticut College in New London, CT where I plans to major in biology and minor in theater. I am also on the Women's Rugby Team and apart of Wig and Candle the acting club here. I also am a big fan of many TV shows, Shameless, The Flash and Big Brother to name a few.
Her Campus Conn Coll