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Fanatic Feedback – Is A Dupe Good Enough?

By on August 27, 2009
in Fanatic Feedback

Whenever I post a discontinued, high priced or limited edition polish the first question out of the gate is… is there a dupe? From my experience fanatics look for dupes for three reasons:

1. To avoid adding an identical color to their collection.
2. To find a low cost alternative
3. To quell their desire for a hard-to-find polish with an accessible version.

It’s that last reason that brings me to today’s Fanatic Feedback query. Even if you find or franken a twin to a coveted discontinued beauty, will that satisfy you? Is an OPI Rainforest look-a-like just as good as scoring the original? Would you discontinue the hunt for Chanel Night Sky if you found an dead-on dupe in a Wet N Wild bottle?

Is it about the hunt, the brand, owning the original or do you just want the color no matter who makes it?

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There Are 49 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Lucy says:

    I think a dupe might be all right. As long as it's dead on. I have really wanted any color that badly.

  2. Death_Unbalanced says:

    For me it is the color I am after, not the name or brand. If I can find a dupe of a desired color that is cheaper than the original, and I can get my hands on it, I am happy little girl.

  3. KeeperofBooks says:

    I would have to say that for me, it's about the color, not the brand. I want to avoid having the same color in my collection twice, and there are definitely colors that I lust after but don't want to pay for… (RBL Teal, I'm looking at you!)

  4. Anonymous says:

    For me personally, it depends on the color. I once owned Chanel Night sky, and there is just no replacement for that color. Certain lemmings are mythical in their existence, and only the original will do. If it is a color that is widely duplicated by many brands then to me a dupe is acceptable.

  5. Em says:

    Good question! To me, it's about having the color no matter who makes it! I purchased a PureIce color at Walmart, an exact dupe to a ChG I was dieing for. They're so close you can't tell the difference. Not like your local supermarket cashier is going to say "Oh, that isn't China Glaze, she's wearing PureIce!" If I come across a Rimmel at Target that is as close to a Zoya as I can get, I'll take it! The brand name printed on the bottle doesn't matter to me personally. I get upset if I see a new awesome fall color released, I feel like I MUST have it. So I'll purchase it, and come home to find an EXACT dupe in my collection. And usually it's a dupe to a drugstore nail polish, or a previous fall collection! It's so frustrating! I don't need two of the same color. I THINK I do, but I don't. So dupes/frankens are good enough for me, if you can't afford that $15+ polish that you might wear once or twice, or can't find that discontinued beauty.

  6. The Glitterati says:

    A dupe is definitely good enough! I just want that colour. There are a few RBL's that I salivate over, as well as the new Nars one (Tokyo Express or something?) but I'm not paying upwards of $20 CAD for a polish. (Well, not yet, anyway!) A dupe or even a close sister satisfies the lemming.

    The only exception is if the formula is awful or something. A dupe is only good to me if I bother to put it on!

  7. Jamie says:

    I have to have the one I want! I might buy something else to tide me over, but if the elusive one becomes available — I must pounce!
    And usually I persuade myself that there is at least some subtle difference in shade or luster or depth.

  8. Anonymous says:

    It's about the color for me all the way.

  9. Anneli says:

    The bottle, the brand itself and even the name of the color is all part of the whole experience, at least for me. If, for example, Chanel released a gorgeous shade of teal with a kickass name I will lust for that specific Chanel polish and no similar och almost-identical shade of WnW would be good enough for me.

  10. The Asian Girl says:

    It honestly depends on how badly you want a color. I spent a ridiculous amount for Chanel Night Sky. I have about 4 so-called dupes and I did a comparison…they really did not compare.

    I'm not a big fan of orange polishes, but I read that Wet 'N Wild Blazed was similar to Chanel Orange Fizz so I picked up Blazed at a drugstore.

  11. Inbal says:

    I think that most of the time dupes are just fine… but it's obvious that nail polish brands are like any other fashion brands for some people, and it's the name that count for them. I'm not a brand-kind-of-girl, but if you NEED the original name tag, dupes wont do it for you.
    plus – sometimes a collection or a single shade is made with a meaning with it, an agenda (like, for example, Nubar going green collection)in that case – collecting the exact shade or collection is something you can't replace.

  12. PM says:

    I'm wearing a dupe right now, and realizing it's a dupe (that predates the hard-to-find color in question) has killed any lemming I may have had for the other color.

    It's really about the color for me. That said, if the formula on the dupe is vastly inferior, I'd still probably want the original.

    (Today's dupe is Cutex Witching Hour, a bright but deep navy jelly loaded with small silver glitter. I'd suggest it for anyone who longs for Starry Starry Night, but I think Witching Hour, being about decade old, is probably even harder to find.)

  13. New Kid on the Hallway says:

    I would say it's 99% about the color. I don't really "collect" polish, I just buy stuff I think I'll wear semi-regularly (I have to think I'll wear it more than once to buy it). So it would be a shame to deprive an avid collector of something truly hard to find. But if a HTF fell into my lap and I knew it was incredibly special – well, I think I might treasure the bottle a little. But I wouldn't seek it out.

  14. PurpleRules says:

    1. I don't like adding an identical color unless the quality of the dupe is superior to the original. In that case, I'll happily fork over the money.

    2. Every time I've bought the cheaper alternative, I've ended up buying the color I originally coveted eventually so the "low cost" alternative never really is.

    3. I'll buy a dupe of a HTF but I'll still keep looking for the original. Sometimes it's about the thrill of the hunt as much as it's about the polish itself.

  15. Amy says:

    I suppose it depends, but regardless of the situation, I pride myself on not being a brand snob. The bottom line for me is that I will never buy a bottle of Chanel (etc) polish, so if I see a shade I love, I'm all about the dupes! Not to mention the obvious fact that trends come and go, as do our 'OMG *must* have' feelings.

    I think I might have a different opinion if we were talking about makeup (exact shade or not, Maybelline eyeshadow cannot double for MAC), but with polish it's just different.

    …then again, I've tried everything to find a dupe of my all-time fave, to no avail. Nothing can satisfy me like the original – if only I could find it!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I generally keep my stash small & don't dupe colors, its more about finding unique colors that work for my skin tone & sticking with them (I want one great dark blue, one deep green, one perfect gold in the right formula etc). The exception is Chanel, too many of their colors don't work for me, but every warm toned dark red variant they make I buy because its the only polish I ever use on my toes since I got sucked in by the original Rouge Noir.

  17. Phyrra says:

    To me, I just want that color. The brand doesn't matter, provided the color is good and the polish applies well.

  18. Anonymous says:

    For collectors, there is a certain sense of pride and accomplishment owning an original. Or maybe just bragging rights to others and yourself. Personally, there are only a few I would pay sums for to get one–those really special colors that even if some colors are close dupes, you still want. Or maybe it's simply nail polish addiction.

  19. Gamma says:

    Dupes are fine with me, as long as the application is awesome. I won't put up with anything that's hard to apply (Sally Hansen, I'm looking at you) but otherwise just give me the colours.

  20. Deb says:

    I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. I feel victorious when I acquire a sought after, coveted polish. While a dupe may be an easier way to get a hard to find color, it doesn't come with that thrilling feeling that comes with getting the real deal.

  21. nailpolishtwit says:

    I has been my experience that if you are really lemming a specific high end or rare polish, dupes or frankens rarely kill the lemming. I have have lemmings for certain Chanel polishes come back to life after many years after I thought they were quashed. Often times, it's an emotional connection to a specific polish, not the color, that matters.

  22. cmp381 says:

    To me it is about the color, not the brand.
    I found a dupe, or close enough in real live this week. OPI Lincoln Park at Midnight and Nars Tokaido Express, are dupes in my oppinion

  23. sarasotagirl says:

    A dupe is great IF I like the formula and brush, too. I'll buy higher-end if the dupe is in a brand I've had problems with in the past.

    And I love to know about dupes so I don't keep buying the same color. Like, how many more Romeo & Joliet dupes do I need???

  24. TropicalChrome says:

    I'm with the other commenters – it's the color, not the name. If I can find an exact dupe, I'm there. In fact, I recently did find a dupe for a long since discontinued polish and bought two bottles of it!

  25. ashleydanielle says:

    for me a dupe would be fine because to 99% of the population they don't know the difference between it being a hard to find limited or a drugstore brand. so for me it's the cheaper the better, as long as i get the color i want.

  26. Anonymous says:

    basically everything KeeperofBooks said :P

    to me it's all about the color. for example i have a brown/purple color form nyc and i got a zoya one that's an exact dupe except that the nyc one takes 2 coats while the zoya takes 3 and is more expensive… so it definitely isn't about the brand. although i have to say i will shell out money for limited editions if they are worth it [like chanel gold fiction/kaleidoscope]

  27. Z' says:

    As long as the dupe was the same quality/staying power as original I would be fine with it. However, it seems like whenever I buy two super similar colors, I find some subtle difference (real or imagined) that I prefer in one or the other. That said, with all the greens I have I would jump at a bottle of Zulu like a rabid beast! :-)

  28. stubby says:

    Nope. Dupes just don't cut it for me. I feel short changed. Perfect example, I missed the MAC PP and I went crazy searching for a dupe to no avail. I finally frankened one and it was nice but it was not PP.

    Moral of the story? If I can't have the original, nothing else will do. BOO WHO!

  29. beautyjudy says:

    I really wanted She Uemura Tanzanite, after it was sold out and I could no longer buy it (at the time I didn't think of eBay!) I happened to be in New Orleans for work and I wandered into a Saks Fifth Avenue store…and they HAD IT, months later!!! I snatched it up. Then, while working on a blog about drugstore finds, I came across Wet n Wild in Wild Orchid. I believe the Wet n Wild polish has more holograhpic glitter in it…but if I'd found that first, I would have been thrilled..because it was only 99 cents! so yes, I guess I want a dupe per the color most times, not so much the brand

  30. lacquerandlipstick says:

    for me it's definitly color 100% because once its on your nails no one is going to know what bottle it came from

  31. Aneta says:

    I look for dupes because not every brand of nail polish is available in Poland, where I live. Like is hard to get China Glaze (im hunting for Recycle for ages!), there is no Zoya, little Essie, no Orly, no Nubar, some Chanel.

  32. Rose says:

    For me, it's about colour too, with a few exceptions of np's with holy grail status(as in: extremely if not impossibly HTF) that I actually like. I'll hunt for them, but not desperately. Most of the time the dupe will do just fine if the original is sold out (or too expensive imo). Even though I have a fairly serious case of Nail Board eye, what to me looks like 2 totally different colours in swatches/bottles, looks like dead-on dupes once they're on my nails. so I have become very reserved towards new or HTF np that looks too closely related to stuff in my stash, it's better for my wallet too!

  33. Stef says:

    I wouldn't mind a dupe, as long as the formula was up to snuff! I don't want to buy a cheapie polish and have it chip on me after 12 hours! And I like to keep my polish collection to about 30 bottles, and I want them to all be different. I don't even want close cousins when it comes to color! But that's just me!

  34. glossypursuit says:

    I am a brand snob to be honest. A dupe will never be good enough. :)

  35. kyg says:

    Honestly, if I were more talented, I would be satisfied with just being able to franken a close enough dupe. I may actually try to franken something akin to Essie night sky. That is a polish that I seriously have been salivating for, and know that I would only get my hands on it when hell freezes over. (deep longing sigh)

  36. queen frostine says:

    If it was a true dead-on dupe, yes I'd absolutely settle. But sometimes polishes that some people deem as dupes to a certain shade are only close cousins rather than clones. At that point it really just depends on how much the original costs and how crazy I am about the shade. I'm a bit cheap when it comes to polish. I rarely wear the same bottle more than twice so it seems crazy to me to spend more than $10 on a bottle of polish. I'll occasionally splurge on more expensive brands if I'm just in love, but even though I have hundreds of bottles of polish I can probably count the number of polishes I own that I spent more than $15 on using fingers. To me, polish isn't like lipstick where I can see myself wearing a really great color frequently and using up multiple tubes of it. I rarely use up bottles of polish even for colors I love. So I have to look at the cost and say to myself "is it worth paying $15+ to have my nails painted with this twice?" For me, the answer is almost always no.

  37. Ghoulina says:

    For me, as long as it's a dead-on colour dupe, I'm satisfied (lol that's a tall order sometimes though huh?) Although it has to be a relatively good quality dupe too – I hate polish that's chippy, requires too many coats, etc!

  38. Deez Nailz ~ where the CANADIAN Bloggers at ? says:

    ~ it is about the hunt ~

  39. PolishPig says:

    I'm all for the hunt, so a dupe will only satisfy me for a short time. Eventually, the htf will sneed back onto my wish list no matter how many dupes I own..

  40. Anonymous says:

    A dupe has to be exactly the same color, just close won't do. It also has to be a good quality polish. If so, I'm fine with it. Last fall I sprung for Chanel Kaleidoscope because I was sick in love with that color and the dupes weren't exactly the same. I'd know, even no one else did. I knew only the real thing would make me happy. Now that Chanel is $23 a bottle, it would have to something really special before I'd turn down a dupe in favor of the real thing.
    This summer I passed on Orly Tennis Anyone? when I bought Country Club Khaki. Then I decided I wanted it, but couldn't find it anywhere. I wasn't sure of the exact shade other than it was an off white of some sort, so I didn't know what to even look for in a dupe. What if I found something I thought was a dupe, but it really wasn't? The horror! I've been looking for the original all summer. It became a quest and the longer I couldn't find it, the more I wanted it. And then what do you know? Yesterday I was in Ulta and lo and behold they had one Tennis Anyone? Yeah, it's off white and I bet there are a ton of dupes. I probably have a dupe myself, but I have the original right here in my house right now so I'm happy.

  41. Electrogirl says:

    Dupes are fine by me for the most part. It depends on how much hassle the cheaper polish is and how expensive the original is. For example, if Hot Topic were to make a nail polish in the exact same shade as a previously unique OPI, I would still shell out the money for OPI because the savings would not be worth putting up with that freaking Hot Topic brush. If China Glaze made a dupe of a previously unique Chanel color, I would be willing to put up with China Glaze's slow drying time because I just can't fit Chanel into my college student budget no matter how awesome the color is.

  42. Nora says:

    This is a tough one. It is always about color for me, its just some colors are so unique.
    I'm a creme kinda girl so that really helps in general, but for a long time I couldn't shake Chanel's original Rouge Noir from my system. I spent money on dupes that were never quite right until finally I got my hands on that three polish xmas set they did a few years ago. It made my heart happy and for me there just really is no substitute for that color.

    I live with a budget, but in general, if I really like the color, I get it. I change out polishes a few times a week, keep most of my colors in rotation and I do my own mani/pedis so I figure I can splurge on a polish when I need to.

  43. Acaislim says:

    To me it is about the color, not the brand.
    I found a dupe, or close enough in real live this week. OPI Lincoln Park at Midnight and Nars Tokaido Express, are dupes in my oppinionTo me it is about the colour, not the brand.
    I found a dupe, or close enough in real live this week. OPI Lincoln Park at Midnight and Nars Tokaido Express, are dupes in my oppinion.

  44. Silver Diva says:

    Here's the thing for me. Sometimes dupes don't have to be the 'cheapies'. Isn't it possible that the original color a person may want could be the cheaper bottle, and the dupe would be a more expensive brand? Okay, maybe not.

    But I do know one thing. I look for dupes for two reasons.

    1) To avoid getting the exact same colors. Like China Glaze Awaken and Revlon Steel-her Heart. Or OPI Lincoln Park After Dark and China Glaze Evening Seduction.

    2) My budget is quite meager. So I *have* to shy away from the brands like RBL ($18/bottle) and Chanel ($23/bottle) and look for the same colors in brands that I can more easily access like China Glaze and the drugstore brands.

  45. Christine Beacom says:



  46. Georgina says:

    I saw Chanel Night Sky for sale on the website I linked in my comment…they have a few other discontinued shades of Chanel. Good luck finding yours!:)Georgina

  47. Jenn says:

    Im big on OPI, so I usually just stick with them.

  48. Ollie says:

    I’m in two minds about this.

    It doesn’t bother me if it’s a MAC Venomous Villains / Orly Cosmic FX type situation where the brands are of equal quality and I’m going to be happy whichever one is in my collection.

    However, I can’t bring myself to go to Claire’s and buy that dupe for Chanel Jade, because although I’ll never pay ebay prices for Jade, it’s not going to give me any pleasure having a really cheap looking bottle in my collection with poor application.

  49. Rachel Kurtz says:

    Dupes are great, as long as the formula is as nice as the originally desired one. Certain brands just don’t have the same consistency as some of the more expensive brands. Of course, the cheaper brands can surprise one by being fantastic themselves. If they are much cheaper, it’s worth a try.