If You Have This, You Don’t Need That! (MAC Dupes in the Permanent Collection)


A VERY popular question I have run across a lot lately is “If I have this MAC eyeshadow, do I need that MAC eyeshadow?” The answer is, “Probably not!” I thought it might be helpful to put together a post addressing some of the common dupes you can find within MAC’s permanent collection. This post more than likely will be updated well into the future, as I discover more. Some of these are exact dupes of one another, and others are not exact, but close enough to save you some pennies in the long run. But if you just need to have all the pink shades because they’re pink, I completely understand. 😉

Naked Lunch vs. All That Glitters

After putting together the post for Espresso recently, I had used each of these shades simultaneously and it occurred to me how truly dupeable they were with one another. Sure enough, as I was putting together the swatches, they are exactly alike. No real difference in color, pigmentation, finish in my honest opinion. For some reason, I still prefer Naked Lunch over All That Glitters and I can’t figure why that is.

(L to R) Naked Lunch, All That Glitters
(L to R) Naked Lunch, All That Glitters

Soft Brown vs. Saddle

Soft Brown and Saddle are very similar in color and are easily interchanged with one another. I do feel Saddle leans slightly more orange than Soft Brown and Soft Brown is a tad lighter, more neutral. However, if you only wanted one of these shades, you’d be just fine!

(L to R) Soft Brown, Saddle

Kid vs. Malt

Kid is a light tan shade, while Malt is also a light tan shade but tends to lean more pink. Kid is the more neutral of the two. After purchasing these two, one right after the other, I realized I truly did not need them both. The effect you get with each of these is essentially the same. If you’re trying to decide between the two, Malt would be better suited for warm complexions and Kid can go either way (warm or cool). I personally like Kid a lot more.

 (L to R) Kid, Malt

Handwritten vs. Brown Down

At first glance you can see the subtle difference between these two in the pan. However, when applied to the lid, they are essentially one in the same. I would say Handwritten leans more towards a red base while Brown Down is more of a true, neutral brown. If you’re of a warm complexion, go for Handwritten; cool complexion, Brown Down is your gal!

(L to R) Handwritten, Brown Down

Brun vs. Mystery

Both dark brown shades, it is hard to tell the difference between these two when you line them up side by side. What is interesting about these two is that they are both Satin finishes, whereas usually with two very similar eyeshadows like this, one would have a different finish. I personally find Mystery much easier to work with and not so garishly dark against my skin. Mystery is softer in my opinion. If you want a darker, more robust shade, Brun may just be the one for you.

 (L to R) Brun, Mystery

Folie vs. Twinks

Both are red based browns which actually both have a purple hue to them, barely detectable in the pan. The only real difference between these two is the finish; Folie will give you more of a matte-leaning finish (not matte though!), while Twinks will give you more of a shimmer finish. These are essentially the same shade color-wise.

 (L to R) Folie, Twinks

Romp vs. Tempting

If you didn’t grab Romp before MAC discontinued it about 8 months ago, you’re in luck! Tempting is its exact dupe, which is probably why MAC decided to discontinue it to begin with. I honestly don’t see a difference between the two except for the finish. Romp is Frost finish and Tempting is a Lustre finish. I personally prefer Tempting over Romp and will actually be swapping Romp away soon.

 (L to R) Romp, Tempting

Expensive Pink vs. Mythology

If ever there were two eyeshadows that could easily be substituted for one another, it’s definitely these two! Expensive Pink has one over on Mythology in that it offers that beautiful duochrome quality not found in Mythology. Mythology is a Lustre finish and I feel is slightly stronger than Expensive Pink. Expensive Pink is the more universal choice among women and that could be attributed to Mythology’s glitter formula. I do find myself reaching for Expensive Pink more, as you can see below.

 (L to R) Expensive Pink, Mythology

Sushi Flower vs. Free to Be

Sushi Flower and Free to Be are not EXACT dupes of one another, but they’re close enough that if you’re trying to decide which one to get, you really only need one. Sushi Flower is a true, ‘Barbie’ pink, whereas Free to Be is more of a coral-orangey pink. There are differences again in finish – Sushi Flower is a Satin and Free to Be is a matte. If you’re looking for a STRONG pink that stands out, go for Sushi Flower. If you’re looking for a nice matte pink that’s not too strong but still holds its own, Free to Be is the way to go.

 (L to R) Sushi Flower, Free to Be

Deep Damson vs. Beauty Marked

These two are very deceiving when you look at them side by side in the pan. I’ll be the first to admit they look like two very different eyeshadows in that regard. However, when used in the same look, both of these look identical and are easily interchangeable with one another. The only small difference I’d say is that Beauty Marked is chocked full of glitter that semi-transfers to the lid while Deep Damson is more of a matte shade. Depending on which formula you prefer, either one is beautiful but you definitely don’t need both.

(L to R) Deep Damson, Beauty Marked
(L to R) Deep Damson, Beauty Marked
(L to R) Deep Damson, Beauty Marked

Vibrant Grape vs. Creme de Violet

When I compared these side by side in the pan, the only difference I could see between the two was Creme de Violet’s hint of gold glitter. When applied in the swatch Creme de Violet does tend to lean slightly more pink than Vibrant Grape. Each of these gives its own unique effect, but they are really interchangeable with one another.

 (L to R) Vibrant Grape, Creme de Violet

Steamy vs. Shimmermoss

While not completely identical, you can get away with the using either of these in place of one another in a look. Like Romp, Shimmermoss was discontinued about 8 months ago. Compared to Steamy, it leans more green and has more teal hues, but not so much that it makes a difference in the comparison of the two. Steamy is more blue and I feel it’s not as pigmented as Shimmermoss (takes a lot more work to build).

 (L to R) Steamy, Shimmermoss

Silver Ring vs. Knight Divine

There may be some who disagree with me on this, but I feel Silver Ring and Knight Divine are interchangeable (or maybe I have too many grays and they all look alike now – ha!). I say that because I used them in a combination side by side recently and they basically blended into one another. Knight Divine is noticeably darker in the pan in the comparison, but in application, it’s not as strong. I am more partial to Knight Divine based on it’s pigmentation.

 (L to R) Silver Ring, Knight Divine

Nehru vs. Carbon

Nehru and Carbon are basically black shades. Who really needs more than one black shade in their collection? Seriously. The most noticeable difference to me between these two is that I see a slight blue tinge to Nehru not found in Carbon. Carbon is a true, deep black. However, I find Nehru much easier to work with and blend. When it comes right down to it, I prefer it over Carbon.

 (L to R) Nehru, Carbon

101 thoughts on “If You Have This, You Don’t Need That! (MAC Dupes in the Permanent Collection)

  1. I was really anticipating this article, Z! It’s funny how you can think there is such a “huge” difference in eye shadows but, really, once they’re applied, the differences are sometimes so subtle that having more than one is a waste of both money and space, to say nothing of the mental clutter it creates (“Should I use Smoke&Diamonds or Diamond Lil? Kid or Malt?”). I hope you’ll do more of these features – maybe one showing LE/discontinued vs permanent line shadows or even MAC/UD similar shadows. I know we once talked about some greys and you mentioned that one I don’t have – can’t recall which now – was virtually identical to UD Gunmetal. That was so helpful except that I forgot to write it down!

    1. It was Knight Divine! 🙂 And yes, I am definitely planning on doing a post next week that gives MAC dupes for the Naked1 and Naked2 palettes! Looking forward to comparing them this weekend!

      I was amazed at how many I have that are really similar to one another when I actually sat down to do this! Some swapping may be in order.

      I thought about doing a comparison with the LE eyeshadows too – definitely! 🙂

      1. I’ve started taking eye shadows with me when I shop and think I have a shadow very much like one I’m craving. I really wanted UD Cobra but took the Wet n Wild Comfort Zone palette with me as I’d read one of the shadows in that was a dupe for Cobra…and it was! Even the sales assistant at Sephora couldn’t get over it (and it left me more $$$ to spend on other stuff!)

      2. Yay!! That will be a highly anticipated post. Thank you for putting in so much time for everyone. We <3 u!! You save us CA$H!! LOL. Take care.

  2. Thank you, thank you for the list this was very helpful. Would you happen to know if there are MAC dupes for amber lights, expresso, smut, typographic (do you really need smut, typographic if you have carbon?), omega, cork, phloof, dazzlelight, corduroy, swiss chocolate, antiqued.

    Thanks for everything, I love getting your emails.


    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      Hi Monica! Please excuse my tardy response! 🙂
      I appreciate your kind words and I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying the site!

      For the eyeshadows you mentioned . . .
      Amber Lights – close to Woodwinked, but not an exact dupe, an identical LE pigment is MegaRich pigment

      Espresso is one I don’t own yet, but it is VERY similar to Rich Life pigment; not sure of the perm collection yet!

      Smut can really be substituted with something like Knight Divine, in my opinion. I personally don’t like Smut because it’s difficult to work with.

      As far as Typographic vs. Carbon = Typographic is a lighter black, almost really dark gray-black. I find it TEN times easier to work with over Carbon and actually much prefer it when I want to add black to my look. Carbon is a fussy one!

      The others you mentioned are unique to themselves and worth trying/checking out!
      Hope this helps! 🙂

    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      Hi Isabel!
      Rich Life = MAC Espresso
      Vanilla = MAC Nylon (although not an EXACT dupe)
      Tan = MAC Time & Space LE

      Hope that helps a little bit! 🙂

    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      Hi Josie!
      I’m happy to hear this helped you! 🙂
      Tete-A-Tint and Soft Brown are different from one another and would give you different results.
      Soft Brown is more brown, TAT is more orange. You could try subbing TAT for Soft Brown and see what you think.
      I personally see Soft Brown as a staple neutral, but just my opinion! 🙂

    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      Hmmm, you could use something like Haux in its place in looks, but it’s not a dupe for Quarry.
      I don’t know of any dupes in the perm collection for Quarry, sorry babe!

  3. Oh! I had no idea they discontinued romp, that used to be my favorite shade. I absolutely hate the luster formula, never again.

    1. Luster shadows are such “teases” – most look irresistible in the pan but are so disappointing when applied. I have 3 – Caviar Dreams LE, Tempting and Greensmoke. Greensmoke is too beautiful for words in the pan but not half so beautiful when you apply it. Tempting looks better if applied over Sin primer potion. Caviar Dreams – just disappointing.

      1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


        I couldn’t agree more. 🙁 They’re very disappointing.
        I just got Pink Venus the other day; gorgeous color but it’s got that Lustre problem about it!

  4. What about tempting & wood winked? The store did it again to my husband. I sent him for woodwinked and since they were out the old him tempting. They did that before to him when I sent him for Swiss chocolate, he came home with soft brown and you clarified the difference for me. so same question, Do I need to exchange and wait for wiodwinked to come in stock? I’m trying to build my collection and get the basic 15 you say and while I know tempting is on there, with what I do have I think I could do more with woodwinked. I’m fair skin. Blue eyes, dark brown hair

    1. Or if not, could you give me combinations with tempting. I have vanilla, cranberry, shroom, naked lunch, gleam, rule, sable, motif, mulch, da bling, patina, cranberry. Any combinations I could do with those? Oh also Tracy and seedy pearl

        1. But tempting didn’t have any of those colors that I just listed. Is there I can do with it than wh you have posted?

      1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


        You could try …
        – Seedy Pearl on the inner half of the lid, Tempting on the outer half of the lid, Da Bling in the crease
        – Tempting on the lid, Cranberry in the crease
        – Naked Lunch (or Shroom) on the inner half of the lid, Tempting on the outer half of the lid, Rule lightly in the crease
        – Gleam on the inner half of the lid, Tempting on the outer half of the lid – I believe there’s a picture for this combo


    2. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      Hi Donna!
      Tempting and Woodwinked are not comparable to one another in my opinion and would give you very different looks. Tempting is a nice shade, but I think you’d like Woodwinked a LOT better, especially on your blue eyes!

      1. You are so right!! Just tried tempting and am completely disappointed with it. It looks cute in the pan, but was so flat and dull on my eyes. Ordered woodwinked ASAP!!

    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      It’s so funny you posted this today!
      I am finishing putting together the Spotlight for Espresso and used ATG and Naked Lunch today in combos and thought to myself, ‘Boy, those look similar!’ Ha!
      I’ll have to compare them soon and add them in – thanks! 🙂

  5. Once again, Zabrena, I just want to thank you for all your “dupe” posts – these “if you have this” series (what a great name for the concept) as well as the comparisons between UD and MAC shadows. I’m sure I’m not the only one it helps to avoid spending unnecessarily when there are similar shades in our collections. It is SO good of you to do this!

    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      Thank you, Mariella! 🙂
      It means the world to me that you appreciate them!
      I just finished doing the next one in the series for LE shades compared to the perm collection.
      My gosh, that was a lot of work, still not done with the post, so it makes it worthwhile to hear you say that! 🙂

  6. I’ve been obsessed with this website ever since i discovered it this week, I ran to my Mac store and bought a few eyeshadows. I’m having a hard time deciding whether to keep Mac’s Paradisco. I have Mac’s Expensive Pink. Do I really need both?

    1. My Eyeshadow Consultant


      LOL! I completely understand your obsession! 😉
      I wouldn’t compare Paradisco to Expensive Pink; Expensive Pink is really a dupe for Mythology and Paradisco is more coral. Expensive Pink is a light muted pink color, so they really are quite different from one another, in my opinion. If you feel like you prefer more muted, toned down colors, I’d go with Expensive Pink, but if you like louder, more vibrant colors, Paradisco is your girl. Hope that helps a little more 🙂 Thank you for your support!

  7. I completely agree with all of these above especially mythology and expensive pink, but I do not think silver ring and knight divine are dupes! I prefer to wear silver ring on my lid while knight divine is more pigmented and deeper so I prefer it in the crease!

    1. Hi Olivia,
      Thank you for taking the time to add your opinion 🙂
      I simply compared Silver Ring with Knight Divine, not as dupes, but as if to say if you had one you really don’t need the other. 😉

  8. I’m with you on the naked lunch vs all that glitters. They look SO much alike but there’s something more subtle about naked lunch than ATG. It just looks better on with my fair skin. I’m working on my 3rd pot because I wear NL almost EVERY day to work!

  9. This is awesome! I am laughing at myself because I just got home and put All That Glitter in my set and noticed how much it resembled Naked Lunch…and then I read this post! I’m glad I have the receipt and I can return it 🙂

  10. which is a better pink for a nc42 indian skin tone.
    free to be or sushi flower ??
    today I bought twinks cranberry woodwinked n patina :):)
    thanks u so much for ur advice

    1. Hi Paula!
      Wedge is a cool brown, more neutral in tone whereas Soba has a more orange-leaning tendency to it. If you’re trying to decide between the two, I’d recommend Wedge as I feel it easily pairs up with a LOT of eyeshadows, whereas Soba’s unique coloring can make it harder to pair with a wide variety of colors. Just my opinion! 🙂

  11. Hello! Great post, thank you!
    Can you help me find a closer dupe to MAC Deep Damson than with MAC Beauty Marked? To me, the swatches do not look anything alike. I’m in love with Deep Damson, but just need a less expensive e/s.
    Any thoughts or ideas?
    Thanks again. Your posts are always spot on and very helpful! Really appreciate the time you take to help everyone. <3

  12. Hi zab, i really need help as brown script is not available in the uk , is there any shade u can recommend for alternative? Thankyou x

  13. I have MAC’s Naked Lunch, soft brown, texture, tempting, woodwinked, mythology, & brown down. I need ideas on how to wear these. This was kind of my MAC starter colors when I went in this is what they suggested. Along with a few other products. But I’m kind of just starting out wearing more makeup & need ideas on what colors to wear together! Please help!! I am so happy I found this website 🙂 thank you!!

  14. Hi Z. I have yet to find a dupe for soft brown. It’s the most gorgeous orangey warm brown and yet it’s not available in the UK. Saddle is not even available in the UK. Really need a good dupe for soft brown please help! xx

    1. Marcia Henden: I know that we do not know each other (except that we both subscribe to Z’s blog), but I would be willing to go to my local MAC counter for you to purchase any non-pro products for you. Or if you did want pro products, you could use my address and I’d re-ship it to you. I would get a few different shipping option quotes and then let you decide which option you liked best. (Tracking #, insurance, etc). I would not expect anything in return obviously. I just think that everyone should have access to all types of makeup!
      I start “High Fashion MUA and HD Airbrushing Techniques” school today!! Woo hoo!! Keep your fingers crossed for me.
      Please don’t feel obligated!! I’m just offering my services should you really want/need a few MAC items. 🙂
      The new MAC “A Novel Romance” Collection is out and it includes many gorgeous (and LE) items. I know I’m getting quite a few items. It just came out yesterday. Soo exciting. LMK, ok?
      Take care and stay beautiful!!

      1. Hi Amy,

        I just read your e-amil, I leave in Italy and besides of the pro products that are accessible in the pro stores here in Italy in Rome and on the web site and can not get SADDLE AND SOFT BROWN BECAUSE they only sell it in the US. I understand you about novel Romance I took the blush animal instinct and it’s faboulous, really.. Could you help me getting these 2 Eyeshadows?? Thansk and big kiss

        1. Hi Isabelle,
          I would be more than happy to help you. If you’ve been on the MAC website, you’ll see that each eyeshadow is $16 plus New York State tax of 8.75%.
          I will ship via USPS using a tracking number and insurance.
          If you are serious, please contact me directly at: a new you at roadrunner dot com
          After I get an address, I’ll send you the product, tax and shipping total.
          Are there any cosmetic products that you have access to in Italy that we don’t here in the USA? It would be great to experience something new. We could actually help each other. 🙂
          (My ebay name that I share w/my hubby is outdoor-toys. We have a 100% rating.) Just to show you that I would never try to hurt anyone and am an honest person just trying to help a fellow makeup lover/addict out. (I’m both!). Haha.

          Have a great day,
          Amy H.

  15. Hi Zabrena,

    What you do with theses posts is amazing, really helpfull, Thanks a lot. I have many dupes I think but it’s ok, I can use it as back up.

  16. Finding this post a little late, but if anyone is looking for a drugstore nude/pink try Maybelline’s “Nude Glow” single eyeshadow. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with it.

  17. I’m so happy I found your sight. At 49 years old I still love makeup and I’m always looking for new eyeshadow combinations and application techniques…there’s always more to learn. Your sight offers that and so much more. I have 2 questions, first, is there a dupe for Macs “Motif” and second, being a brown-eyed girl, (neutral undertones), of a mature age, can you offer a good every day look and a more dramatic, sometime in your future posts. Thank you again . Kimberly.

  18. Oh, how I wish that I would have joined prior to shopping yesterday! I had 12 colors in a 15 palette that I wanted to finish filling and made 2 more 15’s so I bought 33 colors yesterday and now I see some that I could have done without.

    I absolutely love the site by the way! I cannot wait to try something new everyday! I have already added several UD looks to my favorites along with MAC colors..I’m starting a new list for my next palette!

    1. Hi Nicole!
      Thank you for becoming a member and welcome to you! 🙂
      If you bought the colors from a MAC store, you can always return them! Their return policy is pretty generous, even if you try something and don’t like it. (Gotta love that!) I’m so happy you’re enjoying the site! YAY! 😀

      1. Hi! No worries..they are in my pallet and ready to go! I’m sure I will use them all 🙂 I would never return them anyway as the girls and guys at the store were so helpful..I had a 3 page list lol

  19. Hi Zabrena! I’m thrilled to have found your post! I have naked 2 and smoky, and the two faced chocolate and semi chocolate palettes but those are so big and Inreally need a small palette for everyday use! So I thought about MAC refill eyeshadoes, and now I own just brown script in an empty MAC quad 😁, I have brown eyes and love warm tones to make them stand out! I need help choosing the other 3 colors… Naked lunch? Or ATG?maybe Woodwinked? And between Handwritten and Embark which one you prefer? Last question: if you use a primer like Painterly for example, do you need to put a shadow all over the lid as a base? Thank you SO much for your answer!!!

  20. I know you might have heard this question before but I need to know the answer . Is there a dupe for MAC Embark eyeshadow….

    1. Have you tried ABH’s Fudge? I own both Embark and Fudge, and feel like they are very similar. Fudge is just a tad lighter, but are otherwise the same rich red-based dark brown, IMO. Would love to know what Zabrena thinks!

      1. Hi Shannon! Yes! I have it in one of the palettes, Tamanna I think? I feel like Embark has a slight more purple tone to it (very slight!) and would compare Fudge to something like MAC’s Handwritten, which is also that rich red based brown. I’m a sucker for those shades! 🙂

  21. Hi Zabrena!
    Thank you so much for this excellent post! 😀
    Maybe you can do the same for MAC lipsticks? I think there are so many similar shades, it could be helpful to pick a particular shade in a favorable finish.

  22. Hi! Just wanted to add that I find UD Freelove and MAC paradisco very similar, on my lids they are almost identical. Too bad that I love both. But since I already own UD Freelove and just got Paradisco, I will return it and decide which one to go for when Freelove hits the pan.

  23. My challenge is finding cruelty-free dupes for MAC shadows, since MAC is no longer cruelty-free.
    Makeup Geek is a great source, along with The Balm, Coastal Scents, and Anastasia Beverly Hills.
    I’ve found that Coastal Scents’ “Cocoa Diamond” is similar to MAC Satin Taupe.
    I’m currently on the hunt for a cruelty-free dupe for MAC French Grey.

  24. Hi Zabrena
    Awesome site. Thank you for all your hard work. You are my go to for Mac shadows.
    Any ideas for Electra and Crystal. Cannot get them. So dupes are the way to go. Xxxx

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