What’s The Difference Between Drugstore and High End Makeup?

Should you buy high end or drugstore makeup? We’ve talked a lot about how the cosmetics industry can be overwhelming.  Not knowing whether or not it is worth it to spend the money on certain products adds to that overwhelm. Not all makeup products are created equal and not all high end products are worth the price tag.  With the emergence of smaller brands, clean brands, drugstore brands, and the higher end brands, it is not always clear on when or where to make the investment. I’m here to break it down for you and tell you what’s worth the big price tag and what isn’t!

Are higher end beauty products always worth the price?

I have tried and tested a ton of products that range from high end to drugstore.  There are plenty of drugstore products that I keep going back to.  It makes you think, in this billion dollar industry, are more expensive products always better? The truth is, not always. Sometimes you may be paying for the brand and the packaging more than for the product itself.

In 2018, the U.S. was considered the most valuable beauty and personal care market in the world, generating approximately 89.5 billion U.S. dollars in revenue that year according to Statisa.  The average American woman spends over $300,000 on their face during her lifetime and walks around with $8 worth of products on her face daily. That’s a lot of money and a huge investment! This research plus state by state information can be found in this Allure article

Randy Schueller, a cosmetic chemist and co-founder of The Beauty Brains, has said the ingredients in beauty products often account for no more than 15% of the cost. You often end up paying more for the marketing, package, and prestige than the actual product.  You may also be paying for where the product is sold. Rent, exorbitant display areas, and makeup salespeople also play a part in the pricing of a product. In higher end stores, you “pay for the display areas and the people who are helping to sell the product, whereas in a mass environment it can be sealed up behind a package and sit on a shelf,” says Karen Grant, SVP, Industry Analyst, Beauty, at The NPD Group.

Should you ever spend more for higher end beauty products?

While all of the above is true, there are still times it is worth the extra money to splurge on higher end beauty products. Some reasons you may want to choose high end over drugstore could be:

  • Raw ingredients can be synthesized or extracted from natural sources. Higher end products are more likely to be from natural sources and a higher quality.
  • High end brands tend to use more superior technologies in their products.
  • You are more likely to find cleaner ingredients with less fillers in a high end product.
  • If you are looking for long lasting, higher end brands often perform better.
  • While drugstore brands and high end brands may tout the same ingredients, the formulation and quantity of that ingredient can make a difference in the result you get. 
  • Drugstore brands tend to be more trendy while higher end brands offer more classic shades to suit everyone. 

So how do you decide between drug store beauty brands & high end beauty brands?

A rule I always live by is to spend more money on products you do not have to replace or use all the time.  Foundation is a product I will always spend money on.  With most foundations a small pea size is all you need…it will last you a long time.  

Beauty products with a short shelf life I spend less on – yes, believe it or not all makeup products have a shelf life.  Check out some of your makeup products and you will see a picture on all of your products.  That is the date of expiration once your product is opened!

For example, mascara is a product you should be switching out every 6-8 weeks to eliminate the risk of bacteria or infections. You always need to be extra cautious with products close to your eyes.  Mascara and eyeliners are products that I wouldn’t necessarily always spend top dollar on. 

For other products you’re not sure whether to spend money on, test the cheaper products and see how they look and feel on your skin.  How is the pigment in the eye shadow?  Does the lipstick go on smoothly and last? Make your decision based on what matters most to you. 

Here are some beauty products I buy drugstore vs those I buy high end

There are lots of drugstore beauty products that I love. Some of my all time favorite beauty products actually come from the drugstore. They are affordable and do their job really well – even better than their expensive high end competitors!  Drugstore products that I always keep in my professional makeup kit include: 

Maybelline Gel Liner

L’Oreal Mascara

Ardell Lashes

Neutrogena Makeup Wipes

These are all under $10! 

There are times I find it worth the price tag to buy higher end products. They typically last longer, contain better ingredients, and just do the job better. Higher end brands I keep in my professional makeup kit include:

Laura Mercier Translucent Powder

Bobbi Brown Bronzer

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer

Overall I find a mix of high end makeup products and drug store brands is best. Spend the money where you need to and save money on the rest!

Not ready to splurge on high end products yet? Need to keep your beauty spend to a minimum? Grab my free list of great drugstore products that I recommend to clients who are looking to keep it budget friendly!

Disclosure: I only recommend products I use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that are no additional cost to you, but I may earn a small commission.

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