From a young age, the media tells women that classic designer labels like Chanel and Dior are something we need to aspire to, so it’s not surprising that most of us are convinced high-end cosmetics are far superior to their drugstore counterparts. But, of course, the truth is a lot more complicated.
There’s no doubt that part of the mystique surrounding designer cosmetics can be attributed to clever marketing campaigns and irresistible packaging, but even then it’s hard to argue that there’s no difference between a $5 product and one that costs 10 times as much. At the same time, it’s not entirely fair to dismiss all drugstore labels as temporary stepping stones on the way to luxury cosmetics.
The bottom line is that high-end brands are not necessarily better than drugstore labels as a rule, but only sometimes. Which designer products are worth the higher price tag? And when should you opt for drugstore brands? The answers might surprise you.

Where to Save

1. Mascara
Drugstore mascaras are comparable to designer formulas, and because mascara needs to be replaced every three months, overall a much better value in the long run.
2. Nail Polish
On average, designer nail polish costs twice as much as a mid-range drugstore formula, but the difference between the two is too slight to justify the dramatic price increase.
3. Lipstick and Lip Gloss
Drugstore lip products have practically the same staying power as designer labels, and they come in an incredible variety of colors for all styles and skin tones.
4. Eyeliner
Like mascara, eyeliner has a very short lifespan. It needs to be replaced every two or three months before its tip becomes a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria. Drugstore liners are available in a multitude of formulas and colors, so there’s really no need to spend your money on a pricey product that will need to be tossed before you have a chance to finish it.

Where to Splurge

1. Eye shadow
Designer eye shadows are highly pigmented, so they go on smoother and last longer than drugstore brands.
2. Foundation, Powder and Concealer
Premium foundations, powders and concealers use better base ingredients. They blend well, crease less and generally last a lot longer than drugstore formulas. If you’re on a tight budget, try alternating between high-end foundation and a cheaper alternative. Revlon’s ColorStay liquid foundation is a good bargain brand.
3. Makeup Brushes
Professional-grade brushes are made with all-natural fibers that last for years and feel great on your skin.
4. Blush
At one to two years, blush has a much longer shelf life than other makeup mainstays, which makes it a good investment. More importantly, designer blush is more pigmented and easier to blend than drugstore compacts.

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