Beauty School Dropout: Designer Dupes, the Skincare Edition

Beauty School Dropout: Designer Dupes, the Skincare Edition

As part of our Designer Dupes series, we’re reaching for the affordable cleansing balms, night serums and sheet masks that feature the same hero ingredients as their big-ticket counterparts. Your 12-step skincare routine is about to get overhauled.

only one thing better than a cult beauty buy and that’s
a cult beauty buy that’s half the price. As our financial futures
look (even more) uncertain, we’re looking for ways we can save a
few pennies and get our wages to last until payday. Designer
products are out and dead-ringers are à la mode.

A solid skincare routine is a pillar of self-care – it’s what
oat flat whites are to Shoreditch and Diptyque diffusers are to
yoga studios. A quick scrub with a make-up wipe
and a slap of moisturiser won’t help you achieve a flawless finish.
Nevertheless, while a 12-point routine will likely get your skin
glowing, it will have your bank balance groaning in response.
Giving you the routine you deserve on the Monzo budget you have,
we’ve swapped big brands for independent labels and traded
wallet-busting price tags for pocket-friendly purchases while
keeping the same hero ingredients.

Pretty affordable: budget-friendly products to add to your
skincare routine


Versed Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm
> Eve Lom Cleanser

With low-waste packaging and a clean cocktail of results-driven
ingredients, Versed has nailed minimal maintenance beauty. Slap the
balm onto a full-face of make-up, massage into the skin until it
becomes a milky consistency, wipe away the grit and grime and pat
dry. Bonus: the eucalyptus and clove-leaf oil will leave your
bathroom smelling like a spa.


Aldi Lacura Healthy Glow Exfoliating
> Pixi Glow Tonic

These products have almost identical ingredients and packaging –
including acne-busting glycolic acid. The OG hit toner is known for
keeping oil slicks, blackheads and whiteheads at bay, while the
bargain equivalent works just as well. We don’t usually condone
supermarket stockpiling, but it’s a third of the price and has a
frequently sold-out status, so we’ll turn a blind eye if you fill
up your trolley… provided you snag one for us too.

Eye Cream

InstaNatural Youth Express Eye
> Shiseido Future Solution LX Eye and Lip Contour
Regenerating Cream

We’re big fans of everything that Japanese skin guru Shiseido
creates, but when your finances come up a bit short, switch to
InstaNatural’s purse-sensitive eye gel instead. Packed full of
natural botanicals, it’ll reduce fine wrinkles and banish dark
circles, thereby giving off the illusion that you’ve got your eight
hours – even if that eight-hours consisted of binge-watching

rather than beauty sleep.

Vitamin C serum

The Inkey List Vitamin C Serum
> Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Renowned for its low-key packaging and no-nonsense ingredients
list, the Inkey’s triple-threat serum claims to minimise ageing,
boost collagen and firm skin. It’s give-it-a-go price tag and
powerful 30 per cent pure L-ascorbic acid hero ingredient far
surpasses Drunk Elephant’s equivalent.

Night serum

Missha Time Revolution Night Repair
> Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised
Recovery Complex II Serum

A skincare staple that has graced generations of make-up bags,
Missha’s highly concentrated night serum contains the same
repairing properties that reverse damage caused by pollutants, poor
diets and daily life. It’s Estée Lauder’s younger, cooler (and
cheaper) sibling.

Night cream

Mario Badescu Caviar Night Cream
> La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream

Beauty editors and influencers will harp on about the genius of
Swiss skincare, but for those of us who don’t fancy shelling out a
month’s rent on a moisturiser, opt for this recession-friendly
version instead. It’s extra thick – think clotted cream consistency
instead of semi-skimmed milk. Slather a pea-sized amount on dry and
lacklustre skin as the final step of your nighttime skincare

Sheet mask

Holika Holika Pure Essence Mask
Sheet in Pearl
> Dr Jart + Dermask Water Jet Vital Hydra

The holy grail of self-care and the millennial’s answer to a

spa day
, sheets masks have quickly become our one-stop skin
saviours. Some are pretty crap, with no space for your nostrils and
drier than our Hinge profile, but others, like this K-beauty steal,
arrive soaked in skin-soothing serums and mould effortlessly to our
face. Rub the excess liquid onto your neck to combat “tech

Mud mask

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay > Glamglow
Supermud Mask

We’re reluctant to share this skincare secret. Sure, the
Glamglow mud mask is the chosen selfie accessory for beauty
influencers, but it’s this potent pot that’s solved all of our skin
woes. Mix two parts powder clay with one part water or apple cider
vinegar – a supposed natural anti-inflammatory – into a thick
paste, then paint onto the skin and leave on for 15 minutes. You’ll
feel a slight tingle as it strips your skin of any excess oil,
thoroughly cleans pores and dissolves any lingering fake tan.
Afterwards, you’ll see the same results as a deep-clean facial for
less than a tenner.

Setting Spray

e.l.f. Cosmetics Makeup Mist
& Set Spray > Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

We’re not disputing that Urban Decay’s All Nighter has seen us
through some hard (and hungover) times, keeping make-up in place
through the small hours and well into some of the next day (we
know, we know, leaving make-up on overnight is grim), but it’s time
for a new beauty guru to occupy this coveted spot. Coming in at
less than your morning coffee, this identikit by e.l.f. Cosmetics
eradicates the need to blot skin at midday and ensures your mascara
doesn’t smudge.

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