Makeup: Drugstore vs. Department Store

Is it worth it to pay big bucks?


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Some women prefer high-end makeup, while others buy only drugstore cosmetics. Most of us fall somewhere in between. When should you scrimp — and when should you splurge?
It all depends on the product. 

Makeup 

Drugstore or Department Store?

Product

MASCARA 

Verdict:  Drugstore
Most makeup pros agree that some inexpensive mascaras are as good, if not better, than their designer counterparts. Mascara also has a short lifespan, so it can get expensive to replace every three months.

 

 

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
Who doesn’t recognize the ubiquitous pink-and-green tube? Since the ’70s, Great Lash has been the go-to mascara for teens, housewives, movie stars, and runway models. $5.99, available at CVS

FOUNDATION 

 Verdict:  Department Store
“It’s nearly impossible to get an accurate idea of a color, finish, or texture through the packaging of a drugstore brand,” says Westchester makeup artist Meredith Hayman of About F.A.C.E. Head to a makeup store or counter, where you can have an expert help you try different shades in good lighting.

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation Stick
Hayman swears by this product so I tried it out myself and it was love at first dab. It offers a soft matte finish with medium-full coverage and, because I’m cursed with combination skin, I was psyched to find that it controlled my oily spots and stayed smooth on my dry spots.  
$46, available at Neiman Marcus

LIPSTICK

Verdict:  Drugstore
Thankfully, good, relatively inexpensive lipsticks are easy to find, particularly in the mid-range drugstore brands. “The wearability is about the same as the more expensive brands, and some even last longer and feel better,” says Hayman.

 

Revlon ColorStay Overtime Lipcolor
“It’s very similar to the Make Up For Ever Aqua Lip, but for a fraction of the price,” says Hayman. $10.79, available at Walgreens

 

EYE SHADOW

Verdict:  Department Store
Some women think drugstore brands are just fine, while others (like my editor, who says there is a huge difference in texture and wearability, and insists there is a “telltale cheap-looking shimmer” to drugstore shadows) wouldn’t be caught dead in anything but BECCA or Bobbi Brown.   

BECCA Eye Palettes 
The tone-on-tone Ombre Nudes “glide on seamlessly, subtly, with no cakey creases or wrinkles,” says Carol Caffin, Westchester Magazine’s features and wellness editor. “The mattes are not dead-flat and pasty, like some drugstore brands, and you can use every color in the palette.”  $40, available at Sephora

FINISHING POWDER

Verdict:  Department Store
Powder is a great mattifier. “It pays to splurge on a good finishing powder,” says makeup artist Patricia Margro, owner of Maison Rouge in Bronxville. “A finely milled powder is essential to soften the look of the skin.” 

 

 

Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder

This is the Holy Grail of finishing powders. It sets makeup perfectly, evens tone, and makes skin look flawless. $35, available at Sephora

BRONZER

Verdict:  Department Store
If you don’t want to look like Lindsay Lohan circa 2010, stick with a department-store bronzer. “Drugstore brands tend to be highly pigmented and hard to blend,” says Hayman.

NARS Laguna Bronzing Powder
Oh, NARS Laguna bronzer, how I love you so. You are barely there, but you manage to brighten up my pasty complexion in just a sweep. 
$39, available at Neiman Marcus

BLUSH

Verdict:  Drugstore 
Next to mascara, blush may be the easiest makeup product to cheap out on and get away with it. You can find high-end imitations for a fraction of the price of the more expensive (hello, NARS) brands. 

 

 

NYX Cosmetics Powder Blush

“The Pinched shade of NYX Cosmetics blush is the perfect dupe to NARS Orgasm, which has a cult following,” says local makeup artist Ally Martinn. Sign me up! $6.49, available at Target

EYELINER

Verdict:  Drugstore 
Unless you use a liquid liner, for which high-end is essential (you need a clean, smooth line and a really good applicator), it’s usually fine — even preferable — to go for an inexpensive gel or pencil liner.  

Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Eyeliner
“This is among the best eyeliners,” says Martinn. It is comparable to the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner.” Many women (including me) swear by its long wearability. $7.15, available at Walmart