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Save money with copycat cosmetics

  • Chicago Tribune
  • Published Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, at 11:13 p.m.

Don’t know about you, but there is no way I’m going to pay $25 for mascara, $29 for eyeliner or $15 for a dollop of eye shadow the size of a quarter. Spending that kind of money on makeup is just not in my DNA.

Instead, I’ve got a cheap — I mean frugal — strategy to get the same makeup bang without laying out big bucks. Here’s how: I browse the fancy beauty boutiques and department store cosmetics counters (free makeover, anyone?), find products that work for me, then go on the drugstore hunt for copycat versions that cost less.

For example: I know many women who swear by their Nars Orgasm blush, resigned to reluctantly part with the $28 it costs. But there are plenty of mimics in an array of mass-market lines for vastly less. I found two at a nearby drugstore (Luminoso by Milani, $7.49, and Maybelline’s Peach Satin, $8.49).

I guess I’m old school because it never occurred to me to check online to see if any beauty pioneers had done the drugstore legwork for me. It turns out that other women with a greater passion for frugal finds have (exhaustively and with great enthusiasm) already done a much better job on this project. If in your browser you type “drugstore dupes” and the expensive product you’re trying to duplicate, you’ll find a wealth of blog info put together by industrious makeup mavens.

When I searched for “drugstore dupes Nars orgasm,” I found more than a dozen cheap swaps in under a minute. Blogs I found especially useful were Total Beauty (totalbeauty.com), DrugstorePrincess (drugstoreprincess.com) and, my favorite, Temptalia (temptalia.com). Temptalia has a dupe list that is truly remarkable, and you can search by brand, shade and product type.

Sure, some of the expensive brands use more costly ingredients and are not identical to the drugstore versions, but they’re close. I’ve found that some drugstore beauty products are better than the more costly products that have celebrity endorsers and pricey ad campaigns.

You’ve got to ask yourself: Is it really worth paying more than three times as much for the exclusive brands when there’s a cheap alternative?

This list of drugstore makeup would cost $37.90. Buying it at the department store would run $138.50.

• Blush — $7.49: Milani Luminoso baked powder blush, Target, drugstores, walgreens.com

$28: Nars Orgasm, department stores, narscosmetics.com

• Lipstick — $5.19: Rimmel Airy Fairy lasting finish lipstick, drugstores, Ulta, ulta.com

$15: MAC Fabby, department stores, maccosmetics.com

• Eye shadow — $4.99: NYX Sahara, Ulta, ulta.com

$15: MAC Naked Lunch, department stores, maccosmetics.com

• Nail polish — $8: Essie Mink Muffs, drugstores, Ulta, ulta.com

$26: Chanel Particuliere, department stores, chanel.com

• Mascara — $5.59: L’Oreal Voluminous Original mascara, drugstores, drugstore.com

$25: Dior Diorshow, department stores, Sephora, sephora.com

• Eyeliner — $6.64: L’Oreal Lineur Intense, drugstores, drugstore.com

$29.50: Lancome Artliner, department stores, Sephora, sephora.com.

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