Spot The Difference: Cheap Mumuso knockoffs versus their original versions

Since opening their doors in the PH, lifestyle brand Mumuso has been the subject of much controversy. That the packaging designs of their cosmetics products looked almost exactly like those of popular K-beauty brands roused suspicion. Last year, an exposé by a South Korean broadcasting station MBC revealed that the brand masquerading as Korean is in fact from China!

The PV Team has previously tested out some of their products but since the expose, we’ve been asked about how Mumuso’s products perform compared to their “original” counterparts. Well, there was only one way to find out! I headed to the nearest Mumuso store and grabbed a bunch of products with similar packaging to not just Korean cosmetics, but also to American and French cosmetics brands.

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Mumuso Multi Effect Cleansing Cleanser Micelle (P149 for 240mL) vs Bioderma Sebium H2O Micelle Solution (P1,170 for 250mL)

While the designs look undoubtedly similar, the products themselves are very different. Apart from the differences in color, I immediately get a whiff of a strong, manly scent that reminds me of Axe when I opened the Mumuso bottle. Meanwhile, Bioderma has a herby fragrance that feels more appropriate for a cleanser.  Both products can remove regular, non-waterproof makeup although it takes Bioderma far less passes to cleanse compared to Mumuso. The deal-breaker: I broke out heavily when I was using the Mumuso Micelle Solution, which I did not experience with Bioderma. Needless to say, this made me scared of putting anything else from Mumuso on my face. But for the love of PV, I still did anyway.

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Mumuso Rose Nourishing Toner (P199) vs Mamonde Rose Water Toner (P540)

Next up is a bestseller from Mumuso, which literally five sales assistants encouraged me to get as soon as I entered the store. My interest was certainly piqued as I’m a huge fan of the Mamonde Rose Water Toner and have emptied 3 bottles. I love how gentle and soothing Mamonde’s formula is while giving adequate amount of moisture. The smell of roses also makes application very pleasant! In comparison, the Mumuso Rose Nourishing Toner also feels gentle but is not as moisturizing. It also feels a more viscous compared to the watery Mamonde toner. The Mumuso toner reminds me a lot of the Miniso toners I’ve previously tried, and it also smells similar!

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Mumuso Ocean Hydrating Essence (P499) vs Laneige Water Bank Essence (P2,100 for the full size 70ml)

A red flag was immediately raised when I opened the plastic seal of Mumuso bottle and it smelled very strongly of old plastic. Put off by the scent and traumatized by the micellar water breakout, I only dared to test the product on my hands. I was pleasantly surprised at how the Mumuso Ocean Hydrating Essence itself performed. It made my dry skin feel soft and moisturized in a couple of layers. This watery essence spreads very well, not leaving any sticky residue.

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The Laneige Water Bank Essence also made my skin soft and moisturized, but had the additional benefit of making my skin feel nourished and supple with just one layer. There’s a lingering bounce to my skin even after it fully absorbed. Though the scent of the Mumuso essence initially scared me, it actually wasn’t so bad. It has the same artificial rose scent of the Mumuso Rose Nourishing Toner, but stronger, like a more concentrated version. Laneige also has a strong floral scent which may be overwhelming for those with sensitive noses.

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Mumuso Lipstick (P249) vs Tom Ford Boys & Girls Lipstick (P1,960)

It’s weird because while Mumuso’s tube is almost twice as large than the Tom Ford lipstick, it still feels lighter! As small as it is, Tom Ford’s lipstick has the pleasant heft that luxury products are usually known for. Mumuso’s gold piping also looks lackluster in comparison.

Mumuso vs Tom Ford

Mumuso vs Tom Ford

The Tom Ford lipstick has a sweet cake-like scent while the Mumuso lipstick does not have any scent at all. Both slide on my lips like butter but Tom Ford is just slightly more buttery. Both lipsticks leave a tint when they fade but Tom Ford stays put for longer, looking intact even until the end of the day while Mumuso completely disappears after three hours. To be fair, Mumuso is a really good lipstick for the price, but color selection isn’t my cup of tea.

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Mumuso Fun Play Moisturizing Isolating Cream for Red Skin (P279) vs Etude House Fix and Fix Primer Tone-Up in Mint (P698)

Mumuso’s Fun Play Makeup Base is a light shade of green, which brightens my complexion and makes my skin look-oh-so-moisturized. Etude House’s Fix and Fix Primer has a slightly bluish green tint that creates more of a tone up effect and decreases my skin’s redness far more than the Mumuso one. The finish of both makeup bases is also vastly different, with Mumuso having glowy moisturized finish while Etude House looks almost powder matte.

Mumuso vs Etude House

Mumuso vs Etude House

Unlike the other Mumuso products, the Fun Play Tone Up Moisturizing Isolating Cream actually smells nice! It still reminds me of the block Chinese creams you can get from the bangketa though. Meanwhile, the Etude House version has a similar scent to the brand’s Face Blur Cream.

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Mumuso Alen Air Cushion (P529) vs Pure Beauty CC Cushion (P1,499)

This one isn’t a Mumuso vs OG pairing but I wanted to compare a Mumuso cushion with other cushion face bases. The Alen Air Cushion from Mumuso has a silver plate between the cushion itself and the puff, which makes product dispensing more hygienic as the puff never directly touches the cushion underneath the metal plate. This will also prevent the cushion from drying out prematurely.

The Pure Beauty CC Cushion on the other hand is packaged like a typical cushion compact, with a plastic inner lid that separates the puff and the cushion. This inner lid also locks into place, which helps prevent the cushion from drying out.

Both cushions have light to medium coverage and a matte finish. Surprisingly, both cushion bases lasted the whole day with minimal fading! There is a downside to the Mumuso cushion, though: the day after I wore it for testing, I noticed that my pores were severely clogged despite making sure that I had removed it completely. Such a shame because I actually really like the finish of this product!

So are Mumuso products anything like the brands they’re copying? Most definitely no. They may look a lot alike in terms of packaging but that’s where the similarities end. Would I recommend them as alternatives to the “originals”? Still a no, even though a few seemed to show promise. Even when you consider them by their own merits and not in comparison to established products, I don’t think the cheap prices are worth the risk of getting breakouts and clogged pores.

The ingredient list of Mumuso products are normally printed on the boxes in English or have an affixed sticker with the proper translation. The lipstick I bought was the exception, not having the name of the product on the box nor an ingredients list. I tried searching for it online using “Fantastic Color Lipstick” which was the product listed on my receipt. I couldn’t find anything about it online at all! This made me feel very wary about continuing to use the lipstick so I’m not going to try using that again after the wear test for this story. I don’t know what’s in it, and it feels too chancy to apply such a product right where I can literally eat it.

Makeup may seem like the “safer choice” but it can also still trigger a bad reaction. After my experience here, I prefer to play safe. Real beauty brands spend on good ingredients, proper testing and research on their products, which all help to ensure product safety and quality. I think that’s worth investing in for the health of your skin.