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To Splurge or Not to Splurge: top drugstore dupes for popular makeup brands

There are countless opinions on the best way to build a solid makeup collection but we are here to set the record straight.

While some will argue for a capsule collection of carefully curated high-end products, others advocate for a bigger selection of more affordable items. But the question still stands, when should you spend and when should you splurge on makeup? Here's some advice from our professional makeup artists. We've also included our favorite MUST HAVE dupes to add to your collection or kit.

Consider Your Lifestyle: Do you use makeup daily or only for special occasions? For daily use, quality and long-lasting products can be more economical, because they last longer than cheaper products, which might need more frequent replacements. It's usually worth splurging on the basics: foundation, concealer, mascara and an everyday lipstick shade.

Experimentation: On the other hand, if you're just experimenting or trying to master a technique, you might not want to drop a large sum on an item you’re uncertain about. For items like trendy color cosmetics or products you're just getting the hang of like a bold red lipstick, false lashes, or neon eye-shadow, start with less expensive products.

Ingredients and Formulas: Remember that not all makeup products are created equal. Some inexpensive products perform wonderfully, while others can cause skin irritations due to cheap fillers and harmful chemicals. However, this doesn't mean all expensive makeup is good either. Sometimes, you're just paying for the brand name and packaging. Always look at the ingredient list and product reviews before making a decision.

What Works For Your Skin: Everyone’s skin is different. What works beautifully for one person may cause another to break out. Investing in more expensive products can often lead to a better color match, particularly for foundation and concealer. More high-end brands typically offer wider shade ranges.

Our Top Makeup Dupes -

Drugstore Vs Popular Makeup Brands

A photo of drugstore makeup laying flat

SPLURGE: Nars the Multiple $53 CDN -

What it is: A multipurpose stick for eyes, cheeks, lips, and body with a unique cream-to-powder formula that can be used as blush, highlighter, contour, and more.

SAVE: e.l.f Cosmetics Monochromatic Multi Stick $6 CDN -

What it is: A cream-to-powder, wear-everywhere blush stick that delivers a highly blendable kiss of color to eyes, lips, and cheeks.


SPLURGE: Tarte Shape Tape Concealer $43 CDN -

What it is: A bestselling, full-coverage concealer with up to 16 hours of crease-proof wear.

SAVE: e.l.f Cosmetics Hydrating Concealer $9 CDN -

What it is: A crease-resistant liquid concealer that provides a matte finish and full coverage for up to 16 hours.


SPLURGE: Huda Beauty Power Bullet Matte Lipstick $37 CDN -

What it is: A highly-pigmented lipstick that delivers unparalleled color payoff in a silky-smooth, plush-matte formula.

SAVE: NYX professional Suede Matte Lipstick $14 CDN -

What it is: A  super-soft and lightweight lipstick covers your pout in powdery-matte color.


SPLURGE: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb $28.50 CDN -

What it is: An ultimate, gotta-have-it lip gloss with explosive shine that feels as good as it looks.

SAVE: Maybelline Lifter Gloss $15.99 CDN -

This breakthrough formula with Hyaluronic Acid visibly smoothes lip surface and enhances lip contour with high shine for hydrated, fuller-looking lips. Plus, its XL wand transforms lips in an easy, one swipe application.


SPLURGE: Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Freeze $35 CDN -

What it is: An easy-to-use styling wax that lifts, tames, and sculpts every hair with extreme hold. It’s your secret to feathered, locked-in brows.

SAVE: e.l.f Cosmetics Brow Lift $8 CDN -

What it is: An extreme-hold clear eyebrow shaping wax that hold your brows in place for a fluffy, feathered soap brow look.


SPLURGE: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Powder $65 CDN -

What it is: An ultra-fine setting powder that blurs imperfections and visibly reduces shine.

SAVE: Maybelline Fit Me Matte Poreless Primer $14.49 CDN -

What it is: Maybelline's mattifying powder that fits skin tone and texture. Skin stays poreless and perfectly matte for up to 16 hours.


SPLURGE: Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Drops $51.50 CDN -

What it is: This antioxidant-rich, peptide-infused serum delivers a

bronzy wash of color while boosting skin’s elasticity and supporting healthy barrier function.

SAVE: NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illumiator $14.00 CDN -

What it is: Capture That Sexy Glow With Our Lightweight Multi-Functional Illuminator. Use As A Foundation Base Or Over Cheekbones Décolletage Or Cupids Bow For That Refreshing Luminosity.


SPLURGE: Nars Sheer Glow Foundation $64 CDN -

What it is: A foundation with buildable coverage for a finish that enhances the look of skin, without masking the natural complexion.

SAVE: L'oreal True Match $20.39 CDN -

What it is: True Match Super Blendable Foundation, a SKINCARE-INFUSED FOUNDATION. 99.5% of users FOUND THEIR TRUE MATCH with the NEW SKIN-MATCHING TECHNOLOGY for our most precise match. The foundation enhances your natural glow whilst allowing your skin to breathe, with bare-to-skin coverage, ideally matching your skin undertone.


SPLURGE: Dior Addict Lip Glow $54 CDN -

What it is: A nurturing, glossy lip oil that protects and enhances the lips, bringing out their natural color.

SAVE: e.l.f Glow Reviver Lip Oil $10 CDN -

What it is: An ultra-glossy tinted lip oil that nourishes, hydrates and enhances your lips’ natural color.


SPLURGE: Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter Foundation $66.50 CDN -

What it is: A complexion booster that blurs, smooths, and illuminates for a real-life filter effect. Customize your glow with four ways to apply.

SAVE: e.l.f Halo Glow Foundation $18 CDN -

What it is: A multi-purpose, liquid glow booster that gives your complexion a soft-focus social filter effect IRL.


SPLURGE: Milk Makeup Hydro Grip Primer $52 CDN -

What it is: An award-winning longwear gel makeup primer that grips makeup for up to 12 hours and hydrates with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide for a dewy finish.

SAVE: e.l.f Power Grip Primer $13 CDN -

What it is: A gel-based, hydrating face primer that smooths skin while gripping your makeup.


SPLURGE: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara $39 CDN -

What it is: A conditioning mascara with a formula that thickens, lengthens, and locks in curl for dramatic lashes with extreme volume.

SAVE: L'oreal Lash Paradise Mascara $19.99 CDN -

What it is: Lash Paradise Mascara is clump-resistant, smudge-resistant, longwearing and suitable for Sensitive eyes. The ultra-soft wavy brush catches every lash for dense, fuller-looking lashes.


SPLURGE: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray $48.50 CDN -

What it is: An award-winning lightweight vegan setting and finishing spray that keeps makeup fresh, smudge-proof, and transfer resistant for up to 16 hours.

SAVE: e.l.f Stay All Night Setting Mist $14 CDN -

What is it:  Lightweight makeup setting spray for up to 16 hours of wear

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