Drugstore vs. High-End: Which Makeup Products Are Worth the Extra Dollars?

One stroll into Sephora is all it takes to make you believe you suddenly need every new eyeshadow palette and matte lipstick within sight. But do you really need to buy all the high-end brand makeup products to create the most spectacular makeup looks? Drugstore brands may surprise you. There are tons of drugstore makeup products that can be just as good (or even better) as some high-end makeup brands. So here’s the complete guide to which makeup products you should splurge on and which you can find for a great deal at the drugstore.

Mascara: Drugstore 

Believe it or not, there is a goldmine of gorgeous mascaras waiting for you at the drugstore! Many drugstore mascaras have formulas comparable to those of high-end brands. Some makeup geeks even prefer the drugstore brands over the high-end ones! Amanda Goecke, a senior at Carthage College, finds that drugstore mascaras have a lighter, more wearable formula compared to high-end mascaras. “I find myself using drugstore mascaras over high-end ones a lot—they just don’t clump as much for me and don’t feel as heavy,” Amanda says. Quality drugstore mascaras, like the classic Maybelline's Great Lash and Jordana's Best Lash Extreme Volumizing Mascara can be as cheap as $5, so having beautifully long lashes don’t have to stretch your wallet!

Foundation: High-end 

As with any art, a solid foundation is necessary to make your brilliant makeup work shine through! So it’s essential that you choose a foundation that fits your needs. Drugstores don’t usually let you test out the different foundation shades, and they typically carry a smaller range. If you run into trouble finding the right shade for your skin tone, consider going for higher-end brands where you can test the shades and get a broader range of colors. Women of color can especially run into trouble of finding the perfect foundation shade when there are not too many options.

Jovita George, a talented travel and beauty vlogger with her Youtube channel, MrJovitaGeorge, recommends high-end foundations for their shade options and environmental friendliness! "High-end foundations do perform better than a lot of drugstore foundations. And the best parts of high-end foundations are the shade variety and cruelty-free factor that lacks in drugstore foundations. But these days, a lot of drugstore brands like NYX, Milani & L.A Girl make bomb foundations too!" says George. There are still plenty of promising drugstore foundations that can compare with their high-end counterparts. If you don’t have a lot of trouble finding your shade just from looking at the color in the bottle, then you can definitely score a cheaper foundation with a sophisticated and flawless finish. However, your skin’s look and condition is your number one concern, it's worth the splurge to get a healthy, full coverage foundation in your perfect shade, it’s totally worth it!

Eyeliner: Drugstore 

They say the eyes are the window to the soul, so make sure your windows are framed with a pigmented and smooth eyeliner. Drugstores nowadays sell a wide variety of eyeliners; whether your handiest with a pot and brush, a wand, or a pencil, there’s a perfect eyeliner for everyone. Not to mention, many drugstore eyeliner formulas are just as good as those of high-end eyeliners.

Shereen Jeyakumar, a junior at Florida Atlantic University, swears by drugstore eyeliners’ excellent quality and affordability. “I love getting eyeliner from the drugstore," says Shereen. "Brands like Revlon ColorStay are great. It’s much more cost-effective than a $20-25 MAC eyeliner, which isn’t that much better." Overall, the quality gap between high-end and drugstore eyeliner is not too wide when you spend at least $5 to $6, so you can save on a fabulous eyeliner by buying it at the drugstore!

Lipstick: High-end 

A tinted lip can spice up any look while also keeping your lips soft and moisturized. When shopping for lipsticks, it’s all about personal preference. It’s ultimately up to you when it comes to what you want out of a lipstick. If you don’t mind a little transfer, a little drying or a little fading, then you can buy a beautiful drugstore lipstick with few worries in mind. On the other hand, if you’re particular about the feel, the finish and the chance of transfer of your lipstick, then consider splurging on some seriously good staple lipsticks.

Ramisa Chowdhury, a junior at the University of Central Florida, agrees that “for lipsticks, it’s probably better to get the high-end stuff because they look better and last longer. The Urban Decay Vice palette is amazing or just the single Vice lipsticks they have. The Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks are great too!”. Going for high-end lipsticks can ensure you’re getting the best product for every-day use, which is definitely worth the extra dollars in our book.

Color Correctors: Drugstore 

Color correctors are a more of a recent addition to our makeup routines, but they do wonders for hyperpigmentation, redness and dark circles! Using color correction on your problem areas can elevate the finish of your skin and make you look more evened out. Achieving that even and flawless look doesn't have to cost you major dollars though; drugstore color correctors will certainly do the job as well as the high-end ones can!

Color correctors are creamy pigments that you rub into your skin like a second concealer; they aren't made to be super bright, but rather to cancel out the colors on your face that you don't want to show through your foundation. Wet n Wild’s Photo Focus Correcting Palette is one of many well-pigmented yet subtle drugstore color correctors, and it’s only $3.99! If you’re open to buying drugstore cosmetics online, BH Cosmetics' awesome Studio Pro Perfecting color correcting palette is only $2.25 online! Finding a subtle but effective color corrector at the drugstore or online shouldn't be a challenge, just make sure to choose one with a formula that suits your skin best (whether that's a creamier corrector or a drier one). 

Eyeshadow: High-end

Whether it's for an everyday look or a look for a night on the town, a well-pigmented eyeshadow can embolden your eyes with depth and color. While there may be a few awesome eyeshadows at your local drugstore, the majority lack the pigmentation that high-end brands have. Dyuti Peddapulli, a freshman at the University of Florida, says that it's a bit of a gamble to pick just any eyeshadow from the drugstore, even if it is in a higher price range. "Eyeshadow is tricky," says Dyuti. "Not all brands have good ones...they can be patchy at times, not very blendable and not pigmented enough." Reaching for a higher-end eyeshadow may pay off in that if an eyeshadow is more pigmented, then you don't have to use as much per application! That being said, that doesn't mean you absolutely have to splurge on a Naked palette; properly research which drugstore eyeshadow brands have the best rep and try to go for those specific products.  

Blush: Drugstore 

A bright yet subtle blush is perfect for breathing life back into your face. However, the blush tints you use can be the difference between looking like a rosy-cheeked goddess or IT’s clownish cousin. Luckily, the drugstore now has a great range of blush colors that can suit many different skin tones, and some can even surpass some high-end blush brands. "Believe it or not, drugstore blushes sometimes work better than high-end versions," says Jovita. "You get way too many color options and finishes in blush right there in the drugstore". You can go for bright corals like Nyx’s Rouge Cream Blush in Orange which are super pigmented and can suit all skin tones, or a classic pink like Covergirl TruBlend Blush in Light Rose which is rosy yet subtle. Not only do drugstores have some super pigmented blushes, but blushes are some of the cheapest drugstore makeup products you can get! Drugstore blushes can range as low $3, so achieving those perfect rosy cheeks doesn’t have to burn your budget. 

Setting spray / Finishing powder: High-end 

Setting sprays and finishing powders are your best friends when it comes to making sure your makeup stays in place. Drugstore powders and sprays, like eyeshadows, are a bit of a hit or miss. Powders are especially tricky if they don't have the finishing you're looking for, whether that’s matching your skin, brightening your skin or being purely translucent. While there may be some diamonds in the rough, going for a high-end spray or powder is usually worth the price. Since setting sprays and powders are products you'll use almost every time you put on makeup to make reapplication less necessary, it's worth investing in a product that will ensure your good makeup stays looking its best! Jovita recommends "[spending] more money on skin/base products like primer, foundation, concealer & setting spray. Even some basic eye makeup like eyeliner & mascara has to be from reputed brands, not necessarily from "high-end" brands. When it comes to everything else, I think drugstore makeup fares just as well as high-end makeup!"  

A good rule of thumb is to research specific products thoroughly and to spend more money on the products you truly believe are worth investing in. Ultimately, you are the artist and these are your supplies, so use what you believe will result in the most beautiful makeup look you can create! You can also check out Jovita George's YouTube channel and Instagram for more tips on looking beautiful on a budget.