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Navigating Drugstore Duplicates: Beauty Edition

I have an unhealthy addiction to all things beauty and skincare. To be honest, I’m not even that good at makeup, but I absolutely love trying all the new beauty fads. I have a long list of favorite products, and I could easily spend hours browsing Sephora or Ulta. However, my addiction definitely takes a toll on my bank account, and my favorite products tend to be on the pricier end of beauty.

Knowing I’m not alone in my addiction, I have compiled a list of drugstore duplicates for my top five favorite beauty products. Specifically, I have deciphered which drug store products are totally the same as the name brand, and which products are worth the splurge.

First up: Mascara

Name Brand: Better Than Sex; $23.00

Drugstore: L’Oréal Lash Paradise; $10.00

Verdict: 100% the same exact product, and worth trying. I have been extremely loyal to Better Than Sex for years now, but upon trying Lash Paradise, I was in awe. I will admit the tube for Lash Paradise is slightly smaller, and it does not harden as fast. However, I did the same three coats I usually do for Better than Sex, and it still lasted all day with minimal clumping.

Second: Moisturizer

Name Brand: Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion; $28.00

Drug Store: Equate Strikingly Unique (Walmart); $6.00

Verdict: I am extremely careful when it comes to skincare. It is incredibly important to care for your skin now instead of trying to correct it later, which is why I can honestly say the Clinique brand is worth the splurge. I had high hopes for the drugstore version, it even had basically the same name with synonyms. However, when I used it at night, I felt like I had to use a lot more, and in the morning when I put it on before my makeup, it seemed to sit on my face for longer and my makeup did not go on as smoothly.

Third: Makeup Sponge

Name Brand: Beauty Blender; $20.00

Drugstore: Real Techniques Sponge; $3.00

Verdict: I am a fan of the beauty blender, from the moment it came out I got addicted. Then I learned it’s best to replace them monthly. That’s $20 bucks down the drain. Monthly. Let’s be honest, a sponge is a sponge, and you definitely want to be cleaning it and replacing it often, which is why the drugstore version is the way to go. I will say the real techniques’ texture is a bit different, but it works the exact same way and blends makeup wonderfully.

Fourth: Lipstick

Name Brand: bareMinerals BAREPRO Slim Matte Lipstick; $20.00

Drugstore: Maybelline Superstay Matte Lip Ink; $6.99

Verdict: I’ll be honest and say I’m not always into wearing lipstick because I have very dry lips, and I’m addicted to chapstick. That being said, however, I felt like the bareMinerals​ lipstick was slightly more moisturizing than Maybelline. Since I almost never wear lipstick, I did a back-to-back two hour test with both of these. The bareMinerals​ went on smoother, and I even put some chapstick over it. In the end, I’d say this is another product worth making the name brand splurge, especially if you’re like me and you wear the same color lip always (my favorite shade is cinnamon). If you are looking for a fun color that is cheap, I’d say the drug store dupe is totally fine, but for everyday wear, bareMinerals​ is so worth it.

Fifth: Concealer

Name Brand: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer; $30.00

Drugstore: Maybelline Fit Me Concealer; $5.99

Verdict: This Nars concealer is one of the most popular in the beauty world, and when I tried it, I immediately loved it. Concealer is one of the products I use every day no matter what, and I’m almost always switching which brand I use, but I usually go back to this Nars one. The Maybelline concealer was pretty good, but I would say it wasn’t an exact dupe. Considering I’m the kind of person who just solely uses concealer and mascara on a regular basis, my concealer is really important. Personally, I’m sticking to Nars because it felt more smooth and moisturizing. However, if you are someone that is planning to put on a full face in addition to concealer, you would probably be fine with the Maybelline one, but I don’t think it could stand on its own.

So there you have it, which drugstore dupes are the exact same, and which are worth the splurge. My biggest shock in this whole test was probably the mascara, I honestly don’t know if I’ll go back to Better Than Sex. These were just my personal products and opinions, but there are thousands of name brand dupes out there if you’re curious about a specific product you use. Just be prepared that sometimes it’s a name brand for a reason.


Katie is a Junior Fashion Merchandising major at Kent State with a minor in marketing. Katie is involved in multiple organizations on campus and has a special interest in social media and visual merchandising. She plans to graduate in December of 2021 and hopes to pursue a career in which she can utilize her creative writing skills and conscientious work ethic.
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