The Best Drugstore Makeup Dupes for Your Professional Makeup Kit - QC Makeup Academy

So you’re fresh off the high of graduating from your makeup artistry certification course. It’s time to start your business and book some clients! But before you start filling up your calendar, make sure you’re fully prepared for any client who comes your way. That means having a well-stocked kit!

You don’t need to have all high-end (or even mid-end) products to be a good artist. In fact, many celebrity makeup artists intentionally choose drugstore products over pricier ones. Why splurge on the expensive products when there are drugstore dupes that work equally well or better? Since you’re a fresh-faced artist, it might not even be financially viable to buy all your makeup from Tom Ford!

Still not convinced? Keep reading to find out what drugstore dupes you should stock your professional makeup kit with!

1. Dupe for: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder $39

The Laura Mercier setting powder is a HG product in many artists’ makeup kit. It locks in face makeup while maintaining a signature silky-smooth finish. But at $38, it won’t last long in your kit during wedding season. It’s actually not so difficult to find a dupe for this powder! Its main benefit is that it doesn’t set into fine wrinkles and lines. You just have to take it back to the basics!

Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder $6

Enter: Coty Airpsun’s Loose Face Powder! This vintage cult beauty product has been around since the 1930s! Its longevity is a testament to its superior quality even after all these years! When applied, it controls shine while maintaining your skin’s natural finish.

translucent powder drugstore dupe

2. Dupe for: NARS Orgasm $30

This iconic shade is the top selling blush in the US! The universally flattering color with its fine gold glitter has a spot in every professional kit. But at a price of $30, you’ve got to hope for another option!

Sleek Shimmer Blush in Rose Gold $6

Sleek is a UK drugstore brand that is making waves in the US of A. Their Rose Gold blush is almost identical to NARS’. Plus, it packs a higher pigment! If you’re used to working with Orgasm, use a lighter hand. Rose Gold offers the same blendability and buildability as Orgasm does. This long-lasting formula looks gorgeous on the face and at a fraction of the cost, we’re sold!


3.  Dupe For: Benefit Watt’s Up! Cream-to-Powder Highlighter $30

If you were lucky enough to be part of the Sephora Beauty Insider Program a few years back, you’ve probably sampled Benefit’s Watt’s Up! highlighting stick. This champagne highlighter diffuses into the perfect golden glow to upgrade any look. In fact, the champagne highlighter look has been trending in general lately. Because of brands like Benefit and BECCA, the latter of which came out with the bestselling Champagne Pop color, its popularity means more drugstore brands are creating their own dupes…

Maybelline Face Studio Master Strobing Stick $9

Maybelline has one of the best dupes we’ve found for this color. Its medium nude glow shade perfectly replicates the soft, luminous glow of its counterpart. You won’t find large chunks of glitter here! You can choose from either the strobing stick or the liquid. The benefit (no pun intended) of going down liquid lane? You can mix it with your foundation/moisturizer for a radiant, full-face glow.

contour and highlighter stick cheap dupes


4.  Dupe For: Make Up For Ever Instant Brush Cleanser $23

As a certified makeup artist, your clients trust you to ensure you’re keeping products clean between appointments. The last thing you want is a client tracing an eye infection back to you! You should own many deep cleaning makeup cleansers and also have spot cleansers on hand. The MUFE alcohol-free cleanser maintains your brushes’ softness while giving it a good cleaning.

NYX On the Spot Makeup Brush Cleaner Spray $10

Our daring drugstore dupe? The NYX spray smells like a dream and works like a charm! Simply spray it on a cloth and gently run your dirty brushes over it. It’ll lift the dirt and excess makeup without damaging your brushes. Seriously, we need this in a half-gallon jug, ASAP!


5.  Dupe For: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara $25

If you’re doing a look with bold lips and minimal eyes, you need to give your model’s lashes some serious TLC. The Better Than Sex mascara is a HG item for makeup hobbyists and artists alike. It coats each lash evenly with a  collagen-infused formula for va-va-voom lashes!

L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara $10

The Voluminous Lash Paradise first drew comparisons with its mid-range counterpart due to its frosty pink packaging. But the similarities don’t stop there! They boast near-identical curvy brushes with 200+ bristles.  This makes for soft lashes without sacrificing volume or length. L’Oréal even offers a waterproof version for longer wear.

brush tip eyeliner

6.  Dupe for: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner $20

This brush-tip liner is no joke. It’s waterproof and long-lasting on the lids. Its award-winning formula and vegan ingredients made this one of the brands runaway best sellers! But at $20 a pop for just 0.019oz of product, we challenged ourselves to find a better deal. And we did!

NYX Epic Ink Liner $9

NYX’s second entry on our list, this liner is one of the best dupes out there. And at 0.03oz of produce for $9, you’ll get even more bang for your buck! When you first use it, note that formula takes a fraction longer to dry, so be careful when you first use it on a completed look. Besides that, we have no qualms! This liquid liner is also vegan for makeup artists who are looking for a direct dupe of the KVD classic. With a soft but precise brush tip, you’ll create sharp-as-nails liner looks that could kill!

7. Dupe for: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Trio $54

Rihanna just can’t do any wrong! Sold together and separately, her contour sticks were a part of Fenty Beauty’s initial launch. These magnetized trios come in four creamy yet lightweight shades for diverse contouring options. With their rounded tip applicators, you won’t have to worry about unforgiving contour streaks. Although a universally flattering offering, the price isn’t flattering on our budget!

Wet n Wild MegaGlo Dual-Ended Contour Stick $6

Budget-friendly and multi-purpose, you can use the WnW Contour Stick as a highlight, contour, or both. An alternative to the Fenty and KKW sticks, you can deliver a chiseled glow at just $6 a pop. Unfortunately, they only have two shades in this line. If you’re willing to spend just a smidgen more, NYX’s Wonder Sticks are priced at $12 USD and come in 6 flattering shades!

What other professional makeup kit essentials can be duped? Let us know!

A good professional makeup kit caters to all skin types and tones. Check out celebrity makeup artist Nathan Johnson’s guide on building a global beauty makeup kit!

Author Celina Feng

More posts by Celina Feng

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