Budget Beauty

The 12 best high-end to high-street makeup swaps

8 July 2015
Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

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The 12 Best Beauty Dupes

At some point we’ve all been tempted into purchasing an outrageously expensive beauty product. In fact, research has shown that on average most women will spend a staggering £50,000 on beauty products before they reach 40. While we’re the first to admit that an arsenal of lotions and potions is more than necessary, we think there’s room to be a little more money savvy - because ultimately, when it comes down to it, how many of these luxe items were truly worth their salt?

So, in the interest of protecting your pennies we’ve rounded up the best selection of budget friendly products that are as high performing and complexion-perfecting as their top quality counterparts. With effects as professional as these, nobody need ever know you paid a fraction of the price...

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Powder Eyeshadow


M.A.C Powder Eyeshadow

, £13.00

Save:  ELF Single Eyeshadow , £3.95

Money saved: £9.05

Known for their extensive range of shades and highly pigmented powder, M.A.C eyeshadows are a thing of beauty. However, at £13.00 a pot, you’ll be bankrupt by Christmas before you can build up a big enough colour palette. A much cheaper option that’s just as vibrant can be found with the single powder eyeshadows from e.l.f. cosmetics. They apply evenly, blend well and are formulated with a beautifully soft texture that melts into the skin without creasing or fading. A khaki shimmer such as this is the perfect hue for transitioning your summer to winter eye palette with smokier, sultry shades.

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Splurge: YSL Touche Eclat , £25.00

Save: GOSH Click N Conceal , £6.99

Money saved: £18.01

Hailed for its abilities to ‘fake a night's sleep’, YSL Touché Éclat has won multiple awards and long-been established in the beauty hall of fame.

If you thought nothing could quite beat this world famous brightener then think again, because the Gosh Click N Conceal is a great saver substitute. Containing tiny light particles, this liquid pen concealer can be used to banish shadows and dull looking skin while also adding radiance, luminosity and lift. It may be cheap and cheerful but this little beauty can revive and rejuvenate even the most fatigued looking face.

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Matte Lipstick

Splurge: NARS Semi Matte Lipstick , £19.50

Save: Revlon Super Lustrous Matte Lipstick , £7.49

Money saved: £12.01

There’s no denying that a NARS lipstick is just pure heaven - intensely pigmented, conditioning and always long-lasting. However, for when your wallet just can’t stretch the extra mile, the Super Lustrous Matte Lippy from Revlon is just as luxurious. It may not be quite as durable, but its light, velvety and non-drying formula means lips remain soft for hours on end and with a perfectly on-trend matte finish.

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Splurge: Lancome Hypnose Mascara , £22.50

Save: L’Oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes So Couture Mascara , £10.99

Money saved: £11.51

Lancome Hypnose mascara has long been a firm favourite amongst beauty lovers and makeup junkies alike due to its wide brush and supple formula that evenly coats lashes without clumping. However, If you’re looking to side step the pricey cost but hold onto the professional quality then the new L’Oreal Paris So Couture Mascara is a great alternative. Similarly to Lancome, the L’Oreal brush contains small bristles that work to gently thicken each individual lash, while the rigid wand allows you to spread the silky liquid evenly from root to tip.

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Splurge: Benefit High Beam , £19.50,

Save: NYX Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator , £7.00,

Money saved: £12.50

If you’re looking to re-create the supermodel glow achieved from Benefits High Beam, then opt for the Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator from NYX uk (I swear you’d never know the difference). Similarly to Benefit, these highlighters are available in two lightweight shades of Sunbeam and Gleam, which work to flatter and enhance all varieties of skin tones. Use as a foundation base or to accent cheekbones, the décolletage, or cupids bow for a fresh radiance that even Gisele herself would envy.

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Splurge: NARS Blush , £22.50

Save: Sleek MakeUp Blush , £4.49

Money saved: £18.01

We all know that NARS have pretty much owned and honed the blusher market with their colourful variety of shades and full, bright finishes, but since discovering Sleek and their range of beautiful blushes, I think a recount may be in order. With a growing following amongst makeup professionals and beauty enthusiasts worldwide, not only is Sleek blusher super cheap but the 11 different tones available glide onto the skin smoothly and leave skin with a gorgeously healthy, fresh flush - a true game changer.

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Eyeshadow Palette

Splurge: Urban Decay Naked 3 Eyeshadow Palette , £38

Save: L’Oreal Paris Color Riche La Palette Nude , £14.99

Money saved: £23.01

Gathering a veritable cult following we’d all but given up hope on coming across any palettes that could match up to the wide variety and velvety, bold finishes seen in the Urban Decay Naked palettes - until now that was.

Providing equal amounts of both style and substance this L’Oreal Paris Palette provides a plethora of highly pigmented, dramatic eyeshadows that range from neutral mattes, to rich smoky shades. While Naked 3 may boast an extra two tones to pick from, L’Oreal promises that this small selection of shadows can be mixed, blended and combined to create over 1001 different looks - now that’s what we call value for money.

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Contouring kit

Splurge: Tom Ford Shade & Illuminate , £56

Save: Sleek MakeUp Face Contour Kit , £6.49

Money saved: £49.51

Famous for being the secret weapon behind Kim K’s signature contoured complexion, Tom Ford’s Shade and Illuminate palette is the ultimate tool for those who are serious about sculpting.

For a less heavy-duty approach (and cost) this powder palette from Sleek works wonders. Available in a range of colours to suit different skin tones it similarly contains both a light shade to lift and highlight and a darker shade to define and contour. With a soft, blendable formula use this duo to slim the jawline, make cheekbones pop or even outline the décolletage - cute and compact it’s the ideal tool to help bring your face into total beauty balance.

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Splurge: Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner , £16.20

Save: Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner , £7.99

Money saved: £8.21

Providing bulletproof staying power like no other, Bobbi Brown Gel eyeliner has long been hailed as the liner to outlast and outshine all others.

However, the creamy, gel-like texture of Maybelline’s Eye Studio version has managed to come up as a close second due to its intense pigment, simple applicator brush and smudge-proof finish. Allowing you to apply an even, dramatic feline flick, you’d never know you were using a product that’s half the price.

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Brow Gel

Splurge: Benefit Gimme Brow Gel , £18.50

Save: Essence Make Me Brow Eyebrow Gel Mascara , £2.50

Money saved: £16

We have to admit, when we first discovered Benefit’s Brow Gel we were blown away by the innovative, powder-liquid formula that add the perfect level of shape and definition.

Surprisingly however, we found an uber-cheap and uber-worthy match in this Essence Brow beauty. A tinted gel that works to build colour, density and shape this formula contains tiny fibres that fill in any unwanted gaps leaving you with beautifully bold brows.

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Splurge: Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF 10 , £29.50

Save: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation , £10.99

Money saved: £18.51

Cited as ‘the UK’s number one favourite foundation’ this product has long been loved due to its unbeatable durability and light, flawless finish.

Unlike previous switch-ups though, the budget Bourjois alternative outshines in performance here. Indeed, this vitamin-rich, fruit therapy formula glides onto skin and blends seamlessly for a truly immaculate finish, while the subtle gel texture helps to keep your complexion looking healthy and radiant. The staying power is also incredible, with touch-ups unnecessary even a staggering 8 hours later.

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Nail Polish

Splurge: Dior Vernis Nail Polish , £18.50

Save: Essie Nail Lacquer , £7.99

Money saved: £10.51

While a lick of Dior nail polish is a sure-fire way to give your nails a much needed spruce, the polishes produced by Essie are, in our opinion, far superior in both quality and performance.

Boasting a beauty arsenal of well over one hundred different and dazzlingly stylish shades, Essie polishes glide on smoothly, are quick to dry and remain chip-free and flawless for up to a week - what’s not to love?