YSL's Touche Éclat Radiant Touch Highlighting Pen was the first beauty product I bought when I got my first job. The pretty gilt packaging and cult status (it was the must-have item makeup artists and celebrities alike would pick to take with them to a desert island) made it difficult to resist. Like more or less everyone who owned one, I used the highlighter like a concealer – employing it to cloak my dark circles and acne scars, rather than accentuating my high points and bringing light to my face (which is what it was actually intended for).
Earlier this year, YSL answered the prayers of everyone who realised that they'd been using Touche Éclat wrong and launched the Touche Éclat High Cover Radiant Concealer, £26, which does exactly what it says on the tin. The high coverage concealer, a spitting image of its highlighting counterpart, launched into Feelunique, Boots and more, flying off the shelves just like the original. And where there's a cult product, there's a dupe. Enter: Aldi Lacura Cashmere Concealer Pen, £2.99.
Before I carry on, this isn't the first time Aldi has launched products that look suspiciously similar to famous buys. Their Healthy Glow Exfoliating Toner, £3.99, is a dead ringer for Pixi's Glow Tonic, £18; their Broadway Shape & Glow, £6.99, is the twin of Charlotte Tilbury's Filmstar Bronze & Glow, £49; and their Blush, £5.99, is practically identical to NARS' Blush, £24. In the name of honest beauty journalism, I tried them all and, actually, I was incredibly impressed. In fact, I used the blush until I hit the pan and when my beloved Charlotte Tilbury palette finally died, I replaced it with the Aldi version – the pigment and staying power was that good.
It's safe to say I was intrigued to try Aldi's brand new concealer pen, which has sold out online already. If you manage to find it in store, it retails for a cheap as chips £2.99. That's a saving of £23.01. Take a glimpse at the packaging and the products are near enough indistinguishable. On closer inspection, the lid of the high end version is impressed with a snazzy YSL logo, which makes it look a little more luxe. I couldn't tell the difference between the black click buttons, which push out the concealer. They look, sound and feel exactly the same. YSL's brush is ever so slightly more plush than Aldi's, which allows for a larger sweep of coverage.
I applied the products at the same time, a swipe under each eye, and the only noticeable difference between the two is the texture. Aldi's is slightly chalkier in consistency than YSL's, which, in spite of the High Coverage claim, is actually quite dewy and leaves skin looking healthy and glowy. Surprisingly, the pigment payoff of Aldi's version is on par with YSL's, if not a little more substantial. It reminds me of Urban Decay's Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer, £20. This makes it a touch more difficult to blend, but with the right brush (long, fluffy bristles) it meshes with the skin beautifully and blankets redness, dark spots and veins just as well as its spendy sister. I'm prone to the odd blinder of a spot (angry redness and dryness once I blast it with retinol), but Aldi's concealer glided over my blemishes and hid them from view brilliantly. It also stayed put for 12 hours.
A major downside to Aldi's concealer pen is the shade range, as there are just three tones to choose from. You don't have to work in beauty to know that's poor. YSL serves up 16 shades but compared to brands like Fenty, which offers 50, and affordable brands such as NYX, which isn't too far behind, that isn't impressive either.
Despite this, Aldi's concealer is cruelty-free and not tested on animals. YSL comes under the L'Oréal umbrella and its website reads: "L'Oréal no longer tests its ingredients on animals and no longer tolerates any exception to this rule." However it goes on to detail: "Certain health authorities may nevertheless decide to conduct animal tests themselves for certain cosmetic products, as it is still the case in China." Many would argue that this means the brand is not cruelty-free.
Although Aldi's shade range is a letdown, there's no denying the similarities between Lacura Cashmere and YSL's expensive offering when it comes to texture, coverage and staying power. If you do manage to find a colour match, I'm certain you'll be just as impressed with Aldi as you are with YSL. Here's hoping the sellout success prompts many more swatches, because a £23.01 saving is very tempting.