This post has been a long time coming – and sometimes some things need to be said. Before I start I will say that this is not an attack, it’s my opinion. I have made sure to speak to a large number of people to try and get a good mix of opinions to try and keep this as a balanced debate.
I am looking at the world of dupes, in particular from the brands Makeup Revolution and Freedom, and the I Heart Makeup range, sister brands from TAM Beauty owned by Adam Minto. Now this is not an attack on anyone who buys these products – each to their own – but I want to explore how these brands keep getting away with blatant copying of other brands.
(Pic credit: Makeup Revolution)
Take a look at the photo above. These are Makeup Revolution’s new Renaissance lipsticks. Remind you of anything? At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a set of Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks. The rose gold tube, the ridging – it’s really not difficult to see where they took their ‘inspiration’ from – scratch that, it’s not inspiration at all – it is blatantly ripping off Charlotte’s packaging. Not convinced? Well take a look at the photo below.
Now this is far from being the first time that Makeup Revolution or Freedom have copied a higher end brand and I have no doubt that it won’t be the last either. This is their business. They look at what the big boys (and girls) are doing and they copy it – sometimes it may be the shades they dupe, other times it is the whole package – from the concept to the shades and the packaging.
Would you not be angry if you owned a brand and worked really hard on producing a product you were proud of for someone to come along and totally rip it off? I know that I would.
Adam Minto has stated that:
“…the formula and shades are not dupes of the brand you refer to and the packaging is different”.
Well it’s not rocket science that the formula is going to be different. A Charlotte Tilbury lipstick is £24.00 whilst the Makeup Revolution ones are £4.00 so obviously there’s going to be a hell of difference in the quality of the ingredients used. Charlotte Tilbury is a makeup artist, she knows her craft and has put her heart and soul into her makeup collection. Her lipsticks are such high quality and there is no way that the cheap dupes can even come close to emulating this and Mr Minto knows that. However, that hasn’t stopped him from making his lipsticks look so similar to the Charlotte Tilbury ones as he knows that some people will think they’re getting something like a Tilbury but for a lot less money. To me, that’s dishonest and wrong and I really hope that Charlotte Tilbury takes action against him.
Here are a few thoughts from other people on these new lipsticks and their packaging:
“Total rip off – but most of their products are rips offs of high end brands and products! … It’s just so obvious though! Not even subtle. There’s a difference between a dupe and stealing everything about a product.”
“They look identical!! Normally that brand just copy palettes e.g. Urban Decay Naked Palettes but now it’s packaging.”
“Oh good lord what are they doing? Exactly the same apart from the printed bit. That’s on all levels wrong.”
“…The packaging is identical”.
“I don’t mind if they copy the shades, but I feel CT’s packaging is so iconic, any imitation looks cheap”.
Believe me, I could go on, but this goes so much deeper than this latest brand rip off. A quick look through the TAM Beauty website is so eye opening. You see so many products that are either pretty much exact copies for other brands, or pretty damn close. It’s actually really disturbing to see just how little originality there is and how much they have gotten away with.
(Pic credit: TAM Beauty)
(Pic Credit: TAM Beauty)
(Pic Credit: TAM Beauty)
Here are just a few examples out of a very long list of products that TAM have copied – there are so many. Admittedly, some are more obvious than others, but when you really look at the vast amount of products that they produce you will see so many dupes of higher end brands, and even some drugstore brands.
Now I do understand that not everyone has the budget to pay £38.00 for an Urban Decay palette and that a £6.00 alternative does seem appealing. However, whilst the shades might look the same and whilst the quality might seem quite good at first (personally I find their eyeshadows to be very dry and quite scratchy on the lids), they are nowhere near as good as the higher end palette. Whereas the Urban Decay shadows will still be perfectly in place hours later, the cheap copies won’t be. For some people this won’t be an issue and that is perfectly fine, but for others who think they’re getting something similar in quality … well you’re not. Just saying.
Adam Minto’s ethos is that beauty should be for everyone regardless of money and that’s a nice view to have. Everyone deserves to look and feel good about themselves and money shouldn’t be a factor in this. However, there are so many other brands available who provide good quality, affordable makeup without stealing their packaging and ideas from high end brands.
Now one of the makeup artists for one of Mr Minto’s many brands quite arrogantly stated that the likes of Rimmel and Maybelline don’t keep up with the trends. I found this to be such a ridiculous statement. Rimmel have been around for a long time and consistently produce good products, and brands like L’Oreal and Sleek are affordable. This keeping up with the trends is TAM talk for looking at what better brands are doing and seeing how fast they can dupe it. It’s not even their own take on what beauty trends are hot or emerging – it is always what someone else has done first (and better).
When trying to justify himself, Adam Minto made the following statement to me on Instagram:
“…out of 3000 products launched by TAM in 3 years, dupes are less than 5% of our range”.
This statement raised 2 alarm bells with me. Firstly, the 3000 product launches in 3 years – how many brands do you know who do that? Want to know why decent brands don’t peddle out so many products in a short space of time? They don’t do it as they take the time to develop quality products that they are proud of.
Want to know why TAM peddle out so many? They want to flood the budget beauty market with their low quality copies, regardless of how good the product may or may not be. Secondly, he says that only 5% of his products are dupes. I’m really sorry but I have to call bullshit on that. Maybe 5% of them are blatant copies, such as the copies of the Too Faced palettes, but so many more products are clearly dupes. In a previous email conversation between myself and Adam, he stated:
“Yes we are King of Dupes … when we do dupes it’s because we are a fast beauty brand. In the same way Top Shop, New Look and Primark watch London Fashion Week and will have designer fashions in their stores in 12 weeks … we do the same. Making it affordable or accessible to all. The name Revolution came from wanting to bring some honesty to the market in some respects … we respect the consumer with a retail that is ‘amazing value’ rather than ‘market price’. Many brands and products do not need to be so high, and they can, in some cases, exploit the customer.”
He has also stated that those of us who like our high end brands are being elitist – now this is where it gets fun. Firstly, I do agree that, in some cases, you can find yourself paying for the brand, but a lot of the time you’re also paying for reputation, craftsmanship, skill, development, research … Yes, I am the first to admit that I am drawn in by pretty packaging, and you pay for that too, but if that’s such an issue, then why does he try to emulate that packaging?
I also take offence to the fact that just because he deals in extremely cheap products, that those of us who actually like some quality are elitist. This is coming from a man who lives in a very expensive house in Primrose Hill, who jets off on some very lovely holidays, who eats in some very good restaurants, who’s own wife buys the kind of high end products that I do. Is it one rule for him when it suits, and one rule for his customers?
Adam takes great pride in the ‘honesty’ of his brands and his vision, and it is this that I find the most hypocritical. Since when has theft been honest? Yes, he isn’t actually physically stealing something, but he is stealing designs, concepts, branding … that is not honest. I know that brands often release similar items, such as when everyone launched their contour kits, but they put their own spin on them.
Let’s take highlighters for example, every brand has highlighters now (which is great if you’re obsessed with them like me). Now go and take a look at the Laura Mercier ones … pretty aren’t they? Ok, stop drooling and go onto TAM Beauty – see anything familiar? Like seriously familiar?
(Pic Credit: @makeuprevolution)
(Pic Credit: @kendallalfred)
It’s out and out copying and I’m sorry but, in my opinion, it’s wrong and I really don’t know how they keep getting away with it.
I asked some of my followers for their thoughts on Makeup Revolution and here is what they said:
“When I first started buying makeup I loved that there was a brand that did these dupes. To save on money plus I didn’t have a clue about things. The quality of some of the products are really good but I never thought much other than that. For younger girls this brand is pretty good for just starting out and for those who spend their pocket money on it it. I think it’s good for this type of thing, as a mother I wouldn’t be spending £40 on the original palette for my 12 year old. But now knowing, hearing and witnessing first hand how quickly they are bashing out products, it’s a little worrying. It would be nice to see them develop and put time into their own ideas and come up with originals because some of their formulas are pretty good. But constantly ripping off bigger companies is a piss take! I think they are quick to get people’s attention and sucker people in but in the bigger picture when you think about it, it’s not that great.”
“I think they have too many dupes and they need to bring out different things. I’ve tried their dupes and they’re nowhere near as good as the actual high end products. They really need to think of something more original.”
“I say it’s quality over quantity, what he has done is completely wrong, to dupe someone as big as Charlotte Tilbury is madness. I would not buy from his company now if I was paid to”.
“I hate that they copy everything. I understand not everyone can afford certain brands BUT everything they sell is a rip off of another company, how do they get away with it?”
“It’s not like dupe brands steal business as people buying Charlotte Tilbury and Too Faced aren’t buying £8 dupes anyway.”
“There’s creating dupes and being inspired by high end brands and then there’s just ripping them off like the latest launch.”
“I think it’s a valid point but I doubt Charlotte Tilbury will lose any business.”
These are just a few of the opinions that I was given and I was surprised to see that the majority of people feel the same as I do. Could this be the beginning of the backlash against copycat makeup? I’d love to know what you think of all dupe brands, especially this one. Do you think it’s wrong that they copy pretty much everything, even the packaging, or do you not care as you like a bargain?
LIST OF BRANDS DUPED BY TAM BEAUTY
* Laura Mercier * Urban Decay * Too Faced
* MAC * Bobbi Brown * Ben Nye
* Anastasia Beverly Hills * Kylie Cosmetics * Lorac
* Smashbox * Benefit * Rimmel
* Pixi * Stila * Kat Von D
* Artis * Tarte * Beauty Blender
* Real Techniques * Soap & Glory * Hourglass
… and many more!
* Adam Minto was given the opportunity to answer my questions and refused – he seems to think this is all quite funny … take from that what you will.