High-end makeup vs. low-end makeup: Is there a visible difference?


Fact Box

  • A makeup “dupe” is “an affordable product that mirrors a more expensive one in quality, formula, and/or appearance.”
  • According to Statista, in 2018, the US was “the most valuable beauty and personal care market in the world, generating approximately 89.5 billion US dollars in revenue that year.”
  • It had been over 80 years since a law was passed in the US regulating cosmetic product safety; however, Sen. Feinstein introduced S. 2100, the Personal Care Products Safety Act, which was passed in 2021. 
  • Maybelline New York’s Great Lash mascara debuted in 1971 and has remained a top seller ever since, with one tube sold every 2.5 seconds around the world.

Nina (Yes)

We all know which makeup and beauty products serve our faces best. Some are expensive, while others are drugstore counterparts. The numerous videos on makeup “dupes” are growing to satisfy the financial needs of everyone out there. Makeup makes us feel beautiful and confident in our skin. So, how do we know if there is a visible difference between the name brands versus the cheaper alternatives? 

The quality of high-end makeup from brands like Lancôme, NARS, DIOR, etc. is seen in their better packaging, better applicators, and higher pigmentation. Plus, some of these brands are even cruelty-free and vegan. Buying one type of makeup that will last longer outweighs the need to buy several of the same low-end makeup products throughout the year. Though, depending on your personal makeup routine, it’s up to you what products you choose for your regimen.

High-end makeup also typically contains cleaner ingredients than low-end makeup. This means having premium formulations, higher quality ingredients, fewer fillers, and a wider variety of shades to suit each individual’s skin needs. Mass-market brands incorporate more synthetic and less expensive ingredients into their products. Given this, it means they use more costly technologies to create their products.  

Ultimately, you know your skin best and the “right” products are what work for you personally. However, having said that, the safest ingredients, the prettiest packaging, the least cruel to animals, and the longest lasting cosmetics are found in department stores and not at drugstores. 


Jenny (No)

Makeup wearers live in an exciting time where there are endless choices ranging from exclusive high-end department store to mainstream low-end drugstore brands. Though there are differences of opinions as to which one is better than the other, there is no concrete evidence to prove that there is a noticeable difference between the two, as people have noted, end results of application tend to be quite similar.

On average, users tend to base their decisions more so on preference, performance, and what works best for their needs. What many makeup lovers may not realize is that the same companies that can be found in the drugstore also own many high-end cosmetic companies. And since both are typically manufactured from the same place, the vast majority of designer makeup has the same ingredients as its drugstore equivalent. 

Why then is there such a difference in pricing? You’re most likely paying for the brand name, better applicators, packaging, and stronger color pigmentation. Ultimately, it comes down to users determining where their priorities lie and oftentimes that exist on both ends of the spectrum. Makeup artists working in entertainment are great examples of this as their kits typically include a mix of both luxury and drugstore products. 

A big difference between luxury and drugstore brands is the way they market their products. At the end of the day, marketing high-end products serves the purpose of targeting clients who are willing to pay for it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.

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