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

At times, it was shade range or better development of undertones, but now, I think brands have really stepped it up across the board in that aspect, especially since most ranges have 30 shades or more.

— Christine


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Seraphine Avatar

In my experience, foundation is the category with the biggest difference between expensive and inexpensive products, especially when it comes to texture and longevity. I think you are more likely to get what you pay for when it comes to foundation than you are with other makeup products.

Nancy T Avatar

Not so much anymore! Back when I first started using foundation, my Mom and I both used the same pan of Max Factor that was either the deepest or next deepest shade that we could get. Mind you, she wasn’t even blood related to me and a totally different ethnicity and race from me, but we shared an olive undertone medium level skin color that was more medium-tan.
Even then, it wasn’t a perfect match for me, especially during summer. One day at school, a cosmetics company expert with Fashion Fair (the FIRST BIPOC owned cosmetics company) visited. She shade matched each of us, including me! (I wore their lightest shade) The lady gave us all a kit with several products in it, including a foundation that matched us.
Nowadays, I fall in the dead center (sometimes a little lighter) of the much better shade ranges we finally have. As a 63 y.o. half Indigenous American/ half white person, I feel like we’ve finally arrived at a place where literally everyone can get a shade match in both the higher end and drugstore.
As for formulas, I do believe these are now much more comparable in quality than years ago, too.

Ana Maria Avatar

For me the issue with drugstore foundations was not necessarily the quality, but the shade range and undertones. There are brands out there that have 40+ shades and I can’t still find my perfect match, but somehow Lancome or any of the Estee Lauder brands do my perfect shade even when they have 10 shades (of light medium beige, of course 🙄).

I also find that more expensive formulas last longer on my skin than drugstore brands and don’t cause me breakouts. They also tend to not oxidize on my skin… my gosh, anything that L’oreal or Maybelline puts out oxidized like 3-4 shades darker on me.

But not luxury foundation… most luxury foundations are Maybelline quality with expensive marketing.

Genevieve Avatar

I agree with you Christine, that once upon a time the more expensive brands had a wider shade range and developed foundations with the differing undertones, but now quite a few DS brands, notably Maybelline and L’Oreal (at least here in Aus) have, for quite some time, offered a more extensive range to cater for individual shades.
Having purchased a wide range of foundations during my lifetime, quite a lot of them the wrong undertone for me, I have settled on L’Oreal’s True Match foundation in porcelain rose – as it really does have the pink undertones that I need.
HE foundations are incredibly expensive here – quite often in the $100 per bottle and considering that I go through quite a bit of it, this is not cost effective for me.

Nina Avatar

My first experience with foundation was Estée Lauder Country Mist in college. You saved up went to Bonwit Teller in Boston and got your Country Mist. Mostly because drugstore foundations at that time smelled like Noxema or cheap perfume. I’m a powder foundation convert for many years and I do believe high end foundations are superior. Silly me but I look at inexpensive foundation and shudder that it’s going to smell badly. I’m a Mercier woman now and it works.

Charlotte Avatar

Honestly I’m just starting to get into foundations and have been blown away by the high end ones for being skin like and lasting well. The cheaper ones I’ve tried have always looked like foundation and not looking great.
Giant caveat though is that my skin is totally different these days and I need foundation to even out my skin when I never actually needed it before.
I’d love recommendations for cheaper skin-like long wear foundations which play well on pink toned light and dry skin and can last through high humidity and high temps without melting off.

BrandiD Avatar

Foundation is where I’ll pay extra, mostly because I’m a very weird neutral peach tone that leans warm and it has been difficult to match my face color for most of my life. Too light, too dark, too pink, too yellow or orange — I’ve seen it all. As a youngster, I swore by Clinique’s Stay Ivory, then when that was no longer a good match, Revlon’s Colorstay matte formula in buff worked for a very long time. When that abruptly stopped working, that was the point where I started getting into more expensive foundations. These days, my best options are Dior or Lancome because they match my color without drying me out. My few attempts to venture back into the drugstore foundation market have not been successful — now it’s all mid to high end, all the way.

Pamela Avatar

Typically, the more expensive brands have a broader range of colors and undertones. I find that they also tend to have heavier coverage. I still love my drugstore brands, though, for a light wearing foundation as long as it has a yellow undertone to suit me.

Mariella Avatar

I do, indeed. I don’t often wear foundation but when I do, it’s always higher end (with the exception of Australian Gold tinted sunscreen, which isn’t really a foundation). As so many others have said, most “luxury” brands have a wider shade range but also I find that they are more likely to give me a nicer finished result. Sephora’s foundations, which are more in the “affordable” range, also have the attributes I like in foundation – extensive range of shades/undertones and a really nice finished effect.

Wednesday Avatar

A lot of DS stuff still sticks to old school mentality with simple pink or yellow undertones. I think middle and HE have a better grasp of more complex undertones. I also think mid and HE are fairly evenly matched with HE being more of a function of name and packaging. Diversity is still an outstanding issue with some HE and that is a turnoff.

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