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15 Products with a Cult Following That Just Aren’t Worth It

Those cult-favorites could be more hype than happiness.

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Not every brand with a cult following is worth it

It’s no secret that paying more for some high-quality products pays off over time, but that’s definitely not always the case. You’ll be happy to know that some of your favorite products and brands with cult followings can aren’t worth all the hype, and you may even be able to find far better quality at more reasonable prices. Here are the items that just aren’t worth it—and what you should buy instead.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

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Skip the famous pro-level hair stylers


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While a fancy Dyson Airwrap Styler may have loads of celebrity fans, it’ll also set you back over $500 and won’t really do much more for your hair than one of the lesser-known hair drying wands. Consider this Revlon Ionic Technology Perfect Heat & Style Hair Dryer at a fraction of the cost, and use the money you saved on a spa day and something from our list of the best hair masks.

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You don’t need blue-and-white checked mattresses


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Unless you’re ready to plunk down a mortgage payment on a new mattress, there’s really no reason to spend thousands of dollars on a blue-and-white checked Hastens mattress. While those European-made beds are certainly comfortable and well-made, you’re just as likely to get the best sleep of your life on a budget-friendlier Casper. You’ll also want to check out these sleep products Amazon shoppers can’t stop raving about.

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French candles that cost an arm and a leg


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Sure, those trendy French Diptyque candles have bright, robust scents and hours of clean burn time—but do you really need to spend your normal weekly budget for groceries on a candle? Probably not—especially since you’ll literally be burning your hard-earned money. Opt for a Good Natured Soy Jar Candle in a fresh scent like apricot basil.

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There’s really no benefit to straying from everyone’s favorite brow queen


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There seems to be a culture clash of eyebrow experts, but when it comes to eyebrow-enhancing and taming products that truly deserve their cult followings, the winner is clear. That little silver tube of Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow + Volumizing Eyebrow Gel definitely beefs up sparse brows, but after a few hours, it runs ragged and has a hard time holding up to body heat, sweat, sun, and moisture. Opt for Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Gel instead. It will last all day through just about whatever you’re up to, doesn’t flake or clump, and is more affordable. On the other hand, these 9 iconic beauty products have stood the test of time.

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One-trick pony appliances


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Everyone loves a good countertop kitchen appliance to help streamline meal prep and save them energy, but some of those single-purpose machines, like the Chefman Air Fryer, do little more than cause counter clutter. Go for a multi-function countertop appliance—even if it means spending a little more. You’ll be happy with your extra counter space and the combined functions of this Instant Pot 10qt Vortex Plus Air Fryer Oven, and over the moon when you realize it’s just as easy to make your own sweet potato fries as it is to toast a bagel. If you love this, you’ll want to check out our list of really cool tech gifts you’ll want to keep for yourself.

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Those fancy shaving sets


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Sure, those fancy shaving sets are a lot of fun to receive as gifts—but when you realize you’ve fallen in love with a shaving cream and don’t have the heart (or budget) to refill that softly-scented Art of Shaving shaving cream at $25 a pop, you know that cult favorite doesn’t make practical sense. Don’t fret, shave loving pet! Harry’s, a luxury-quality shaving company at more practical prices, offers their entire Winston Set for the same price as a single shaving cream at the other big-famous-cult-following shaving company. It comes complete with a Winston handle, shave gel or cream, extra blades, and a travel cover.

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Reality star lip kits


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Reality television and great lip colors are both popular obsessions, but they don’t always have to cross paths. You can skip the cult favorite Kylie items and go straight for a gloss that delivers the most shine, least sticky-goop feeling, and long wear. Try The Creme Shop Lip Juice Stain in any one of their complexion-flattering colors, and use the cash you saved on a fancy latte. These are more of the best lipsticks every woman needs in her makeup bag.

tupperware products cult followingvia, via

Food containers you’d buy at parties


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Matchy-matchy food storage containers are loads of fun, but when you realize the cult fave Tupperware your neighbor is about to have a party for cost more than the food itself, you’re going to rethink your commitment to leftovers. Opt for easily washed, used, and stored Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Containers. A set of ten perfectly-coordinated containers with lids won’t cost you a fortune, and they’re well-made enough that you’ll probably end up keeping them for more years and meals than you can count.

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Forget anything that promotes crystals for healing


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We’re sorry to break the news, but that really beautiful piece of rose quartz your favorite blogger told you to buy isn’t going to heal your every woe. Devastating, right? According to Gustavo Ferrer, MD, a pulmonologist and author of Cough Cures, choosing a science-backed nasal spray is a better choice for cold and flu recovery than any collection of rocks. “Rinse your nose with saline and xylitol spray to decrease the adherence of bacteria, viruses, and irritants to mucous membranes.” Try Xlear Nasal Spray with xylitol, and save the crystals for that pretty bowl on your coffee table.

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Salon-backed hair products don’t always deserve the praise


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Here’s a dirty secret—not every $40 hair conditioner is worth every penny, especially when hair-stripping ingredients and silicones are involved. Lots of high-end cult fave hair oils like the Kerastase L’Huile Original Hair Oil are designed to leave your hair looking flawless immediately after your shampoo and blow-dry, but with each passing hour and day, your hair actually gets drier and more brittle. Eek! Consider up-and-coming hair oils like Verb Ghost Oil instead. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the vegan, cruelty-free formula packed with moringa seed oil, light-as-a-feather argan oil, and bamboo extract. These are more of the best drugstore hair products stylists swear by.

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Single-use coffee pods


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We’re not going to ruin your morning brew by telling you to make coffee the old-fashioned way (although it wouldn’t be the worst idea), but we are suggesting you give those single-use coffee pods more careful consideration. Their cult following is for good reason—convenience, but they’re expensive, not great for the environment, and don’t necessarily taste any better than your favorite ground beans. Try using Perfect Pod Eco-Refillable reusable cups with the ground beans of your choice instead. Find out 20 more tiny everyday changes you can make to save the environment.

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Sea-extract creams don’t need to cost a car payment


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We interrupt your regularly scheduled hydration routine to report that $200 face creams like La Mer just aren’t worth the hype—no matter how big their cult following is. At some point, you have to wonder if it’s the cream itself or the price tag that’s creating the buzz. Be smart about your spending and your skin at the same time. Try The Better Skin Co. Mirakle Cream at a fraction of the price of the other sea-extract focused face cream. It’s great for day, night, sensitive, and wrinkle-prone skin and layers perfectly under makeup or over serums.

sandals cult following productsvia, via

Hippy-dippy granola-type shoes everyone has a pair of


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If you already own a pair of double-strapped leather Birkenstock sandals with comfortable cork bottoms, don’t throw them out. They’re great! But when you’re in the market for your next favorite pair of sandals, you’ll want to take these Bearpaw Pina Vegan flats for a spin. Aside from being cruelty-free, they’re a more affordable take on everyone’s tried-and-true summer sandal staples. Find out 13 things rich people never waste their money on.

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Swap your pink mascara tube out


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That little pink Maybelline mascara tube has been in everyone’s makeup bag for decades, but times have changed and you don’t have to keep buying the same mascara if you’re on a budget. In fact, essence Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara is now one of Amazon’s best-selling budget-friendly picks, offering bold lashes at drugstore prices. Go for a single swipe if you’re looking for an understated daytime look, or layer on a few swipes for a more daring evening event.

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That name brand Bluetooth speaker


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You might want it, but you definitely don’t need that Bose Bluetooth speaker to listen to your favorite tunes at home. Consider a vintage-inspired Electrohome Bluetooth model that seamlessly plays your Spotify playlists, Pandora channels, and existing music library through powerful dual full-range woofers. Plus, you can plug your guitar into the 1/4″ input and make use of the headphone jack for private sessions. You’ll want to add this to your list of gifts for men in your life immediately.
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Bryce Gruber
As Home Editor, Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce at Reader's Digest. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.

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