The Great ‘DUPE’ Debate

The Great Dupe Debate

There has been SO much chatter in the beauty community recently about makeup dupes and the ethics behind them. As a long time budget beauty blogger I have always been pro-dupe because my readers have cried out for them in so many areas but even I can see the darker side.

One particular blogger singled out one brand as having ‘gone too far’ last week and although there’s definitely something to that I was surprised to see only one brand in the firing line. This is not a new concept and certainly not one that was pioneered by this brand and so the post drew mixed reviews. I think the main issue in this case is that it did feel like somewhat of a personal attack aimed at one individual which is not usually the case when a blogger goes off on a rant about a brand. We talk about ‘the brand’ not ‘mr brand’ and so for some there were valid points that would never land because loyal fans saw red and could no longer be objective. There were plenty of people supporting the post, however and there is an argument to be made for both sides.. so I took to twitter to find out in a more simplified way what is actually important to the average consumer.

Bear in mind that I surveyed my twitter followers who it’s likely do err on the side of dupe since I err on the side of budget beauty product reviews but I’d like to think it’s a good mix of people..


I didn’t allow these polls to run all that long before using the results so I’m interested to see the final tally but you get a rough idea from 100 or so people. For me personally, the line is packaging. Where a product has been ‘duped’ at a lower cost and laid out similarly so the consumer has a clear idea of what the original was, I don’t really have an issue – the HUNDREDS of Naked palette dupes, for example. There cannot be a brand that hasn’t had their own version by now. W7 took it a step too far with their tin that could be mistaken for the original just as I Heart Makeup took it too far when they created their ‘Blushing Hearts’ Too Faced dupes and practically every pressed powder from e.l.f is a rip off of NARS.. but every brand does it in some way shape or form. Some are more obvious, some are more prolific, some have built their brands on offering low cost alternatives to the high end must-haves of the moment but my line is always packaging. A suggestion is one thing but an outright copy is a lipstick too far.


The amount of time and creative energy that goes in to producing original products is incredible and having that product reproduced for a fraction of the cost in a very similar format must sting but those brands are still standing because their customers are not being poached by lower priced alternatives. The dupes are making the original concept accessible for the masses who don’t have £40 to spend on makeup! My buying a quilted leather bag on the high street is no skin off Chanel’s nose, is it? Whatever the industry the big ideas always trickle down and what was once an exclusive item becomes more mainstream. Every ‘Splurge vs Save’ column in a fashion magazine is evidence that this is not specific to beauty and definitely not to one brand. MAKEUP DUPE SURVEYMAKEUP DUPE SURVEY

That being said, the fact that it’s everywhere doesn’t make it right. Should beauty brands be able to so easily duplicate original ideas with no recourse? Should you have to pay more for the original item or find a solution within your price range? As a blogger it’s easy to lose perspective, when you are receiving products to review and not always having to purchase them with your own cold hard cash. There have been times when I’ve had to check myself because I’m raving about a palette but.. would I actually be prepared to spend that money if I needed to replace it? Not everyone has the means to buy the current ‘it’ product and often the difference in quality just cannot justify the difference in cost. I believe there will always be a place for dupes but an original spin on that ‘inspired’ product would be a refreshing change of pace.



  1. 22 March, 2017 / 2:15 pm

    A great well thought out post – I do agree and at the end of the day the biggest thing that we are offered is choice. Having choices is what makes us as consumers buy things, budget, high end, cruelty free, not cruelty free etc. I think it was a good debate and however heated it has become in the community at least it has certainly highlighted the duping market. x

    • missbudgetbeauty
      22 March, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      choice is definitely good

  2. G
    22 March, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    I find your post to be quite hypocritical consider you work with Freedom Makeup. Also the majority as you have stated are people who lean towards dupes! So what does your pole actually achieve here? You say you draw the line at ‘dupes’ copying the packaging which you know legally they cannot do! So this seems a rather safe post. Also if your going to reference the original blogger at least have the balls to name her and give her the credit because your clear riding on the coat tales of her post. Funny how you don’t mention Kat Von D in this great debate post! Considering she is now a part of the debate! Add all controversy or none at all! X

    • missbudgetbeauty
      22 March, 2017 / 4:11 pm

      My perspective is always going to be affected by the fact I blog about cheaper products and I do work with Freedom Makeup but I have no issue calling out Tam Beauty if I think they’ve taken it a step too far and I think that with a lot of the packaging on their dupes that’s over the line. I don’t think that makes me hypocritical at all! I referenced the other blogger because I felt her post missed the mark, she had very good points that were lost because she was making it a personal attack. I didn’t name her or link to her because I didn’t want it to be a rebuttal about MUR, more a discussion about dupes in GENERAL which I think is the bigger picture. I appreciate your opinion but I wish you’d added to the conversation and make your own arguments rather than trying to pick apart me motives.

      • 22 March, 2017 / 4:28 pm

        It wasn’t a personal attack – it may have come across that way and that is understandable if my delivery gave that impression. To be honest there’s far bigger issues in the World. Not everyone will agree and that’s fine – at the end of the day it’s just Makeup. We are all entitled to our own views.

        • missbudgetbeauty
          22 March, 2017 / 5:00 pm

          100%!! It is SO inconsequential!
          If we all agreed there would be no bloggers at all, we have opinions and that’s why we do what we do. I really think had the brand been different and not had an actual, accountable figurehead your post would have come across totally differently – to me anyway. I work with the brand and I don’t know how they get away with some of it but some people weren’t willing to listen because they felt they needed to defend which they wouldn’t have had it been say, Revlon.

          On a larger scale I wanted to post something to put out feelers in MY audience and see how they felt about dupes now. I couldn’t not mention your post but I also didn’t want to send anyone else your way that might rant!

          • 22 March, 2017 / 5:08 pm

            At least you wrote your’s without getting nasty. Some people took my post totally the wrong way and again, that’s fine. It was over a fortnight ago and to be honest I’m just tired of it now. I’m all up for honest and healthy debate but a lot of it hasn’t been.

          • missbudgetbeauty
            22 March, 2017 / 5:21 pm

            It’s the same as anything, people love to argue online!! Because I review A LOT of TAM stuff and work with them I felt like I should weigh in but I can’t agree with some of the stuff they do. You had very good points and if you’re interested in the future I’d be up for a debate-style post/twitter chat. Nobody needs to be getting nasty/personal about something that should be fun!

  3. Jodie Wright
    22 March, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    I definitely don’t think that cheaper dupes have an effect on high end brands. If you can’t afford a product or don’t want to spend that much money you’re not going to buy it anyway. So buying a cheaper product doesn’t harm a high end brand. I had the MUA dupe of the Naked 2 palette because I couldn’t justify the cost but years later my mum bought it for me for Christmas so I gave the dupe to my cousin. But if the UD version hadn’t been a gift I wouldn’t have gotten it, dupe or no dupe.
    I don’t really have an issue with the copying either because high end brands do that to each other and when something becomes a trend everyone has their own version.

    • missbudgetbeauty
      22 March, 2017 / 4:13 pm

      Often their own ‘version’ is too close to the original which is what causes controversy but maybe that’s the point? No publicity is bad publicity?

  4. 22 March, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    I haven’t really decided where I stand on this. I’ve always been dead against blatant designer knockoffs like bags, sunglasses, shoes etc., so I guess this is a similar thing. I feel like if the designer has envisioned and created something, it’s not fair for a cheaper company to just copy the idea and make money from it.
    But I don’t know if I feel exactly the same way when it comes to makeup. I don’t think I’d buy a dupe of a higher end product just because I want to pay less, if I really wanted the product I would weigh up whether I could justify the cost or not. But if it was something I didn’t feel too strongly about, I would probably just buy the dupe. Not as a cheaper alternative to the original but just to add something I needed to my collection, if I liked the shade maybe. I agree that it kind of takes the p*ss when they exactly copy the packaging, I think that’s where the line has been crossed.
    But at the end of the day, not everyone can afford the higher end so it’s nice to have a more accessible alternative around. It’s a complicated topic, but I think you covered it perfectly xx

    • missbudgetbeauty
      22 March, 2017 / 4:15 pm

      I still feel that way.. so torn and yet if I really push myself it IS packaging that pushes the limit for me and otherwise I don’t care. The knock-off bag analogy is more suited to the eBay fakes, I think because I too wouldn’t buy a knock-off but I would buy a ‘designer inspired’ item from the high street..
      Some of the packaging is so close it’s almost there however and that’s just not cool, make the dupe, great but don’t completely copy the other brands design!!

  5. Stephanie
    22 March, 2017 / 3:13 pm

    My issue is there has to be a line drawn that companies cannot pass. Using a high profile company who spend thousands if not millions of £ and of course time developing a product should not have to face another company coming along and copying. Kat von ds argument was so valid. Making an all matte pallete is fine. Even using similar shades is hard to fight. But to copy the layout and call in the light and shade instead of the shade and light is horrible and for me that is where the line needs to be drawn. Companies like W7 and MUR are of course cheaper because they use less expensive ingredients but also because they have to put zero money and time into design and naming etc. They use basic packaging (or in w7 just copy the same packaging) use the same layout and tweak the name barely and voila! Id be curious to see if any of these companies would be popular if they didnt just rip off other items and actually made original product? The sad reality is alot of their popularity also came from bloggers but would they have got the same air time if they wern’t a dupe brand?

    • missbudgetbeauty
      22 March, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Yes! I would love to know the legalities behind it all because it’s shocking to me that some of the product dupes are allowed! Just a scan of those I featured in the picture show how many brands are doing it and getting away with it. Also agree most of the dupe brands wouldn’t be as popular without the dupes that built them.. but now they’ve proven themselves, why not go a more original route?

  6. Lauren Dudley
    22 March, 2017 / 5:31 pm

    I’ve never really been one for dupes, more buying what I like and that does tend to be the higher end product. However I caught fake Britain yesterday and they showed a warehouse full of fake cosmetics copying the likes of Dior, Chanel, Bobbi Brown and MAC and when tested had very questionable ingredients! This scared me because there will be people buying these products thinking they’re getting the real deal when in fact they are getting mascara with paint thinner in etc. So maybe there is a need for dupes, at least people are getting products that are safe to use!

  7. Ffi
    22 March, 2017 / 5:48 pm

    To be honest from someone who doesn’t have much money dupes often encourage me to buy the full price! If I’ve seen an expensive product I would really like or a colour I’m not sure that will work for me I often buy the dupe and when I feel that I use it enough or like the colour I will save up for the real deal. I probably wouldn’t purchase the product unless I was sure I would use and enjoy it beforehand! Yes the full price products are usually a lot better quality and nicer to own but for some people who just can’t justify spending that much on makeup unless they know they will use it everyday dupes can be a great tester! For example I was desperate to buy the Naked 2 palette but was worried about spending that much money on (what would be my first) none drugstore palette. When I found out about makeup revolutions Iconic 2 I was really excited to try out the colours. A couple of months after using the dupe, learning how to use the shadows and seeing how they would work for me I happily went to the store and purchased the Naked 2 knowing I would love and use it everyday! Which I do 🙂

  8. Amy
    23 March, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    This reminds me of the devil wears prada scene with meryl streep telling Anne Hathaway blue jumper she wore was just a trickled down version of the things the people in that room had chosen. It’s just the way these things work, i have no issue with it myself i can’t afford many high end things.

  9. Gemma
    23 March, 2017 / 11:01 pm

    I think you’ll always have the cheaper brands emulating the leading ones- in fact, I suspect it keeps the big names on their toes and forces them to innovate (along the lines of “fine, if you want to charge £40 for a palette, you’d better make it really good”).

    I think there’s room for both in the market.

  10. genevieve
    25 March, 2017 / 4:02 am

    It’s a very interesting point you have raised here.
    Having not read the Kat Von D article, I can imagine what was said and I do see her point. Big HE brands that spend the money on research, ingredients and formats don’t deserve to have their products identically reproduced, right down to the packaging and name – that is a step too far in my opinion.
    Secondly, some of the dupes produced by the mass market “drugstore” brands – especially in eye shadows are, in my opinion, inferior in quality – lacking the pigmentation and longevity of their HE counterparts.
    Thirdly – some of these ‘dupes’ contain perfumes and ingredients that I wonder about.

    On the other hand, ‘Imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery’ – which, as you have mentioned in your excellent article, UD’s Nakeds 1, 2 & 3 have been reproduced many times over. Some brands have done their own, fairly unique, version of neutrals, whereas others have blatantly copied the format, packaging etc of these eye shadows.
    Dupes have offered many women the chance to experiment with a different shade range without breaking the budget.
    Christine, from Temptalia, offers an extensive dupe list for every eye shadow she reviews, to show readers that they may well have a particular shade in their stash already. The same goes for lipsticks, blushes and highlighters.

    Christine’s reviews show that even HE brands like Dior can put out a dud and a budget brand like Colour Pop can put out an absolute winner.

    Thank you for your article, it was interesting to read.

  11. 4 April, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    I think more affordable brands do have a slight effect in higher end brands, but in both directions. Personally I prefer to stick to more affordable products and if I find a product that is a dupe of something I might like I will most likely get it, because I tend to get nervous that I will end up wasting my money if I don’t like the higher end one! If I like it well enough I will stick with it, meaning higher end brands lose out. But then the dupes are also a gateway into the higher end brands, I would much prefer to buy an affordable dupe to find that I like it and THEN purchase the higher end one. I didn’t know if I liked liquid lipsticks originally so I purchased an MUR one, now that I know I like the formula I am more willing to buy the higher end products! I never thought dupes were a bad thing until these debates started popping up, but now I can see the problems. I think I will continue to buy dupes but will consider higher end brands more too! This was a great post and the poll idea worked great to show peoples opinions!

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