If you’re a makeup lover, you live for a great dupe. (If you’re a makeup newbie, ‘dupe’ is short for duplicate. When you apply that to makeup you’re talking about products that are either very similar or near identical both in color and texture.) It’s very challenging these days to have a truly original idea in makeup whether it comes to unique packaging, formulas, or color schemes. In a sense, we’ve seen a variation of everything before. And the drugstore has historically been a goldmine for dupes to many high-demand and expensive products. Take for example, the similarities between the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops and NYX’s Total Control Drop Foundation; both boast the ability to customize your foundation coverage with a thin, watery formula that’s delivered through a glass stopper. So if you had the option to buy a similar foundation for $14 (NYX) or $44 (Cover FX), chances are you’d go with the lower-priced item.
Many in the beauty community make the case that the drugstore or other lower-cost retailers help democratize the experience that higher-end makeup products provide. If you love the color and ornate packaging of a Tom Ford lipstick but don’t have the budget to buy one, L’Oreal or Maybelline can provide you with a similar experience if you buy one of their lipsticks. I personally see nothing wrong with this way of thinking, nor do I see a problem with L’Oreal or Maybelline creating more affordable lipsticks that may by happenstance be similar to higher-end ones. But things get a little more contentious when you study what UK drugstore brand Revolution Beauty (formerly known as Makeup Revolution) has done throughout its past.
As someone who lives in the U.S., Revolution seemed to come bounding onto the beauty scene very suddenly a few years back. At first they occupied a small end-cap in Ulta, and now they take up nearly half an aisle; their popularity has exploded. They are generally well-received by social media influencers and consumers who praise their low price points and gobble up their seemingly endless makeup releases. So where is the problem exactly? If you peruse Revolution’s site, amongst their vast offerings you’ll find several products that go well beyond the imitation or ‘duplication’ of well-known higher-priced items; these products could easily be considered rip off’s of said higher-priced items.
In 2017, Twitter shouted Revolution out for copying the iconic rose-gold, fluted packaging associated with the Charlotte Tilbury brand for their Renaissance Lipsticks Luxe launch. Quite famously in the same year, Kat Von D tried publicly shaming them via Instagram for blatantly copying her best-selling Shade & Light Eye Contour Palette. While the packaging on the Revolution Ultra Eye Contour Light and Shade is different and much cheaper than the Shade & Light, everything else from the color selection to the sequencing of colors are nearly identical between the palettes (I’m sure the formula isn’t identical though). Revolution’s response was matter-of-fact and unapologetic: they are in the business of making dupes so that makeup can be accessible to all.
It doesn’t stop there. Revolution has essentially copied other popular products from Too Faced, Ben Nye, Kylie Cosmetics & KKW Beauty as well. Here are just a few visuals for comparison.
From comparing the packaging and the overall execution of the Revolution products in all the cases above, you can see that they’re similar enough to be identified as a lower-priced ‘dupe’ for those very popular higher-priced makeup items, but also different enough not to put themselves under the threat of copyright infringement. Revolution has figured out a way to successfully skirt this fine line so they can quickly capture the popularity of other makeup brands. Customers don’t have to wait for makeup artists or social media influencers to tell them that these Revolution products are ‘dupes’ for luxury items; they can make that association much quicker for themselves if the packaging and layout look similar enough or nearly identical.
I haven’t tried any of the Revolution products pictured above. I know most people talk about their great quality, but I would rather put my money towards other drugstore items or even other Revolution items that didn’t so blatantly appropriate others’ successes. I don’t hate Revolution Beauty. I happily use their Conceal and Define Concealer regularly, which everyone says is a dupe for Shape Tape but I don’t personally agree on that. I just find some of their business practices troublesome.
I do think makeup should be accessible to all incomes. I do think drugstore brands should be able to recreate luxurious experiences at more affordable costs. But that doesn’t mean drugstore brands can’t be innovative, and it doesn’t mean drugstore brands should take what Too Faced, Kat Von D, or KKW Beauty is producing, change the packaging ever so slightly, and call it their own.
I really would love to hear your opinion on Revolution Beauty. Do you think what they do is wrong in these instances, or just another example of lower-cost duplication?