Skinskool, A Science-backed Online Skincare Dupe Database

Finding your new favorite products just got easier.

Aren’t we all on a continuous journey when it comes to skincare? Late last year I discovered a tool that has been extremely useful for me, and that I’m sharing with you today… Plus a few key reflections.

The rising trend of science based skincare is upon us and going strong. I really welcome this approach to functional beauty and skincare, because in the end: ingredients don’t lie. This brings us to Skinskool. Skinskool is an online dupe finder for skincare and makeup that suggests more affordable alternatives to products based on the ingredient list. 

More about the Skinskool database a little later…

Online dupe finder skincare

Trend watch: Big Changes In The Beauty Industry

Like so many other consumer products and services, the skincare/beauty industry is undergoing a transformation that democratizes both access to and information about products. 

I know first-hand how intransparent the market of skincare can be after years of dealing with a case of adult acne that resisted all topical treatments and products. 

When my acne journey first began in my late 20s after stopping hormonal birth control, the choices were still limited. The options, as I recall them now, were clay masks, tea tree oil and salicylic acid, often served with a side of old-fashioned exfoliator to sandpaper away impurities. 

The recommended product lines (think Murad and Dermalogica) would cost you a small fortune, which of course lead you to want to believe the products could work rather than know that they could based off the ingredients. Let’s be clear, this is only 5 years ago. A lot has changed.

skinskool dupe finder

A new focus on Science, Ingredients & Functional Beauty

As of recently, the market has seen an growing number of brands offering increased investment in consumer education rather than the conventional marketing scheme of  making us feel good about the products we buy. 

The educational approach often goes alongside highly ingredient-oriented and utilitarian products that typically named plainly after the key functional ingredient. 

In addition, several disruptive brands – notable mentions are The Ordinary and The Inkey List – have made the bold moves of exchanging revenue margins with market access by offering their product lines at unheard-of price levels. Think below 10$ for the majority of products. 

Behind all of this there’s an underlying philosophy that knowledge is power, and when it comes to skincare, that knowledge is science. 

How to find cheap versions of expensive beauty products?

It has long been known that expensive doesn’t equal effective, and the beauty community has been obsessed with dupes forever because of this. 

To start with, the dupe (duplicate) phenomena – identifying an identical twin product with the same texture, finish and characteristics, often at a much lower pricepoint – mostly existed in the realm of makeup, but with Skinskool it has extended firmly into skincare.

How do you find the best dupes? Previously, you’d have to scour blogs and youtube videos. Now you can do a first step analysis using Skinskool.

The combined trends of science based skincare, increased consumer awareness around active ingredients over than branding, and a general desire to find cheap versions of expensive skincare products are the main drivers of the Skinskool platform, and I think it’s brilliant!

In general I love that I as a consumer can be more and more informed about my purchasing decisions.


Skinskool has a comprehensive database spanning some 90% of the products currently on the market, and it uses an algorithm to generate a scientifically backed match score for the products. 

You enter the desired product and receive the results. For each product you can see the product description as well as the ingredient list.

How I use Skinskool to Find Beauty Alternatives

Skinskool to Find Beauty Alternatives

To be honest, lower prices are just one of the reasons why you would search for products on Skinskool, but I mainly like the database for other purposes. The reason for this is that very expensive products that one would typically want to replace, often yields other equally expensive products. 

One of the best examples of a product where it really is possible to save a lot is with oils in general. In the above example I found multiple identical products to this Moroccanoil Pure Argan Oil that are significantly cheaper.

However this is not to say you can’t get lucky: if you’ve contemplated trying out the very popular SK-II R.N.A Power Radical New Age Face Cream, rest assured that you could also replace that $235 purchase with a humble $49 Olay cream (below).

multiple identical products

Where I really think Skinskool is amazing is for general recommendations based on known favorites and product/brand discovery. It’s also a great way of avoiding certain ingredients. Check it out and let me know if you get some exciting hits!

xxx Annie

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