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NOW READING These K-Beauty Makeup Dupes Will Change How You See Other Brands
August 23, 2017

These K-Beauty Makeup Dupes Will Change How You See Other Brands

Ready to save some money without sacrificing any of the quality? These K-beauty makeup dupes for more expensive Western products (Giorgio Armani, Anastasia, Estée Lauder) are tried and true, so why are you throwing your money away?


Korean beauty has been riding high in popularity for a while now. I’ve written about how glad I am to see it in the mainstream. The innovations and exciting packaging schemes have sang a sort of siren song to consumers. We’re seduced by the cutting edge formulas, and we happily follow the pied piper to the checkout stand. Unlike the sinister warnings from the fairytales of old, Korean beauty actually delivers on its promises, hence the very loyal and dedicated following it’s enjoyed. The never before seen variations are hard to resist. But there’s another component to Korean beauty’s success.


Their dupes.


Dupes exist in every market. Usually they are slightly lower in quality, but no one minds since you’re saving so much money. What I love about Korean dupes is you are almost certainly getting the same or even better quality with your dupe, often outperforming the original while still saving money. In fact, one of the original beauty breakthroughs that helped secure K-beauty’s place in the mainstream was the Missha First Treatment Essence, which was a dupe of the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence, and by some accounts, a better product than the original.


In that vein, I’d like to introduce you to some well known — and maybe not so well known — Korean beauty dupes for some very popular cosmetics.



k-beauty makeup dupes


Throw some shade


Eye shadow comes in many different forms these days. An increasingly popular option are eyeshadow sticks, and Nars has one of the most popular. Nars Velvet eye shadow sticks deliver a rich color payoff, and the stick takes the stress out of applying a killer smoky eye. Simply swipe and smudge. They retail for just about $30 — not bad. But we can do better.


Korean beauty has a wealth of eyeshadow sticks, some of which I’m crazy about. They also have the added benefit of being a lot creamier and easier to work with. You can find amazing dupes in the Memebox I’m Stick Shadow product line. Also from Memebox, their collaboration with the amazing makeup artist Pony, Pony Effect Stay Put Eye Stick. That line comes in 12 shades that apply like a dream and last all day. I’m also a fan of Clio Gelpresso Waterproof Stick Eyeshadows, which have the added benefit of being waterproof, so they’re great for the summer. All of these dupes are under $20.
I reached out to W2Beauty’s gorgeous director of brand development, Alice, and asked if she had any favorite dupes. She brought to my attention that The Face Shop Single Shadow BR09 Soft Browny (matte), BE02 Honey Toast (Shimmer), and BR06 Orange Browny (shimmer) are pretty much dead-on dupes for the classic M.A.C Cosmetics shades Soft Brown, Honey Lust, and Tempting.


Etude House Look At My Eyes k-beauty makeup dupes


I’ve also found that Etude House Look At My Eyes shadow singles have quite a few dupes for both M.A.C and Anastasia Beverly Hills shades. The biggest win of all? Both The Face Shop and Etude House’s version retail for under $5! Under $5, you guys — what the hell can you even buy for $5 these days? These eyeshadows, apparently.


Line it up


I’ve written extensively about Tony Moly Backstage Gel Liner being not only a dupe for M.A.C Fluidline but a far superior product. Same goes for their gel pencils. Tony Moly Back Gel Real Fit Waterproof Liner far, far out performs any other eyeliner pencil I’ve ever used in Western beauty — even a top pick like Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil, which retails for $20. Meanwhile, Tony Moly’s version clocks in at $10 and wipes the floor with the competition.



Some people love a good liquid liner. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner enjoys a faithful following. It applies smoothly and is pretty tough when it comes to sweaty conditions. It retails at $22, perfectly reasonable for most. Enter Clio Waterproof Pen Liner Kill Black. This is the liquid eyeliner to rule all liquid eyeliners. Not only is it tough as nails, it applies in the darkest, most dramatic yet precision point. It is absolutely waterproof. I’ve even gone swimming in this liner and not gotten panda eyes. Oh, and also? It’s only around $17. Win!


Build your look on a solid foundation


Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup has a very loyal following. With its full coverage and long-lasting wear time, it’s no wonder. Retailing at just about $40, it’s definitely a luxury buy for most.


Enter Etude House Double Lasting Foundation, which has the same full coverage, all-day lasting power, and the added benefit of a sanitary pump. It also clocks in at well under $20.


Giorgio Armani Maestro Foundation has a very unique formula. It’s very runny like an oil and is in fact applied with dropper, which I love. It gives a dewy glow and moderate coverage. It retails for $62, which seems almost reasonable given it’s avant-garde formulation.


Missha Signature Super Light Oil Foundation W23 k-beauty makeup dupes



Nope, says Missha Signature Super Light Oil Foundation. Missha’s version has the same consistency, the same unique dropper applicator, but it delivers and even glowier (is that a word? If it’s not, it is now!) complexion. I actually prefer Missha’s version, and that’s great, because it retails for under $20.


Lash out


Korean mascara was one of the last products I made the transition to. A lot of the formulas just weren’t that awe-inspiring for someone who loves a dramatic lash. But with a little more exploration I quickly discovered some notable formulas. One of my favorites was always Lancôme Definicils mascara. Back in 2008, they released a version called Lancôme High Definicils Mascara, which featured a more narrow, skinny brush and made application to the bottom lashes and stubborn inner corners much easier. You can no longer find Lancôme High Definicils Mascara, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the benefits of what it offered. A’Pieu Skinny Waterproof Mascara is the closest dupe I’ve ever found. In fact, the wand is even skinnier, therefore maximizing every stubborn little lash you never knew you had. I love this formula. And it’s also about $20 cheaper than the Lancôme version.


Your second favorite Prime, next to Amazon


k-beauty makeup dupes


It seems like it’s an either/or situation with Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base vs. Urban Decay: Everyone either uses Nars or Urban Decay. Many years ago when I first started my blog, I wrote about how Urban Decay had an exact dupe in Etude House Proof 10 Eye Primer (but even better), and now people have been increasingly asking if I’ve found a dupe for Nars Pro-Prime. The answer is, duh, of course I have: VDL Expert Color Eye Primer. It locks eyeshadow on without creasing and gives you a truer color presentation that really lets your eyeshadow come through and deliver. You’ll also save about $10 on the VDL versus the Nars.


How now brow cow


Eyebrows have been having a moment, and that moment has grown into a movement. Thick, luscious brows are what everyone is after. Unfortunately for some of us, the damage we did in the over-plucked aughts still haunts our follicles.


Products like Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel and Glossier Boy Brow act as brow saviors. They plump, define, and groom the brows in a more natural way than simply filling in with a pencil. The ease of use pushed these products into a sustained popularity.


Peripera Speedy Brow Cara - 4 colors k-beauty makeup dupes


Meanwhile, Korea was already in the game. There are literally 100 or more K-beauty dupes for these products. Brow gels are hugely popular in Korea, so I’m just going to tell you about one of my favorites: Peripera Speedy Brow Cara. What I love about Peripera’s version is the slimmer brush. Unlike a lot of other unwieldy spoolies, you can really get in with precision when using this brush. The formula is also very nice and natural looking when you match yourself to one of their four available shades. And at only $7, you can afford to try all four shades and mix and match a custom color if you so choose.


Lip oils are the new lipgloss


Matte is everywhere, and it’s definitely not over, but glossy is making a comeback. Since no one really wants to revisit their middle school-sticky-fruit-scented lipgloss days, lip oils have come into the spotlight as a viable replacement. Not only do they deliver shine, they deliver beneficial ingredients to the lips that act as both a treatment and a cosmetic. It’s the best of both worlds!


Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil is a great example. It features raspberry and jojoba oil and comes in three light tints offering high shine — honey, raspberry, and red berry.


Missha Essential Lip Oil Honey k-beauty makeup dupes
Missha Essential Lip Oil Honey



As with the brow products, this is another example of Korea already killing it. There are so many dupes for this, including The Saem Eco Soul Lip Oil, Missha Essential Lip Oil Berry, Skinfood Propolis Nourishing Lip Oil, and Nature Republic Kiss My Lip Oil, but my favorite has got to be Goodal Camellia Intensive Lip Oil. I mean, c’mon, you already know how I feel about camellia oil! This formulation also has moringa, macadamia, and sweet almond oil. It comes in two shades, which are dupes for the honey and red berry Clarins offerings. And as you have probably already pieced together, it’s significantly cheaper than the Western version, which is a little over half the price.


So what K-beauty makeup dupes have you found that are really worth it? Share your experience with us!



Coco Park is an author, beauty journalist, blogger, podcast host, and all around oddball living in Montreal Quebec with her family. Originally from the southern USA, she worked for several years in the makeup industry as a professional makeup artist and holds a certificate in esthetics. She is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Want to know more? Check her out on the Beauty Beyond Basics podcast, on her blog, on Instagram @thebeautywolf, and in her book "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare & Makeup."




TBH brow products are better done in Korea, I've been using my Etude House Drawing brow pencil for years now and won't change it for any other, I've swatched the Benefit products and ABH ones in store and I don't think they're worth it. Also, I changed my holy grail Kat Von D liner for the Etude House and The Saem one.

i love etude house single shadow and palletes they are pigmented ?


I like missha eye pencil and A'piue eye brows pen ^ and etude house water gel tint


3CE Liquid Lip Color in Low Down is the exact same shade as Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Driver's Seat but cheaper and even more moisturizing!


Oh wow! I'm going to have to check that out, great tip!


Hi Coco, very nice article. For us Europeans, it is always nice to find solution for expensive make up products;)) Do you know also some dupe blushes?


Blushes are kind of harder as Korean blushes are largely not quite as pigmented, however I love Romand's blushes! They're slightly more pigmented and the shades remind me of famous Nars blushes.