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We Compared Popular Drug Store Makeup To Expensive Makeup And Here's What Happened

Here's how drugstore dupes actually compare to their high-end counterparts.

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Do popular makeup "dupes" actually work? We wanted to find out.

Makeup is AmAzInG. But it's also sometimes super expensive. Go on Pinterest, and you can find tons of drugstore makeup people claim is ~just like~ the real thing. But do they work on everyone? We decided to test nine common dupes for popular high-end makeup products on a wide range of skin tones and makeup experiences.

The dupes were evaluated on a scale of 0 to 3 stars — one star from each tester if they thought it was a good match for the high-end product. They judged on pigmentation, application, and how it lasted throughout the day.

1. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita ($20) vs. Wet n Wild MegaLast Lip Color in Spiked with Rum ($2.19)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Sylvia: "The Kat Von D nude actually looked like a nude for me and that is VERY rare. I went out and bought it after. Both lipsticks went on easy, I liked the way the Kat Von D one dried better though and it was harder to take off, which equals longer-lasting IMO."

Christine: "The Kat Von D felt like the stain sort of settled in. The Wet n Wild felt dry going on and was a little harder to apply. The dupe smudged almost immediately, while the Kat Von D barely smudged, even when I was scrubbing my lips raw with makeup remover. The high-end lipstick is totally worth it. The Kat Von D was a better, deeper color, was easy to apply, and stayed put much better."

Cathy: "The Kat Von D was a lot smoother to apply because of the gloss applicator and it dried quickly on my lips. If you look up close, you can see a slight difference but from far away, the color looks similar on me. The Wet N' Wild has more of a slippery feeling. If you're just testing out the color, I would say to buy the Wet N Wild one but upgrade to the Kat Von D one if you really *love* it because it'll last longer!"

2. NARS Blush in Orgasm ($30) vs. Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso ($8.29)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Sylvia: "The blushes both took a few coats to show (typical for my skin color) but the drugstore one actually applied easier for me. The NARS blush also has highlighter in it, which really made it stand apart for me because it made my cheeks look less "bubblegum pink." I could go either way on the blush, but I think the fact that the NARS is sort of a 2-for-1 with the highlighter makes it stand apart."

Melissa: "After first trying (and loving) NARS Orgasm for a makeup review project last year, I was almost positive that it'd be my top pick here. But — plot twist — I actually liked the Milani Luminoso better. It was much more pigmented on my skin, and the color was visible (without looking harsh) after only a few swipes. The NARS probably took 3 or 4 times the amount of product. The dupe gave off very similar color, coverage, and wear-time compared to the expensive version — for about a third of the price."

Emma: "I only use drugstore concealer, mascara, and liquid eyeliner because I think they're better than more expensive makeup brands. And if you disagree with me I am prepared to physically fight you. The colors are almost completely identical, but the NARS blush is more subtle and easier to blend. The dupe comes on strong. The NARS blush let's you apply just a hint of color and pile on more if you want something stronger, but the dupe is just bright AF right out of the gate."

3. Urban Decay Naked3 Palette ($54) vs. Maybelline The Blushed Nudes Palette ($11.99)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Sally (Used Limit, Strange, Dust, Darkside, and Mugshot from the Naked palette and their corresponding Maybelline shades): "I definitely had to apply more layers of the Maybelline shadows to get the same color intensity as the Naked ones. The Urban Decay eyeshadows were definitely silkier and more pigmented, while the Maybelline ones were a little chalkier and less vibrant. I also got lots of compliments at my desk so I don't think other people could tell that they were different either. The Maybelline palette may take you an extra 30 seconds of effort, but it will also save you a ton of money."

Essence (Used "Trick" from the Naked palette and its matching corresponding shade): "I couldn't tell a difference in the application or the finished look. I liked them both the same. The expensive version isn't worth the money, in my opinion, because there was no clear difference in the quality of the products."

Cathy (Used Nooner, Darkside, and Blackheart from the Naked palette and their matching Maybelline shades): "I was pleasantly surprised — the colors are very similar! Checking up on my makeup later, I noticed the glitter in the shadow is practically identical. It took double the application time to get the Maybelline shadow on par with the Naked palette. I would prefer the Naked palette because it goes on like a dream and is very pigmented. I don't care about brand names. Products that save me time = A+. Putting on makeup should be fun, not a struggle. I'm willing to pay a little more if the product is worth it!"

4. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz ($21) vs. NYX Micro Brow ($9.99)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Augusta: "My one true goal is to make my eyebrows look like Cara Delevingne and Brooke Shields' lovechild. The products are EXACTLY the same. The pencil was the same width and strength and color payoff, and the spoolie was probably made in the same factory because it was an exact replica. The NYX was a warmer tone but the Anastasia was a perfect taupe brown for my brows so it looked more natural. If eyebrows are your one thing you want to focus on, I think it's worth splurging on the Anastasia product to get the perfect color match."

Sarah: "I didn't need to apply a lot of pressure for either pencil in order to get a rather ~natural~ amount of color. Tiny, precise tips, yay! I like the brush on the NYX pencil a little more because it's slightly fluffier. I wasn't a huge fan of the brunette NYX shade because they contrasted so much with my black hairs. I'd totally buy the NYX one if the color matched better. Worked just as well and NYX is an awesome brand in general."

Chelsea: "I'm no brow expert by any means but I did find the NYX one slightly easier to put on and show up than the fancy one. I guess that may mean that you can't build the product as easily as the other but it does mean you can do it a little faster with some practice. I feel like if I can find the right color, I would go with the cheaper product when my current Anastasia pencil runs out!"

5. Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($23) vs. CoverGirl Flamed Out Mascara ($7.29)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Alison: "The expensive one was super intense — very thick, made my lashes look super clumpy/cakey until I fussed with them a bit. The cheaper version was actually a total joy to apply. I like a no-fuss mascara, where I can just apply without having to touch up or separate lashes much. After application, they both look pretty much the same."

Sarah: "The Better Than Sex mascara definitely applies way easier, as in the product doesn't seem to get stuck onto the wand like the CoverGirl one was. CoverGirl seems to clump my lashes slightly but besides that, the end results/lashes are pretty similar. If you're really into mascara and take lots of up-close selfies or something, go for the expensive one. Better Than Sex is slightly easier to use/takes less time, but I'd be down to buy CoverGirl because affordability is a big plus."

Matt: "The expensive wand applied mascara more liberally, but it was rather clumpy. The dupe left a cleaner look, but it took several tries to get mascara onto my lashes. The expensive mascara left me with darker, heavier lashes. I felt extra flirty. The expensive one'd last through various crying sessions (of which, in my life, there are many). If you want easy application for bolder lashes, then go for the expensive one. The dupe's not terrible, so it's best if you're on a budget."

6. MAC Lipstick in Russian Red ($17) vs. Revlon Matte Lipstick in Really Red ($8.49)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Anna: "I can tell the difference in color ever-so-slightly, but both are beautiful colors. They make me feel like the dancing lady emoji. Smooth and ladylike and glorious. The Revlon lipstick went on a lot smoother than the MAC lipstick — it almost glided across my mouth, actually. Honestly, though I LOVE MAC, I don't think it's worth spending $17 on the more expensive tube when comparing the two. The Revlon tube wasn't disappointing in the least, went on smoothly, and didn't bleed even though I didn't use a lip liner, so I'd say go for Revlon!"

Karen: "The MAC lipstick had a smooth texture that made it easy to apply straight out of the tube. Full color with one layer, too! A few more swipes were necessary for the drugstore brand to get full pigment (it was kind of orange with just one pass). Color-wise, they were practically the same, which honestly shocked me. Unless you scrutinized my lipstick from like 4 inches away, you probably couldn't tell a difference. They wore pretty much the same — light feathering and some fading — with the MAC juuuuust staying on a little bit better. As a pretty regular MAC lipstick user, I'm kinda surprised that I'm voting nay on the expensive version.."

Shannon: "It was easier to put on the MAC lipstick as opposed to the cheaper dupe, it was smoother and silkier. However, the dupe was an "orangier" tone and I prefer that color over a deep red. I could tell the difference in color shade, but once it was applied you couldn't tell if one had more quality over the other. I love MAC lipsticks but this dupe was great and would prove just as effective as the more expensive brand."

7. Stila All Day Liquid Eyeliner ($22) vs. L'Oréal Infallible The Super Slim Eyeliner ($9.49)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Terri: "Both had a thin, marker-like tip, which I like, and both were easy to apply and get a straight line along the lash line. The L'Oréal was more marker-like, which I prefer, as it makes it a little easier to apply cleanly and evenly. Maybe I'm more accustomed to cheaper eyeliners, but the formula of the L'Oréal was closer to what I'm used to, and since it created almost an identical result, it's not worth shelling out more money for a slightly nicer brand name."

Bryant: "Both products drew on my skin pretty smoothly, but the Stila had a darker initial drawing line. I couldn't tell a difference between the two products after the eyeliner was applied. I think if you have the patience to fill in your eyeliner you should go with the cheaper alternative. Otherwise time is money, so invest in some Stila."

Karen: "I'm no pro at liquid liner, but I got my application on for both in just a few minutes. The drugstore version was definitely smudging and flaking off after a few hours of calmly sitting at my desk. The luxe type wore like champ well into the rest of my day. By nightfall, the fancy one looked as crisp and pigmented as when I first applied and the cheap liner had definitely faded and smudged. For being sedentary in a not humid office, it's pretty crazy that the cheapo version degraded so fast & so noticeably. Spending more $$ here is mega worth it."

8. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Champagne Pop ($38) vs. e.l.f. Baked Eyeshadow in Enchanted ($3)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Alex: "It was SO HARD to get the E.l.f. highlighter onto the brush. Honestly, for all my efforts, it didn't seem like a lot was on the brush / on my face after application. The more expensive brand took two to three sweeps across the palette to get a good amount of highlighter on the brush, which then visibly showed more on my face. No shade towards E.l.f., but it really did feel 'cheap.' As far as the way it felt on my skin, the cheap stuff didn't seem to stay — I noticed that my left hand was sparkling towards the end of the day and I could only chalk it up to touching the left side of my face."

Christina: "The expensive one definitely showed up better. It was difficult to get the cheaper one to show up and I had to use my fingernails to break into the dupe in order to get enough powder to stick to the brush. It didn't seem like the cheap highlighter worked so if I were to splurge, I'd get the expensive highlighter."

Essence: "The application was pretty easy for both highlighters. They went on smoothly, and I didn't have to heavily apply for them to show up. I couldn't tell a difference in the quality, but I could in the finished look. I actually like the dupe version better because it had more of a gold tone, and I personally prefer gold metallics over silver ones. The expensive version isn't worth it to me because I actually like the dupe version better."

9. Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer ($29) vs. NYC Smoothing Skin Bronzing Powder in Sunny ($3.62)

Lauren Zaser / Ellie Sunakawa / BuzzFeed

Natalie: "The brush from the Benefit was super soft and made it really easy to slowly layer the product on to a point that I was happy with it. The NYC looks a teensy tiny bit more orange on me, but that could just be because I ended up with more of that product on my skin by accident. If pretty packaging brings you joy and you don't already own a bronzer brush that works well for you, then yeah go for the Benefit. Otherwise, the NYC will look and wear pretty much the same."

Shannon: "I occasionally use bronzer and it's probably the most expensive makeup product that I buy. When putting on the dupe I realized that it was just as easy to apply and worked just as well as the expensive brand. For the amount of money that you save, I'd say you should definitely go with the NYC bronzer."

Christina: "The Hoola (expensive) bronzer showed up faster and the cheaper dupe took a few more applications but the look was about the same. I can't tell a difference between the bronzers. I wouldn't buy the expensive bronzer since the price difference is egregious."

So, what are we taking away?

* If you're just trying something out, start with the dupe. When testing a new color or makeup ~lewk~, start with the cheap version. And then when you're ready to commit, it may be worth investing in a more expensive product.

* Expensive isn't ALWAYS better. Some of the high-end products are more pigmented or longer-lasting, but not necessarily. Value for money is totally a case-by-case situation.

* Decide what works for you. Makeup is personal! Do the research and decide what products are best for you. Maybe you need your makeup to last All Day. Maybe the cheaper color actually looks better on you. Maybe you just need to *treat yo'self* to a schmancy product. Completely up to you!

We also had our co-workers see if they could figure out which is the more expensive makeup. Watch here to see how they guessed:

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