5 Near-Identical Alternatives to the Priciest Anti-Aging Products (Including One from Estee Lauder)

These affordable anti-aging dupes are just as good as the originals.

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Anti-Aging Dupes - Tout
Photo: Amazon/Nordstrom

Many products can seem unnecessarily expensive when you're in the market for new skincare. Is the $90 anti-aging face cream from Neiman Marcus really that much more effective than the $9 drugstore moisturizer? The answer is: It depends.

It's no secret that the beauty industry muddles a lot of information–and for the precise purpose of obfuscating whether their creams and gels are actually worth it. The pursuit of better skin can be a really frustrating (and really expensive) experience.

One tool you can use to suss out a product's actual worth? The ingredient list. We've taken a look at the ingredients of five of the priciest luxury anti-aging products and found affordable alternatives that are just as (if not more) effective.

Cremé De La Mer vs. Nivea Creme

Cremé De La Mer vs. Nivea Creme: The Best Anti-Aging Products
Amazon/Nordstrom

Even those outside the skincare industry have heard of La Mer. Its military-grade price tag and romantic origin story—it was invented by a rocket scientist attempting to heal his own decade-old burns—have elevated the moisturizer to legend status. But as otherworldly as this product may seem, is it actually any better than its drugstore contemporaries?

Over years of swapping notes on beauty forums, scrupulous fans of the pricey cream have found that Cremé De La Mer has an unlikely doppelganger: Nivea Creme. The basic ingredients in each product are pretty much identical. And according to Beautiful With Brains, any additional zhoosh CDLM's antioxidants might have imparted is lost once you open the jar, and they're exposed to air and light.

Save your hundreds for something with more function than folklore, and opt for the Nivea instead.

Nivea Creme

To buy: $7; amazon.com.

Cremé De La Mer

To buy: $85–$2,160; nordstrom.com.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence vs. Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence vs. Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive: The Best Anti-Aging Products
Amazon/Nordstrom

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence is another big-ticket skincare product that relies heavily on a mysterious discovery to fuel allure and justify an enormous price tag. SK-II discovered this essence's key ingredient, Pitera, when somebody noticed the youthful hands of sake brewers.

This patented ingredient compound is a byproduct of rice fermentation that includes amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and all that good stuff. This top ingredient (and the majority of the solution) is coincidentally also the top ingredient in Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive. It's called Saccharomycopsis Ferment Filtrate, and it's essentially the generic version of Pitera.

While the SK-II essence also includes a brief list of moisturizing and viscosity control agents, the Missha essence packs in a much bigger bunch of other beneficial ingredients, including niacinamide, licorice root extract, and tons of antioxidants. This is one instance where the "dupe" actually outperforms the original.

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive

To buy: $27; amazon.com.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence

To buy: $99–$290; nordstrom.com.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic vs. Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Serum + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic vs. Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Serum + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid: The Best Anti-Aging Products
Amazon/Dermstore

Skinceuticals' vitamin C product isn't just a marketing ploy—it actually once held the patent to the pH level and precise vitamin E, ferulic acid blend proven to be most effective. For years, Skinceuticals' powerful dark spot-fading abilities were out of reach to competitors, and consumers were faced with spending nearly $170 or settling for a lesser formula.

While the Skinceuticals patent protects the trifecta of ingredients at a pH between 2.5 to 3, Timeless' serum, containing all three, comes in at 2.4. Everything down to the ham sandwich smell is a dead ringer for the Skinceuticals version, but bear in mind that the lower pH may lead to more irritation among those with sensitive skin.

In short, opt for the Timeless to save, but if your epidermis is under a lot of stress already, the original might be a safer bet.

Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Serum + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid

To buy: $18 (was $25); amazon.com.

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

To buy: $166; dermstore.com.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair vs. Missha Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair vs. Missha Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule: The Best Anti-Aging Products
Amazon/Nordstrom

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair is the number one best-selling repair serum worldwide, and no other serum can compete with that. But just because something is a best-seller alone does not mean it's the wisest investment.

MISSHA Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule closely mimics the ingredient list of its luxury counterpart, starting with its main ingredient, Bifida ferment lysate. This yeast-derived product has proven anti-aging capabilities–from antioxidant benefits to improving skin elasticity. The two twin serums also contain hyaluronic acid and skin conditioners like butylene glycol.

Like the Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive, the brand's night serum actually surpasses the "original" serum it was inspired by. The Missha serum packs in more anti-aging ingredients including niacinamide, retinol, and nine additional ferments.

Missha Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule

To buy: $20; amazon.com.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair

To buy: $70–$192; nordstrom.com.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil vs. Shea Terra Organics Marula Oil

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil vs. Shea Terra Organics Marula Oil
Amazon/Sephora

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil vs. Shea Terra Organics Marula Oil

When Drunk Elephant's Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil first hit shelves, shoppers were astounded by its inflated price, considering the much lower average price of the product's one ingredient—marula oil.

While we agree that paying $40 for half an ounce of straight marula oil is highway robbery, we can't stress enough that not all oils are equal. And one we apply to our faces nightly should come from a trusted provider using high-quality ingredients.

High-quality doesn't always have to mean pricey, though. This cheaper alternative by Shea Terra is wild-harvested and ethically produced, and its 600+ reviewers applaud its pure, high-quality oil.

Shea Terra Organics Marula Oil

To buy: $18 (was $21); amazon.com.

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil

To buy: $40; sephora.com.

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