April 19, 2017

Is Imitation the Best or Worst Form of Flattery in the Makeup World?

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Is imitation a form of flattery in the makeup and beauty world or is it just plain copying? Several years ago, Victoria’s Secret was sued by Urban Decay for introducing a “Naked” Eyeshadow Palette. Or in this case, they used the “Naked” name which was apparently trademarked by Urban Decay. I mean, in this particular case, I don’t think Victoria’s Secret really copied anything aside from the name from Urban Decay but there are plenty of brands that copy each other’s ideas and packaging etc…

Let’s see…

There’s Maybelline Color Jolt Intense Lip Paint which some might say is very similiar Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick. And if we really think hard enough we can probably come up with any number of drugstore dupes out there that look quite similiar to some of our beloved mid to higher range brand products.

But none are more guilty of this than Makeup Revolution who recently came under fire when Kat Von D called them up on Instagram for duping Kat’s Eye Contour Palette with their Ultra Eye Contour Light & Shade Palette. Makeup Revolution does so like to copy Too Faced packaging. A quick glance at their Chocolate Eyeshadow Palettes and Blushing Hearts Blush will have plenty of eyes raising.

I have to admit though I didn’t really make the connection between Kat’s palette and their palette until she did a shout out on Instagram about it and even then I failed to make the connection.

Is a copycat? Is it stealing? It’s so hard to say.

When you work hard on something and it’s blatantly copied it hurts. I should know because as a blogger I have entire posts stolen from my site or I have others stealing ideas I’ve posted, etc……I’ve come to realize though that it’s hard to have a unique idea in the makeup and beauty world. youTubers are a prime example of creating some sort of cool idea and having that idea copied a million times over.

I hate to say it because I come to expect copying in the makeup world. If someone introduces some sort of interesting blush palette you can be damn sure the idea is going to be copied across the board especially at drugstores but it doesn’t hurt any less nor is it right by any means.

If I worked hard on a palette of some sort only to have it copied in packaging and formula I’d be devastated and hurt.

Do you think copying in the makeup world is expected?

Or is it completely wrong?

Do share!

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About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Susan

    Copying is fine with me as long as it doesn’t infringe on copyrights. For example, you cannot copyright a color or a basic color name or a basic shape; i.e., you can’t say, “I copyrighted a pink square called Pink.” You can AFAIK copyright distinctive things such as, say, a certain Art Nouveau style cat-shaped pink blush named “Cat von Duh’s Pink Francais” or whatever.

    If makeup companies have successful products I expect other companies to copy the basic color or concept. Makeup Revolution’s “Chocolate” eyeshadow palettes have differently shaped boxes and differently named shadows than TooFaced’s and also do not smell like chocolate. Personally I think KVD is a whiner of the highest order.

    • Agona

      I like that idea of a cat-shaped pink blush named Cat von Duh’s Pink Francais. That made me LOL. 🙂

    • Katie

      I agree with you that you shouldn’t be able to copyright something pretty basic and universal, like a square pink blush called “Pink.” However, Makeup Revolution called their dupe “Light and Shade” instead of “Shade and Light.” They also copied the layout of the original palette exactly. That isn’t just reusing the basic idea of an eye contour palette in shades of brown; it’s shameless copying. I can definitely see why she’s mad. And, I think she said she isn’t going to sue? So, she’s not “whining” quite as much as she could. (Also, I would probably by that art deco cat shaped blush you described. 🙂 )

  • Jeremy

    *personally* I’ve become disgusted by the beauty world and this whole obsession with dupes. Back in the day a dupe was a similar color or texture to another product like “oh hey this Maybelline lipstick reminds me of this mac one”, but now consumers are just looking for cheap knockoffs. Like look at the people who purposely buy fake imitations off of aliexpress and the like. I saw a thumbnail for a video the other day saying that the Neutrogena hydro tint (which I owned and hated) was a dupe for the reformulated la mer Foundation (which I own and consider my holy grail) and they just couldn’t be more different. I truly believe that YouTube both helped and destroyed the world of makeup and makeup artistry. Sorry if this is hella ranty, it just irks me I’m really not this bitter I promise

    • Isabella Muse

      haha no it’s ok because I completely agree. It drives me up the wall when someone tells me something is a dupe for so and so product and I’m like, “ahh not it isn’t!” Especially the case with drugstore vs high end. Honey, you’re not going to say Neutrogena is a dupe for La Mer, not happening 😀 I totally agree ;-D and yes, YouTube’s subculture is completely the problem here, as far as I’m concerned they are almost completely responsible for the “This is a dupe for that…” 😀

      • Jeremy

        Ah I’m so glad you agree. I could go on and on about what I think is wrong with the makeup world and something tells me we’d agree on a lot

        • Isabella Muse

          By ll means go on and on! 🙂 I’m sure we do! There is such much that bugs me and makes me grind my teeth 😀 I know of a blog that is constantly with the “This is a dupe…” and I’m about ready to jump off a cliff whenever I read a review knowing that Maybelline Color Sensational Lipstick or some other lipstick is going to be compared to Guerlain Rouge G in some sentence or another. This is when I take to knocking my head against my desk again and again and again 😀 It makes me question if these people ever even tried the product they are saying it’s a dupe of! Although, we do disagree on one thing, I actually liked the Neutrogena Tint haha but I wouldn’t compare it to La Mer! Promise, cross my heart hope to die 😀

          • Jeremy

            HA! that’s ridiculous! Oh I know you love it (I read your blog every day admittedly ) , I know a lot of people that do I really liked the idea of it but it made me look sallow and greasy one of my biggest pet peeves and I get a lot of side eye for this one is the kind of makeup that you see. It’s all this over the top full glam instagram Kardashian stuff. Now I FULLY believe that anyone can wear as much or as little makeup as they want in whatever style they want. But you never see a natural real person look anymore. It’s all full coverage foundation/concealer, heavy contour, etc and I LOOOOOVE that men are being included in the makeup world but again it’s all very drag queeny (which is what most makeup reminds me of these days) there’s no edge or grit to male makeup.

          • Isabella Muse

            It’s just so much dupe this and that ughhhhhh! 😀 Aw thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!!! xoxoxox flattered! I agree, I feel like makeup goals are so incredibly un-achievable because of instagram and youtube. I seriously can’t get away with a pound of highlighter and look like some of these people on Instagram. I envy them a little bit but I also feel rather bad that there’s no way I can look like that. I follow a lot of euro-bloggers and I find they do much more natural looks that are a refreshing change from all the heavy makeup everyone is into nowadays. Like Carina from cream’s beauty blog is so refreshingly pretty and natural, never over done! I also LOVE that men are finally getting more attention BUT, don’t hate me please, I hate that it feels like a way to sell makeup. I want to men to be recognized as loving makeup as much as women do, I also want to see more men in my feed wearing makeup, doing tutorials, etc because we can all learn something from them as they have major skills. I also feel like it’s easier to follow along and achieve realistic results when a guy is teaching me how to blend versus a girl, I mean hello? EnKoreMakeup! I miss Koren so much, I learned so much from him. But I feel like brands like Covergirl are just using the men who like makeup as a way to sell product and reach a larger audience. I dunno why but I feel betrayed by this. Men have liked makeup for a long time, you’re just now coming to realizing like this and choose to “support them” for it. It irks me for some reason they treat it like it is new. They should have been acknowledging men a long time ago! Not just now because youTube made it popular. I can go on and on lol! Sorry…!

          • Agona

            I can understand if your budget is so tight that you can only afford a “dupe” and live vicariously knowing it’s a pale imitation of the real thing. But often times, I find myself falling for dupes of products that I already own and love thinking it’ll be more of what I love, but often being disappointed. I appreciate my handful of drugstore items on their own merits but I would never expect them to be the same as a high-end product.

      • Sara

        I’ve always thought of a dupe as something that matches the color or shade of something, I know not to expect the quality to be the same between a $50 lipstick and a $8 one, even if the shade is super similar. And if you do then you’re really just looking for a cheap knockoff (and the quality won’t be there either). Usually I’m looking for a shade dupe cuz I don’t want to spend $50 and I’m OK with trading off quality (if it happens to perform well, then sweet!). It does raise eyebrows though when a brand blatantly copies the exact shades and styling of another brand’s item. I crack up a bit at the knock off makeup I’ve seen pop up, like you have no idea what’s in those! I’m certainly not putting any of it near my eyeballs, LOL!

        • Jeremy

          Omg I completely agree! There’s a difference between talent and ability to push products coughcovergirlcough

      • Aneiren

        Seriously, if people think they’re going to get the same “results” from $8 vs 78….. (just examples) they should be informed how the industry is playing off their stupidity. I buy plenty of cheap stuff, and plenty of not cheap stuff. Depends where you want to spend, I guess. Stupid priced facial oil? Sure I’ll splurge. A lipstick I’ll probably wear 2x and forget about? Where’s my coupon to make it nearly free… Makeup Revolution is going to be in trouble soon, they’re just too close to thin ice.

  • Carol G

    In my opinion, I can see both sides. On one hand, some of the prices for high-end cosmetics are completely ridiculous and sometimes the average worker cannot afford them. Cosmetics do not cost a lot to make, per se, but the money is going toward advertising/marketing costs. I can understand people wanting to be able to follow a trend in makeup and be part of the crowd ( so to speak) but not being able to afford a $50 or $60 palette. So I don’t have a problem with lower-end companies trying to “copy” or “re-imagine”, if you will, a popular palette. But on the flip side, yes I agree with people calling products “dupes” (like your example of comparing Neutrogena to La Mer) when they are not even close. Basically, if everyone across the board would lower their prices, they would sell more product. I mean look at how much we all spend during Sephora’s VIB sales and Ulta’s sales.

    • Isabella Muse

      Me too. I def understand there are going to be copycats but I try to put myself in the creator’s shoes as well and I know I’d be utterly saddened if my stuff was copied.

  • Isa

    I think there is a difference between a dupe and a knockoff and the difference lies a lot in how the product was developed.

    A knockoff to me is when one brand (usually a lower cost brand) deliberately sets out to copy the product of another brand, trying to make it as similar to the original as possible at a low cost. That includes the packaging and naming of a product as well as the shade selection. The intention is obviously to remind consumers of the original when they look at the knock-off and imply that it is essentially the same product.

    A dupe to me is a product that is similar, whether it was intentional or not. Side by side swatches of Becca’s Prismatic Amethyst and Nyx’s Lavender Steel may show the products to be extremely similar, and I would consider them dupes for one another, but I don’t think that it’s a care of one company knocking off the other. I can believe that the products were developed independently of each other and the colour similarity is simply because the respective companies were trying to cater to the trend for unusual highlighters. If it were a Makeup Revolution take on Becca, the product would have probably be pressed in that distinctive pattern, have similar packaging and named kaleidoscopic amethyst or something like that.

    I can see how dupes can be useful, like sometimes a certain product is limited edition or discontinued and people are looking for a similar product that is available to buy now. But I personally am not inclined to buy something just because it is a knockoff of another product. If I really wanted the original, I would probably have bought it already. If I didn’t, I probably won’t buy the knockoff simply because it is an iteration of a product I already decided against purchasing. I understand that sometimes budget necessitates that one buys lower cost items, but in that scenario, I think I would want a to buy a product at drugstore prices that is good quality enough to stand on its own.

    Also yes, I agree with the posts above that the word dupe is thrown around too loosely nowadays! Dupes are supposed to be extremely similar to each other in everyway, IMO. A lot of the supposed dupes don’t fit that bill to me. I don’t understand why people would claim they are dupes except for the sake of hype. A product can be good and stand on its own merits without being a dupe for something else!

  • Chris

    One copycat that comes to mind is CoverGirl’s Tru Naked Roses palette which is similar to Urban Decay’s Naked 3 palette. I can see both having their places in the marketplace. Some people can afford high end cosmetics and some want similar colors at a more affordable price. I own the CoverGirl palette.

    Definitely a thought provoking thread.

  • kjh

    Right now, MUR seems to be the queen of copy. But, virtually everyone has a naked 3 dupe, though most are not overtly close. They are more like ‘our take on x concept.’ Thin ice is right. The shade and light is obviously a LE clone. Not even a dupe, but a clone. Also the tf striped heart blush. Idk if those are copyright infringements, but it sure looks it to me. The MURs came after they knew that the products they copied were hits. This is not the product of industrial espionage, which CAN be behind new trends emerging at the same time. Like, wow, A’s spring line up is just like B’s. You do see trends being adopted by every company and their grandmother. That’s why m/u is somewhat in a rut, bec derivative sells. Have another nude eyeshadow palette. Your fortieth. And it’s also the reason that MUR sells. Fashion does it. Even cereal and candy do it. If it sells, we’ll found it, too. If Taking on MUR did not mean an international lawsuit, with different bodies of laws, kvd probably would sue them, with good reason. As to product and personality, I try to divorce them. Trash talk predominates over reasonable discourse and argument. Esp in the social media age.(SM also contributes to five hundred gold highlighters in minimally different packaging, as well as copying everything in sight.) I’m as annoyed by what is considered ‘the social norm’ as I am by the rip-off. And, to be snarky, I don’t like the one MUR item I have…shade description way off. Guess I DON’T TRUST THEM!!!

  • Mrs C M Dyson

    Guilty of buying many Makeup Revolution Eye-shadow palettes. They are brilliant, the quality of the eyeshadows is great with or without primer. I prefer them to all my premium palettes, I have a Lorac Pro palette which is excellent from Geek, I also got an ABH contour palette from Geek which is great too. I think the Fortune Favours The Brave palette was an interesting development from Makeup Revolution, it was created with a bloggers help. I am not a MUA or Instagram star so I am happy to use dupes. Love the Blog, a daily delight x

    • Isabella Muse

      Don’t feel guilty, I have a few as well and like them too 😀 Aw thank you Mrs Dyson xoxoxoxoxo that means the world to me!

  • Stephanie

    I’m all for companies trying to create something similar to high end brands that is good quality and more affordable like the Maybelline Color Jolt lip paints which I do think are a good dupe for the Too Faced melted lipsticks.

    What I am against is deliberately copying the shades, the packaging, and the name or slightly changing the name and passing it off as original.

  • Rebecca Elson

    I definitely don’t need “dupes”. I’m FAR more interested in just learning about good quality, inexpensive drugstore products. I don’t need a “dupe” for some high end highlighter, I prefer to just know what good, cheap ass highlighters are available. That kind of thing, if I’m making any sense.

  • Sarah

    Prestige brands are very expensive and unless one has very few commitments and a job to match, it’s hard for the average Joe or Jane to justify spending so much on a prestige brand. That’s why some drug store brands are godsends. However, when I see brands straight-up copying cosmetics – I see you, Makeup Revolution and your Xerox products – I wonder if the company isn’t driven to provide quality dupes to the rest of us. Instead, I wonder if they’re hoping to exploit people who don’t know a difference because they’re so new to cosmetics in general. “Oh, I got the Shade and Light palette!” but it’s not at all, you know? And now the company creating the dupe has the money you meant to spend on the prestige brand.

    That’s my two cents. I could be WAY off however.

  • Dee

    I’m all for drugstore products and lower prices…but you will never find exact matches for any product. If I have a blush or eye shadow color that I love and pay more for it I’m fine with that. I don’t expect to walk into a drugstore and find the exact duplicate at half the price. I do understand trying to find a lower priced alternative and I do that too.

    The packaging does bug me, I have to admit. When you posted the blush by makeup revolution a week or two ago I wondered how they could get away with it.

    • Agona

      Exactly. I use drugstore products to try trends before I invest in higher-priced products. Like “do I look good in orange-toned blushes?” “can I pull off a teal eyeshadow?” etc. It gives me a generic sense of what I like and dislike so I can shop more expensive brands more smartly.

  • Brandy

    I’m sorry but I like good deals. I don’t like to spend a ton on makeup since my job doesn’t require me to look all made up. I’m not expecting the knock off to be just like the actual product, so I don’t mind if the color or texture is a little “off”. I own some MUR products and they suit me just fine. The brand is good for people like me who can’t/ don’t want to spend a ton of money on makeup.

    • Brandy

      I also wanted to add that I don’t feel like KVD or Too Faced are going to be missing out on a ton of money because of MUR and other lower priced brands. The people that have the money and want the real thing are going to buy the prestige brands. If it weren’t for the knock-offs and dupes, people like me would just do without.

      • Isa

        I actually agree that the brands they are copying are probably not missing out on that much revenue for the reason you stated, but I can understand why they might be salty because their idea was basically stolen.

        The thing about MUR is that from what I’ve heard, their products are pretty good quality. I don’t think that it’s actually necessary for them to depend on copying ideas from other brands for sales. Their products are good enough that people would buy them regardless.

        • francesca

          I definitely agree that MUR products are good enough to stand on their own! It disappoints me a little that they create such similar products to other brands, but I will absolutely still support the brand for other beautiful products they make.

          For example, their setting spray is my holy grail (+cheaper per oz than NYX) and Skin Kiss highlight in Peach Kiss is gorgeous and perfect for daily use!

          I’m not a big “dupe” person unless I’m searching for a specific color, but I certainly appreciate high-quality inexpensive makeup — there’s a difference. I’m a student and the only things that I will dish out big bucks regularly are my base products. (Which are IT Cosmetics YSBB CC+ and Tarte Shape Tape, since I’m sure y’all are curious about my riveting life.) I’ll occasionally splurge on a well-reviewed fun item, but I would so much rather be able to buy cheap lipsticks more often than an expensive one rarely. I always go back to my old favorites anyways, and makeup should be fun ^.^

        • Brandy

          Yeah, I mean KVD is entitled to her opinion and outrage. I would never fault someone for being honest. I just thought it was funny that I didn’t even know MUR had this palette until she pointed it out, and now I’m interested in trying it. Every once in a while if I like the dupe enough, I’ll splurge on the real thing to see how the quality compares.

      • Silvia

        I totally agree with you Brandy. I have a few great high end makeup from the past but also lots of drugstore makeup as well. Mostly I buy on pure impulse never bothering to check whether an item is a dupe or not and so far I’m enjoying my new drugstore makeup a lot. I have learn about my skin color and what goes with it through youtubers, as well as fashion. I have two great kids girl/boy going to college and paying the high loans they owe. It would be a crime for me to spend in high end makeup just for the brand names and pretty packaging when I’m finding suitable products and perfect matches. I also work from home helping hubby on his business but even having a job outside I think is great to save tons of $$$ on makeup and still have fun experimenting with different great brands. I don’t throw my older makeup out either keep them neatly clean, organized and in the prettiest containers I can display my exciting findings. Lol!

  • Renu

    It’s like this. If you blog about your favourite 10 drugstore foundations, so can someone else. BUT no one can copy your post verbatim or use the photos you took.
    If I write a romance novel featuring a Greek shipping tycoon and a virgin English rose, so can you (Don’t ask. Drunken university nights + dares + Mills & Boon = BAD idea). BUT you cannot use the same title/chapters/words/any paragraph/cover image and so on.
    The trouble with what MUR does is that no one can really do anything about it. They haven’t “copied” the shade names. Or the exact packaging. The Too Faced dupes were barely different enough to escape. You bet they have lawyers ready to argue that they were inspired too! But because they’ve actually copied they layout and the design of the pans this time, they could still be sued. Let’s see if KVD acts on this – I’ll bring the popcorn.