From eyeshadow palettes to liquid lipsticks, where there's a cult product, there's a dupe.
Take Primark's PS...Nudes collection, for example. Looking at the packaging and the shade range, there's no doubt it was inspired by Kim Kardashian West's sellout brand, KKW Beauty, while Revolution's I Heart Revolution Nudes Chocolate Palette looks startlingly similar to Too Faced's Instagram-famous Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette. Five times cheaper, it even boasts the same sweet, cocoa smell.
Some receive these copycat products with contempt, while others stockpile them, so last week, when beauty news page FYI Beauty revealed that supermarket giant Aldi would be serving up 'dupes' of two of the most hyped buys the beauty industry has to offer right now – Pixi's Glow Tonic, £18, and Sand & Sky's Brilliant Skin Purifying Pink Clay Mask, £39 – I was intrigued. As someone with acne-prone skin, I use both products regularly. Recommended by my dermatologist thanks to star ingredient glycolic acid, I often give my skin a once-over with Glow Tonic after cleansing in the evening to help unclog my pores, fade pesky patches of hyperpigmentation and improve my uneven skin texture. One 250ml bottle lasts for months, so it’s great value for money. But at £3.99, Aldi's version, Lacura Healthy Glow Tonic, is a snip of the price and even more interestingly, the packaging – from the mint green lid to the peach-hued bottle, as well as the honeyed smell – is practically identical.
The ingredients list is similar, too. While main component glycolic acid features one place further into the lineup on the back of Pixi's Glow Tonic (third on the list), both products are formulated at 5%. Glow Tonic and Healthy Glow's pH is between 4-5. Skin is typically 5.5. One big difference is the aloe vera content, which has annoyed skincare obsessives on Twitter. Glow Tonic features aloe barbadensis leaf juice, which is sometimes listed as aloe barbadensis leaf juice powder, as in the Healthy Glow ingredients list. It’s the second ingredient in Glow Tonic, but in Healthy Glow, it appears 16th, suggesting there isn't much aloe vera in the product at all, yet it's noted on the very front of the bottle.
With that in mind, I decided to conduct a little experiment and switched out my usual Glow Tonic for a swipe of Healthy Glow for a week. As a huge fan of the original, I really wanted to notice a difference, but in all honesty, I didn't much. Just like Pixi's offering, Lacura's kept my blackheads, whiteheads and oil slicks under control. Despite the lack of skin-soothing aloe vera, it even felt the same, lending a slight tingle for all of five seconds before drying down on the skin. If you’re prone to sensitivity, though, Glow Tonic may be a better option for you thanks to the aloe, and if you're using either of them, remember to wear SPF during the day – both labels recommend this step.
Pixi's Glow Tonic isn't the only product Aldi has 'duped'. The supermarket has also created a similar version of Sand & Sky's Instagram-famous pink clay mask, beloved by influencers and beauty editors alike for its power to eradicate oil and the satisfying way sebum 'pools' or rises to the surface. Retailing at £5.99, the pink and blue packaging, white font and miniature application brush are strikingly similar, but mainstay ingredient, kaolin clay, appears first in the ingredients list of Sand & Sky’s mask, while it features second in Lacura’s. This might be why the texture is slightly different. Lacura's is a little more watery and takes a while to dry on the skin, while Sand & Sky's is thicker and dries almost instantly, so that you can almost feel it absorbing oil. I noticed a little less 'oil pooling' with Lacura's mask, but when I rinsed off the product, my skin felt just as soft and squeaky clean. Again, aloe vera is quite far down the list after a closer look at Lacura’s offering, which suggests it isn't as abundant. That hasn't put people off, though; the product has sold out on Aldi's website, appearing for nearly three times the price on eBay.
My honest verdict? I'll happily incorporate both into my routine when the originals are running low. While some experts argue against 'dupes' for their sometimes blatant mimicry, others champion them. As I discovered, the ingredients may vary slightly, but these products often give consumers a look in when it comes to cult products which may be out of their budget otherwise. And judging by the hype, that's got to be a good thing.