Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Is there a difference between drugstore and high-end beauty brands? If so, what is it?

Temptalia's AnswerIn general, yes, I think there are differences between the two. I think the most obvious one is packaging; higher-end brands typically have nicer packaging, whether it’s visually more appealing or just sturdier. I do find there are quality differences in pigmentation and length of wear–but there are still some really fantastic drugstore items that rival high end items, too. I think you do have to hunt for them, though.

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116 thoughts on “Is there a difference between drugstore and high-end beauty brands?

  1. Sam

    Absolutely yes! For the most part, I cannot stand drugstore makeup. It’s just so cheap feeling to me. I try not to be a snob, but sometimes it’s tough not to be. Especially when you go into the drugstore, feel adventurous, and are proved right once again – it’s crap! I did, though, find a diamond in the drugstore rough – Revlon Photoready. Absolute FAVORITE foundation of all time. I’m in love with it.

    What does irk me though, is how much drugstore prices have gone up! Who do they think they are, selling crap makeup for almost as much as department store? Makes me so mad.

    I’ll stick to my MAC and Sephora. I’d rather spend money on one or two quality items than waste the same amount of money on 3 or 4 crappy things.

    • nicci

      I totally agree. I used to use drugstore brands all the time but a co-worker introduced me to high end brands and after that I pretty much stopped buying make-up and skincare products from those brands. I thought I would try again and I bought a couple glosses from Revlon and threw them out – they were so drying on my lips. So far the only one I have liked is NYX eyeshadows – the staying power is strong and great pigmentation.

    • tg

      Yes, the prices! They are ridiculous. Unless you can get a deal with coupons, it’s not even worth it.

    • Courtney

      Lol your post made me smile. I agree, I have tried out some drug store items and I just want to cry because there are higher end things that I could have gotten for the price I paid for two drugstore items… which is essentially what you just said hehe.

  2. Colleen

    I agree. In general I prefer high end brands for pigmentation, blendability and packaging. However, there are some really awesome drugstore items that beat out the high end in my opinion (i.e. CG Lashblast) I generally won’t buy drugstore items unless I see something has gotten rave reviews online.

    • i feel the same way, i won’t buy any drug store products unless there’s a real buzz about them online, or i just feel that i’ve wasted my money!

  3. Paulina

    I really dont care as long as its something i like but generally i dont think you have to spend alot of money. Even thow they r some products that clearly better than drugstore one. This probably didnt make any sense. :p

  4. Skybluesky

    I’m generally a high-end makeup junkie, but Covergirl’s lip stains are very, very good. It’s a felt tip marker that delivers a semi-permanent stain, and the colors aren’t bad. The only thing that sucks is the fact that there are no testers.

    I also use expensive skincare (Skinceuticals, etc.) but Olay’s sensitive skin lotion has been a mainstay on my bathroom counter!

    • ak

      Yeah I remember that about the US all those years I lived out there, the drugstore brands of makeup never have any testers at all which stinks and then once you open the item you can’t return it or exchange it, which makes no sense to me. That’s another drawback about drugstore make up brands when you buy them over in the US at least.

      But when I moved to the UK, I found out that all the drugstores here have testers for all their make up brands, and they’ve probably set it up this way so that no one can return the make up, which is fine because you just want to try the things before you buy ‘em! What I love best of all is how the larger Boots drugstores sell a lot of the high end designer make up brands (Chanel, Dior, YSL, Clarins etc.) , Benefit (I don’t use them), Urban Decay, and sometimes Fashion Fair as well as some good skin care brands like Origins and the really good designer perfumes, not just the Revlon Charlie perfumes (which I do like actually) or the God awful vanilla perfumes.

      • ak

        I think Walgreens in the US some time before I moved away were trying to do somrthing so that you could return or exchange make up that you opened if you kept a receipt but I don’t know if they still do that, plus when there’s no testers in the drugstores that’s when people (teenagers possibly) start opening up the selaed packaging and stick their fingers in it. That always used to happen.

        • Your last statement is exactly why I do NOT buy any makeup from actual drugstores. I have to buy online. I’ve bought stuff from stores and opened to find HAIR stuck to a lipstick. SO GROSS. Oh, and it was “sealed,” but it’s one of those seals that’s easy to move up and down.

    • I am glad you said that about CGs lipstains. I tried Maybellines and loved it untill a week later when it dried out. I will have to try cover girls :)

    • LH

      Olay Hydrating Beauty Fluid lotion for sensitive skin is also my HG!

  5. Hinna

    Pretty much the only things I’m willing to buy from drug stores are lipstick and lipgloss. Drug store lipsticks are essentially the same as higher end ones, and these days drug store brands are coming up with some bold and unique colours. Otherwise, when it comes to everything else, especially foundation and mascara, I have to say higher end is always better!

    • ak

      Yeah but with the drugstore brands of lipsticks they could still do with some wider variety in the colors, and I’m talking about the brands that are better quality that Wet n Wild or Jordana or whatever it is. And they all definitely need some wider variety of colors in their lip pencils.

  6. tg

    Oh yeah! Cheap plastic packaging, crappy color payoff, limited color choices, no testers (a rarity, although some drugstores allow you to try and return, but I’d rather not do that), etc., etc.

    I do think some gems can be found in the drugstore, such as lipsticks. A lot of them are just as good quality as you’d find at a counter and I’ve had luck with mascaras, the new Maybelline shadow palettes and gel liners. Oh, and Physician’s Formula makes a good gel liner set, but that’s it. It’s hit and miss, but mostly miss!

    • tani858

      I agree, high end is hype. Drugtore lipsticks and mascara is my fav. I love Revlon lipsticks that work as well any other brand ans sometimes i found them in clearance bins for a dollar.

      • I tend to disagree. I have tried drugstore lipsticks before and let me just say, every single one has broken on me at one point or the packaging is just crap. I do not have this problem with high end lipsticks. I have sensitive lips so drugstore ones always make my lips peel like no other. So, is it safe to say that Revlon is comparable to Chanel? IMO, most definitely not!

  7. i’ve found great drugstore eye products (eyeshadows, mascara) so i have no qualms about purchasing and using those. however, i’ve yet to find good quality drugstore face products (foundation, blush). i find these are the products i feel i definitely need to shell out the money for.

  8. Little Miss Sunshine

    I don’t care which brand it is as long as the product is satisfactory. But I have found that products from high-end brands often do have a better quality concerning pigmentation, texture, staying power, etc. Nevertheless I also had a few crappy products from expensive high-end brands, which made me totally angry. Thanks to Temptalia this doesn’t happen anymore :). There are certain brands – both high-end and drugstore – I would never purchase anything from as they are on the PETA list of brands which test their products on animals, e.g. Maybelline, L’oreal, Lancome.

    • Cheyenne

      Ha ha I agree with you, thanks to Temptalia I no longer get crappy product from higher end. ^_^ saves my money

  9. Laura

    I agree! Although my favourite drugstore gem is Max Factor’s false lash effect mascara. Beats all the high end one’s I’ve had (Lancome, Urban Decay, Dior).

  10. Andrea

    There is a huge difference between drugstore and high end makeup. I prefer drugstore products for mascara and basic black eyeliners. There are just as good -sometimes better- drugstore products that you can find but that is very limited and very hit or miss.
    As an Asian woman its hard for me to find drugstore foundations that have yellow undertones. It’s difficult but not entirely impossible. I’d rather save the energy and time on high end products that have more choices that I can test and try.
    As for eyeshadow, I have found that it’s a better buy to get a higher-end palette, with great pigmentation, unique colors, and 8 shadows for $40, than 1 badly pigmented single eyeshadow for $4. It is the number one justification I have for buying higher-end cosmetics.

  11. jen

    Let’s just say I will never ever forget the moment I bought a guerlain eyeshadow quad and realized what it meant for shadows to be BUTTERY smooth and rich. I do love drugstore mascaras, though!

  12. Yes, there’s a different. I have a small handful of drugstore products, that are worth keeping. I buy drugstore mascara though, because that’s something that gets replaced often along w/ foundation.

    Speaking of prices. I went to Target and saw a Pixi palette for $38! I thought “wow, I can go to MAC or Sephora and get a small palette for that price!”

  13. ak

    Buying from drugstore brands is financially smart so to question those brands does make me feel guilty or silly but unfortunately where those brands fail is with their lack of variety and options obviously. So I have to buy what I need first and what I want, and finding the right color for me anyway is very important. But of course some of the drugstore cosmetics are really bad, or not as good as they could be.

    For instance, I can’t find any decent colors of, or decent variety of different brown lip pencils at all. Certainly not among the drugstore brands but sometimes not even among the high end/ designer make up brands. I can only get decent brown lip pencils, in a variety of brown shades, at MAC. I don’t know about now, but less than 10 years ago in the US, a MAC mascara cost less than a L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in NYC by about $2 or $3. Although Voluminous is very good and it’s a bestseller for L’Oreal.

    And some drugstore brands fail with their variety of foundation colors all the time with exceptions such as Black Opal, maybe Milani, and if you can find it Black Radiance. But in London in the UK, there is Sleek Cosmetics in some of their drugstores but the colors of their foundations and powders are AWFUL. They look red like lipstick (bleuggh) yet strangely enough the rest of their range is alright enough. LOL

    What shocked the heck out of me was finding possibly two (?) foundation, concealer, and possibly powder colors from Rimmel London of all things that were actually true to life neutral BROWNS, to match Ciara or darker. That was shocking but I already have MAC at home so…

    Revlon foundation and powder looks like it’s good enough quality but they need more different shades I’m afraid, no variety. But now I’m looking forward to Bobbi Brown’s new powder foundation to see how that looks on me.

  14. Ursula

    Yes! Absolutely! It is fair to say that some drug store brands are pretty decent, I find that Revlon and Loreal are two of the better ones and Nyx which is a little harder to find is great also. However, you just can’t beat the color pay off, the quality, the range of items and the lasting power of higher end brands.

    • Voly

      I totally agree with this. I love L’Oreal and Revlon lipsticks. They are creamy, pigmented, and long lasting. Although they are not that cheap. Also there are testers for those at Ulta.

  15. elise

    I, for example, would be willing to try drug store lipsticks and glosses if there wore testers available. How on earth do you decide if the shade is right for you if you can’t swatch it or try it at all? It is mostly miss and very rarely a hit while you look at the color from a tube and try to decide if that color really looks like it does in a tube in the inside lighting of a drugstore. Plus the prices are almost comparable to high end products where the quality is not.

  16. S

    I generally stick to HE stuff, but there are some good drugstore finds too. Wet nWilds color icon single eye shadows are amazing (nutty & brule are my faces), and only 1.99 full price. I also really like Milani Minerals Compact pressed minerals. Great yellow toned shades and only about $8.00 each.

    • Carissa

      YES! I feel that these products are so underrated and forgotten about- Wet n Wild eyeshadows are AMAZING! I’ve gotten the same pigmentation and same buttery smooth texture with these eyeshadows that I’ve gotten with my NARS shadows…they are gems.

  17. S

    Typo in my post, supposed to say “are my faves!”

  18. Pam

    The only drugstore product that i like is L’Oreal HIP chrome eyeliners. other than that, i love high-end beauty brands like MAC, Chanel. Better quality and i will use them more. I wish i can test out drugstore products but unfortunately, some places don’t let you. PLus, you’d have to take a risk and buy them and they may not work out for you.

  19. Jess

    The biggest difference for me is the mascaras. Drugstore mascaras go bad and flake much quicker than higher end department store mascaras. I feel like you get your moneys worth more with dept store mascaras since you get the 3-6 months of wear as opposed to 2 weeks from the drugstore.

    • Rengirl

      Really? My experience with DS mascaras is that they are comparable in just about every way to HE. I use DS mascaras exclusively and I love them.

  20. Tina

    I like to try before I buy because I am not good at returning things. So, my preference is mineral or higher end makeup. The only real things that I will buy from drugstores are mascara and the occasional eyeliner. I don’t think high end mascara is better, and I just cannot justify the difference in price.

    • I suck at returning things, too! Especially if it’s just $5. I’m like, “Ehhh, do I really want to go through all that?”

    • Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of April April

      IMO, after trying every single drug store mascara from the famed CG Lastblast(which I HATED!!!) to Loreal Voluminous Carbon, I finally bought some Dior Iconic mascara and lets just say by the end of the day I have no flaking, smudges, or raccoon eyes!

      • My-Linh

        Really? I had the Dior Iconic as well and though I liked it part of the time, I found it too wet at the beginning and flaky near the end.

  21. T

    Yes the price. The high end knows how to trick ppl in witw the extras like packaging or just paying for the name. No thanks Id rather keep my lout and get my hair done.

  22. Yes, there’s definitely a difference!

    For starters, there’s no testers and I’d like to be able to really see what I’m getting. Aside from that, I hate going to certain stores (*cough*Walmart*cough*)where a lot of makeup is broken into, swatched, and gross. Granted, I hate that you can test them or whatever, but I’m not about to go busting into a lipstick that someone else might buy.

    Yes, I prefer nice packaging but it doesn’t mean everything to me. I just don’t like drugstore lipsticks that look pretty in the tube, but the color is barely there. I guess I could just reapply and reapply, but I’d just go through that lipstick twice as fast as a MAC one and that just seems like a waste of money, no?

    Since I moved onto high end makeup, I have noticed the prices of drugstore competitors have gone up dramatically. How much are the Maybelline lipsticks now? $7-8? I’m better off spending thew few extra bucks at MAC and getting something I REALLY love versus something that was just okay.

    The one thing I will say that I love about drugstore makeup, is Loreal Telescopic. Frankly, I can’t find a mascara that tops it!

  23. Ru

    Yes, longevity in wear, pigmentation, quality of product, and shelf life. I used to buy drugstore brands here and there but back then I wasn’t a makeup fiend and I never bought anything twice (never found a gem). I realized with higher end brands, you are paying for quality and longevity- which is really important to me- and it’s what made me fall in love with makeup. I’m not saying there aren’t a few gems in the drugstores: maybelline eye studio baked shadows is one of my favorites. But like others said it’s a hit or a miss, and there are no testers so you don’t know until you know- and sadly when it doesn’t work one too many times you lose faith.

    I also agree what others have said about prices being increased in the drugstore arena. The quality hasn’t improved so I’m not sure why they skyrocketed, and it makes me think for a few bucks more I can get something 10x better in quality.

  24. Kathy

    I think that there’s a significant difference with some products in high-end vs. drugstore. In my opinion, some high-end products are better, and some drugstore products are better. For example, I prefer high-end eyeshadows and lipglosses, but I prefer drugstore mascaras and foundations.

    I have to say that some drugstore brands have really stepped up their game over the past couple of years. NYX is quality stuff for affordable prices, and I think that Maybelline has improved a lot over the past year or so.

    So, basically what I’m saying is that high-end stuff tends to be nicer, but nobody should automatically dismiss drugstore products. Both ends can deliver good products and both ends can deliver bad products.

  25. I think it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a fast work-appropriate palette that you don’t mind getting banged around in your bag, then drugstore options are pretty decent. IDK about other people, but I’m definitely a klutz at 7 in the morning, LOL. Would not want to be handling a $60 palette!

    Also, personally, I’ve honestly never seen the point of high end mascara… It’s essentially black paint for your lashes either way. As long as it doesn’t flake, doesn’t clump, and doesn’t destroy my curl, I’m cool with it.

  26. Sara

    Yup! I only use drugstore items for lipstick and nail polish (You can definitely find tons of gems in these two categories!) but for things like foundation, powder, blush, primer, etc, etc, etc, I go high-end for the quality of the products. But still, I look up every item on MakeUpAlley for the reviews because there are a TON of high-end duds as well!

  27. Ter aka bobbysgeel

    I think there are duds in both types. I’d rather have a great product in crappy packaging than the other way around.

    • Shumpac

      I agree. I’m more concerned with the formulation, pigmentation, color-pay off, etc. My greatest question I guess comparing HE and drugstore is the ingredients. Is there really a HUGE difference?

      • But is just looking at the names sufficient? I ask more to play devil’s advocate, but many food products can have similar ingredient lists – but the grade or quality of those ingredients may still differ greatly. I don’t think we can ever really know and have to put our faith into reputable companies either way!

  28. I’m a make up junkie and love high end products. I love great liquid eyeliner. Mac has some great ones that really last and are really waterproof. I happened upon Millani liquid eyeliner. It was 50% off so I thought what the heck. They don’t have the color range as Mac but they looked good in the store. I bought the bright blue and the black. They looked great on and were really was waterproof. It was such a good deal that I bought several in bright blue and shared them with friends. They loved them as well.

  29. RAS

    I will only go to the drug store brands for lipsticks and glosses. Foundations are runny and/or gritty, and powders are definitely grittier. Mascaras clump like it’s their job, and I’ve found that the pigmentation of the designer eyeshadows makes them worth the cash. On the other hand, I’m all about finding a Cover Girl dupe for an expensive lipstick, and Nude Shine is one of my go-to shades for everyday.

  30. Tiffany

    For the most part, I stay away from drugstore because I don’t feel like the quality is as good. Also, I find that more drugstore companies test on animals than high end and I would rather not support that.

  31. Jazz

    I think there is a difference in the packaging , which is also why you spend more on high end. I like the affordability of the drug store, in that I can try out a new popular product -such as blue eyeshadow- without having to go to Mac or sephora. If I dont like it I am only out of a few bucks. Honestly I am more concerned about if I like the product or not, whether its high end or not . Because lets be honest , just as there are crappy products in the drugstore , there are just as crappy products in the high end sector. Most of the time though , I will pick drugstore products. Most of the high end manufacturers make the drugstore products , so why pay more when the same company makes another product at a lower price point

  32. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Alisha Alisha in WI

    Depends on the item. Lately I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of misses when I try new stuff. Mascara I only buy low end but otherwise I only have certain items. L’Oreal Lineur intense, milani liquif’eye, revlon colorstay foundation & l/s, new wet n wild l/s. Do like NYX but no drugstore here has them (only Ulta).

  33. Andreita

    I adore CG lashblast works for me better than HE mascaras and it’s cheap especially when they go on sale,I also like some lip glosses and maybelline gel liner ohh and most nail polishes too.

  34. Charlene

    Price LOL
    But seriously some of those drugstore brands are getting just as expensive and the quality isnt the same.
    There are some cheaper brands that rival the pigmentation of the higher priced brands. though.

  35. dre

    I used to be a big drugstore makeup junkie. After I decided to buy higher end brands, I have really gotten used to them, just because of better pigmentation and staying power. However, I do continue to purchase liquid eyeliners and mascara from the drugstore, because I have found some that I truly like, and they are part of my daily routine.

  36. BethM

    I am in my mid-30’s now, and I have absolutely hated makeup until about 2 years ago. Why? Because I was using drugstore brands. I never once found a product that worked for me. Lipsticks made my lips peel, and they all smelled like chemicals. Mascaras flaked or smeared, usually by lunchtime. Eyeshadows were too shear, not blendable, and didn’t last halfway through the day. I tried multiple products across multiple brands. I had resigned myself to not ever wearing makeup, and constantly wondered what the secret was.

    Then Sephora opened down the street from me. I was amazed, not only at the range of colors, finishes, etc., but at being able to test items before buying. (I had wasted so much money buying things that looked awful on me, now I can test something on my arm and get a better idea if the color goes with my skin tone.) The prices were shocking, but I bought a few things, fell in love with some brands, and my makeup hatred is a thing of the past!
    Sure, I still find items that don’t work well for me, but now that is the exception rather than the rule.

    I also care a lot about animal welfare, and it seems like there are many more choices in cruelty-free makeup at the department store than there are at the drugstore. I still have to do some research, but there are so many more choices now, I never have to worry about limited selection.

  37. I’m definitely a department store girl, but mostly because every drugstore I go into in NYC has severely jacked up prices and no stock of new things. It’s so frustrating when anything new comes out (like the CG liquiliners from a few months ago—went to like 5 or 6 places before I found it and they were $2 more than what my out of state friends paid). Then if you do find something the quality is so blah.

    But brands like Black Radiance and Black Opal are exceptionally good in terms of color payoff and the prices are soooo good (like $1.99 for a nice lipstick or $3.99 for an eyeshadow quad with great pigmentation). Even if you’re not Black, check those brands out (obviously not for foundation…lol) but the blushes, eyeshadows, etc are such good values.

    For mascaras I’m definitely a drugstore girl now though. There’s so many great ones at drugstores I can’t pay more than $8 for mascara now anywhere.

  38. Hend

    Drug store’s packaging look and feel cheap,
    while the higher end ones are elegant and decent,
    The quality, The smell and the purchasing process
    But some drugstore items are very good in quality
    Like Rimmel’s lipsticks and glosses , and NYX’s cream blush

  39. Definitly a difference. But there are so many drugstore products that also “get the job done”.
    Mascaras, maybe 1-2 foundations (Revlon Colorstay and I’m hearing good things about Maybelline Dream Mouse), and nail polishes are what I mostly buy at drugstores.

    Lipglosses and lipsticks stricly Mac or other high end brands so I can try them out first to find my shade.

    I see the biggest difference in high end when it comes to powder products whether it’s blush, bronzers, highlighters or eyeshadow(more finely milled, pigmented and not chalky) and eyeliners (liquid, gel or pencil).
    But there are so many amazing blushes you could find at drugstores for cheap.
    You do have to hunt and there will be times you’ll end up dissapointed-
    then again that happens with high end too. Thank god for online reviews haha.

  40. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Margot mkdallas

    While I agree that high-end products are typically made with better packaging and ingredients, there are a few drugstore products that (in my humble opinion) are the bomb: NYX-eyeshadows, Jumbo Lip & Eye Pencils and Megashine Lip Glosses, NYC Creme Color Stick blush and Prestige Total Intensity eyeliner pencils.

  41. Eileen

    You know those features in magazines that show the same model made up twice, first with drugstore brands than with department store brands? The question “Can you tell the difference?” is always asked. Well, yes I can! I get it right every single time. There is a difference in texture, finish, and complexity and saturation of color that is quite apparent. More expensive brands are, in general, just better products over-all. Does that mean that they will make you more beautiful or more glamorous or happier about yourself? Of course not! Make-up is just make-up. A well applied drugstore brand will look better than a badly applied department store brand even though it might not feel as good on or wear as well. But a well applied department store brand will be beat out the drugstore brand. Sad, but true. And we haven’t even touched on the subject of luxury brands!

    Bottom line: Find your comfort zone as far as price goes, then do the best with what you can afford.

    • ak

      Because of their prices and though I hate to admit it, when it comes to luxury brands, La Prairie looks like they have some very excellent skin care that will actually get the job done. A lot of that line has rave reviews for their skin care on Makeupalley. There are two items from La Prairie that I just have to buy … eventually!

  42. S

    I live in NY and you can return opened cosmetics at CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens now. That is another reason why I’m not afraid to try something from any of these retailers.

    • ak

      That’s good. I’m glad that they decided to keep that return policy going and that Walgreens isn’t the only drugstore with that policy because the whole thing is such a waste of money and a big reason why you may as well just go to dept. stores or stand alone shops like MAC otherwise.

      When I move back to the US eventually one thing I will miss about the UK is that the UK drugstores all have testers for all of their makeup brands the Revlon, Maybelline, Rimmel, Max Factor or whatever it is.

  43. Marcela

    There is DEFINITELY a huge difference between the two… mostly in pigmentation and texture. I am a die-hard MAC fanatic, but I own a few L’Oreal HIP products and I must say, they’re the closest thing to a drugstore rival for MAC.

    • ak

      Yeah sadly the drugstores in the UK anyway do not have the L’Oreal HIP and for the life of me I don’t know why. And they should replace Sleek with Black Opal.

  44. Usually there’s a huge difference. there are things from the drugstore I am very loyal to and feel no need to try high end, like Loreal Volumious mascara and CG Lashblast and Neutrogena cleansers. I love Revlon Colorstay and have yet to find another foundation that even comes close to it’s staying power, but I would like to find a high end replacement because I know the color and finish could be better. I don’t like drugstore lipsticks and glosses. They smell funny and last for about an hour. Blushes and eyeshadows are also items i only buy high end because the pigmentation can’t be matched in a drugstore. I’d be willing to try drugstore eyeliner, but still using up some urban decay ones first!

  45. xMissxAndristx

    Definitely. I use drugstore makeup in highschool and it just doesn’t compare. the pigmentation sucks, any foundation i tried made me break out, mascara flaked like mad. ugh. oh and the breakouts weren’t from being a teenager.. other than from foundation, i’ve never had a break out. just one zit once a month. lol

  46. Yumi

    I’ve tried a lot of drugstore products before being introduced to Sephora and MAC and most of them don’t cut it for me. They’re usually a complete waste of money because they don’t work. The worst of the lot I’ve found to be foundations and eyeliners/eyeshadows (I’ve found that the eyeliners are literally like using a normal lead pencil on your eye, nothx). Some of the mascaras are decent. There’s some pretty lipsticks and lipglosses but they just don’t have the staying power that I want. Like someone else said, I’d rather buy one quality item than 2-3 crap things that won’t work as well. Granted, what I’ve tried has been limited to Loreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl, Revlon, Rimmel and Bonne Bell, but I’ve generally not been pleased with the results. I heard NYX has some good products but I’ve yet to try more than one eyeliner and jumbo eye pencil. I definitely think that drugstore brands are upping their game, e.g. I see them coming out with softer eyeliners and foundation primers, but I’d rather spend a few extra bucks to stick to my MAC Face Protect SPF 50. For foundations, I can’t find my color in drugstore brands because I’m asian and I can’t find one that doesn’t make me look ashy and beige. I hear Revlon Photoready is good, but it’s almost $23 here, and for like $10 extra, I can get something from Bare Escentuals. I’ve also dabbled in cheap drugstore brushes (don’t have Sonia Kashuk here) and I also don’t like them. We also don’t have a drugstore here that accepts returns on opened products, so I’ve wasted tons of money over the years.
    -end rant- Yeah as you can tell, I haven’t really had good experiences at the drugstore =x

  47. Ani_BEE

    For foundation I went with Indie brands that caterer to a much more broad color demographic. I don’t use higher end brand for foundation either for the same reason I can’t find a shade that works in drug store brands.

    I use what works and other then some higher end brands MAC for lipsticks, blushes and MSF’s, UD for shadows palettes and eyeshadow primer, Too Faced for eyeshadow primer. I find that I can make most Indie brand shadows work with a good primer and most of them tend to be pure pigmentation anyway.

    I also grew up with peers wearing drugstore brands and they looked awful with it on weather the colour was off or the texture look terrible. I never consider getting into makeup or foundation specially until my friend introduced me to MMU (Mineral Makeup).

    For certain brands like NYX I tend to order online since they have everything in stock rather then half the product line. ^_^

    The price of covergirl eyeliner is the same as GOSH … I’ll pick up a GOSH liner.

    I do buy my mascara from drugstore brands since all I’m looking for is colour and waterproff. I don’t need alot of gimmicks with my fine still blonde lashes.

    • ak

      Becca, I guess you could say are a good ‘indie’ brand for wide foundation and concealer selection. The Lipstick Queen has a good selection of lipsticks and glosses and even though the brand may sound or look faddy, they seem to put a lot of pigmentation into their lipsticks and their range of lipstick colors look quite universal.

  48. Chau

    yes, most of the time I found big differences between drugstore and high-end makeup products. sometimes, drugstore brands have really good quality products, then the differences are smaller. i used to buy a lot of drugstore makeup until I purchased my first Dior 5-color quint. I’d rather spend money on 1 or 2 good items than 5 or 6 low quality stuff. But drugstore skincare is generally good IMO! They don’t have fancy products and you can’t really compare la mer and olay. But for regular moisturization and sunprotection, I’ll go for drugstore brands.

  49. slick

    I don’t actually use ANY drugstore brands, but if someday I was stuck without my makeup, I think I could make due (after an initial heart attack, haha).

    Foundation – Revlon Colorstay
    Eye Primer (must have lol) – L’Oreal Decrease, NYX
    Eyeshadows – NYX, Milani
    Eye Liner – HIP Pencils
    Blush – Jane, HIP Cream blushes
    Lip Color – NYX, Revlon
    Mascara – a million choices, lol!
    Brushes – Sonia Kashuk, Ecotools, NYX

    If I had very limited brand access (aka podunk drugstore) then I probably would only stick to Revlon and L’Oreal products.

    I think drugstore brands have a lot of catching up to do in terms of foundations, concealers, and ‘tricks of the trade’ type products – ie, eye and face primers, setting powders, and more quality brushes. I do think there are gems however, but its about whether you want to take the time and spend the dough to find them!!!

  50. Ashley

    Most of my makeup is from the drug store. And I’ve never had issues with quality, other than if the one individual item itself is crap. I’ve swatched high end brand stuff that is crap. Only difference I notice is price and SOMETIMES the formulation for higher end brands are a bit smoother, but nothing that looks or feels very obvious. I don’t wear facial makeup though, so I can’t say if there is a difference there. Probably is in terms of choice at least.

  51. Bree

    There is a difference & I agree that packaging is one of them…with that being said some of my favorite L/S are from NYC & my Holy Grail E/L is from Prestige, Milani & Loreal & they will K.O. HE brand like it aint anyone’s business…Lol. I can’t forget NYX many of their products have been a Hit for me…the only DS brand I have no luck in & just cannot get into for W/E reason is Maybelline!!!

  52. hiya

    My theory about drug store makeup is that because they come out with more stuff more frequently that they are actually improving the products or more in touch with the trends. Especially for foundations..they come out with so many different kinds, that’s why you can find the best one at the drugstore.

    Pigmentation is a whole other issue. Although I have to say that wet n wild eye shadow palettes are a LOT MORE PIGMENTED THAN MAC. shocking!!

    Oh and the quality of ingredients varies..like cheapo NYX with so many chemicals and parabens to Physicians Formula that has a completely ORGANIC line. But then again Makeup Forever has tons of parabens and chemicals too. MAC does a good job in my opinion in using quality ingredients.

    So there’s good and bad depending on the line, drugstore does not mean what it used to mean now.

    • Carissa

      I have to completely disagree with MAC and ‘quality ingredients’- ever since Estee Lauder took over the company their ingredients have gone down the tubes. Ever wonder why SO many people break out and have skin irritations when using their foundations? They use common skin irritants that clog the pores. Reading the ingredients list on any foundation is vital- most people don’t do this.

  53. I think we’re really lucky in the UK because the drugstore brands have some amazing, cheap products. I particularly love Rimmel, Sleek and Boots’ own brands 17 and No 7 but I also love higher end products too and for the most part I think you do get what you pay for. That said, I’m a bit broke at the moment and so all I buy is drugstore and that’s fine by me.

    • ak

      It’s because you can try it all in the pharmacies before you buy it. Sleeks lipsticks, lacquers, glosses, balms and loose mineral shadows might look alright and maybe their blushes but their foundations and powders look hellish. Just as bad as pantomime, kabuki theater, and stage make up.

  54. Tee

    Yes, high end makeup, in general, is of far superior quality than drugstore items, not to mention the FAB packaging you get on a lot of high end…for that reason I use high end at least 95% of the time. That said, there are some gems to be found in the D/S. Right now I’m really enjoying Revlon’s Peach Petal l/g along with Wet n’ Wild Color Icon palettes in Lust and Vanity, extremely pigmented, portable and only cost me $1.00 each! I ONLY purchased these after they were hyped on YouTube and various blogs that I subscribe to. Don’t forget you can also pick up some very overpriced poor quality high end duds also…probably just squeaking by on the reputation of the name they are sold under.

  55. Lulee

    wow im surprised by these comments but i guess i shouldn’t be because this blog is more geared towards high end brands. now unlike most people who start at the drugstore and work their way up, i started at sephora/nordstrom and worked my way down and i think there’s no way to generalize the differences between HE and drugstore (other than packaging although I’ve seen bad packaging in HE brands too). I’ve never found a brand to CONSISTENTLY give me great products and off the top of my head i can name 20 HE things I’ve been disappointed with. Most people will complain about no testers but most drugstores (Rite aid, cvs, walgreen, etc) will let you return things if you don’t like it which i prefer to there being testers and a no-return policy. you can’t judge the staying power of a lipstick or concealer by trying it in store. and honestly if you dont want to take the time to return that is your problem, not the brand or the store, they are making this service available to you and if you don’t take advantage of it, that is not the brand/store’s fault. plus with BOGO and coupons I’ve bought things from drugstores at pretty much next to nothing and there’s no way you could do that at sephora. NYC is pretty much one of the cheapest brands you can get and I just started exploring what they have to offer… their blushable creme sticks are better in my opinion than tarte cheek stains which i have all but stopped using and their lipsticks are actually amazing quality for 2 bucks. Milani’s liquif’eye eyeliner pencils are my holy grail and beat any ive tried from any other brands including mac (smolder, engraved, feline), stila (onyx), UD (zero), MUFE, etc. ecotools brushes are so incredibly soft and i use their blush brush everyday. buying HE mascara is a waste of money in my opinion because you have to replace them regularly so i regret all the times i bought MUFE, dior, lancome, benefit… loreal and CG have amazing mascara’s and you won’t be sad when their time has come. i just tried my first nyx product which is their round lipstick and they were so creamy and opaque! revlon lipsticks are amazing quality as well.

    basically what i mean to say is that if you shop smart you can get good products wherever you go. for example, i have really dry, coarse hair and no drugstore conditioners i used worked for me. now i use a HE one (Johnathan product) and it is worth every penny to me. you can not find a ghd dupe at the drugstore. you could search every drugstore and you couldn’t find something remotely similar to chanel RAL at the drugstore. but these items are in the minority. invest in unique products. drugstores can really help supplement your stash.

  56. Matti

    I have to nicely disagree. All I wear is drugstore makeup and it lasts really well. People who can’t afford nineteen-dollar eyeshadows or eighteen-dollar lipglosses (people like me)can get good quality makeup at the drugstore.

  57. For the most part, I have found the higher end brands are more pigmented, longer lasting, and more blendable. Over the past 2 years I have gradually replaced drugstore brands with higher end brands. I have also found that the majority of make-up brands that test on animals are drugstore brands. Most higher end brands don’t test on animals.I find my self less disappointed when trying a new product if its a higher end brand. My favorite drugstore brands are Revlon, Sally Hansen and NYX. My favorite higher end brands are MAC, Smashbox, Urban Decay, Tarte and Make Up For Ever

  58. Taylor

    I love both high end and drugstore. I actually think that most high end brands, you are just paying for the name. I’ve also been more let down with high end make up than with drugstore. For instance: every MAC eyeshadow I get is crap but I have had wonderful luck with Wet ‘N Wild. I guess I just don’t understand the high end hype.
    And saying that you can tell the difference in a photograph in a magazine (which was more than likely photoshopped to the point of no return) is ridiculous.

  59. Hannah

    If i could afford it i would buy more HE makeup. But i don’t have anything against DS brands.

    Of course i research pretty much everything i buy before i buy it, so i usually am fairly pleased with the DS stuff i get.

  60. Ashley D.

    In packaging and (most of the time) quality – that would be the difference. I have had the best and worst of both worlds though. For the canvas, I’ve found the Shiseido, Clinique, Lancome, and MAC concealers and foundations were terrible for me – mainly since they no one could match my skin tone and it changed to orange and caked up through out the day even with primers. I’ve had the same with the drug store brand concealers and foundations too. Bobbi Brown and Cle De Peau concealers & foundations are wonderful though. High end brand mascaras have mostly been a big let down to me – not only are they expensive but most of the time they don’t work as great as drug store mascara on my lashes. So far the eyeliners have been a hit or a miss on me. From my experience…

    Primers: I tend to just stick to Smashbox, Too Faced and Urban Decay for this since there really isn’t any good drugstore primers that I have found yet.

    Concealer & Foundation: Bobbi Brown or Cle De Peau (I think concealers and foundations are the one thing people should get from higher end brands)

    Blush/Bronzer: Jane, Hard Candy, NYX or Milani are some drugstore brands that makes great blushes and bronzers

    Eyeshadow: Urban Decay, Too Faced, MUFE, L’Oreal HiP, Milani, GOSH, NYX, Maybelline Quads (These HE and drugstore brands carry eyeshadows with wonderful pigmentation. MAC is a hit or a miss for me for the most part)

    Eyeliner: L’Oreal Liquid Lineur Intense, Maybelline EyeStudio Gel Liner, and especially GOSH liners are pretty comparable to the MAC ones.

    Mascara: After all that money wasted on HE mascaras… Drugstore mascara hands down.

    Lips: It’s a mix here… Maybelline Colour Sensational, Maybelline Lipstains, Annabelle, MAC, Clinique, Guerlain, Chanel are really good.

  61. Cheyenne

    I grew up on make up from drug stores and now that I finally figured out there was more out there I am stuck on higher end brands. Ocassionaly I will go get a lipstick or mascara from the drug store, but I’m trying new things in higher brands.
    I have noticed a huge difference in my appearance when I decided to take the leap! Mostly with blush. I am so in love with NARS blushes, and I will never go back to crappy store brand blush again! (They all made me break out, horrible pigmentation and horrible lasting power)

    I have been watching out for the Chanel swatches, that is one brand I’m not really impressed with that I’ve seen on the higher end. To me, I think I can find a dupe from another higher brand with half the price. I doubt I will ever fork over the money for Chanel! To me it’s just a name brand you go “Oh it’s Chanel, I must have Chanel” but to me, it looks like nothing great.

    • Cheyenne

      I forgot to add, I am slightly seeing a change in prices (Drug store) and I rather not buy like I used to. You can get 1 higher end for the price of two drugstore.

      I also wanted to say, I only buy Mascara from Drug Store. I don’t see any difference in higher end. I would never spend more than I do for my mascara. I’m perfectly fine with the 3 mascaras I use. :)

  62. Jessica

    I luv all makeup but it’s funny how nobody wants to pay full price for drugstore only if it bogo but mac or Chanel etc…never have a sale but people go crazy for them. I return everything that doesn’t work for me drugstore or HE

  63. Is it fair to generalize “drug store brands” in one category? Many people have said “I like/dislike drugstore mascaras,” but I think they differ by brand. For example, loreal, revlon and Max factor are decent quality, but other brands you might find in the same drug store are of lower quality. I now use Mac Opulash b/c I think it is the best Mascara I have ever tried. But up until Opulash came out, I used Max Factor mascara and HE brands for everything else because I felt the Max Factor was fine and it was therefore not worth it to spend the extra money on HE mascara.

    Otherwise and aside from mascara, I agree with most comments on here, most makeup you find in a drugstore comes in cheapy packaging and that right there just ruins it for me. I mean, it’s my FACE. Cheapy stuff is the last thing I want to put on my face every morning. I feel like if the package is cheap and sub-par, then the product inside it must be too.

    • Carissa

      Not necessarily- Wet n Wild eyeshadows have probably some of the most minimalistic packaging you’ll see- but their eyeshadows are gems. Amazingly pigmented, smooth buttery texture, and at such a great price. I’ve found exact dupes for many MAC eyeshadows with the Wet n Wild ones.

  64. Amanda

    I never thought there was that much of difference until I tried Guerlain. Between Guerlain products and Tom Ford lipsticks I’ve been spoiled. There’s still some good products you can find in a drugstore though, NYX eyeshadows are great for their price. Oddly enough, I find a lot of the mid-range brands (Benefit, Clinique, Buxom/Bare Escentuals) to have really mediocre products that I would be able to find something comparable for much cheaper or something amazing for a bit more.

  65. Sherri

    Besides packaging, I find the scent of high end cosmetics better: whether it’s pure unscented & unwaxy or whether it’s sugary and sweet. I rarely buy lipstick (not gloss) from a drugstore even though there are some good formulas for this reason.

  66. Sarah

    One day in 2008, I was bored to tears, and I searched YouTube for Angelina Jolie eye makeup. There was a video from kuuipo1207 for her look from the movie Wanted. She used MAC eyeshadows, brushes, etc. I tried to duplicate with my vast drugstore collection of dupes but to no avail. So I purchased my very first ever HE product: MAC e/s in Typographic. I’ve never gone back :)

    I have very sensitive eyes and rosacea. Drugstore cosmetics always seemed to aggravate both of these problems. My eyes constantly watered, were so itchy that I ended up rubbing my eyeshadow off and my mascara all over the place, and all of this turned my eyes red and puffy. :( Once I had enough money to spring for a HE eyeliner and mascara, my problem was solved! And with foundation, nothing drugstore was pigmented enough to cover my red cheeks and chin without looking like icing on a cake AND weren’t oil-free (mostly). Double :( :( . But I’ve found two winners: Bare Minerals and MUFE HD.

    So sometimes it’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. At least that’s what I tell my bank account. :)

  67. I find drugstore brands to be fairly competitive when it comes to mascara, foundation, and now eyeliners. However, as for “color” products like eyeshadows and lipsticks, I still prefer higher-end brands like MAC, MUFE, Illamasqua and Urban Decay. But, there are also a lot of higher-end brands like Clinique, EL, etc that don’t have a large variety of colors…

  68. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Quinctia Quinctia

    I still use a lot of drugstore products, but I’ve always been a pretty discerning buyer. Most of my eyeshadow usage lately comes from an 88 Coastal Scents palette, but it is not the same without UDPP. (Before primers, I was collecting creams and going through them like candy…) I have been using Physician’s Formula mineral foundation for years, but I have recently converted to priming first with UD’s primer for that. (For colored concealers, green/yellow, I’ve also found that PF has excellent selection. Otherwise I use a lightweight CoverGirl liquid concealer.)

    Finally bought an UD palette and I do love the shadows. One thing I did notice is that the liners were on par with the HIP and Milani pencils I already had. The only 24/7 pencil I see me breaking down and buying is Yeyo–though I’d love to find it in a set of others because those are usually a bargain. I don’t have a need to try high end gel liners because I have HIP and PF ones that are a dream.

    I’m also a person who is lucky enough to not really need a mascara on days where I’m not wearing other heavy eye makeup. However, I bought Maybelline XXL Extensions on a whim one day awhile back, and it is the only mascara that has ever made me WANT to wear mascara all the time. I’d only ever try another mascara if it came in a different color (they don’t make brownish black in that one anymore), and I’d hope for a similar formula.

    And my favorite liquid eyeliner of all time was a two dollar pearl white Wet n Wild liner that they don’t even make anymore. So I’d go high end if I could find a dupe…but I’d try drugstore again, too, since that’s where it came from.

    So…I guess I have no problem spending my money on the high end bases and try and find reviews before trying to find bargains on products that are pigmented and perform the way I’d like. Most of the time, I don’t care where something I use comes from as long as it works and isn’t overpriced. While I like seeing reviews of everything here, they’ve sorta reinforced the fact that I’m never going to want to shell out for Chanel and other designer lines. Whereas I may go high end for some things. (Though, for some reason, the Mac LE collections just underwhelm me in general. Hello Kitty was the only one that really ever caught my eye, haha.)

  69. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Dawn Dawn

    My makeup collection is a bit of a mix. Until a couple of years ago I had never heard of MAC, but now it is my number one brand. Apart from that I mainly have Urban Decay and Boots No7, L’Oreal lip glosses (amazing, and they smell great, too) and Max Factor.

    My most used mascara is No7 360 degree (don’t know how to type the little degree symbol) with Max Factor False Lash Effect second, and I’m also loving Clinique’s High Impact Curling Mascara.

    I’m a huge fan of Barry M Dazzle Dusts and Fine Glitter Dusts, which are a great price at £4.50 each (sometimes they’re on 3 for £10) and in my opinion just as good as MAC pigments. Barry M nail polishes are also excellent, and just £2.95 each, currently 2 for £5 in Boots and Superdrug.

  70. May

    I generally buy department store brands but the eyeshadow I’m wearing to a special event is made by Prestige. I discovered this little gem in my make-up collection after struggling to find any color payoff from my Lancome eyeshadow palette. To me as long as the product is good I really don’t care. Also a lot of MAC lipsticks are drying with the exception of the lusters formula.

  71. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Marianne Mar

    I learned to be careful with what to buy at drugstores.
    I found some gems but I found a lot of crap too. One of my favorite drugstore brands was Revlon but all of a sudden they decided to not sell it any longer in Holland :(. I think their lipsticks and glosses are pretty decent and I like a lot of their nail polishes.
    Max Factor False Lash Effect was my latest gem, I love it!

    But then again… It’s the same for department store brands. Some brands claim to be high end but they don’t live up to my expectations at all. Some brands just put so much money into promoting their products to make us believe how great they are… It’s ridiculous. Let’s be honest: what was the last time you felt your 30 dollar lipstick was really worth it? ;-)

  72. The miaomi

    I think we all know that no matter its high end or drugstore brands we are all paying much more than what they are worth. but i think its more about how the products make u feel. its kinda like brain washing urself that if it costs that much it must be working.

    i dont mind little things like drugstore eyeshadows or lipsticks esp if they are on BOGO sale. NYX has some pretty good stuff for instance.
    but if you are paying almost 10$ for a drugstore foundation, or concealer, powder…stuff you use everyday. the actual goo in that jar cost like what a dollar or two? i just dont feel comfortable keep those cheap chemicals on my face for a long time.

    plus, some times if you check compare the prices by .oz u might find the high-end brand got more value for your money. Overall, i feel like i cherish the cheap stuff as much as the high-end ones since i know they are cheap. I get bored right away and end up not using them till the end.

  73. Profile wp-user-avatar wp-user-avatar-60 alignnone photo of Ana Meg

    Totally!… I’ve tried several drugstore brands… and specially when it comes to foundation… no one could beat my MAC Studio Fix Fluid! (this is my first high-end foundation and damn I’m in love with it!)

    • Phoebe

      I use some high end and some high street brands,I use High street for mascara basically as for hygiene reasons and it has a low shelf life .The other day I wore Loreal Voluminous on one eye and Lancome Hypnose on the other.My husband looked very closely and could not tell the difference.The same for when I met up with some friends that day.They said that they would never have known had I not told them as they saw no difference.They have all switched to Loreal Voluminous,all but one,however there is always one!!
      This is the strange part though,I keep a Lancome in my draw for best occasions.I think it is because I had Lancome for so long.Anyway take whatever you like from this evaluation.

      • Jocie

        I never tried high end products but I think I will. I’ve been dying to get a really decent lip gloss since my tween days are now over. Ever since I stopped using lip smackers (since that’s kiddish) I’ve tried going into Covergirl, revoln, and other names, but when I pull the gloss applicator out of the tube and smear it on my lips, it feels dry. it doesn’t have that “wet” feeling. I have to put valesine on my lips first than use the gloss over that. I’m like “huh?” It is not glossy nor shiny. I’ve tried heating hot water and putting the tube in that to lossen it up, that worked when it was warm. I really shouldn’t do that. So I’ll try high end brands.