I'm incredibly lucky that I get sent some of the most premium beauty products on the market to try out as part of my job. From £205 moisturisers to £109 facial steamers, I've had the chance to test some of the most luxurious formulations and beauty tools in the UK to find out what's worth the hype. So does expensive always equal best? In a word, no. Despite having access to extravagant products and high-end beauty brands, there are tons of affordable options that rival their more expensive counterparts. In fact, there are plenty even the most experienced beauty editors would struggle to differentiate between once applied to the skin.
So whether you're trying to stick to a budget or you just don't want to spend excessively on a pricier counterpart when you don't have to, here are 15 affordable beauty products that do the trick just as well as their high-end counterparts.
A dozen shades of amber-inspired eye shadows in metallic, matte and shimmer finishes but with a huge difference in price point. Disclaimer: I'm a huge fan of Urban Decay and think that its eye shadows are genuinely some of the best in the business. However, if you're not a regular eye shadow wearer or are just dipping your toe in the fiery-hued trend, this affordable palette from Rimmel offers amazing value—and the shadows are pigmented, blendable and long-lasting.
To me, there is no better makeup sponge than the Beautyblender, particularly when it comes to creating a dewy base with your everyday foundation. However, I know that dropping almost £20 on a small sponge can seem excessive. If I were forced to pick a backup, then you can't go wrong with the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. In fact, I know plenty of people who prefer this to the Beautyblender. I must admit that the flat edge is handy for slapping on foundation quickly when you're in a rush.
It almost feels like sacrilege to provide a dupe for the adored Liz Earle cleanser, but I really couldn't resist. Both are enriched with nourishing cocoa butter to hydrate skin and melt away makeup and impurities. I'd have to say that when it comes to scent, Liz Earle does cinch it with the spa-like aromas. But if you're looking for a purse-friendly way to cleanse and exfoliate, this Superdrug one really does measure up.
YSL's iconic Touche Éclat is described by the brand as ''eight hours of beauty sleep in a click." For years, I wasn't entirely sure how to use it (was it a concealer or a highlighter?), but now I love applying it under my eyes and onto my cheekbones for a subtle luminosity. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar this brightening formula from Revolution Pro is to the beauty icon.
You've probably spotted Sand & Sky's iconic pink packaging in your Instagram feed over the past couple of years. Its pink-clay skincare products launched to huge waiting lists and rave reviews, and its mask happens to be one of my favourites for treating acne. This mask from Revolution also contains detoxifying pink clay to absorb excess oils and offer up similar mattifying benefits.
This foundation dupe has been a long-held beauty-insider secret. Both come in around 30 shades and deliver velvety coverage to skin with a subtle radiance. With celebrity fans like Meghan Markle reportedly obsessed with the Giorgio Armani foundation, it certainly holds its own beauty gravitas. But for me, you just can't argue with the price point and results of the L'Oréal foundation.
Trust me—the brand imagery doesn't do any justice to just how close in colour these blushes are IRL. Both deliver a subtly shimmery, peachy pop of colour to cheeks, and both are intensely pigmented. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that the Sleek blushes are possibly the most pigmented cheek product I've ever come across—high-end or high-street.
Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk lipstick is probably the most iconic makeup product of the past decade. Considered to be one of the best nudes ever created, it's no wonder it's one of the best-selling lipsticks out there. Sure, Charlotte Tilbury products have a certain level of luxury that can't really be beaten, but if you're keeping an eye on your spending, this Maybelline crayon is strikingly similar.
I'm a big fan of both of these water-based foundations for their lightweight coverage and dewy finish. In fact, the Nyx formula has to be one of my favourite drugstore foundations ever. If you're looking for a brightening base that looks like your skin but better, then both make energising options. Oh, and the more affordable Nyx option wins on diversity in shade offering, too.
Ask anyone who is obsessed with eyeliner, and chances are they will have tried KVD Beauty's cult Tattoo Liner before. It's inky black, ultra-precise and smudge-resistant. This one from Maybelline provides a similarly long-lasting formula and an easy-to-use nib that even eyeliner novices (like myself) should be able to get on board with.
One of my favourite concealers has to be this one from Nars. It's super creamy, covers everything from under-eye circles to blemishes and feels like you're wearing nothing on your skin. However, for a quarter of the price, this Maybelline concealer provides a similarly radiant finish for a fresh-faced complexion.
Here at Who What Wear, we don't necessarily support brands "ripping off" other successful products. And honestly, we think the branding on this Revolution Plex Bond Restore Treatment 3 is a little on the nose, don't you agree? If you have bleached or damaged hair, there's a high chance Olaplex's No.3 Hair Perfector is already on your radar. As a pre-shampooing treatment, it works to restore broken bonds in the hair, leaving it healthier and stronger. It's expensive, but it works. If you want to see what all of the fuss is about, this affordable dupe from Revolution does a pretty good job at mimicking the results. Is it equally as good? Not quite, but it's the closest competitor I've ever tried.
Another eye shadow palette with a sizeable price difference comes in the form of this 18-pan collection containing a mix of mattes, glitters and shimmer shades inspired by shades of nude. Although you really can't rival the Huda Beauty shadows in terms of pigment, wear and colour payoff, I think that the W7 dupe is a great alternative if you won't use every colour in the £56 palette.