Drugstore vs high-end makeup: What you need to know!

Makeup brushes laid out in an x format creating four different sections with different types of makeup in each section showcasing the difference in high end makeup vs drug store makeup

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Drugstore vs. high-end makeup, the truth you need to know!
The makeup industry is flooded with products, and the price tag can vary anywhere from $1 to $100 (and sometimes even more!)

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It can be difficult and overwhelming to navigate all of the different products and prices and discern how much money you should be spending on makeup and where you could save money. 

The truth is: not all high-end makeup is worth emptying your wallet for. In fact, some drugstore products are just as good as high-end makeup for a fraction of the price. But what products will you sacrifice quality if you buy the cheaper brand? And which products are better to buy from the drugstore brands?

Luckily, today we are talking about the difference between drugstore makeup and high-end makeup, when it is best to spend a few extra dollars, and when it is better to save your money!

Make up assortment in hues of red and pinks including lipstick, blush, lip gloss and nail polish representing luxury, high end makeup.

What’s the difference between drugstore makeup and high-end makeup?


The difference between drugstore and high-end makeup is the packaging, design, prestige, and quality of the ingredients depending on the makeup brand. While high-end makeup tends to be better, there are some drugstore makeup products that are as great as some high-end makeup.

There are a few differences between high-end makeup vs drugstore makeup, and believe it or not, the actual ingredients in the makeup are not one of the major differences.

In fact, the ingredients of the products usually only make up about 15% of the price. The rest of the cost goes towards packing, design, and perhaps greatest of all: prestige.

When a makeup product is exclusive, its monetary value increases, basically, the fewer people who own it, the greater the desire is to own it, and the demand will drive the price up. 

While the prices between drugstore makeup and high-end makeup are very different, another difference is quality. Sometimes, the high-end makeup will last much longer than the drugstore makeup and usually hold a little truer to that “24-hour wear” statement.

However, this is not always the case. You can find reviews of plenty of drugstore products that customers claim to last all day. 

What is considered high-end makeup? 

A Model with blonde hair and brown eyes is sitting down getting her makeup done by a markup artist. The makeup artist is lining her lips with a pink hued lip liner that is part of a luxury, high end makeup line.


So is high-end makeup only considered high-end because of the price? Well, not exactly. There are several factors that contribute to makeup falling into the high-end category. 

  • Where it is Sold: The term “drugstore makeup” exists for a reason. You can find it in a drug store. High-end makeup is typically found in makeup retailers, or in stores of their own (like Sephora). This contributes to the exclusivity of the brand. 
  • More Expensive Technology: Another reason some makeup is considered high-end is because of the technology used to create the products. Typically, more expensive brands use costly technology to create their makeup.
  • Quantity of Ingredients: While both drugstore and high-end makeup will use a lot of the same ingredients, high-end makeup typically uses more of the active ingredients than the drugstore brands. 
  • Quality of Ingredients: Not only is the quantity of ingredients different between drugstore and high-end makeup, but the quality is different too. High-end makeup typically has more naturally derived ingredients and does not contain the harmful chemicals or synthetic ingredients that some drugstore or mass-produced makeup does. 
  • Better Formulas:Additionally, the formulations that high-end makeup brands use are typically better. This is because many high-end makeup brands involve professional makeup artists in the formulation to completion. 

Are drugstore makeup brands good?


Now, after reading all about the ways high-end makeup might be better than the drugstore brand, you might be tempted to quit your drugstore makeup runs, but don’t give up on the cheaper brands just yet!

There are still some drugstore brands that have a similar quality to the high-end brand. For example, Physician’s Formula loves to promote that their brand is cruelty-free and vegan, something that is quite valued in the high-end makeup world.

However, there are so many drugstore brands; it can be hard to decipher which ones are the highest quality, so keep reading to find out my top five drugstore makeup brands!

Related makeup post: 12 Irresistible foundation Dupes you’ll regret not buying!

Is it worth it to buy high-end makeup?

High end lip palate of neutrals with shades of pink mixed in. A lip brush is resting on the edge of the palate ready to be used.


In the makeup world, people are really divided as to whether or not high-end makeup is worth it. Some makeup gurus swear by their drugstore products, while others exclusively use high-end products.

At the end of the day, it is going to come down to personal preference. If you have certain brands you love, stick with them! Or, if you want to experiment with new makeup, try out a few drugstore brands to see which one you like best.

Another good rule of thumb is to think about which products you use the most and which products need to be replaced most often. For example, mascara is supposed to be replaced every 6 to 8 weeks, which means you probably don’t want to spend $30 every two months on it.

But, for something like foundation,  which can last a lot longer and you only use a little bit every day, it could be a great investment to spend a few extra dollars on. 

Finally, if you still can’t figure out which products you should save money on and which ones to spend money on, you can always pick out your favorite feature (eyes, lips, etc.) and invest your money there!

Related makeup post: My top 25 favorite Drugstore makeup products of all the time!

Top 5 high-end makeup brands 


As you begin to figure out which products you want to buy high-end, I have narrowed down my top 5 favorite high-end makeup brands to help you find your new favorite product!

1. Estee Lauder

This makeup brand has been around for 80+ years and continues to deliver amazing products! Estee Lauder is one of the most technologically advanced makeup brands, which means it is going to have the newest formulas to best enhance your face! I love this Estee lauder foundation.

2. NARS

If you are looking for the best makeup brush money can buy, NARS is the answer. Its brushes are incredibly soft, and spread your makeup evenly and flawlessly. Plus they have an amazing line of bronzers that make your face look perfectly sun-kissed.

3. Dior

As I previously mentioned, buying a new foundation is a great product to spend a little extra money on, and Dior has some amazing foundations in all different textures and shades to accommodate every skin type. 

4. Bobbi Brown

If you immediately thought of your lips when I asked you to think of your favorite feature, this is the brand you want to use. Bobbi Brown has so many different lip shades and they are designed for a plethora of skin types, so there is a lipstick for everyone.

5. Kiehl’s

If you love products that not only make your skin look fabulous but also make it feel fabulous, Kiehl’s has you covered. Their products are specifically tailored to hydrate your skin and leave you feeling fresh and moisturized. Kiehl’s has an amazing tinted moisturizer that works so great!

Top 5 drugstore makeup brands

Women sitting in front of a mirror getting ready to apply drugstore make up to her face, happy with her choice in deciding to go with drugstore makeup vs high end more expensive makeup brands.


As great as all of those high-end makeup brands are, many of us do not want to buy all of our makeup from high-end brands, especially if there are great drugstore brands too. So check out a few of my favorite drugstore makeup brands below!

1. Milani

Milani is a drugstore brand that is extremely popular because of its amazing products. It not only won a Best of Beauty award, but its rose powder blush is the most saved blush on Pinterest! Not bad for only costing as much as a Starbucks coffee!

2. NYX

NYX has a wide variety of products, and I frequently use them when I search for the best drugstore dupes for trending products. This is because they are high-quality without being high-priced. If you want to experiment with makeup, this is definitely the best brand to use! I have a bunch of favorites products from NYX, one that I’ve been loving it lately is this waterproof pen eyeliner!

4. Physician’s Formula

As I mentioned before, Physician’s Formula is awesome if you are looking for an affordable brand that is cruelty-free. Physician’s Formula often collaborates with skincare professionals to ensure that their products are not only going to enhance your features but also be good for your face. All of their products are filled with amazing nutrients and vitamins! I love this highlighter from them.

4. E.L.F.

In terms of style, ELF is most similar to NARS (and not just because of their short names). Both of these brands create products that focus on elegance and sophistication. ELF is especially great if you are looking for a great concelaer like this one here.

5. Wet n Wild

While this is a pretty popular drugstore brand, oftentimes Wet n Wild is underrated. One of the reasons this brand is so great is because it has really fun and trendy seasonal collections. Plus, their Photofocus foundation is often compared to its much more expensive counterpart, Luminous Silk. 

Everything you need to know about Drugstore vs High-End Luxury makeup when making a purchase decision. What is considered high end makeup and is really better?

Conclusion on Drugstore vs High-end Makeup


At first, glance, trying to decipher between Drugstore vs high-end makeup can be difficult if you don’t know the brands. While at first glance you might think that the only difference between high-end makeup vs drugstore makeup is the price, as you saw, there are a few different factors that can elevate high-end makeup to the next level.

While sometimes it is better to invest a bit more into a high-end makeup brand (especially if it is something that you use a lot or highlights your favorite facial feature), other times, it is best to save your money and stick with the drugstore brand.

Whether you invest fully in high-end makeup, fully in drugstore makeup, or my personal favorite, a bit of both, I hope you were able to find a few more products to add to your next shopping trip!

I hope you found this post helpful, if so don’t forget to pin it for later and share it with others! Also, leave a comment below sharing with me what makeup product you don’t mind investing more money on and which ones you prefer buying from the drugstore?

Drugstore vs high-end makeup: What you need to know!

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