Style: The War Between Designer Versus Dupe Makeup Brands: How Do We Know Which Is Better?

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Makeup dupes is the buzz term on everyone's lips right now. How can we get the exact same product at a fraction of the price, but more importantly — how can we trust that said product is similar enough that we (and other people) won't notice the difference?

It's a tricky tightrope to walk, especially when the cosmetics industry is so heavily regulated. From consumer laws and fair trading to regulatory bodies and trademarks, there's a shopping list of factors to consider when engaging with the beauty world in any capacity, whether that be as a consumer or a manufacturer.

While beauty has been considered exclusionary for countless groups of people since its very inception, price has remained a consistent, overwhelming barrier. For a high-end foundation, you're looking at costs over $100, while creams and bronzers can set you back around $80. Whether it's a celebrity range or a veteran brand that has had skin in the game for several decades, a lot of them look for reasons to ramp up the pricing and increase their return on investment. While their elite status appeals to a select few, it leaves many shoppers out in the cold.

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Enter, dupes. The affordable alternative for people who are looking to get the same result at a far more accessible price point. But how do these dupe brands work? How do they make any money and how do they avoid getting into trouble with the competitor brands they're trying to emulate? According to Shelley Sullivan, founder of MCoBeauty (a leading Australian makeup brand with a stronghold in the dupe space) it all comes down to smart marketing and really listening to their customers.

"We receive DMs via our social channels, comments and emails all the time from customers asking us to dupe certain products," Sullivan told ELLE Australia. "We like to be guided by our customers on what dupe products they feel are missing from their makeup bags, and we'll never create a product unless our customers ask for it."

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This isn't to say that expensive brands don't listen to the wants of their customers, it just means that affordable brands might listen to them more, because their success is more dependent on it. If a smaller, cheaper brand launches a product that isn't well-received, it's a lot more likely to hurt them than it would a bigger brand. Supporting a brand that genuinely listens to the desires of shoppers is

As for how MCo can afford to deliver a high quality product at a lower price point than its high end competitors, Sullivan credits the key difference in their marketing tactics.

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"Because we are a masstige brand with distribution across several thousand stores, we have the buying power to secure large volumes of products, and we pass those saving down to our consumers," she explained. "Plus, most luxury beauty brands spend millions of dollars every year on marketing. Think TV and radio ads, billboards, stuff like that, which cost so much money, and that is really what you're paying for with the higher product price point. We don't do any above the line advertising and stick to a purely digital and social media marketing strategy."

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As we know, getting as close to the exact thing is always the goal. After all, the age-old adage 'don't fix what isn't broken' didn't come around by accident - it rings very, very true. There's no need to improve on perfection, but there is a growing need to increase its accessibility. Sullivan says that nailing the formula is a big part of MCo's brand ethos, ensuring that its products deliver the exact same results.

"Our customers love exact dupes, so that is what we try to create," she said. "On TikTok and Instagram, customers film themselves using our products on one side of their face and then the designer product on the other half, to compare the difference in the formulas and see if they really do deliver the same results. People want exactly the same results – they don't want different results. So that is what we always aim to deliver."

So, when it's possible to get a near exact replica of something for a fraction of the price, why do so many of us fork out the extra money for the designer version? It's almost nonsensical, but it comes back to the years of pervasive marketing and messaging that we've been conditioned to believe — if you pay more for something, you'll get a better result.

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"We still have this view that more expensive is better." Sullivan said. "Luxury brands collectively spend billions of dollars to encourage us to think that way. And sometimes you don't think otherwise, until you try a cheaper product for yourself and realise 'Oh wait, this is actually just as good'."

These legacy brands rely on their prestige and the power they hold over the industry to ensure that people will justify paying more for their product if it's believed to be elite in one way or another. As for whether that's true or not, is up to the court of public opinion.

  The War Between Designer Versus Dupe Makeup Brands: How Do We Know Which Is Better? © Provided by Are Media Pty Ltd

so, which MCoBeauty products are dupes?

  • MCoXtendLash Mascara ($24) is a dupe of the Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara ($42)
  • MCo Highlight & Glow Beauty Wand and MCo Instant Contour Beauty Wand ($28) are dupes of Charlotte Tilbury's Beauty Light Wands ($60)
  • MCo UltraStay Flawless Foundation ($28) is a dupe of Estee Lauder Double Wear ($65)
  • MCo Miracle Hydra Glow Oil-Free Foundation ($28) is a dupe of Chanel's Ultra Le Teint Velvet ($80)
  • MCo Cheek & Lip Tint ($16) is a dupe of Glossier's Cloud Paint ($25)
  • MCo Pout Gloss Ultra Shine Lip Gloss ($15) is a dupe of the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb ($34)
  • MCo Lip Oil Hydrating Treatment ($12) is a dupe of the Dior Lip Glow Oil ($57)
  • MCo Magic Brows ($18) is a dupe of Benefit's Gimme Brow ($45)

The concept of a makeup dupe is nothing new, but we're really seeing a boom in brands attempting to rival the biggest names in the business, and they're succeeding at it, too. When it comes to protecting our wallets, both millennials and Gen Z are really putting a focus on frugality, especially on those want-but-dont-need items like makeup.

So, when we're looking for the results we've come to expect without sacrificing our savings, it's these dupe brands that more and more people are turning to. And, when the results are right there before your ears (read: there's virtually not telling which side of someone's face is designer and which is dupe), it's becoming harder to choose prestige over price.

15 yoga poses to try at home .
It’s no accident that yoga is practised throughout the world. In fact, yoga is more of a lifestyle than a sport, and proponents agree that it’s quickly becoming an essential part of daily well-being. As beneficial for the mind as for the body, this universal activity requires little investment and can be practised everywhere by people of all ages. The following 15 poses are just a fraction of those available. Just don't forget to finish with the beneficial Savasana.

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