Beauty Chat: Do You Prefer Drugstore or High-End Makeup?

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When I was growing up, we didn't have a lot of money and when I graduated from high school, I decided to go straight into the workforce (I didn't get my degree until much later) . I worked at various retail jobs, until my mid-30's, basically living paycheck to paycheck, so when it came to makeup, hair products, skincare, etc., I only bought drugstore. It honestly blows my mind now when I go into Sephora and see high school girls picking out Natasha Denona and Viseart palettes...it's just crazy to me.
My only experience with higher end makeup was when I worked at Sephora but I couldn't actually afford to buy any of the products we sold. Sometimes we would get products for free from the brands but for the most part, I would go in to work early and use the makeup we had in the store. I think back to that and get really skeeved out because those were testers that everyone in the world was touching...but we were required to wear the products we sold, so I did what I had to do.

When I left that job, I went right back to drugstore products again so I guess you could say it's what I'm comfortable with and thus what I naturally gravitate towards. I realize that some high-end products are better quality with better ingredients, and are often made in the U.S or Europe rather than China, but there are exceptions. Drugstore brands have gotten good to the point where I actually prefer certain mascaras. concealers, blushes, and lip products over their high-end counterparts. Even eyeshadows have come a long way (though I still prefer high-end eyeshadows overall). I also tend to splurge on skincare but lately I've been finding some really great formulas at the drugstore.

For me, there's also something satisfying about getting a bunch of products all at once than saving up to get one or two things, but only if you're not sacrificing quality.

So even though things have improved financially for me, I still gravitate toward drugstore products and get really excited when new products launch. This blog is my one and only reason for owning the amount of makeup that I do, especially the higher-end products. If my blog no longer existed, I would probably go right back to buying mostly drugstore and splurging on a high-end palette here and there.

What about you? Do you prefer drugstore makeup, high-end, or a mix of both?

25 comments

  1. I love both but I skew towards drugstore. I buy high end for things like foundation, concealer, perfume or something special and limited edition, otherwise, I get well performing drugstore products.

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  2. both
    :-)

    However I think there is a bigger DS selection now than 10/15+ ago and it's much more money

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  3. I'm with you 100% on the drugstore Jen. I think it's much improved over years ago and would rather get more for my money. Also, it's refreshing to see a beauty blogger that remembers where she came from and what it's like to struggle working a real 9-5 job. So many of these beauty gurus seem to come from money and it's frustrating because I can't relate.

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    1. I totally agree, Natalie!

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  4. I'm definitely a drugstore makeup kinda girl, with occasional splurge on high-end products. I feel much more comfortable purchasing drugstore products because they ain't too expensive so even if I break them or don't like them, I won't feel so guilty. Plus, I never see myself hit pan on any of the eyeshadows I own so it'd be such a waste if I buy a high-end one that I'll never get to use up

    Jolie
    Joliecious.com

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  5. High-end, no question. I buy almost nothing drugstore anymore.

    Years ago, I used to shop primarily at the drugstore because I have always been careful about money, especially when I worked my way through college. But the rising drugstore prices put me off and make the high-end (and mid-end) seem to me like a better value. And of course, I'll take quality over quantity and it's been my experience that higher-end is higher quality (usually and hopefully!). Christina D.

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  6. I own mostly drugstore but I have a few high end items. It is fun to splurge now and then but by reading blogs and following some YouTubers, I've found lots of quality makeup at the drugstore.

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  7. Solidly in the middle. I used to only use drugstore products and now I realize that a lot of them weren't very good, but some were. I don't buy super-high-end like Dior, Louboutin, etc. and don't know anyone personally who does. No way in heck is a $100 lipstick ten times better than a $10 one as far as I'm concerned. I do enjoy occasional splurges on Lorac, Bare Minerals, Mally, and similar middle-to-high end brands, but I'm a very careful shopper and prefer to get things on sale.

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    1. Me, too! I'm in the middle somewhere. I use MUFE foundation for special occasions, but have recently fell in love with Maybelline Dream Cushion for day-in-day-out everyday wear. Due to allergies, I've been able to only use Clinique mascara, and had to give up L'Oreal Voluminous (so many mascaras do not come in black/brown just black). Love Maybelline/Revlon long-last lipsticks (the dual ended types). I haven't had success with drugstore blush yet, but I'm still hunting. My face is a regular hodge-podge of drugstore and middle-end (oxymoron alert!) products. Luxury can wait til I win the Lottery!

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  8. I love this post! It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one getting a degree later on, Lol, and that you also more often prefer drugstore! Because I am not in the slightest way rich, some of the high end stuff is just too pricey for me! Everything is usually almost $30. However, I do agree with some people that sometimes high end is just better quality, I've found this to be true mostly with eueshadows and foundations and concealers. I'll usually splurge for a high end foundation.

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  9. I am a sucker for nice packaging and don't mind paying more for it. There is nothing tackier than a drugstore product that you can never get the adhesive sticker off of. I have some drug store products that I buy regularly, but have to say I am 90% high end.

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  10. Jen, you're so down to earth and grounded and that's why I love your blog. I hope you never change, especially as your popularity increases. Too many bloggers and YouTubers are appearing to live these unattainable lifestyles with seemingly unlimited budgets and I just can't keep up with it all. Anyway, back to the question at hand- I also buy mostly drugstore but will splurge on eyeshadow, foundation, skincare, and tools like flat irons and hair dryers.

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  11. I have found that I actually save money when I shop high-end. If I buy something from a drugstore, I can't swatch or sample it before and I often can't return it if I end up not liking it, so it ends up as wasted money. A $25 mascara I use up completely is a better value than three different $9 drugstore mascaras I throw away after 2-3 uses. I have learned not to buy a lipstick if I can't try it on; colors that look great in the tube are often not great at all on my lips in the natural light outside the store.
    I'm also much less likely to impulse-buy the more expensive items - I will research and read reviews on a $42 foundation rather than just tossing it in my Target cart "to see if I like it", and I can return said expensive foundation to Nordstrom or Sephora if it's not all that I want it to be, even if it's used and I have lost the box or the receipt.
    Some high-end prices are just ridiculous - I don't care how awesome a $50 Tom Ford lipstick is, I'm not paying that much - but I have generally found that higher-priced items are better in terms of quality and performance. I don't really care about packaging in terms of looks, but I have also found that higher-priced cosmetics are more durable as well - lipsticks stay closed in my purse, compacts and palettes don't break if I drop them, brushes wash better and don't shed or fall apart with frequent washing. Again, a higher price up front means I don't have to replace nearly as often.
    There are definitely drugstore gems available and I don't automatically think that a higher price means a better product, but for me the ability to sample and return makes the high-end cosmetics a better value.

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  12. Whatever works! I love me some amazing drugstore finds but I will pay more if it is really better. I prefer high end eyeshadows and drugstore mascara. Can't find a foundation anywhere and skew towards drugstore for most everything else.

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  13. Whatever works! I love me some amazing drugstore finds but I will pay more if it is really better. I prefer high end eyeshadows and drugstore mascara. Can't find a foundation anywhere and skew towards drugstore for most everything else.

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  14. I usually buy drugstore but with Ulta's coupons and sales I have bought a fair amount of mid-range makeup, like lorac and bare minerals. As I buy pricier makeup it gets easier to pay those prices and I seem to buy more expensive makeup than I ever imagined I would.

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  15. I use both. Cleansers, scrubs and micellar waters just need to be effective and there are good drugstore versions. I tend to splurge on serums and treatment products (darned hyperpigmentation and wrinkles!). As to makeup, I tend to splurge on foundation, which I can sample in advance and shade match much better. Powder products are fair game...I have bronzers and blushes from the drugstore and high end...love the holiday sets (Too Faced book of bronzers and various blush collections in smaller sizes) to try the high end versions! Most of my moisturizers, mascaras, nail and lip products come from subscription boxes. Love the deluxe samples and variety! Finally, I love me some It Cosmetics and there is no better way to purchase than the QVC TSV deals! Overall, I am an equal opportunity Cosmetics buyer.

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  16. I'm moving away from Drugstore( especially products made in China). I really love MAC shadows, ( I have more of those palettes than any other). I do enjoy drug store mascara though, I wear falsies almost everyday so to me, its a waste to spend big $$ on high end mascara when its underneath my false lashes. There are a very few drugstore products that I consider HG for me, Rimmel eye pencils( the kind you sharpen) are HG, I prefer them over all others( I use the brown color). Lately, I've tried some indie brand long wearing lipsticks and I love Beauty bakery whips more than any other long wearing lipstick. They last for 24hrs on me.

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  17. Oh and I much prefer higher end foundations. I've tried to love drugstore foundations, but I keep going back to my IT cosmetics CC cream and my MAC pro longwear waterproof( also Estee Lauder Doublewear).

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  18. High end for eyeshadow and maybe foundation, drug store for everything else. I would never spend $25 on a mascara!

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  19. Great post. It's very true, there are now so many great drugstore products. And drugstore products even go on sale regularly, unlike high end. However, I kind of go back and forth. I've been buying more high end for a while. I've recently completely raided my huge makeup collection and gotten rid of so much. It's so easy to go overboard at the drugstore because it's affordable. I have a ton of drugstore stuff. It's ridiculous lol. A good chunk of it is really quite good, but a lot of it also not so great. I started buying more high end again. I don't buy as much of it. I'm keeping my makeup stash more compact lol. I like high end powders and eyeshadows. Otherwise, mascaras, concealers, lippies, and foundations are excellent quality at the drugstore and I have no need to shell out lots of dough for those. I mean, Essence has become my new holy grail mascara! I haven't found a high end one remotely like it! Damn. If it's something that's amazing and will last a long time, I'll spend the extra money on it. But something like foundation or concealer which I go through quick, nah, I'm not going to be spending $50 on that! And again now I'm gravitating towards drugstore lol. It changes with the tide :P But, you really can get everything you need at the drugstore for excellent quality and cost.

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  20. I have a mixture of drugstore and mid range makeup and I'm happy with that. I don"t think higher end is always better. It depends on the product(s). I use drugstore mascaras,but my foundations are Maybelline, Bare Minerals and Pur.

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  21. I do not wear a ton of makeup but I have notice that even when I buy a high end makeup I tend to go for a drugstore. Because it's is easily replaceable. lol

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  22. I acutally moved my blog into beauty because I wanted to find out what drugstore brands were actually any good and I was missing out on. Now it seems that it's those brands which have won my heart. Whilst I can't deny there's something rather fabulous about buying a new Chanel compact or indeed a ridiculously priced Tom Ford lipstick on 'special occasions' the drugstores are offering such great products and I can buy twice as much there, especially with in store offers than I could higher end whilst not compromising on quality.

    Victoria x
    FlorenceandMary.com

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  23. It's funny, but I used to spend more on items and more at Sephora as a teen because it was at the mall and felt like a luxury. If I had money from babysitting or a gift card for Christmas, I would buy a couple of 30 dollar items there. Now that I pay rent and bills, every dollar counts and could be grocery money, I don't even step foot in a Sephora! I try to spend less every year on makeup. I love NYX or ULTA bogo type deals online. I love hearing about drugstore dupes for makeup or skincare because the markup on luxury goods is so high. I really wonder what the profit margins are. Anyway just some thoughts but the older I get, the more I pinch pennies. Thanks for the great blog.

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