Powerful Dupes for the Most Iconic Skincare Products, According to Dermatologists
These expert-approved picks prove that high-quality skincare products don't have to break the bank.
There's a kind of frenzy that surrounds a skincare launch: When the product first circulates into the beauty sphere, there's a fever-pitch reaction—everyone wants to try it!—but this popularity is often short-lived. The main reason? It didn't deliver what it promised, so it fades into the background. This happens more often than you'd think, which is why most people gravitate towards tried-and-true products with longevity; they have stood the test of time simply because they work.
These cult-favorite formulas are the ones we buy over and again, replacing each bottle as soon as we've run out of product. Their formulas don't change—they're that good—but they always seem to have a waitlist; plus, they're the ones that celebrity, beauty editors, and skincare gurus frequently tout. And while there are times when you get lucky and find one of these iconic skincare workhorses on sale, most of these products, that have become household names and staples in our routines, aren't cheap.
This makes sense. Many of these beloved products—from toners and serums to cleansers and moisturizers—were the first of their kind and originality comes at a price. It didn't take long, however, for other brands to catch on and begin making their own versions at much lower price points. While the original versions will always be special, there are some lesser-known and less expensive skincare items that compare to the originals. Here, combined with the help of in-the-know dermatologists, we've rounded up some of our favorite iconic skincare products and matched them with less-expensive alternatives so you can have glowing skin, whatever the cost.
The Icon: SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask
The product that first popularized sheet masks in the United States, this SK-II mask has a secret ingredient that other brands have yet to beat: pitera. The single-use treatment is rich in vitamins, minerals, and organic exfoliating acids that promote a clear complexion and hydration.
Shop Now: SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask, $95 for six, sephora.com.
The Dupe: Neova Serious GlyPeel Mask
The Icon: La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizer
As the brand claims, this really is the product "that started it all." And it did: It's kept skin hydrated, soft, and supple since its launch in 1965.
Shop Now: La Mer Crème de la Mer Moisturizer, $335, www.nordstrom.com.
The Dupe: Alastin Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer
This moisturizing workhorse, from a newer yet still noteworthy brand, is a great alternative. "It's especially great for eczema prone patients to repair the skin barrier," adds Palep, who further notes that it's an ideal product to have on hand when you're skiing or performing any other outdoor winter activities. It contains soothing botanicals and peptides that can help firm skin and increase collagen and elastin production.
Shop Now: Alastin Ultra Nourishing Moisturizer, $70, alastin.com.
The Icon: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic
Dermatologists have recommended this skin-refining staple for years thanks to its age-preventative and skin-protecting combination of antioxidants C and E; together, they help even your skin tone while protecting your face from free-radical damage.
Shop Now: SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $166, dermstore.com.
The Dupe: Revision Skincare Vitamin C Lotion 15%
Palep actually suggests turning to Revision's formula, instead, since the vitamin C it contains is photo-stabilized (meaning it will not break down in sunlight). Historically, vitamin C is a very unstable ingredient that loses its benefits when exposed to the sun—and this one won't do that. The fact that it's a lotion, as opposed to an oil, also makes it great for those who are acne prone, she adds.
Shop Now: Revision Skincare Vitamin C Lotion 15%, $86, amazon.com.
The Icon: AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact
The Dupe: Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, Tinted
Instead of trying to buy a less-expensive cushion compact that also boasts SPF, the secret here is to go for an antioxidant-packed tinted sunscreen. Elta MD's option might look less fancy, but it works so well. "It's great for those who are rosacea- and acne-prone, too, and replaces foundation," says Dr. Rita Linkner of Spring Street Dermatology.
Shop Now: Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Tinted, $37, dermstore.com.
The Icon: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pads
These glow-boosting peel pads were first popularized by Olivia Palermo years ago and have been a go-to means of at-home exfoliation ever since.
Shop Now: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Pads, $88, sephora.com.
The Dupe: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads
Linkner loves the formula of these pads—the fact that they're less than half the price of Dr. Dennis Gross' option is an added bonus. "Lactic and glycolic acids make these treatment pads an effective and convenient way to tone and brighten the skin," she says.
Shop Now: First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, $32, ulta.com.
The Icon: Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Oil
This two-in-one cleanser is all you need for a clean, makeup-free complexion. It leaves your skin free of SPF, dirt, debris, oil, and makeup at the end of the day without also leaving it dry or irritated.
Shop Now: Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Oil, $48, sephora.com.
The Dupe: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water
Garnier's micellar water works across all skin types, including sensitive—and you don't even need water to use it. The hydrating liquid helps cleanse the skin and acts as a makeup remover, all in one fell swoop. Just put a bit on a cotton ball, swipe it around your face, and you're good to go.
Shop Now: Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, $6.78, amazon.com.
The Icon: Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum
This incredible elixir has been a cult-favorite for years—it's packed with so many cold-pressed, nutrient-dense ingredients that quickly absorb into your skin to make it radiant, even, youthful, and blemish free.
Shop Now: Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum, $185, net-a-porter.com.