Dupe or Not? Mac Soft And Gentle Vs. Hard Candy Tiki

You wanna know what burns this beauty blogger's biscuits? It drives me nuts how casually the phrase "dupes" is thrown around. Dupes are a great idea because they can save the use lots of money. However, most of the dupes I've compared are anything but! A lot of people will call something a makeup dupe when (a) they have never tried/owned the original product (b) the color doesn't match at all. Not all brown eye shadows are the same shade, for example.

So I'm taking some of the most popular "dupes" and putting them to the test. Are they really dupes? First up, I'm comparing MAC Soft and Gentle vs. Hard Candy Tiki--two highlighters with two different price tags. Let's look at them in the pan. Do they look the same?

To me, they don't look similar at all. However, I've seen plenty of products that look dissimilar in the pan/tube/palette/etc but similar on skin. But before I get to swatches, let's get some info on each product:
New Packaging

Hard Candy Tiki Bronzer
  • .44 oz
  • $7.55
  • Walmart or Walmart.com
  • Golden highlight
  • chalky
  • cruelty-free
  • contains parabens
  • contains mineral oil (breaks me out)
MAC Soft & Gentle
  • .35 oz
  • $32
  • MAC stores or MacCosmetics.com
  • Champagne highlight
  • very shimmery
Now let's look at some swatches:
To me it is very obvious they are different. Below, I'm wearing them both:

MAC on your left, HC on your right

It is hard to tell in pictures but in person they are obviously different. You can see how MAC gives a more vibrant highlight whereas Hard Candy is more subtle. I had to pack on the HC to make it more comparable.

Here's a quick video where I demonstrate and discuss (in my Southern accent, of course):

I consider this dupe BUSTED! Not a dupe!

What do you think? Are they the same?
Let me know what dupes YOU would like tested, below!

Extra Elle:
  • I normally don't comment about my day job, but since it has affected the blog lately, I will. The 6 year old I take care of had her leg broken so badly that she has a full leg cast. I've been going in early/staying late since she has to be carried everywhere (she's too little for crutches) and can't do as much. I am worn out, y'all! So my apologies for being absent from your blogs/emails/everything. Hopefully I will be caught up sometime this week.
  • Halloween was fun--did you see Charlie's pic on Instagram?


  1. I need a great highlighter and honestly I love Mac products!

    God bless,
    XO, Claire

  2. I feel like it's every month a new makeup trend is coming out! I haven't tried strobing (just getting on board with bold brows) but I have been trying out a few highlighters. These definitely look different to me.

    7% Solution

  3. Loved this comparison!
    The MAC highlighters are fab :) x

    The Belle Narrative

  4. Great comparison, Elle:) That's too bad about the Hard Candy one coz I don't like my highlighters to be too shimmery, but I don't want them to break me out either:D

    PS Oh my gosh! So sorry to hear about the little one breaking her leg:( That's just awful.

  5. I don't think these two look anything alike! I'm not a huge fan of shimmer, but that HC pan looks kind of flat to me. :(

  6. You wont believe this but just about half a minute before I came to your blog, I thought to myself if you were a full time blogger or had a day job, and here I reach the post and you talk about your day job :) Checking out Charlie on insta asap!!
    June Wants It All - Indian fashion and lifestyle blog

  7. I haven't used a hard candy product in years, mostly because they really aren't sold near me anymore! Eeek so sorry about the little one - that is so hard on everyone!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  8. Oh my goodness, the poor kid! And you poor nanny! I feel your pain, lady. I'm currently working with a broken foot (my own, not one of the kids) and it's ROUGH. I actually prefer the Hard Candy highlight...but it's definitely not a dupe!

  9. Thanks for testing out these two products against each other. I hope things get easier at your job and the child you are helping heals soon. I'm sure you are an angel to that family. :)


  10. I love soft n gentle!! It's my favorite face product ever. It was the first (of only about 5) MAC products that I have, and it's definitely a holy grail product :)

  11. I know I can always depend on you for a thorough review! Thanks for comparing these two!

  12. Thanks for the comparison! I still haven't gotten into highlighters yet, but based on your blog I would definitely choose the MAC.
    Can you please do a comparison for primers? That's the one place that I've spent so much money and can't find one that I really like. I have large pores and rosacea on my chin, and foundation keeps sinking in and looking like polka dots. Thanks!!

  13. Oh my goodness, I am sorry to hear about the little girl you watch. That sounds exhausting and so uncomfortable for her. Thanks for the review. The products definitely don't seem to compare!

  14. i can't believe they are still making hard candy stuff! i'm a mac lover through and through so i'd prob end up with that original one anyway :) good comparison! and good luck with your little one - carrying around must be super tiring!

    xoxo cheshire kat

  15. Love the shimmeryness of the MAC one. Glad they aren't the same and that you are actually getting more for your $. Sorry to hear about the little girl you take care of. Wishing her a quick recovery!

  16. I agree not a dupe. I love the shimmer of the MAC highlight.

  17. I love Mac cosmetics shimmer and can see the Hard Candy is not a dupe! Thanks for sharing the review!

    Doused In Pink

  18. You are right, dupe is used so carelessly these days! If I talk about a dupe, I really want it to be the exact same. In shade, swatch, longevity etc. Not just something that just looks a little similar, but transfers completely different.
    And you are right, this dupe is busted (although I have to admit I hadn't heard about it before).

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

  19. Haha I had no idea Hard Candy still existed! I agree with you though, they do not look similar at all. I love that MAC highlighter! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

  20. I have to agree! Although they are slightly similar I definitely wouldn't call this a dupe! The shades are totally different! But they do both look gorgeous on you!

    <3 Shannon
    Upbeat Soles

  21. Busted! Glad we've got honest bloggers!

    Bummer about your nanny child! Hope she has a smooth recovery!!! Xo

  22. The MAC does look a lot more pigmented. Thanks for letting us know/
    Hugs to your little 6 year old friend!

    little luxury list formerly Chic 'n Cheap Living

  23. I've seen so many bloggers and vloggers calling things dupe when it was so obviously wasn't! Thank you for this, Elle!

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

  24. I agree... HUGE difference. I get annoyed at the term "dupe", too. Why not just say that something is similar... to me, dupe means DUPLICATE which is EXACTLY THE SAME.

  25. Great post and I would love to see more of these comparisons! I love MAC, so it is really hard for someone to sell me on a different product. And, oh no! The poor 6 year old that you watch... My daughter is 6 (she'll be 7 this month, tho) and I just can't imagine having to carry her around everywhere. At least she is ok, tho!!


  26. In my experience dupes never really live up to the quality of the original, except for maybe a couple of exceptions.

  27. Poor little thing, I hope her leg heals quickly. So sweet of you to give your extra time to help take care of her.
    I've never tried either of these, but it's good to know to skip the HC version and that it's not the same. They rarely are!

  28. Very nice comparison, Elle! I agree, not everything is a dupe.

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. Cute post and really creative!!

    Happy November!! Can you believe the year is almost over!


  31. Totally with you on the difference! I am so sorry you've been worn out and exhausted sweet lady! I hope things get better soon for you and the little child!! May your November start off great my love

  32. I forgot Hard Candy products were a thing - I haven't seen them in forever! Those two really don't look alike.

    You are the sweetest for taking care of that little girl, I'm sure it's not an easy time. Here's hoping she heals quickly!

  33. Def not dupes! I am like you and would rather test things out myself.

  34. Good to know Elle. I've not used any of these so, thanks! <3
    Style Files

  35. I love highlighters specially after the strobing trend . Thanks for sharing and ya take care of the kid and you too have rest :-)


  36. These totally look different and the MAC has more shimmer to it. Hope she heals up quickly.

  37. Charlie was the cutest!
    Well... look at it this way - your job is going to give you amazing biceps :)

  38. Fun idea to compare! I think they look different to me and the mac is obviously the better choice, but much pricier! Sorry to hear the little one is in a full leg cast, but I"m sure you are doing everything you can to keep her spirits up.

  39. I can totally see the difference!
    I had no idea what a dupe was..

  40. I will be honest, I think some beauty bloggers/vloggers put the word dupe out there to get more hits and I also think sometimes they are being paid to do it. I've purchased plenty of so called dupes and you're right, they were nothing like the original. Which is when I stopped relying on others and started looking for comparisons myself. Not every blogger/vlogger is like this but I believe some do, do this.

    Kia / KTS

  41. great post! :)
    have a lovely week !!


  42. First of all, can we talk about how gorgeous you look in that purple shirt in your video??? Girl that is your color!!!! Secondly, yeah...I can tell a huge difference between these two!!! People shouldn't use the word dupe so loosely. Just because both products claim to do the same thing, "highlight," doesn't mean one is a dupe for the other!

  43. I don't think they look alike either. I'm all for a dupe, but I do want it to be the same. I've been on a highlight kick lately and that MAC is calling my name!

  44. I hear Mac stuff is awesome.

    Whew, hope the six-year-old heals quickly.

  45. I have a love/ hate relationship with Tiki. It's pretty, but I find it looks a bit orange on me. I'm very pale, and perhaps it's my red hair that makes this a little more noticeable? I'm just not a fan. I've never tried MAC's though. I'm so curious to read what you think of other proclaimed dupes. (;

  46. They definitely look different. I really like that MAC color!


  47. Great post! I always appreciate the work you put into your product coverage!

    Xo Ally


  48. I agree that these look different! I have soft and gentle and love it, but that HC one looks really pretty! I've found that the Nyx micro brow is identical to the Anastasia one. And Nyx blush in pinched is very very similar to Nars orgasm. And a few Mac lip sticks I've found dupes for, but some of them I've seen look different on other people!

  49. Great post! I can tell by your swatches that they're pretty different. Loving the MAC one! That color is beautiful!

    The Closet by Christie

  50. Love this review, Elle! I haven't used Hard Candy in years, but I love the MAC, such a pretty shimmer!

    xo, Rachel
    A Blonde's Moment

  51. Not a dupe but two very pretty colors! A six year old in a cast sounds like quite an ordeal. Poor thing...

  52. Wow...pretty close and such a pretty color for the eyes!

  53. Such a great review - now if I only learn how to strobe!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  54. Thanks for putting the dupes into perspective and going out and trying them out! This is definitely helpful!


  55. Great info! Hope her leg heals quickly. Charlie's pics were just too cute

  56. I am sorry about the broken leg, at 6 it must be so bad - cause they are restless at this time and not being able to run is bad. Hope all gets well soon, and you can relax. I am also very exhausted, don't know exactly why, and was also going to apologize because of my absence. I feel I could sleep 19 hours a day :( what I can't, of course. I liked what you said about dupes. Everybody is using the word now, yes. I liked the MAC highlighter and I could see it looks more vivid, and I want to buy it now :)

  57. i am no beauty blogger or even beauty expert lol but the word dupe annoys me too because it is rarely an actual dupe.. it's more like a comparable product, or an alternative option, but that doesn't make it a dupe.
    oh i'm so sorry to hear that about the child you look after. hope her leg heals fast!

  58. Good to know! I think I'm going to love this series of yours!

  59. Poor kiddo! I bet that's miserable! :( I hope she heals quickly!

    Also, I want to see MORE of these dupe comparisons! I see them on Pinterest all the time and I always wonder!

  60. I have had Soft & Gentle on my list for ages. At some point it will be mine! ;) Hard Candy almost always lets me down- definitely hit or miss. Sorry to hear about her broken leg. I know how she feels, as I have been dealing with a broken knee all summer. I had to have surgery though, and still trying to get back to walking. It's a process. She has age on her side, so hopefully she will heal quickly and be back on her feet in no time!

    Wendy | Fashionable Heart

  61. For someone who likes and appreciate dupes, I'm thankful you actually test them out and let us know your honest opinion. Since I'm not a beauty blogger, there is nothing worse than buying a product (even if it's $7 or $8) and it being junk. So sorry to hear about the broken leg. Praying she heals quickly and you get some rest!


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