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 $260 face creams to $150 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 out there that rival there more expensive counterparts. In fact, there are plenty even the most experienced of beauty editors would struggle to differentiate between once applied to 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 10 high-end products that I love and their affordable alternatives that will do the trick just as well.
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.
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 drugstore 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 eyes and onto cheekbones for subtle luminosity. I was pleasantly surprised at how similar this brightening gel-based formula from Maybelline is to the beauty icon. The only downside is that the affordable version doesn't come in as many shades.
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.
You've probably spotted Sand & Sky's iconic pink packaging in your Instagram feed over the past year or so. Its pink clay skincare products launched to huge waiting lists and rave reviews, and its mask happens to be one of my favorites for treating acne. However, L'Oréal now makes a clay-based exfoliant which offers similar mattifying benefits.
Trust me—the brand imagery doesn't do any justice to just how close in color these blushes are IRL. Both deliver a subtly shimmery, peachy pop of color 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.
The shift toward glosses means that liquid lipsticks have faded into the background this year. But for me, a good matte liquid lip is a staple in my makeup bag. The YSL ones always feel decidedly luxurious, but these L'Oréal ones provide similar pigment, opaqueness and long wear for a fourth of the price.
I'm a big fan of both of these water-based foundations for their lightweight coverage and dewy finish. In fact, the Bourjois formula has to be one of my favorite drugstore foundations ever. If you're looking for a brightening base that looks like your skin but better, then both make energizing options.
I love a red lipstick—and MAC's Ruby Woo is about as iconic as they come. I have to say, though, that this $9 dupe from Barry M certainly rivals it. In fact, our social media editor gave it a 10/10 when testing out the best red lipsticks. It's matte, pillarbox red and lasts through a Pret sandwich. What more could you want?
Ask anyone who is obsessed with eyeliner and chances are they will have tried Kat Von D'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.