There’s been a lot of talk over the years about high-end makeup versus drugstore makeup: which is better? Do they both come out of the same factories? What are we really paying for? In this post we break it down to make sure you know exactly what’s included in each product, so that you can decide once and for all which one you prefer – or which makes the better gift to your girlfriend on her birthday. In fact, many people use a combination of both for the best blend of affordability and results, and that’s okay too. Keep reading to find out the biggest differences between high-end and drugstore makeup – they may just surprise you.

1. Ingredients

The ingredients are the number one difference between high-end makeup and drugstore products. It’s the main reason the prices are so different (although there definitely are other factors, like packaging, brand name, and more) and why the products look, smell, and feel so diverse. Drugstore products mainly use cost-effective, synthetic ingredients that are available in bulk. High-end makeup can be choosier about what they put in their products, often opting for quality ingredients that really make a difference in the end product. The formulations in general are also better and oftentimes makeup artist-approved, which makes a world of difference when applying to your skin.

Ingredients in a makeup

2. Pigmentation

Not only are the ingredients better, but high-end makeup products often can afford more of those ingredients, which leads to higher pigmentation and longer lasting makeup. Drugstore makeup takes quite a while to build up, whereas high-end makeup like Napoleon Perdis is so much easier to apply. Not only does it make the process less time consuming and less frustrating, but you’re going to be happier overall with your final look.


3. Price Point

As mentioned earlier, the main reason the prices between drugstore and high-end makeup are so different is because of the ingredients. Everything that goes into the product is reflected in your cost, so paying $2.99 for a blush should be a little disconcerting. You’re also paying for the gorgeous packaging that makes you excited about new products, as well as the overall experience: you get to browse a beautiful makeup counter with plenty of makeup artists practically hyperventilating to help you find the exact right shade and test it out on your skin. At drugstores, you get funny looks if you linger too long in one aisle, so there’s that.

Price Point
Price Point

4. Applicators

One of the other major differences you’ll notice between the two types of products are the free applicators that come with them. From eye shadow brushes to poufs, they’re generally better and easier to use when they come with high-end makeup. After all, the brands know that applying the makeup is half the battle, and they want you to fall in love with their products. Drugstore brands are simply fulfilling an obligation to include applicators, so the cheaper the better.