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About Face: Ten Dupes For Your Favorite Luxury Skincare Products

What price beauty? Well, less, hopefully

by
Maile McCann

Don’t get me wrong: luxury skincare products are fun. There’s something fascinating about La Mer’s lab-coated scientists playing music to the “Miracle Broth” that makes up its $2,475 “Créme de la Mer” moisturizer or La Prairie adding caviar and gold to its $1,525 “Platinum Rare Haute-Rejuvenation cream. That said, like an expensive car or a rooftop cocktail, generally these high costs are less about quality and more about marketing. While we might want a Ferrari, a used Subaru will just as reliably get us to where we need to go.

For a more sustainable skincare routine, these low-cost dupes of your favorite luxury products offer similar benefits and ingredients (the key to good skincare) at a fraction of a price. Buy these, not those, and save.

Peptide Moisturizers

Buy: Inkey List’s Peptide Moisturizer ($15)

Instead of:  Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer ($68)

Save: $53

A peptide is a naturally occurring amino acid that signals your skin to start the collagen building process. When added to a skincare product it can trick your skin to build more collagen, giving you firmer and younger looking skin. Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer has 9 of these peptides and is a great product with fun packaging, but it will run you almost $70. The INKEY List’s Peptide Moisturizer, on the other hand, has a similar ingredient makeup, thus offering the same collagen building benefits, for only $15. Moreover, the Inkey List’s product line is fully clean and cruelty free.

BHA Exfoliant

Buy: Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant ($30)

Instead of: Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask ($65)

Save: $35

Beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) acts as an exfoliant of dead skin cells, helping unclog pores and clear up acne. Paula’s Choice and Tata Harper both offer two great products with BHA, but Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask costs double of PC’s 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. Plus, Tata’s product is a mask, giving you a short-term boost, while PC’s product is a long-term solution and a daily treatment.

Cotton Pads

Buy: Muji Makeup Facial Soft Cut Cotton ($6)

Instead of: Shiseido Facial Cotton ($15)

Save: $9

A strong skincare routine starts at the make-up removal process and cotton pads dosed with your favorite makeup removal can be an easy way to do that. While Shiseido’s “Facial Cotton” is the least expensive “luxury” beauty product on this list at $15, it’s still $15 dollars for cotton pads. They are great cotton pads in that they don’t shed like cotton balls or hurt your face like the drug-store textured variety, but Muji’s $6 “Facial Soft Cut Cotton” has the same benefits. Plus, Muji’s Cut Cotton is unbleached, a chemical-free benefit I want when putting fabric to face.

Gel Cream Moisturizers

Buy: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream ($8 an ounce)

Instead of: Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil Free Gel Cream ($16 an ounce)

Save: $8 an ounce

I love Kiehl’s. I love the skeletons dressed in glasses at their stores, the pretty packaging, and the things their products do to my skin. I also love their “Ultra Facial Oil Free Gel Cream,” which has a perfect summer-moisturizer gel consistency and feels cool and non-clogging to put on. But Neutrogena’s “Hydro Boost Gel Cream” feels exactly the same, has the additive benefits of hyaluronic acid, and costs way less.

Lip Masks

Buy: Klavuu Nourishing Care Lip Sleeping Pack ($13)

Instead of: Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($21)

Save: $8

Chapped lips really suck. And in the winter, a lip mask is one of the only things that helps me prevent them. Never used an overnight lip mask before? They are sort of like supercharged lip balm, creating a protective gel barrier around the skin and stopping your lips from drying out overnight.  I like Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask, it works and smells great, but at $21 it’s a little pricy for a tiny pot of product. Klavuu’s Nourishing Care Lip Sleeping Pack works (and even looks) similarly for about half the price.

Acne Patches

Buy: CORSX’s Acne Pimple Master Patch ($.14 a patch)

Instead of:  Peace Out Acne Dots ($1.40 a patch)

Save: $1.26 a patch

Not to be that person, but CORSX and I were using pimple patches before they were cool. Pimple patches are made of the same hydrocolloid material as some band-aids, a useful tool for wounds and acne alike, drawing out pus and helping heal the affected skin. While you can certainly cut up a J&J Hydro Seal, CORSX does the work for you, offering numerous patch sizes to quickly throw on top of your latest breakout. CORSX has been around forever but as pimple patches boom on TikTok new players like Peace Out have entered the market with the same basic product at way higher costs. Stick to the classic and save.

Foaming Face Cleaners

Buy: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser ($16)

Instead of: Any other foaming cleanser!

Save: A ton

Ok, so CeraVe’s Foaming Facial Cleanser isn’t an exact dupe for any one luxury product that I know of, but it doesn’t have to be! Replace any of your expensive face washes for this dermatologist-beloved, gigantic-sized product. It’s fragrance free, non-drying, and filled with ceramides for only $16. Seriously, it’s a steal and you’ll love it as much as any luxury cleanser on your shelf.

Moisturizing Crèmes

Buy: Nivea Crème ($.51 an ounce)

Instead of: Crème De La Mer ($149 an ounce)

Save: $148.50 an ounce

Remember that moisturizing cream I talked about earlier? The one where scientists play music to seaweed mixture that goes inside it? That’s La Mer and it goes for $148 an ounce. While Nivea’s “Creme” doesn’t have musically trained seaweed or an accent over its e, the formula has a very similar feel and capacity to moisturize to Crème de La Mer. Everyone on Reddit’s r/SkincareAddiction thinks so too. Stick to Nivea and your pocketbook will thank you later!

Lactic Acid Treatments

Buy: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA ($13)

Instead of: Sunday Riley’s Good Genes ($85)

Save: $72

People go wild for Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. With a unique combination of lactic acid and AHA, the product really does work great. But after a scandal of faking reviews and a super high price tag, I personally can’t justify the purchase. For a product with similar ingredients and benefits (exfoliation, visibly better skin in days, etc.), look to The Ordinary.

Marula Oils

Buy: The Ordinary Marula Oil ($16)

Instead of: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Face Oil ($72)

Save: $56

Marula oil is a great ingredient with a ton of antioxidants and omegas 6 and 9. It helps moisturize skin and feels great on. But no way should you be paying $72 for it. The Ordinary’s Marula Oil works great and has a price tag to match.

Maile McCann is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher covering business, culture, entertainment, style, and beauty. You can find more of Maile's work here and can connect with her on social @mailemccann. Photo by Anna Shvets.