Imperial, California - The price of beauty products can get ugly, but ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, found that shoppers don’t always have to shell out big bucks for products comparable to brand-name items. In its December 2014 issue, ShopSmart experts scoured the beauty aisles of department stores, drugstores and boutiques to find high-priced products shoppers can swap out to save big.

“Don’t over-spend on beauty products,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “After reviewing ingredient lists, we found drugstore cosmetics that are comparable to high-end brands sold at Sephora and department stores.”​

 Four Tips to Finding the Best Beauty Buys

Below are four insider tips and tricks from ShopSmart for finding budget-friendly options similar to expensive products from boutique brands.

  • Try sister brands.  One way to find affordable alternatives to high-ticket items is to go to the website of a premium brand and see whether the company also owns less expensive lines. For instance, a lower-priced line of anti-wrinkle creams might have ingredients and formulations similar to a higher-priced brand from the same maker. Example: L’Oréal owns Kiehl’s and Garnier.

  • Compare ingredients lists. Compare what’s in high- and low-cost products in stores and on websites such as, which lists ingredients for most of its inventory. If the first five ingredients are the same or nearly the same, then the product is probably very similar. Example: MAC Studio Fix Fluid (1 fluid ounce) and L’Oréal True Match Super Blendable Makeup (1 fluid ounce).

  • Follow the blogs. Instead of experimenting on themselves, shoppers can learn from beauty bloggers who recommend similar-looking makeup shades. For instance, found a Wet n Wild Color Icon eye shadow palette for $5 that is almost a dead ringer for an Urban Decay set priced at $54.

  • Look for look-alike products. ShopSmart’s tests have found that look-alike store-brand foods, drugs and personal-care products are often smart buys. These products are the ones with labels that say “compare to,” then list a name-brand product that’s usually next to it on the store shelf. Example: Walmart’s Equate version of Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion did almost as well as the brand-name version in ShopSmart’s tests.

For the full story on ShopSmart’s insider tips to saving big with beauty swaps, along with other ways to shop and save, pick up the December 2014 issue on newsstands now. 

About Consumer Reports:
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications. Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

About ShopSmart magazine:
Launched in Fall 2006 by Consumer Reports, ShopSmart draws upon the publication’s celebrated tradition of accepting no advertisements and providing unbiased product reviews. ShopSmart features product reviews, shopping tips on how to get the most out of products and “best of the best” lists. It’s ideal for busy shoppers who place a premium on time. ShopSmart has a newsstand price of $4.99 and is available nationwide at major retailers including Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. ShopSmart is available by subscription at