Do you notice any differences (on average) between more affordable and more expensive eyeshadow?

There are exceptions, but a lot of drugstore brands put out weaker, more powdery eyeshadow, so it takes more hunting and research to find the gems. I also think it depends on what you’re looking for, too, because if you don’t want pigment or don’t mind powderiness, then the differences would be more minute.

— Christine


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Mariella Avatar

There are disappointing eyeshadows (fallout, poor pigmentation, lasting power, etc.) in both high and lower price ranges. Price is never a guarantee of quality, I’ve learned over the years, as brands like Chanel, Tom Ford and Dior have proven, sadly. A good primer can help with the lasting power and sometimes with pigmentation but it shouldn’t be necessary especially with really pricey shadows.

Leslie Babineaux Avatar

Definitely. But even some of the more expensive ones leave alot to be desired. Lancome eyeshadow doesn’t get alot of recognition but their eyeshadow palettes are so buttery, apply like silk and blend beautifully, and are super-pigmented. And they last all day/night. I have 3 of their palettes. Chanel can be powdery and low on pigment but most of them are pretty good. And Dior is hit or miss also, but still one of the better ones. I really don’t buy other brands like Too Faced, etc….I stick to just a couple of brands. But honestly, Lancome is my favorite.

Christina D. Avatar

Absolutely! While you do not always get what you pay for, my experience is that most mid-to-high range brands are superior to drugstore. There are exceptions and I have been disappointed by numerous pricey eyeshadows, and pleasantly surprised by affordable eyeshadows. I think expectation comes into play, too.

Seraphine Avatar

Yes, definitely! Although ColourPop puts out some good, inexpensive eyeshadows that I enjoy using, the high-end brands that I own—like Dior and Natasha Denona—are so much better that they’re worth the extra cost, in my opinion. I’ve never had a good experience with any drugstore brands I’ve tried, such as Revlon, Maybelline, etc.

Nancy T Avatar

To be totally honest, I’ve seen enough failures and gems on both ends of the price spectrum! ColourPop, Nyx, and a few more affordable Indie brands have put out some amazing quality, very interesting eyeshadow formulas in the past. Oddly, it was my most pricy eyeshadow quad that I ever indulged in that failed me miserably; Tom Ford Honeymoon quad. I was shocked by the patchiness and lack of sheen, even when I jumped through all the hoops to make it work. It was NOTHING like all the testers that I had been swatching for a few years before buying it. Probably a bad batch? Idk? But mine was a dud!!! Then again, I’ve also had a STELLAR little quad by Chanel with the Empriente du Desert palette, so I know that everything varies across the board.

BrandiD Avatar

The mainstream drugstore brands like Revlon, L’Oreal and Maybelline haven’t been worth it in my experience. They literally blend out into nothing, go on choppy, have excessive fallout, etc etc. and I’m one of those people who actually wants less intense, softer looks! I think Colourpop has some decent formulas, and I’m always open to looking at smaller, less expensive companies. However, the most winners in my experience have been mid range department store brands like Clinique, MAC and Urban Decay. More expensive brands like Bobbi Brown and Chanel have never really been worth the price to me. MAC and Urban Decay in particular used to be my go-tos, although rising prices and lowering quality may change that.

Maggie Avatar

Good budget affordable eyeshadow made in europe/usa/japan are typically harder to find in major retail stores beyond a few one-hit-wonders. Access for a breadth of selection is indie-like for the consumer: mostly available online and the brands more serious about their shadow selection (being able to create lasting editorial/creative looks) tend to sell it in pans.

Latika Avatar

I honestly hate drug store make up. For me there is an absolute difference in quality on EVERYTHING. I used to try.. but when I could afford MAC .. I would rather not have make up if I could only get drugstore. Using Lancome and MAC compact compared to cover girl? never went back. I have tried to use a drug store eye shadow.. the worst. I have become a make up snob. I love Pat McGrath and ND and still have my MAC. I enjoy a few TF palettes and I have 3 CT that I enjoy. I am sure less expensive make up has come a long way but still, for me there is a tremendous difference.

Genevieve Avatar

Apart from Maybelline’s Burgundy Bar eyeshadow palette, most DS eyeshadows are a big disappointment. Every now and again they put out something noteworthy, but it is a rarity.
That’s why I started purchasing eyeshadows from mid tier brands when I first got interested in good quality eyeshadows – they just weren’t available here in Aus.
Mostly, the more expensive brands offer better quality ingredients and formulas, a more interesting range of shades, finishes and colour stories. However, as we have seen on this blog, there are duds everywhere.
The rise of excellent quality indie brands, showcased here, like SG, Terra Moons, JD Glow etc have shown the more established brands, that have put out some shockers in recent years (UD for example), that inexpensive doesn’t mean shoddy.

Stephanie Avatar

Eyeshadow seems to be the makeup category that shows the biggest differences between drugstore and luxury makeup, at least in my experience. High end and luxury eyeshadows tend to have significantly better quality. But, as with any rule, there are always exceptions. Ulta Beauty‘s matte liquid eyeshadows have a surprisingly high-end feel, offering magnificent staying power and blendability, for example. And although Natasha Denona makes some of my favorite shadows, her palettes *can* be hit or miss – same with Tom Ford.

KT Avatar

You definitely aren’t guaranteed good eyeshadows if you buy high end, but you’re far more likely to get a good eyeshadow palette at that price point. I can only think of a very few amount of companies that make good eyeshadows at lower price points (Colourpop and some Asian brands). All my favorite eyeshadows are high end and through experience I’ve learned not to bother with western drugstore eyeshadows. The chances are just too high that it’s a waste of money.

Bren Avatar

I have eliminated so many palettes from my collection… well over 100. But then I am so obsessed with Sydney Grace shadows I have a hard time reaching for my Huda, ABH and other palettes. I have created about 5 Natasha Denona midi and 6 mini palettes that I have duped with SG and I just keep reaching for them because the looks are incredible! I don’t know for sure where SG falls in the affordable and more expensive categories, but they are beautiful! 🙂

Z Avatar

Yes and no. Until PMG reformulated her MTHRSHPs I’m fairly certain the quality is on the same – or damn near close enough – line as CP’s pressed shadow. I’ve got my early Bronze Seduction for reference and it’s one of the least nice palettes in my stash, despite being the (almost) most expensive. ND’s shadows are creamy and smooth, but still completely undeserving of the price tag/hype.

Generally speaking, though, drugstore shadow still struggles to be anything other than awful and for the same price range one would be better off picking up something indie.

Nicole Avatar

I have been constantly disappointed by high end eye shadow palettes/products. Pat McGrath’s Subliminal Platinum Bronze was definitely not worth the cost to me (the matte was abysmal), Natasha Denona not worth the price either for her mid size palettes. I no longer have any high end eye shadow or purchase it. I am strictly down to using Sydney Grace singles and some ELF cream shadows, so I would say for me, Indie and drug store has certainly beat out high end.

Jane Avatar

More and more yo can find great textures and pigmentation in less expensive eyeshadows (usually indie or copycat brands); however, what I find that they don’t do as well as higher-end mainstream or indie brands is having unique colors.

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