We're reader-supported and only partner with brands we trust. When you buy through links on our site we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn More. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date and time indicated and are subject to change.
If you’ve heard the word “dupe” being tossed around lately and still ask yourself, “What is a dupe, actually?” then I’ve got you. In short, it’s a lookalike of a more expensive name-brand product. Dupes often have a similar look or purpose as their inspiration, but they come at a more affordable price.
It seems like there’s one of these products for everything these days. From Lululemon items to Clinique lipsticks to designer cookware, you name it. And we’re always sharing our favorite ones, since we can’t pass up a good deal.
Here’s everything you need to know about dupes and how to shop them. And for even more saving tips, text DEALS to 57299 to know about the hottest deals each day.
What is a dupe, exactly?
When we’re talking about shopping, a dupe is basically a less expensive version of a higher-end or luxury product. The dupe is meant to closely match the original in looks or performance. It’s no wonder these have become a shopper’s best friend, giving them the opportunity to look like a million bucks without breaking the bank.
For example, a makeup brand may produce a “dupe” of a popular high-end lipstick that has a similar color and texture but is sold at a much lower price point. Take this Charlotte Tilbury lipstick dupe from Maybelline, which saves you $25.
Not all of these are created equal, and some may not live up to the OG. Always check reviews, and only purchase dupes from trusted retailers.
The word is short for “duplicate.”
At first, when you see the word “dupe” it might make you think of being tricked or duped. While that’s one definition, that’s not where the shopping term comes from. In this case, it’s a shortened version of “duplicate.” So it’s a copy of the product it’s inspired by, not a trick.
Here are some of our favorite dupes and lookalikes to date:
- Save vs. Splurge: $12 Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter Dupe
- The Best Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Dupe
- 18 Best Drugstore Makeup Dupes of Cult Favorites in 2023
Fashion and Accessories
- 17 Stoney Clover Dupes That Cost Way, Way Less
- Get This Beis Weekender Bag Dupe at Its Lowest Price Ever
- 9 Skims Dupes Up to 70% Cheaper Than the Original Line
- 20 Nugget Dupes That Offer a Better Deal Than the Original
- 10 T.J.Maxx Furniture Dupes to Save You Up to 90%
- Anthropologie Mirror Dupes for Way Less Than the Original
- Every Barefoot Dreams Blanket Dupe for Under $50
Dupes aren’t “fakes,” per se.
A fake is an item that tries to pass as the real deal when it’s not. Fakes will often have falsified logos, and many go for similar prices as the original product. More often than not, a fake is something you buy expecting the real thing.
A dupe, on the other hand, is inspired by an expensive product, without actually trying to be the product. They may have a similar design or style, but you won’t find the original brand’s logo.
If we think back to the original lipstick comparison, the packaging is different for each product, as is the overall design. You can easily tell they are different products overall. But the reason they’re dupes is that they’re both lip products with more or less the same finish and shade. Additionally, there’s a major price difference. You’re paying less for a dupe that does the same job, which is kind of the whole point.
Related: 15 Best Lululemon Belt Bag Dupes
It’s not illegal to buy a dupe.
It’s perfectly legal to buy a dupe! The same can’t be said for fakes, however. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, “It is illegal to purchase counterfeit goods. Bringing them into the United States may result in civil or criminal penalties …” Some fakes use forced labor or trafficking and don’t pay taxes. But since a dupe is not the same thing as a fake, it’s a-okay to buy a dupe.
Just make sure you’re buying from reputable sellers. For example, look for popular lookalikes that are shipped and sold by Amazon, and try to stay away from third-party resellers.