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The markup on most makeup is usually high, so there’s really no arguing that it’s not overpriced. But like most material things, it’s a matter of the utility to you and what your own budget is like. You might find that there are better ingredients in a pricier product, but it may not be at the same quality/price ratio as a cheaper product. Unless you actually looked at a brand’s books and saw their total costs, it’s hard to say by how much or if it really is overpriced.

— Christine

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I’m honestly mixed about this. I started buying makeup by myself when I turned 16, and I could never afford foundation–cheapest one was around $12, and I didn’t have $12 to blow at the time. Today I still think foundation is crazy expensive. On the other hand, I don’t think things like eyeliner are overpriced, there are many brands you can get from under $10. I remember my first eyeliner being an automatic pencil by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, it was only a dollar and easy to use. Would only line my lower lids but by the time school was over, it had all seeped down so I looked like Alice Cooper LOL

Makeup is definitely overpriced here in Canada.

Yesterday, I bought the Benefit Hoola bronzer at Sephora because I heard good things about it. It costs $36.00, not including tax. But in the United States, you can get the bronzer for only $28.00. Considering that the US/Canadian dollar currency exchange is almost the same, I can say that makeup is overpriced in Canada.

That is still my biggest pet peeve, especially with MAC products. They are 20% more in Canada, and they’re made here for crying out loud!!

Don’t even get me started. It doesn’t matter if the US dollar is only worth 95 cents compared to the Canadian dollar – we still pay more!!! And as Kaseycannuck said, it’s most infuriating with MAC since they used to be a Canadian brand and they are, indeed, made here! GRRRR!

I think makeup, like so many other things, follows the laws of supply and demand. If people are willing to spend the money on the product at its given price, the makeup companies will sell it at those prices. I think makeup has a huge markup, and that the value of the ingredients in it probably doesn’t come close to the total selling price; on the other hand, makeup’s easy to steal, and you can’t resell it once it’s been opened and returned, so that probably factors in somehow.

I think $48 for a lipstick is probably too much, regardless of its jeweler-designed case with a flip-top mirror, and $42 for a blush is pretty expensive even if it does come in a nice velvet pouch and have a sort of useable brush with it. On the other hand, I’ve paid those prices before and probably will again, so I can’t exactly complain. If you don’t think makeup’s worth the price, don’t buy it. There are options at all price levels, from Wet n Wild through Cle de Peau.

Here in Australia, yes, everything is overpriced, generally one and half or double the US price, if they can afford to sell a lipstick at $15 there, there’s no reason it has to cost $33 here (a small markup would be fair due to taxes/smaller market, but not a doubling of the price).

But, having lived in the US, I think most brands are reasonable. For more luxe brands (Chanel, Dior etc) they’re selling a premium product and an image- more expensive ingredients, packaging, advertising, and the consumer pays more for the luxury. The prices for drugstore makeup there amazed me, eyeliners for $1?!

But there’s a limit to ‘expensive because it’s exclusive’, I think some brands seem to put almost joke prices on to see if someone will pay- is their really that much of a difference between a Chanel lipstick and a Cle de Peau one for example? (In terms of ingredients etc, although maybe there is, because Chanel and Dior make money through other products too).

I’m always going to be biased on this, as I’m sure most non-US residents are. I can totally understand the need to mark up especially if a company uses a specialised ingredient, but the increase once it gets out of the States is crazy. For example, Revlon’s Just Bitten lip crayon things are $18 here in Australia compared to $9USD. MAC Studio Fix Fluid is $49AUD vs. $27USD. Particularly now when anyone can log onto the internet and compare prices, it’s insane that Australian retailers are having a go at the consumer for shopping online. Personally, if make-up here was comparable to US prices, I’d be much more inclined to buy designer/prestige brands, and I’d be much more likely to buy in store, but as it is I’m pretty limited by my budget.

I’ve been buying most of my cosmetics online because I just can’t afford to stock my kit paying the prices we do in Australia. It’s ridiculous. I’m happy to buy in store for Illamasqua because they’ve matched their UK prices but it PAINS me to buy MAC etc in store. $30 for a MAC eyebrow pencil – seriously! And who wants to pay $115 for a NARS foundation??

Considering my newly unemployed status and the length of my list for Archie’s Girls and the other MAC collections in April- I would say yes. The total for my items is really heinous and I have a serious moral conflict over paying so much for cosmetics when I should be saving it or could be donating it to my favorite charity. I also am old enough to recall when DS items were much more reasonably priced. Seeing MAC polish reach $17 and the price of Wulong has really caused me to rethink some of my priorities. Let me stress in NO way does this extend to others cosmetic purchases or interests, it only concerns my own. So yes, especially when something is produced for next to nothing, most likely in frightful conditions at the expense of others well being. This is something I consider before purchasing anything really. I get quite exhausted 🙁

I think for sure, some of it is, at all price points. Anything that doesn’t live up to performance promises is automatically overpriced. I was just thinking the other day how Wet’n’Wild has had the same prices for basics for as long as I can remember, and has actually increased in quality (for some items) and wondering how they do it? Must be the cheap packaging and minimal marketing. When I see high end pricing, and then I see that the packaging is only marginally better than drugstore I wonder where the price difference comes from. Maybe ingredients, but I have yet to try a high end item that absolutely knocks my socks off when compared to a drugstore item.

Yes. Most definitely, yes. There is very little real innovation that goes into the making of most products, but there is a lot of hype and marketing. One reason why professional brands (aimed at makeup artists) are more cost effective is because they are aimed at people who know what goes in to the creation of make up, and therefore are unwilling to shell out a lot for fancy packaging, or expensive marketing campaigns.

Considering how low production costs tend to be in comparison to prices of the finished product, make-up is most definitely overpriced. :/

Definitely it is and you put it very well. Especially high end makeup, I wouldn’t be surprised if their profit margins are ridiculously high. I suppose you can expect a $30 lipstick to be generally better quality than a $5 lipstick, but is it really 6 times better? I mean does it really take 6X more money to make it? (and the drugstore brands even seem to be spending more money on adverts) I am not hating on high end or saying that we shouldn’t buy it or anything, i am just baffled by some of the “makeup economics” that’s all.

Not really no.
Well I don’t often buy the $50+ a piece make up, but i am a fan of high end.

Skincare is even more expensive IMO
You can see the color/texture on makeup, while skincare is more of a gamble.

For me who used to buy lots of clothes (mid-range brands), i could get a lot more “toys” if i spend my money on make-up instead.
To give you an idea, I usually spend around $60-100 for a piece of clothing. That’s how much it costs in Australia.
Now that can buy me, what, 2-5 MUs depending what im buying! 😉

I will pay for some brands (LMdB, Giorgio Armani…). They products I buy are gorgeous and last for ages. The same with perfume. I pay higher for better and rarer perfume.

MAC is overpriced. There collections are why i don’t buy from them. They need to work on some of their permanent products before releasing underwhelming collection on top of underwhelming collection. NARS is sometimes overpried. Chanel is sometimes overpriced.

Americans complaining about how expensive makeup is always make me laugh. I honestly think makeup is dirt cheap in the US. In fact, when I first got really into makeup, I would buy MAC like it were a drugstore brand, like 20-30 products at a time. US MAC prices are still cheaper than a lot of drugstore brands are where I live. A single MAC eyeshadow is $30 here.

I’m not saying there aren’t products that are overpriced (Guerlain Wulong anyone?), but for the most part I think the prices are reasonable. I don’t feel makeup in general is overpriced, just certain products/brands. Does Cle de Peau lipstick really have to be $60? I do most of my shopping online as it saves me a lot of money. I always feel a bit guilty if I buy makeup in store here where Chanel quads are typically $90 and Guerlain quads $100-$110. Certain foundations are $160.

I don’t feel like makeup is that expensive when you compare it to other stuff. A decent pair of jeans is $200, a haircut+coloring is $300-350, a cheap new car is $50 000. Or maybe EVERYTHING is overpriced, but it’s not like we can’t afford it.

I’m not sure where you live, however I can’t afford any of the things you’ve listed in the last paragraph. Simply because MAC is cheaper in the States doesn’t mean that it isn’t overpriced, that may simply mean things are even more painfully inflated in places like Europe and Australia. I would argue its a travesty, the inflation that occurs overseas. Again, I’m not sure which $ we are talking about but I would never pay $200 for my “decent” pair of jeans, especially after working at Nordstrom. I’m responding in a particularly critical fashion because your last sentence, unless it was sarcastic, seems particularly out of touch with many who struggle to afford the basics, much less an extravagant blow out. But I think you are right on the money about everything being overpriced.

I am also confused by the last paragraph, reading print from a stranger makes it easy to misunderstand comments. That said…I live in the US and I cannot afford Mac items, although I would love to try them. I was also surprised by your comment “I would buy MAC like it were a drugstore brand, like 20-30 products at a time.” I stood in front of a 40% off display of Revlon lip butters for 30 minutes last night because I wanted to try one so badly after reading everyone’s comments but was concerned about spending the money…even though it is my birthday this weekend…because rent, utilities, gas, food and medical expenses need to be paid. If you were joking…other parts of your reply made it hard to understand that and if you weren’t please consider that not every person, regardless of location, is in the situation where “Or maybe EVERYTHING is overpriced, but it’s not like we can’t afford it.”

It may be MY complete ignorance, but traveling to other countries and reading people’s comments about purchases made in other countries has left me with the impression that most places have products sold at a variety of price points – and yes, the quality is often lower with the lower purchase price – but I’ve never heard of a country where every pair of “decent” jeans is $200 and every “cheap new car” starts at $50,000 unless their average income was higher than numerous other countries. MANY people, myself included, cannot afford a NEW car even if it is a “cheap” one.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m being mean, I just don’t understand your comments…I feel like you are not in touch with the financial challenges that many people are experiencing regardless of where they live. Or maybe I am just terrible at getting your jokes 🙂

Well Kelly, not that you asked, but since its your birthday and all if you want to exchange info I will pick up some of the Revlons and send them to you. Because I completely have been in your shoes. Every girl needs new lipstick for her birthday. If you are interested, just ask Christine for my email 🙂

Love this!!! And Happy Birthday to you Kelly….I also was in your shoes for a large part of my life. I feel like I wasn’t financially together until about age 40 if that helps.

While I agree with what you are saying mostly, your last paragraph doesn’t make much sense to me. Here in Ireland a hair cut and colouring would cost around €100, €200 max. Due to the exchange rate this works out as even less in USD.

A cheap new car is $50,000? Yikes, even here in Canada, a cheap new car can be purchased for far less than that. As for spending $200 on jeans…not somewhere I’d put my money, even though I do wear jeans – and fairly nice ones – often and to work. You may be in a whole different part of the world and if so, prices for autos and jeans, etc. may be a whole lot higher than where I am (and they’re high enough here). I just think when you look at something like Wet n Wild Brulee eye shadow and compare it to MAC Brule eye shadow and weigh out the difference in price vs the difference in quality, you can’t help realizing that a lot of the cost of most makeup products is simply the “prestige” factors, along with packaging, advertising and “cachet”.

$200 for jeans made me stop in my tracks…I have quads that are 4 times more expensive than some of my jeans. Is that the average price for jeans where you live or is that the price for designer/high end jeans?

I hope this comment is a joke, because everything you just listed is ridiculous. $50,000 will get you a BRAND NEW Mercedes in the U.S. I have never paid $200 for a pair of jeans. Then again, I don’t know where you live, but I think this comment is very insensitive.

In Sweden makeup is really expensive. Brands like Estée Lauder and Clinique cost about twice as much as in the US. Therefore I try to shop abroad or online as much as I can.

Some make up is definitely overpriced. What I hate most, is the difference in pricing between countries. Brands like Revlon an MAC are so much cheaper in the USA than in Europe. Then I feel like it’s overpriced here in the Netherlands.

Just by comparing the prices of products that are sold both here in Germany and in the US (or any other country) I have to say yes. Companies must pay shipping, taxes, currency conversion etc and still want to make profit, I know that. But the constantly upped prices give me the feeling like they are plucking my wallet unnecessarily.

The only thing I can do is buy less. And we all know how that feels.

I live in Australia. The answer is YES, a thousand times yes. But, within that, I appreciate brands that don’t mark up their products ridiculously. In general, I don’t actually know, but I would say so.

On a related note, what is the MAC Pro discount? And are there other programmes like MAC Pro which offer discounts, and how much are they? It’s worth noting just how much brands will discount their items.

Where I live, in Sweden, make up is super expensive due to (at least that’s what I’ve been told) import costs. For example, a China Glaze nail polish costs about 15 USD. Yeah. Oh well, I guess there is not much to do about it, just suck it up and use eBay instead. 🙂

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