Are dupes worth buying?


SPOILED FOR CHOICE Consumers have more price-point options for their favourite cosmetics and skincare products than they might think.


Maggie Gibbons

There seems to be a dupe for every perfume on the market right now, with Jo Malone possibly being the most ‘duped’ brand of them all. Whether it’s her candles or her perfume, you can find almost identical copies everywhere, from Dunnes and Penneys to Zara and other high street stores.
I don’t know how you feel about the brand. I confess to being a big fan of the dupe candles, though I can’t stand the smell of Jo Malone perfumes. I know, I’m probably alone in this, but there you go, ‘each to their own’, as the woman said when she kissed the cow!
Look a bit further though, and you’ll find copies of a host of skincare and makeup brands, from moisturisers and serums to lipsticks and foundations. So when does a dupe become a counterfeit? Let me try to explain the difference.

Dupe or counterfeit
A dupe has lots of similarities to a designer product – so with perfume, it smells the same as the high-end offering – it just refrains from copying logos and other features that are trademarked. Dupes are quite legal.
A counterfeit, on the other hand, will shamelessly copy logos and trademarks to pass itself off as the real thing. They can be amazingly similar, though cost a fraction of the price. Fake handbags are a typical example. They are illegal.
From Charlotte Tilbury to SkinCeuticals, you will have your favourite skincare brand. Even though some are hugely expensive, if you love them you won’t have any interest in switching to something else. I’m not aiming to convince you, I’m merely creating an awareness of what’s similarly available at a much more affordable price. Remember, just because something is expensive it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good! Nor indeed does low cost mean it’s not good.

Online comparisons
How do you find out where to shop for the best dupes? Well, enter SkinSkool ( an online beauty comparison website that uses an algorithm to ensure the best price for your search.
Suppose, you’d love to try the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream but refuse to pay the price. You just search the SkinSkool website, entering the product you want to compare, and it will give you a list of products with similar ingredients at a hugely reduced price. The products are marked out of 100 to see how closely they compare. Ingenious!
For example, CE Ferulic by SkinCeuticals – a vitamin C serum for fine lines and wrinkles that retails at anywhere from €130 to €170 – was found to be an exact match for Dr Brenner’s C Serum with Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid, which is just £9.99 on Amazon.
And, check this out, the famous Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream (€90) has loads of comparable products for great prices. Fan of Kiehl’s Super corrective Cream SPF 30? Well it’s a great match with the much-cheaper L’Oreal Revitalift Triple power Lotion SPF 20.
Remember, these products have been blind tested by a lab panel, so the dupe recommendations are quite credible and reliable.

On the shelf
Aldi has earned its place as one of the most affordable beauty locations. The quality is superb, and naturally the prices are brilliant. My favourites are Lacura Moisture Boost Gel, (a dupe for Clinique Moisture Surge),  Lacura Cleansing Balm (a dupe for Emma Hardie Moringa Balm), Lacura Hot Cloth Cleanser (a dupe for Liz Earle’s Cleanse & Polish), Lacura Glow Tonic (a dupe for Pixi Glow Tonic) and Lacura Miracle Cream (a dead ringer for Elizabeth Arden’s famous 8 Hour Cream).
I began using the Lacura Miracle Cream after some air hostess pals told me they use it religiously on flights to prevent their skin drying out. They all originally used the Elizabeth Arden but found the Aldi version just as good.
Next time you’re in Zara, ask them what dupes they’re selling. The world and her mother are selling them now!
As I said, I’m not trying to convince any of you to change from your favourite brands, rather I’m just letting you know what’s out there.
We’re all watching the pennies more in these cash-strapped times. I’ve given you a random sample of what’s available at a much more affordable price than the eye-watering cost of a lot of skincare and perfumes.

Maggie Gibbons is an Image/Style Consultant based in Louisburgh. She can be contacted at