GIFTED: VEGAN DESIGNER PERFUME DUPES

My make-up bag is exclusively vegan and cruelty free these days, and it really wasn’t difficult to get there. Sure there might be a bit of trial and error to find the product that is as good a fit for you as you previous one, but I can guarantee there is one out there for you that will allow you to say goodbye to supporting animal testing. There’s no need to support the likes of Mac, L’Oreal, Rimmel etc, there’s so many fantastic cruelty-free alternatives on offer these days. And it’s not like you have to go for small/niche brands either, some of the options are huge, renowned and cool companies, with vast and innovative ranges with enticing branding. Foundations might be one of the trickiest to swap only because  skin complaints or those prone to acne/dryness may require a bit more of a pointed search to find one that doesn’t aggravate or exacerbate symptoms. Perhaps you have irritable eyes that mean you need to find a mascara that doesn’t cause itching or eye watering, which may make your pursuit more lengthy – but it’s all still possible. In fact in my experience the vegan/cruelty free brands are actually kinder in this sense too. The more you experiment and speak to /follow fellow cruelty free purchasers, the more knowledge you gain too, meaning you quickly attain a new list of go-to beauty destinations. You don’t even miss the brands you used to favour for many years ( before you became more aware of these kinds of issues.)

I hadn’t given as much thought to scent untill recently. I’d been given both Marc Jacobs Daisy and Chanel No.5 as gifts before going cruelty-free, and I don’t agree with chucking out existing stuff you own without thought – wastage isn’t good or helpful. There’s nothing mindful about just throwing stuff in a bin, this should take consideration too. So I decided I would run them out, making sure I didn’t purchase any new bottles of non cruelty free scent during that running out time. The time of the last squirt came and I hadn’t yet found a scent in perfume form that I liked that was vegan/cruelty-free, only very cheap body mists and sprays. This was fine and tied me over, but it didn’t deliver that feeling of decadence and luxury that a spray of a perfume can – even if it’s all a mental thing because you associate the likes of Chanel with sophistication and glamour. Although I did always feel like I got more depth from the likes of Chanel No.5, it’s s rich and what I call ‘evening-y’ scent always felt like it lasted well. I’d always have to top up the sprays and mists throughout the day when the smell of armpit pie’s started to ruminate. 

A few weeks ago I stumbled across an Instagram account that I thought could solve this particular issue – @Scentsandsave

I didn’t realise when I first stumbled upon it that it was one of those brands like Avon, Arbonne etc that have independent sellers and that it wasn’t actually the lovely Sophie’s own business, but nonetheless it still ticked a lot of boxes. 

They basically sell perfumes inspired by all of your favourite popular/designer scents but in cruelty free and/or vegan form. Pretty much every much-loved perfume brand is covered via their dupes, and their range of vegan options is constantly expanding. I was chuffed when Sophie reached out to me to ask if I’d like to try a sample and luckily Marc Jacobs Daisy and Chanel No.5 were on their vegan list. 

Let’s talk about dupes for a minute, as it is a contenscious issue. It’s one of those issues where the line between right and wrong is blurred, and also very subjective. I can’t bare it when I see huge/successful/powerful brands ripping off small/indie desigers/creatives. I hate the show of arrogance – bullishly believing they can get away with it. I hate that they’re screwing over someone ‘smaller’ than them. I always fight for the underdog. Plus it’s theft essentially, and although that’s always wrong, it feels somewhat worse when it comes from a position of power. They probably think the independent designer wouldn’t have the means to fight them to be heard (social media has wonderfully proven them wrong on this – we love to Retweet these stories) . I also feel uncomfortable when something that someone has painstakingly created with a personal touch get ripped off just for profits sake.

I know she doesn’t always get it right and I don’t agree with everything she does, but I always think about how much time, care and creativity Kat Von D put in to the packaging and concept of her beauty products. She’d show us her design sketches, the inspiration, the ones that didn’t make the cut, how the initial idea evolved into the final product. You could see how much love and creativity was involved. So when another make up brand did an affordable range very much inspired by some of her products I understood her frustration. But then again, I also understood why many would want to buy the dupes. 

Life is more expensive than ever. Those who would be attracted to these more expensive make up products are likely of the demographic not earning enough for the amount of hours they’re working. They’re the generation that find themselves existing in a time when its’ harder than ever to get on the property ladder. We are at a time when it’s harder than ever to get financial help from the government if you need it. There’s so much tech we are just expected to own these days – an expensive internet ready phone with a good camera, a laptop, Netflix etc….

If people can save on a product that they use largely in private in their bedroom or bathroom, you can’t blame them for being tempted or giving in, whatever the moral values of the transaction. 

Affordable imitations isn’t a new thing. For years the high street has translated the catwalk hits to make them accessible for us ‘normal’ folk who don’t have disposable income to spend hundreds (or thousands) on an item of clothing. These days it’s even more accessible via the internet and it’s endless array of identikit fast fashion websites who seem to have the same moodboard for every TV advert they create. It’s great that designer fashion fans can wear clothes inspired by their favourite looks from the runway.  Of course you can have mixed results with the high street translations. Sometimes they try too hard to be exactly like the original rather than simply nodding to it, which actually give them away. I remember my fake Kickers making me cringe because they looked spot on in every way apart from two green labels instead of the iconic red and the green. I’d rather they accepted they were different rather than trying so hard to then fall spectacularly at the last hurdle. 

I think this idea/concept sits exactly on the right side of things when it comes to dupes. In my opinion at least. The bottles aren’t trying to imitate the aesthetic of the designer scent bottle. They aren’t stealing  months of design work gone into creating the branding and marketing for that particular well-known scent. They haven’t labelled it with a similar name or nodded even subtly to the bottle shape.

I’m glad there’s been no attempts to copycat aside from the fragrance notes. I remember on holiday I once bought a market version of Calvin Klein called Hang Around Woman which always made me laugh (doesn’t sound very classy does it?). 

I  don’t have much sympathy/patience for these large brands who have every means available to them to go cruelty free, but don’t. I’d still buy Chanel No.5 if they went Cruelty-free and wouldn’t mind spending a bit more for it, but till they make the change,  this will be the way I wear a scent reminiscent of my favourite combination of notes.  If businesses like these push them to think harder about making a change then that’s a positive repercussion of this range of dupes. 

Now we’ve spoken about the elephant in the perfume factory, let’s talk about my experience of buying from this company. The Bottle arrived safely and speedily in its bottle (protected by a padded envelope). It was decoratively cushioned by pink tissue paper, so you still got that feeling of being delivered something special. With it came a price list – listing all the available scents, their sizes. I was also sent a couple of testers which came in a cute branded canvas pouch. 

While the bottle of FM827 inspired by Marc Jacobs Daisy doesn’t resemble the real deal in the slightest (quite rightly) it’s very pretty in it’s own right. It’s still an attractive and classic looking object to have on your dresser or bedside table – it actually worked perfectly with my pink bed linen. I’ve never been one to care about designer labels so I couldn’t give two hoots about the fact it doesn’t say Marc Jacobs on it.

This inspired scent has an RRP of £23.50 for 50ml….I looked online and the real deal varies hugely depending on where you get it, but many were around the £50/60 plus mark. Federico Mahora access the same DROM factory in Germany as many designers but they are able to save money that the designers would spend on marketing, advertisng, and promotion. The lack of a celebrity face makes a huge difference to the amount you have to pay. So if like me, that doesn’t have much sway anyway then there’s no need to add those pennies to your perfume bill.

So, the important bit, do they smell the same or similar?? 

Chanel no 5 has top notes of Aldehyde, Bergamot, Lemon, Neroli. With heart notes of Jasmine, May Rose, Ylang Ylang, Iris, Lily of the Valley, and base notes of Sandalwood, Cedarwood, Oakmoss, Vetiver, Amber, Patchoulli, Musk, Vanilla, Civet, Ambergris – don’t worry I don’t know what a few of those things either. What I’ve always loved about the scent is that it’s not too sickly, it’s not too floral, it’s not too earthy – it feels just a perfectly balanced, but strong and sexy scent. I feel a powerful woman when I wear it, whereas other scents make me feel more summery and fresh for instance. When it comes to candles I’m always drawn to ones with Bergamot and sandalwood, so it completely makes sense that this is one of my go-to scents.

If I smelled their version on it’s own I would instantly say it’s Chanel No 5. It has the same impact, and that elegant but strong night-time appeal I spoke about earlier. When comparing the real thing there’s a very small difference, the vegan version is perhaps slightly lighter, perhaps slightly more citrus but honestly it’s barely noticeable, I’m clutching here.

The vegan version of Marc Jacobs Daisy was a similar success story. It gave me that pretty, very feminine smell that drew me to the original. The tope notes are strawberry, Violet Leaf and Ruby Red Grapefruit. I’ve always found the violet the primary and initial scent which then subsides to reveal gardenia, violet petals and jasmine. It has base notes of musk, white woods and vanilla. I personally love this for the day because its how I imagine walking through a meadow full of wild flowers would smell like. I feel like spring personified when I wear it. The vegan version from @ScentsandSave was VERY similar. I’d say if i was looking for fault a tiny bit more of an alcohol pay off but aside from that it was a good match.

Si also commented on how nice I smelled the other day. But I’m not sure we can factor that in to the review…he’s probably just pleased I don’t smell like Cumin (which is apparently the odour my armpits expel after a few days).

As I type this I’ve been sent an updated list of their vegan offerings. If you’re interested in swapping out your fave designer non-vegan offering for it’s kinder counterpart do get in touch with Sophie, and I’m sure she will be eager to help.

I really hope this has been useful and that you can find your favourite ….hopefully it won’t be long until these powerful and famous beauty brands do the right thing.

Disclaimer: as I said earlier in the blog post when I agreed to accept the gifted fragrance I wasn’t aware that they were from a pyramid scheme type of business. But I always try to post about anything that’s sent and give an honest review of the product. I have a couple of friends that work with this company and have nothing but good to say but of course it’s up to you to do your research to work out whether you’re happy to support this kind of business.

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