To Dupe or Not to Dupe?


The blogging world seems to be seriously abuzz on the topic of 'deliberate' dupes, where an affordable brand knowingly creates a product similar to a high-end one. We all love the feeling of discovering a dupe that's a fraction of the cost of the original, but are brands that deliberately 'copy' high-end products crossing a line...?


As a content-creator I'm definitely attune with the concept of intellectual property! However at the same time I know that you can't copyright an idea. As a blogger, I've had other bloggers who read my content put their own spin on concepts I've used. Whilst I always appreciate a link or a mention, this sort of thing is part and parcel of putting your work out there to be consumed. It may not always feel great but sometimes you have to take a step back and be objective. On the other end of the scale I've had people lift images and entire passages of text from my blog posts. See the difference? I feel similarly about dupes: selling a knock-off Naked palette in fake Urban Decay packaging is immoral, illegal and potentially dangerous, having very similar shades in a drugstore palette is lacking in originality but more or less fair play... To me, there's also a massive difference between a big brand ripping off a small indie company because they think they can get away with it and a lesser-known affordable brand copycatting an already-iconic product. 

If you do your clothes shopping on the British high street, I'd challenge you to go into your wardrobe and pick out an item that's not a 'rip off' of a fashion house's work. Whether you know it or not, most of the clothes that filter down to our staple high street shops are heavily *ahem* influenced by what's on the catwalk. Why? Because ordinary people can't afford to drop upwards of a grand on a Chloe bag and spending £15 on something that looks extremely similar satisfies the desire to own that item without having to spend the entire month's take-home salary on it. Yes, there might be differences in quality between 'fast fashion' and luxury goods, but at the end of the day the vast majority of us are perfectly happy shopping on the high street. For example you've probably seen semi-transparent textured floral dresses (like this) everywhere this past year, from ASOS's own brand to Topshop to Reiss to New Look - they're all imitations of this style by Self Portrait. So why is makeup any different?

All in all I think deriding the concept of a dupe comes from a very privileged position. News flash: most people can't afford luxury items. I recognise that I'm pretty lucky to have a good job, no kids and be in the position to treat myself sometimes, as well as kindly being sent products by brands. However I think perhaps some bloggers have lost sight of how much money most people have at the end of the month, and to me it's pretty harsh to suggest they shouldn't be able to treat themselves to a version of a product they want that's within their means. To some people £30 on a highlighter is always going to be out of the question, and in a lot of ways I can't blame them! Even if given as a gift it may seem guilt-inducingly wasteful and indulgent to many. If a single mum working part time, supporting her kids wants to buy a pretty good quality £5 version of a £40 eyeshadow palette she's been looking longingly at in Debenhams for months, then why not?! For some people the subtle differences in quality between two products just aren't enough for them to spend 4x the price. To be honest the brands are targeting a totally different audience (for example a student who wouldn't spend more than £15 on a single beauty product vs. professional women in their 30s and 40s with disposable income that drop £80 on a moisturiser) even if the concept behind the products are incredibly alike.

I completely understand the need to protect artistic integrity but to me there's a massive difference between creating a fake (which is fooling people into buying your product over the real deal) and creating something under an affordable banner that's clearly inspired by a more expensive product. The premium and luxury have always filtered down to the drugstore and high street so I'm not sure where the sudden moral outcry has come from... You may question the originality and long-term viability of brands that largely just create dupes of other products, however whether it's Zara to Chanel, Makeup Revolution to Urban Decay, Dixie Chicken to KFC...there will always be a market for cheap and cheerful imitations. I'm not saying it isn't a bit tacky but there is space in the world for  Tatler and there is space for OK Magazine; not everything has to be high brow and of the utmost artistry and integrity. I'd argue that in some ways expensive brands even benefit from this because it just creates more buzz and desirability around their product as well as cementing that it's so iconic that people want to copy it. These kinds of dupes are essentially for people who know full well what the very famous original is but just can't afford it!


How do you feel about dupes?


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53 comments

  1. I see no issue with buying dupes - like you said, it's the same with clothing, bags, jewellery etc. I never buy fake/counterfeits but dupes like Makeup Revolution etc are all good.

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    1. Yeah it's much better that people buy dupes than fakes xx

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  2. I think that dupes are amazing! They're a great way to try out new products without breaking the bank. You can see whether you like the shade(s) and whether it would suit you or not. As a student, I could never afford to purchase anything from Urban Decay for example, but a dupe from Makeup Revolution is more within my reach. I completely agree with you. x Nikita

    BLOG//Jasmine Loves

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  3. Yes!!! These could be my own words and thoughts, Jasmine!
    I've seen lately lots of people slating Makeup Revolution for all the dupes and I don't know why? They're perfectly happy to buy Chanel bag 'dupe' but make crazy arguments about MUR bringing Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks 'dupes'. If you don't like the idea don't follow, support the brand but let other people enjoy good makeup for less. x

    Mummy's Beauty Corner

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  4. I'm totally with you on this - it's maybe lacking originality on the part of the brands doing the imitating but when they're not creating outright fakes, I don't see anything wrong with it! And frankly if I can get a palette for a tenner rather than £40.. I know which one I'm going to buy ♥

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    1. Yeah lack of originality =/= illegal or deeply immoral! xx

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  5. Hmmm interesting and a great post jasmine! I think it is great to use influences to create dupes from high end however some brands like makeup revolution literally just copy high end brand releases which have sold well out and I think this shows the brand has no originality. The name, packaging, exact colours. There's a huge difference between blantant copying and taking inspiration. I totally agree with you though as there are so many high end makeup items I lust after and I always try to find cheaper skincare alternatives. It's difficult but yeah brands know that the idea will work and make profit so it will always exist. I just wish they would be a little more adventurous when it comes to duping as I think in fashion it is less direct copying.

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    1. There is 100% direct copying in most high street fashion, people are often just not as plugged into the world of designers so don't tend to notice xx

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  6. I definitely see the issue as well, as though I think the the high-end product always will be associated with higher quality..

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  7. I'm so pleased you addressed this Jasmine! I don't mind these makeup dupes and I think its great that drugstore are doing because majority of people can't afford high-end products. It nothing the high street fashion chains don't do xx

    LPage Beauty

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  8. This is EXACTLY how I feel about dupes! I started getting into makeup in my early twenties and didn't have a lot of disposable income, and even though things have changed since then I'm definitely a drugstore girl at heart. High-end makeup just doesn't have the same appeal to me, in the same way that high-end clothing doesn't. Very well said! x

    alicered.co.uk

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    1. Yeah it's sad that we've reached a point when we're shaming people for not being able to afford high-end products...xx

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  9. I totally agree with you - though there's definitely brands that I think so go too far. For me, if you can look at a piece and instantly recognise what it's "trying to be" it's too close to copying. Though your point about fashion makes perfect sense, never thought about it that way before!

    NINEGRANDSTUDENT: A Lifestyle Blog

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  10. I completely agree with your perspective! As a person who cannot afford luxury brands as much as I would like, I definitely see the need for a market in which you receive the quality (or a fraction of the quality) for a lower price. I suppose it makes the world go 'round and I liked your explanation of the dupes feeding the desirability of a luxury brand. It's true! Such a well written piece as well.

    www.luxandvitae.com

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  11. NEW follower for sure,I couldn't of wrote better myself. This is 10/10 spot on,at last somebody gets it. Really fantastic read hun xx xx:)

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    1. Thank you - I'm glad you could relate to this xx

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  12. Absolutely loved reading this Jasmine and I couldn't agree with you more. I noticed a few people shamming dupes and although I wouldn't buy them myself in terms of beauty, I definitely buy clothing that is an imitation of someone elses design all of the time without any second thoughts. I really do appreciate that people want the luxury experience from makeup without the price tag and dupes are often a good way to fill the gap. You couldn't have said this better! x

    Jodie / jodiemelissa.com

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  13. I think that affordable alternatives are always a good thing but I really dislike how MUR copy the packaging and layout of products. I would respect them more if they created similar products rather than copies. I don't like fakes and think they are morally wrong but an affordable alternative - why not? Who doesn't love a bargain?! xx

    Beautylymin

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  14. I think dupes are sort of silly, because so often it's just not true. For instance, the NARS Orgasm vs. Milani Luminoso dupe -- they're both wonderful products but they really aren't that similar. So why not just say they're both great, but not call them dupes?

    The Bookworm Beauty

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  15. I couldn't have said it better. I love that dupes create an opportunity for everyone to enjoy products they cannot afford or just don't want to spend too much money on.


    tomikaydoesbeauty.com

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  16. I feel like duping is everywhere. If I see people in clothes I like, you could say that I have duped them. I just think there is so much influence and trendsetting that if people can get something for cheaper as in material possessions then I think they will.

    Rachael xox
    http://gatsbyandglamour.blogspot.co.uk

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  17. I completely agree! I accidentally bought a fake palette a few months ago and it was such a disappointment when I was expecting high-end quality. But not everyone can afford $40-$60 palettes, so why not get something with similar shades? The comparison to clothes is a great one and it also reminds me of the Devil Wears Prada haha x

    Beauty From Katie

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    1. Haha true - it shows how age-old this debate is! xx

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  18. I think it's great that there are dupes out there. I love some good quality product for a decent price. On the other hand, the expensive brands act as luxuries. I wouldn't stop buying these brands because of the dupes - I just wouldn't buy them so often!
    Rachael Blogs Beauty

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  19. I get fear of missing out so I often always buy the original - and then the dupe! I think often its just so easy to be swayed by a name.

    Annabel ♥
    Mascara & Maltesers

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  20. A dupe is a dupe! Whilst it's nice to have some higher quality products in the collection, if you can save on something that is just as good, why not! GREAT post! <3

    Tahana
    www.tahanalee.com

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  21. I think dupes are great - there have been times where drugstore brands go as far as copying the packaging of a product and I think that's too much, but having an affordable alternative to a more expensive product is totally okay!

    Maria Cano | Instagram | Bloglovin'

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  22. thank you sharing, it was very helpful! my name is Brandy and im new to the blogging community, its nice to meet you, have a lovely day! http://whimsicalwolfblog.com/

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  23. I feel this post to be a response to the 'ahem' intellectual property shit stirring post I've read recently and I applaud. There's a difference between selling a potentially dangerous counterfeit copy and something that's inspired by the product. It won't suddenly change the game for players like Urban Decay or Charlotte Tilbury as they reach to different customers. I believe a good dupe can challenge the industry whom most people could never aspire to, given the price point and the feeling of owning the world. Brands such as Makeup Revolution, Deciem challenge the beauty world, challenge the prices, challenge the feeling someone's not good enough as can't afford an original. And I applaud that. Well written Jasmine x

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    1. Yeah I really just don't feel it harms high-end brands to have cheaper brands copy them - outside of the blogging community, I just don't think the same people buy each of the products xx

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  24. So true!!! I think exactly, you shouldn't want to buy/support dodgy companies, but just those that are the same good quality and also have good company sustainability! Very interesting post :D

    xx Sofia | SOFIAADOT

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  25. I cannot agree more with your paragraph about not everyone being able to buy the most expensive product on the market and going out to purchase the cheaper and somewhat nearly identical product instead. Because even though I am always eyeing up high end makeup the reality is that I'm not going to afford it which is why, when it comes to my blog, I mostly only speak about drugstore items or items I've found for a bargain as in reality I cannot afford the expensive items. So I'm a lover of any company which makes dupes out on the market. However, like you say there is a line to be drawn. When it comes to the ABHs Modern Renaissance palette which is by the way is breathtakingly expensive...you see random sellers make the exact same product but with harmful ingredients, slightly different colours and of course formulas but stealing the packaging as well as the name of the palette and brand. That is where I think it is wrong. I'm all for a dupe, a brand I do appreciate is Makeup Revolution, they hit the nail on the head for me as they are great at what they do and help poor people like me out haha! I know this comment hasn't made much sense but this is a brilliant post Jasmine!!
    Charlotte / Charlotte's Picks

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  26. I couldn't agree more with you! Every company gets 'inspiration' from somewhere and as you said it is not only the makeup companies. Not everyone can afford a £25 lipstick and it is good that the drugstore companies actually do something to bring these products for friction of the price of the original. MUR is on the spotlight now and I don't agree with all the harsh words so many people wrote about them. If you are not happy with what they do, then don't buy them, easy as that. There's no point to make people feel guilty just because they buy these products. Great post and well said! xx

    Ela BellaWorld

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    1. I know - there's no need to put down people who are happy with their £5 version of a £25 lipstick! xx

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  27. I think there is no problem buying dupes, sometimes I think it is the only way to get a certain look if you are on a budget! I have a mixture of both in my collection.

    www.killinitbeauty.wordpress.com

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  28. I am so glad you wrote about this, this whole duping debacle and artists getting upset is causing so my controversy in the beauty world. To me I totally agree with you, people have been using high end fashion as inspiration on the highstreet for YEARS and I think that there being one brand being criticized is quite unfair, seeing as many many brands do it! xx

    www.iridescentplaces.com

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  29. I always find that it depends on the product with what I am happy to dupe or not

    www.petiteelliee.com

    Ellie xx

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  30. This was such a good read! I understand why companies want to make a 'dupe' product but it's not always the best thing to do, outright copying is never a good idea in my opinion.

    http://claresloves.blogspot.co.uk/

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  31. What a great post to highlight the recent events that took place on social media! I completely agree, like several others, with you in a sense that it people can't afford designer brands and we look to affordable brands for something similar. Fashion or beauty - I think it is okay because as long as they aren't making a fake (which they aren't, it is a dupe) it is still a product that fits someones budget and lifestyle.

    Fatima x www.fatimawrites.co.uk

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    1. I completely agree - no one should be made to feel rubbish about living within their means. I know I've been guilty go buying products I couldn't really afford back in the day because social media/blogging made me feel like cheaper alternatives weren't good enough xx

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  32. I'm definitely on the same wave length as you on this debate. I feel like part of me does sympathise with the creators of the luxury products that are being duped but at the same time I'm hopeful that they know not everyone can afford their products...and yes, would much rather have these imitation product at affordable prices rather than fakes and counterfeit versions xxx
    UmmBabyBeauty

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  33. I think it's ok when a brand tries to take the same product idea into a different one. Like the Hourglass blushes and the MaxFactor ones, they're meant to achieve the same look but both products and names are completely different. However, brands like Makeup Revolution are just very disrespectful, in my opinion. They literally copy every little detail and things just end up looking cheap. I know that not everyone can afford luxury products but these other brands could create similar products instead of just stealing ideas from others, because formula/quality is obviously not the same.

    | www.noirettediary.com |

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    1. Like I said in the post - the price of a high-end eyeshadow palette is out of the question for many people so differences in quality are kind of irrelevant; if it works for someone then they shouldn't be shamed for liking their dupe version xx

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  34. I noticed a lot of products that are similar to some bought cheaper a few times. Especially, with MAC and Kat Von D, but honestly, I love to mix and match my products and I get low and high on occasion :) Great post love your photos x http://www.bauchlefashion.com/2017/03/stripes-with-attitude-for-spring.html

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  35. There's been a lot of shade and comments about dupes and fakes. In fact, Kat Von D came up with a few creative hashtags when Makeup Revolution's dupe for her Shade and Light Eye Contour Palette. It's hard to pick a side when I'm not in the least bit financially stable, let alone the fact that I'm strictly cruelty-free and I refuse to buy from brands owned by testing parent companies aka Too Faced. As soon as I found out that MUR had dupes of the Chocolate Bar palettes as well as the Sweet Peach one, I added them to the cart straight away. For me it's a question of whether I can get something similar to a hyped up product but is cruelty-free, or if the real deal is really worth the money that I fork out. That said, I rarely ever splurge on anything expensive unless it's for my birthday or because I've had a very bad period and needed a bit of a treat.

    It's not so black and white, these days there's so much appropriation and copying that nothing is actually, truly, original, and that even applies to artworks.

    Stephii Mattea xx

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    1. Cruelty free is a really good point I actually hadn't considered! xx

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  36. Another perspective to look at it is that all of makeup is basically a chemical formulation. You can find the same formulation in a dozen shampoos (for example) at different price ranges without the hue and cry. Unless it's patented or the "dupe" is being misleading by ripping off the exact packaging and name, I don't see why it's an issue at all.

    Advaita | Blush Canvas

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  37. There's nothing wrong with dupes but I don't always like when another company copies the original product. I know many people can't afford the high-end original product but I actually prefer to have the original product rather than fake stuff.

    Ann-Marie | http://facetocurls.com


    Ann-Marie | http://facetocurls.com

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  38. I think dupes are a great thing however I feel like it's important to have a dupe from another reputable company... not a mass produced, really cheap company that is trying to 'rip off' the original.

    http://thedianaedition.com

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  39. Thank you for your comments - they were an interesting read! xx

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  40. I think it all comes down to budget.i honestly will buy a dupe from a 'known' manufacturer than one looking for a quick buzz. I love my dupes

    www.bronzedout.com

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  41. I think it's a bit hit and miss with dupes, some do it very well whilst others fail and I wonder whether that has a damaging effect on the brand because of it?

    www.upyourvlog.com

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