I have been seeing double recently. So have some of our readers – especially the eagle-eyed Kim and Joan. We have been finding products with exactly the same formulas made by completely different companies. Often the only thing that is different is the price and that can be vary by as much as 100% or even 300%. I got the double vision thing only the other day when I started to test the new Nutra-Lift Lash Renue ($49 at the TIA shop) and began to think there was something very familiar about it. Sure enough, it was a nearly identical twin of Cilea ($69.99).

On this occasion, I had luckily picked the least inexpensive version to review. But I haven’t always been so fortunate. I had already reviewed, recommended and stocked in the TIA store two products from Pure Radiance before finding much cheaper doubles out there in cosmetic land. Pure Radiance Revive DNA Rejuvenation costs around $100, whilst its product twin (with the exception of astragalus) is a relative bargain at $63.25 from CSI called Telomere Fine Line Repair Cream. There is a similar story with Pure Radiance Infuse ($45), a hair strengthening product. In this case, the exact formula can be found for less than $20 by Nourish Follicle Stimulator. Obviously, we have removed the Pure Radiance products from the TIA shop.

Double-vision can get to be a permanent affliction in this business. No sooner had we reviewed Wilava’s Vitamin C Serum ($25) than it turned up under the guise of My Beauty Addiction for $12. And a reader put us on to a good value cream by CSS, which we then discovered is nearly identical to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, which costs $100 more!

So what is going on? Well, out there in cosmetic land there are chemists who toil in laboratories coming up with skincare, haircare and makeup formulas. Then they sell the recipes to companies who private label them (put their own brand names on the bottle). Very rarely is the formula sold exclusively, so it can turn up under multiple brands and different price points. The price depends entirely on what the brands think they are worth or can get away with. There are even companies who manufacture formulas on a relatively large scale and then sell them to small spas and salons all pre-packed with the salon’s logo.

Now that we appreciate how rife this is, we will try to be more vigilant to spot a product twin. There is no sure way of knowing if a formula is original or not until we start seeing double. If anyone spots any more, please let us know. Happily, many of the companies we like have their own in-house formulators, for example Your Best Face, Dermophisiologique and Hydropeptide.