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Many of us have had to sacrifice buying a luxury beauty product, in exchange for settling for its $5 drugstore cousin. But rarely do you prefer the $5 dupe to the real thing. Unless, perhaps, you shop at Trader Joe’s.
If you shop at Trader Joe’s, odds are that you’ve eyed the beauty section on your way to the checkout line with mild curiosity. After all, why trust your skin to a grocery store’s private label products? But as Trader Joe’s has become a world unto itself — complete with influencers (see @traderjoeslist, 1.7 million Instagram followers; @traderjoesobsessed, 535,000 followers; and @traderjoes itself, 2.5 million followers), Twitter pages for New Yorkers to track store lines, and even a review website — the earthy-crunchy grocer has evolved from private-label snack store to affordable beauty haven.
Although Natasha Fischer created her blog, Trader Joe’s List, as a snack shopping guide for her friends in 2008, it has since developed into a multi-platform brand centered around new product spottings and reviews, recipes and hauls. While she now boasts over 2.4 million cumulative followers across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok, when Fischer first went viral for her post about Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter in 2011, the store’s “beauty” section was more functional and less luxe than it is today.
Fischer attributes the success of her blog, and the brand it revolves around, to Trader Joe’s marketing savvy. “With every item, you can tell it’s been handpicked, hand-curated, hand-designed,” she said. “And they’re very selective, [because] it’s a 14,000-square-foot store, [so] they can only put so many items in it.”
Fischer, who has been the social media’s unofficial Trader Joe’s expert since she started the Trader Joe’s List Instagram account in 2011, has witnessed firsthand the expansion of the store’s beauty section, which “will probably get bigger and bigger,” she said. Simultaneously, her following has expanded, with women making up 92% of her audience. Fischer said Trader Joe’s “realizes their customer demographic is primarily women and they’re leaning into what caters to women: skin care.”
In October, Fischer hosted a skin-care-focused IGTV video in collaboration with Olga Lorenz, an esthetician and beauty expert. In the video, titled “Let’s make your skin glow with Trader Joe’s products,” Fischer and Lorenz sample and review an assortment of food and beauty products, like Trader Joe’s Hydrating Hyaluronic Body Gel Cream, Marula Facial Oil and Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer.
In addition to the esthetician-approved quality of the products, their low price points make them the perfect beauty “dupes,” which further drives their popularity. For example, Trader Joe’s Watermelon Overnight Mask retails for $6.99 for two ounces, while Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask retails for $45.00 for 2.7 ounces.
And when it comes to its Brazil Nut Body Butter, a renowned TJ dupe of Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream on TikTok, the price point and quality of the cream “hit the mark,” said Soleil Crow. Crow is a Los Angeles-based beauty content creator with 327,400 cumulative followers across TikTok and Instagram.
The cream, like its higher-end counterpart is made with acai and guarana extracts. It has amassed over 2 million cumulative views under the hashtags #traderjoesbodybutter (691,500 views on TikTok) and #brazilnutbodybutter (1.7 million views). After being sold out in a matter of days when it launched in June, the Brazil Nut Body Butter was restocked in September before being sold out for a second time. While the original Bum Bum Cream retails at $45, Trader Joe’s version sells for $5.99.
Despite living across the street from a Trader Joe’s in Manhattan Beach growing up, Crow only recently delved into the store’s robust skin-care selection, when she discovered the Brazil Nut Body Butter. Crow, who often shares affordable finds and dupes with her followers, posted a TikTok of her first impressions of the product, which amassed 26,900 views when she posted it in June, upon the cream’s first release.
Crow hypothesizes that as skin care took off during the first half of 2020, Trader Joe’s began to expand its skin-care assortment and add additional products that are clearly dupes.
Another beauty content creator who rode the quarantine skin-care wave is Brianna Ancheta, whose two-part TikTok series on “Three Underrated Beauty Products from Trader Joe’s” amassed 643,500 and 345,300 views since being posted in April 2020 and June 2020. In the second of the two TikToks, Ancheta urges her 1.7 million followers on TikTok to try the Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer, which “reminds me of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream,” she said. People even debated which dupe the Trader Joe’s product was. Some fanatics likened the gel moisturizer instead to the Clinique Moisture Surge ($25), which features 12 of the same ingredients, including aloe and green tea extract.
As the holiday season approaches, the grocer’s beauty lineup continues to increase with “a few fun new holiday items,” said Rachel Broderick, a marketing and communications specialist at Trader Joe’s in an email to Glossy, These include its 12 Days of Beauty advent calendar ($19.99), Pink Peppermint Face and Body Mask ($6.99) and Merry and Bright Skin Care Trio ($9.99),
The calendar contains “little, tiny advent calendar-sized beauty products that they don’t typically sell,” like rose facial oil, said Fischer. She also posted an unboxing video of the 12 Days of Beauty advent calendar on November 11 via Instagram. “Those come into stock and then they’re gone within the first week.”