I’ve always been interested in affordable low-cost skincare products that perform as well as or even better than their luxury high-end counterparts. So whenever I see an article or post on drugstore skincare dupes, I’ll make a note to give the skincare dupes a try. When you can purchase a dupe at drugstore prices, it won’t be a huge expenditure and you never know, you may find a new favorite!
Today I am compiling a list of budget-friendly drugstore skincare products that you can switch out for expensive skincare products without sacrificing performance to an extent. While there may be a few drawbacks to drugstore skincare dupes, such as packaging for one, you may be surprised to find that you like the dupe even better than the original. Let’s take a look at the first luxury/dupe pair:
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Luxury Skincare: Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II
I’ve used Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II on and off for many years so I am well aware of what it does for the skin. It provides intense hydration from hyaluronic acid, along with radiance and brightening that is noticeable for me after one use. It uses ChronoluxCB™ Technology for skin repair at the correct time.
Advanced Night Repair also boasts antioxidants and purifies skin, supporting the skin’s repair process. It contains Lactobacillus Ferment, a probiotic that protects the skin against environmental aggressors plus has anti-acne and anti-inflammatory qualities. It’s lovely and it’s not cheap.
Drugstore Dupe for Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair: MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule
MISSHA Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule comes packaged in a glass jar with a dropper that is similar to Advanced Night Repair. It contains 10 probiotic components to increase skin’s strength including Lactobacillus Ferment, plus a form of vitamin E, squalane, and hyaluronic acid, all ingredients found in Advanced Night Repair.
Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule also contains ceramides and antioxidants beetroot extract, carrot root extract and soothing blueberry extract. Plus it contains one of my favorite ingredients, niacinamide, which acts as a potent anti-ager and skin soother. The serum is formulated to improve skin elasticity, moisture, and texture.
Time Revolution Night Repair Probio Ampoule is very similar to Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II not only in packaging and ingredients but also in color and texture. The liquid is slightly thinner than Advanced Night Repair, but it sinks into the skin without any stickiness.
My skin looks clear, smooth and my pores appear smaller on mornings after I use it. While Advanced Night Repair may provide more immediate results, I’ve really been enjoying using this product which feels just like Advanced Night Repair. For the affordable cost, I’d say that this is a great dupe for Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair.
Related: The 10-Step Korean Skincare Routine
Luxury Skincare: Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer is beloved for its Nine Signal Peptide Complex and hyaluronic acid which firms and plumps the skin. It also contains pygmy waterlily stem cell extract which is filled with antioxidants to calm and soothe the skin. Soybean folic acid ferment extract from vitamin B helps skin maintain it’s elasticity.
I’ve used Drunk Elephant Protini in the past, and while I liked it, I actually prefer their thicker moisturizer, Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer. (Read on for a dupe for Lala!) So when I tried e.l.f. Hello Hydration Face Cream with hyaluronic acid and peptide complex, I immediately thought of Drunk Elephant Protini due to the similar list of ingredients.
Drugstore Dupe for Drunk Elephant Protini: e.l.f. Hello Hydration! Face Cream (now called Holy Hydration! Face Cream)
e.l.f. Hello Hydration! Face Cream is a thick lightly scented cream that contains peptides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide (my favorite), squalane and vitamin B5. Even the texture is rather luxurious.
After using Hello Hydration! Face Cream (Now rebranded as Holy Hydration!), I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the texture, scent, and performance! It is very similar to Drunk Elephant Protini but at less than 1/5 the price! It hydrates and brightens nicely and works well on top of other skincare treatments.
This cream feels much more expensive than it is. It must be one of the least expensive full-size drugstore face creams from a large beauty brand! I am so impressed with this cream that I would take this over Drunk Elephant Protini Face Cream, so I would say that it qualifies as an all-star drugstore skincare dupe!!
Another Dupe for Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer: The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer
The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer is formulated with a peptide duo to hydrate and support collagen formation. 2% Royal Epigen P5 works to even skin tone and stimulate skin renewal for increased smoothness. 1% Hydrating Peptide Solution supports the skin barrier which keeps the acid layer of the skin balanced and helps to defend against environmental aggressors.
The packaging of The Inkey List Peptide Moisturizer is strikingly similar to Drunk Elephant Protini, as it dispenses from the top of the jar by pressing down on a pump, just like Protini. The texture and consistency are reminiscent of Protini as well. This moisturizer is lightweight and hydrating and for under $15, this a great inexpensive alternative to the $68 Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer!
Related Post: The Inkey List Skincare Review
Luxury Skincare: Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer
Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer might just be my favorite Drunk Elephant product. I adore the whipped texture of this cream and the rich formula for use during the cold winter months.
It is formulated with six African oils: marula, mongongo, baobab, kalahari melon, ximenia, and passion fruit. Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer deeply penetrates the skin for superior hydration, while fermented green tea seed oil provides antioxidant protection and supports anti-aging.
Lala has recently been reformulated with Ceramides AP, EOP, and NP which help to protect the skin’s barrier and maintain moisture levels in the skin. It is formulated at a pH level of 5.2, which is right on target for the skin’s needs.
Drugstore Dupe for Drunk Elephant Lala Retro: Paula’s Choice Omega + Complex Moisturizer
Paula’s Choice Omega + Complex Moisturizer is formulated with chia and flaxseed, which boast Omegas 3, 6 & 9 to support the skin’s moisture barrier. Passion fruit protects the skin from environmental aggressors while antioxidant guava extract is a rich source of vitamin C. It also contains meadowfoam and olive oils, shea butter, sodium hyaluronate and ceramides for hydration and moisture balance.
Paula’s Choice describes their Omega + Complex Moisturizer as “cloud-like” and I would have to agree! The whipped texture of Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer rivals that of Drunk Elephant Lala and contains many of the same ingredients as Drunk Elephant.
It is supremely hydrating and lasts all day. Several hours after applying my skin still felt dewy and soft. This is a fantastic dupe and for the price, I probably won’t go back to Drunk Elephant!
Luxury Skincare: Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment is one of my favorite skincare products. I definitely do not love the steep price, but this skin brightener provides the most consistent results every time I use it.
The treatment is formulated with purified lactic acid, a hydrating alpha-hydroxy acid. This is the star ingredient that exfoliates the surface layers of the skin improving skin clarity. It clears away dead skin cells and excess oil and reveals brighter skin. It also helps to reduce the appearance of discoloration and dark spots. Licorice brightens, lemongrass works as an astringent (plus gives it a fantastic herbal/citrus scent) and arnica is soothing. But is there a dupe?
Drugstore Dupe for Good Genes: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA is a 10% lactic acid formulation that works similarly to Good Genes. It exfoliates dead skin cells and reveals brighter, smoother, younger-looking skin. Purified Tasmanian pepperberry helps to reduce inflammation and skin sensitivity that can come along with lactic acid. Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer works to hydrate and plump the skin. It is a smaller form of hyaluronic acid and able to provide moisture deeper into the layers of the skin than hyaluronic acid.
The Ordinary’s product is an excellent product, somewhat of a dupe, and one of the best lactic acid treatments that I’ve used. But Good Genes is such a unique product, that a close dupe is really hard to find. The Ordinary will brighten and smooth skin, but Good Genes has something extra that really sets it apart from other lactic acid treatments.
When it comes to price, The Ordinary is extremely affordable compared to Sunday Riley Good Genes. Even if you alternate it with Good Genes here and there, you will save money and still get the benefits from lactic acid. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA so inexpensive that it’s worth picking up a bottle and seeing if it provides some benefits for your skin before shelling out the $$$ for Good Genes.
NOTE: If your skin is sensitive, The Ordinary also makes a lactic acid at 5% strength. You can check it out here.
Luxury Skincare: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (Pitera Essence)
Nicknamed “miracle water” in Asia, a bottle of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence (Pitera Essence) is sold every two seconds! It is formulated with pitera, also called galactomyces fermented filtrate, a bio-ingredient derived from yeast fermentation that is similar to skin’s natural moisturizing factors. It contains 50 micro-nutrients including vitamins, minerals, amino acids and organic acids to condition and treat the skin.
Considering this is an extra step in between toning and serums or moisturizers, for the high price, it should really produce results. I am happy to say that after having used this essence, it does, in fact, brighten the skin and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps to improve skin texture and clarity. It also provides a lovely glow to your skin.
Drugstore Dupe for SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: PURITO Galacto Niacin 97 Power Essence
PURITO Galacto Niacin 97 Power Essence is a Korean skincare product that contains 92% galactomyces fermented filtrate. Galactomyces fermented filtrate balances oil and water in the skin, jut like skin cells. During the extraction process, enzymes that are beneficial to the skin are removed from fermenting bacteria. The essence brightens the skin, moisturizes, controls oil production, and improves elasticity.
The essence also contains 5% niacinamide which is an all-star anti-aging skincare ingredient all on its own. Niacinamide helps to calm inflammation and redness while brightening the skin. It minimizes hyperpigmentation and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and regulates oil production. It’s an all-star anti-ager and one of my favorite skincare ingredients.
PURITO Galacto Niacin 96 Power Essence is very impressive. It has the same silky feel as SK-II and leaves a non-greasy glow to your skin. Although I usually use it at night after toning, I’ve tried it in the morning and it works well with makeup too. It brightens and evens out my complexion. I think it even soothes my skin when using it in conjunction with retinoids. A great skincare dupe at a budget-friendly price!
Luxury Skincare: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum
The following patented best-selling vitamin C serum comes up again and again on dermatologists lists of the best anti-aging products for your skin. SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum contains 15% pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), 1% vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and 0.5% ferulic acid.
The serum protects against environmental damage caused by free radicals, neutralizes free radicals caused by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation, and ozone pollution. This antioxidant powerhouse brightens the skin and protects against photoaging. It also improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin firmness.
Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals while improving lipids in the skin. Ferulic acid also neutralized free radicals while improving the efficacy and stability of vitamins C and E.
Vitamin C is a volatile ingredient and quickly oxidizes but SkinCeuticals holds a patent for stabilized ascorbic acid composition. SkinCeuticals states that once applied and absorbed by your skin, the serum will remain effective for at least 72 hours. That’s some great antioxidant protection if I do say so myself. This serum has been studied by over 20 international dermatological publications and tested to support its claims on effectiveness.
Drugstore Dupe for Skinceuticals C E Ferulic: Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum
Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum is a very similar product to the SkinCeuticals serum. It also contains L-Ascorbic acid (but at 20%), tocopherol, ferulic acid, panthenol, and sodium hyaluronate. For years it was packaged in a glass bottle with a dropper, just like SkinCeuticals but recently changed its packaging to the yellow container with a pump.
This serum is formulated to treat dull stressed skin as its antioxidants protect from environmental pollutants. It brightens and evens skin tone while building collagen.
I’ve used SkinCeuticals on and off for years and I never liked the texture as it would leave my skin a bit sticky. (It doesn’t smell so great either.) While there is something to be said of SkinCeuticals being the industry standard for this type of product, if it is not in your budget, Timeless 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum is a great place to start.
I’ve used both the old and the new packaging of the Timeless serum and it appears as if the new packaging is an attempt to preserve the formula for longer before oxidation sets in. There is no need to open the bottle and expose the product inside to air as the old packaging did.
The serum sinks in and does not leave my skin sticky like SkinCeuticals. It dries quickly, does not irritate my skin and works well with makeup. Given vitamin C’s volatility and a rather short shelf life, I’d rather save and purchase this drugstore dupe while investing the $166 (current SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic price) elsewhere.
Luxury Skincare: La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream
Crème de la Mer moisturizer is the epitome of a luxury skincare product. I’ve been slightly obsessed with this product for many years and it was one of the first luxury skincare products that I tried. As an alternative to the original Crème de la Mer, La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream is a lighter but just as effective sibling to Crème de la Mer.
The consistency isn’t as greasy as the original and works well for combination and normal skin types. Both are formulated with La Mer’s proprietary Miracle Broth that deeply hydrates, soothes, and supports the skin barrier while softening lines and wrinkles. The formulas are ideal for sensitivity, redness, and irritation.
The Miracle Broth is made from hand-harvested Giant Sea Kelp off Vancouver Island. At $180 an ounce for La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream, the price is outrageous, which makes it the perfect candidate for a dupe. (For a fascinating read on the history of Creme de La Mer and its creator, Max Huber, check out this article: The Truth About Crème De La Mer.)
Drugstore Dupe for La Mer The Soft Cream: Weleda Skin Food Light Nourishing Cream
As it turns out Weleda Skin Food has been heralded as a natural dupe for La Mer by many. Weleda Skin Food is also extremely rich and ideal for dry skin. Originally launched in 1926, this plant-based cream contains extracts of wild pansy, calendula, and chamomile, in a rich, thick base of oils and beeswax.
Just as the Soft Cream is a lighter version of Creme de La Mer, Weleda Skin Food Light Nourishing Cream is a lighter version of Weleda Skin Food. Weleda Skin Food Light Nourishing Cream works as a dupe for The Soft Cream with its ability to instantly hydrate and sink into the skin quickly. Just like Weleda Skin Food, Skin Food Light is formulated with an herbal blend of chamomile, calendula, and wild pansy.
Luxury Skincare: Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Antioxidant Facial Oil
Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Antioxidant Facial Oil is produced by using a proprietary raw, cold-press extraction and filtration process. This creates a pure and concentrated form of marula oil that is easily absorbed. This process preserves the antioxidant polyphenols and fatty acids that protect the skin’s barrier.
This oil comes from the marula fruit and is unrefined. The oil will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and provide a gorgeous glow to the skin. This oil is ideal for all skin types including sensitive.
Drugstore Dupe for Drunk Elephant Marula Oil: The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil
The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil is obtained from the kernels of the fruit of the Marula tree, rich in oleic acid and linoleic acid as well as procyanidin, catechins, and flavonoids. This oil contains 100% unrefined cold-pressed virgin African Marula Oil. It comes in a UV-protective glass bottle and can be applied to both hair and skin as needed.
With Drunk Elephant Marula Oil, you clearly are paying for the proprietary extraction and filtration process and their commitment to working with only Certified Free Trade producers of the oil. You can decide the value of these differences. If you want to save $30, purchase The Ordinary Marula Oil and you will get a very similar product for a lot less money.
Luxury Skincare: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm is an award-winning makeup remove and face cleanser. It contains sunflower and ginger root oils to dissolve dirt, oil, eye makeup, and even long-wearing foundation. It doesn’t strip the skin or leave any unwanted residue either.
Papaya extract gently exfoliates and retextures the skin. A blend of lime, bergamot, and orange essential oils invigorates and awakens. This cleansing balm melts on the skin and makes quick work of makeup, dirt, and oil, leaving your skin soft and supple.
Drugstore Dupe for Farmacy Green Clean: Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-In-1 Melting Cleansing Balm
Physicians Formula The Perfect Matcha 3-In-1 Melting Cleansing Balm is formulated with antioxidant-filled Matcha Green Tea, Bamboo Shoot, and Lotus Extract. It removes makeup and impurities and leaves the skin hydrated.
Sure this cleansing balm doesn’t have the exact same ingredients as Farmacy, but it has the same green sherbet-like texture that instantly melts away makeup, dirt, and oil. It feels like a very similar product to Green Clean and produces nearly the same result: soft clean skin without any left-over residue. This cleanser comes in a small 1.4 oz jar, but ounce for ounce it works out to be $9.64 an ounce for Physicians Formula, versus $12.94 an ounce for the 1.7 oz jar of Farmacy Green Clean.
Final Thoughts on Drugstore Skincare Dupes
There are so many expensive skincare products on the market that you can replace with more affordable products that provide similar results. You often end up paying a premium for packaging or marketing from the luxury brands. Often the luxury product itself is not that different from affordable products, as seen above.
Do you have a favorite drugstore skincare dupe? Leave a note in the comments! I’d love to know!
Thanks for reading, and until next time…