5 Un-Dupable Luxury Beauty Products That Are Actually Worth Your Money

Expensive Beauty Products That Are Worth It
Getty/Pat McGrath/Augustinus Bader/Oribe

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As a beauty writer and ex-makeup artist, I am frequently asked, “is this enter-expensive-beauty-product-here worth the money?”

It’s a hard question to answer. Whether something is “worth it” depends on how much disposable income you have. If you can’t pay rent because you splurged on a pack of La Mer, Sheet Masks, your hydrated skin may not be worth the awkward conversation with your landlord. Assuming you have the cash to splash, though, I always consider whether I can think of a dupe for the product. Usually, while I’d prefer the luxury option, I can. But, as a test to myself, I rounded up the beauty products that are not only worth the splurge, but remain completely un-dupable.

Alexa, play Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”, and let’s proceed.

Augustinus Bader, The Cream

Augustinus Bader, The Cream, ($390)
Augustinus Bader, The Cream, ($390)

You’ve probably seen Augustinus Bader’s The Cream, ($390) – whether on a supermodel’s top shelf, the bathroom counters of Succession characters, or Instagram ads featuring makeup artists like Bobbi Brown and Mario Dedivanovic. Augustinus Bader’s patented TFC8 complex is backed by 30 years of research by Professor Bader himself, who initially developed the active for healing wounds. 

I can tell you this cream is just as hydrating and innovative as the price tag suggests. With an emulsion texture, the product sinks in like a serum. It’s instantly soothing and plumping and has a slight lifting effect – hence its popularity with makeup artists. Meanwhile, the pump bottle is weighted and luxurious while keeping the product mess-free and efficacious. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s popular because it works.   

Pat McGrath Huetopian Dream Eyeshadow Palette

Mothership IX Huetopian Dream Artistry Eyeshadow Palette ($205)
Pat McGath, Mothership IX Huetopian Dream Artistry Eyeshadow Palette, Image: Pat McGrath Labs

I love Pat McGrath palettes and own several – the shadows are super high quality and meet my specification of being un-dupable. Each palette contains several duo and trio chrome finishes, which create mesmerising colour shifts as you move.

However, if I were to recommend just one palette though, it would be the Mothership, IX Huetopian Dream Artistry Palette, ($210). This palette’s lilac and violet tones suit every colour and can be worn in multiple ways. When travelling, I use the soft champagne shadow, Skinfinish Nude in Xtasy, as a highlighter and Shockwave, a bright peach, as a blush. My most used shadows are Blitz Sextreme, a warm chocolate shadow with a black base and red and green shifts. One sweep of this across my lids gives me a full, complex, grungy smokey eye. Then Astral Amethyst Moon, a cool lilac with blue and pink reflects, and a transparent base, is the perfect Y2K wet-look top coat. 

Victoria Beckham, Satin Kajal Eyeliner in Sea Grey

Sometimes it’s the little things – and a great eyeliner is a stalwart in any beauty cupboard. I splurged on the complete VB Kajal wardrobe at the start of the year. I describe them as a gel liner in pencil form – they go on soft and pigmented enough to draw a sharp line without tugging and smudging, but set down to a long-wear finish.

While the brown and black shades are on my daily rotation, the Satin Kajal Liner in “Sea Grey” ($35) is my personal favourite. Cool-toned shadows are having a moment, and as a blue-eyed, fair-skinned person, I felt like this moment was probably not for me.

To my delight, Sea Grey is the first warm-toned silver I encountered. With all the murky depths of ocean seafoam, the shade brings out green flecks in my eye colour that I never knew were there, and highlights a kind of luminous intensity. I use Sea Grey all over the lid as a wet-look shadow, or in my inner corners for a Euphoria style flash of silver. 

Charlotte Tilbury, Hollywood Flawless Filter

Charlotte Tilbury, Hollywood Flawless Filter, image credit: The Beauty Look Book
Charlotte Tilbury, Hollywood Flawless Filter, Image: The Beauty Look Book

When the POPSUGAR Australia team submitted their votes for the Mecca Beauty Election, Charlotte Tilbury, Hollywood Flawless Filter ($65) was on three of our lists as “Most Innovative Product.” I use it every day. It’s a primer, a highlighter and an under-eye corrector in one that can be mixed with pretty much any complexion product, or worn alone. While there are many dupe lists out there, nothing compares to the skin smoothing properties and glassy, never glittery finish of HH Flawless, which is why it makes this list.

Oribe, Gold Lust Dry Shampoo

Oribe, Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, ($68)
Oribe, Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, Image: Oribe

Personally, I find the gritty texture of dry shampoo feels worse than the unpleasant sensation of an oily scalp (which I’m very familiar with). Not only does Oribe, Gold Lust Dry Shampoo ($68) solve this problem for me, it also functions as a very bougie scalp deodorant. While that doesn’t sound very luxurious, once you know, you know.

Firstly, Gold Lust deals with the crunchy texture left by other dry shampoos with science. Rather than “coating” strands with a chalky residue, Oribe’s dry shampoo deposits polymers and zeolite crystals that absorb oils from the roots and scalp like sponges. Very clever. Then celery seed extract, a natural astringent, decrease oil production throughout the day, extending the time between washes.

Finally, the dry shampoo fragrance retention technology leaves your hair smelling like the myrrh, rice silks, lavender and chamomile it uses to condition it, rather than your post pilates or big-night-out sweat. Sure, shelling out the cash hurts, but it’s worth it.

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