Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Beauty

The Biggest Dupe Of Them All: The Makeup Industry

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Maybe you relate, but it seems that out of nowhere my For You Page (fyp) on TikTok has been flooded with creators promoting different products, specifically from e.l.f.. It seems these products are everywhere I look. Where did they come from? Are they really the same as using the original? With the rise of TikTok Shop and everyone being able to earn commission from product promotion, it makes it difficult to trust if someone truly believes in the product. We must ask ourselves, “is buying the original worth it?”.

Some ask how e.l.f. gets away with selling products that are so similar to other companies’. To avoid any legal complications, all companies who want to replicate products need to make sure that the packaging clearly shows that the product they are selling is not the product they are duping. As you might have noticed, the e.l.f. packaging usually does look very similar to the product it’s copying, but because e.l.f. clearly marks its products with their logo and a new name, it’s  good enough for the law.

While that is how some dupes come around, others happen another way. For example, a little over six months ago, many were obsessed with the YSL Vinyl Cream Lip Stain and the L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Extraordinaire. People were going wild when they started to compare the two and they looked identical. The part that really had people going is that the YSL lip stain costs $45 where the L’Oreal averages a price of $6. Most could not believe that for such a different price point you could get essentially the same product. The real shocker? As it turns out, YSL is actually owned by L’Oreal Group. When you take a look at the ingredient list (see the links above), you will notice that the first few primary ingredients are the same. As the ingredient list progresses, there are enough differences that they can claim it as a different product. Although, as we can witness through the videos people have posted, these ingredient changes are not enough to change how the product looks. 


I’m buying all of these immediately 👏🏻🌟 #makeupdupes #viralmakeup

♬ original sound – Rose Siard

If you think that is shocking, wait until you hear what other companies L’Oreal Group owns. Along with its drugstore brand, L’Oreal Paris it also owns Maybelline, NYX, and Garnier. If you are looking for a higher end product, don’t worry! It also owns Urban Decay, Lancome, Giorgio Armani, La Roche-Posay, and more. You might be surprised, but this is actually a pretty common business strategy called multi-branding. This happens when one company creates different companies under its brand that offer different products to different markets. L’Oreal Paris’ market focuses primarily on people that value convenience and affordability. It can take these same products and tweak them a little bit, put a higher quality ingredient inside the mix, and market it towards a higher end group that will pay for the name. But don’t worry! The high end brands are also mostly owned by the same family. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Tiffany & Co., Celine, Sephora (hello!), Fendi, Bulgari, and many more are all owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

On the other end of the spectrum, we have e.l.f.. It’s not under any large companies. It’s mostly owned by TSG Consumer Partners, an investment company which owns portions of companies from all walks of life including Dutch Bros, Planet Fitness, and Robinhood. But because this company only holds stock in them, they can operate as they wish to a certain extent. e.l.f.’s strongest marketing strategy as of late is to be the affordable version of these higher end brands. It’s earned a reputation of pulling it off and making its products hold up to the original, if it is not better some of the time. 

All of this is to say that while sometimes the higher quality product actually is much better, the dupe might be the way to go. It might even essentially be the same product. If you truly want to know, and that helps you decide what you spend your money on, a quick Google search into your favorite makeup brands could surprise you.

Ava O'Brien

CU Boulder '27

Ava O'Brien is a freshman and a contributing writer at the Her Campus Chapter of the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is looking forward to writing profiles on different local businesses and covering varying topics included in pop culture while including her own personal thoughts and experiences. Aside from working as a part of Her Campus, Ava is majoring in Business Administration with an emphasis in Real Estate. She has loved writing for the majority of her life and enjoyed doing Yearbook in junior high and high school while working as the copy editor in high school. While mainly working on fictional pieces for herself in her free time, she is now looking forward to expanding her knowledge of writing articles and doing profiles on individuals and businesses. Ava is originally from Kansas and loves being able to see the mountains every morning. Traveling is a big passion of hers and she wishes to visit all seven continents in her life. She also loves reading all the romance tropes out there, going to concerts, finding new and exciting activities to do with her friends, spending too much money on her shopping trips, and hyper fixating on whatever her hobby of the week is.