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Expert Interview: Cheap or Lush Cosmetics?

big name beauty brandsI’ve never been one for buying high-end beauty products mainly because my spending habits have never allowed for this. But even in the days before I got serious with budgets, it was rare for me to venture beyond the mid-section of the beauty market. I’ve lately started to wonder if I’m hurting myself, especially cosmetically and physically, by never giving a second look to the higher end products. Curious to know more, I asked a few beauty experts for their take on low-end versus high-end cosmetics. I think you’ll find the responses interesting:

Q: Are more expensive brands always better?

Because high end beauty products have a high price tag, most of us assume that they’re going to be of superior quality compared to their cheaper counterparts. Is this always the case though?

“They aren’t always better. For example, I never spend money on pricey skin care regimens. I’m a big fan of Cetaphil and Oil of Olay moisturizers and cleansers. They are reasonably priced and easily available through mass distribution channels.” – Rosalyn Hoffman, author of “Bitches on a Budget: Sage Advice for Surviving Tough Times in Style.”

“I rarely feel that luxury brands offer better quality, I think they offer better packaging and better marketing, which isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy them; on the contrary, you should buy what makes you feel pampered and beautiful. Just have realistic expectations. Personally, I’m very particular about certain fragrances and certain chemicals, so I’ll seek out the product, whether affordable or mid-range or luxury, that suits my nose, sensitive skin, etc. When you shop smart – sales, coupons, promotions – you can get great value on the products you want.” – Dianna Barros, “The Budget Babe” blog

Q: What about cheaper brands that aren’t inferior?

Some beauty brands are cheap for a reason but are there some gems that match up well with the bigger names while also being kinder to your budget?

“I think that all of the drugstore make-up brands are reasonably good quality. I also think that the Sephora house brand make-up line is excellent. I love getting a cheap thrill and a little pick-me-up from an inexpensive new eye shade or lip gloss color.” – Rosalyn Hoffman

“I wouldn’t spend a lot on mascara, lip gloss, or nail polish because the drugstore brands are just as good as any high-end product. You begin to see differences in quality when it comes to foundation – a small bottle goes a long way, so if you find your perfect color match in a pricier brand, and you find a formula that won’t irritate your skin, it’s probably worth the “splurge.” Of course, there are plenty of great budget foundations, so it really boils down to the individual person and what they’re looking for. My favorite budget eye liner is Wet ‘n’ Wild, which is under $3 and it works great. You can also find amazing organic products that don’t cost much more than other brand names at stores like Whole Foods or online.” – Dianna Barros

Q: Are any of the luxury brands worth saving up for?

Some luxury brands are undoubtedly overpriced, but in some cases, it can be worth splurging to ensure that you get better quality.

“I never compromise on foundation and blush. I’m a fan of Chanel and Fresh products. While they aren’t cheap, they apply smoothly, never cake or crease, and stay true to color.” – Rosalyn Hoffman

Q: What about ingredients?

“Consider quality over quantity. Avoid synthetic fragrances. I personally prefer products without petroleum-based ingredients. Fewer ingredients is probably better for you in the long run – avoid synthetic dyes, parabens, phthalates, etc. It’s better to err on the side of caution, but that’s just my opinion! When in doubt over an ingredient, use in moderation.” – Dianna Barros

The Final Word

“Know that you can find great quality products at all price points. With that in mind, experiment, have fun, shop smart, and use the products that best suit your particular wants and needs. Enjoy what you use whether it’s drugstore eye liner or fancy Chanel nail polish. Most women will find that a mix of high and low beauty products is best!” – Dianna Barros

Do you tend to buy the more affordable beauty brands or save your cash for the big name products?

(photo credit: The Consumerist)


TexNYQueen October 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

I tend to scoff at the thought of shelling out a $40 for lipstick, nail polish, etc. UNTIL, I was gifted a bottle of Chanel nail polish. The color is beyond compare and my pedicure NEVER chipped. I left the bottle in a restaurant on accident. WTH? $30 just left on the table. I returned hoping someone would have left it at the counter. Unfortunately, it was thought to be trashed and thrown away – UGH!!!

I had to replace the bottle. Problem is that Chanel tends to make limited editions (this particular color was one). I lucked up and got the last one online.

Have said I would never pay that kind of money for nail polish, I bought a bottle of Elf in a popular deep purple (cost $1). It took 3 coats of polish and chipped.

So there are times when an expensive brand is a better buy.

Jill November 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I tend to spend a little more on skin care than on the blush, lips, liners, mascara, shadows and polish. However, if I find one that works and is made with good/safe products, I definitely will snatch that up over an expensive label. It was helpful to read opinions from beauty experts, it just validated how I felt.

Debt Free Daniel November 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Don’t know much about beauty products as I am not a big fan of it. I keep myself as natural as always but I came across these beauty products when I was looking for a gift for my wife. I kept asking questions on the saleslady and I learn that it all depends on the female’s skin since a lot of these beauty products contain chemicals which may be harmful to some females.


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