Why High End Designer Makeup May Be Costing You More Money Than You Think

Is expensive makeup a waste of money

The line between a “premium” product and a regular product is tricky one to tread. Your Merc S-Class may in fact look better and last longer than a Chery QQ, while the benefits of eating vegetables surely outweigh the cost savings you get from eating instant noodles at every meal.

But when it comes to the women’s cosmetics industry, the benefits of purchasing high end designer makeup aren’t as clear. After all, if it covers your eye bags and makes your cheeks look less zombie-like, hasn’t it done its job regardless of the price tag.

Yet high end designer makeup continues to feature prominently in many women’s makeup bags.

Lynn, a 30-year-old marketing manager whose makeup stash consists of mainly designer offerings, says of designer makeup ,”Better quality and most importantly not made in China. I’ve used cheaper brands before and they weren’t very good. Once I tried Chanel CC cream there was no going back. And Lâncome concealer is the best I have ever used, you get a lot of coverage with a tiny drop.”

On the other hand, others like Victoria think high end brands are a waste of money. “It’s a scam! Buying designer makeup doesn’t mean you’ll look good. If I have the makeup skills to make drugstore brands work, I see no point in paying more for designer brands,” the 28-year-old journalist declares.

So are there actually real benefits to paying more, and are they worth the hefty price tag?


Lasts longer – While it is debatable as to whether high end makeup is better for your skin (many high end brands are reportedly quite harsh), most people agree that it generally lasts longer. Ingredients tend to be more concentrated than in drugstore brands.

So if you’re looking for blush that doesn’t have to reapplied every 2 seconds (stops your friends from asking why you suddenly look so pale), you might want to pay more.

That being said… many people’s problems with makeup not lasting stem from dry or flaky skin, and moisturising, using a primer or applying lip balm before applying can make makeup last longer.

Better pigmentation – In general, designer makeup does tend to pigment the skin more strongly than drugstore makeup. That’s why drugstore eyeliner tends to smear more easily and earlier on in the day, while some designer brands are akin to those “permanent makeup” facial tattoos.

This is also why you will always see some designer items in most makeup artists’ bags—especially if they’re doing makeup for a performance of the Lion King.

Goes on more smoothly – Designer brands tend to go on more smoothly and offer better coverage. When applying foundation, the worst thing is to see a patchy face staring back at you and not being able to blend the product no matter how much you rub.

For instance, an expensive mascara might be less clumpy than a cheaper one, although the overall effect on your eyes may be identical to the casual observer.


More expensive, obviously – The premium you pay for designer makeup is considerable. Maybelline’s Watershine Pure Lipstick costs $13.90 at Watson’s. On the other hand, a Chanel Allure Lipstick costs about $65. That’s almost 5 times the price.

Not better for your skin – Designer makeup tends to be much richer and more concentrated, which is a good thing if you’re auditioning for a wayang troupe. But this is not necessarily better for the health of your skin.

While high end shampoos and skincare products tend to place a lot of emphasis on the ingredients and whether they contribute to the health of your hair or skin, with makeup products, the focus is on performance—how long it lasts and how rich the colour is. This means high end makeup (not talking about mineral or organic) is usually no better for your skin than drugstore makeup.

In fact, the potent ingredients found in designer makeup are often too harsh for regular use and can cause acne and clogged pores. You then get stuck in a vicious cycle where you buy even more makeup to cover up blemishes that were exacerbated by the makeup itself.

Their shelf life is just as short – Just because you’ve “invested” in an expensive eyeshadow doesn’t mean you can horde it and gaze at it lovingly for the next 20 years. Sorry to break it to you, but makeup has a shelf life, and for products like mascara this can be as short as 3 months. Virtually nobody manages to use up their makeup before the expiry date, so it seems pointless to pay a lot for a couple of applications.

The premium you pay outweighs the benefits – Other than the benefits discussed above, a lot of the “value” designer makeup offers comes in the form of packaging and branding. Even if it lasts a little longer or offers a brighter pop of colour, the premium at around 5 times the price of drugstore brands is too high to be justifiable for many women.

So, is designer makeup worth it?

While whether it is “worth it” is really a subjective matter, if the following factors apply to you it might be less of a waste for you to buy expensive makeup.

You use foundation and concealer daily: Visually, designer makeup makes the most difference when it comes to foundation and concealer, which require even and thorough coverage to mask flaws. Foundation is also the #1 thing women get wrong when they wear makeup.

If you are a regular user of foundation and concealer (eg. you work in a client-facing job and your boss has threatened to fire you if you show up with tired looking skin one more time), it might be worthwhile to spend a little more for better coverage.

On the other hand, for most people, wearing designer makeup isn’t really a worthwhile investment, especially if:

 You don’t wear makeup often: The short shelf life of most types of make up means you’ll have to throw away your expensive products even before you get halfway through.

You wear makeup to enhance your features: If the reason you wear makeup is to enhance features (eg. make your eyes look bigger) rather than hide flaws, you can probably skip the expensive makeup. Sure, you might be reapplying a bit more than you like, but seriously, it doesn’t make that much of a difference and nobody is going to start scrutinising your eyelashes unless they’re about to fall off.

What’s your take on high end designer makeup? Share with us in the comments!