Cheap Versus Luxury Cosmetics Products: Which Beauty Items Will Win?!
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Love high-end beauty products, but hate the prices?!
If you’re anything like me, you cringe at the thought of spending more on a single beauty product than the cost of a lifetime supply of makeup remover! Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL about the “treat yourself” lifestyle, but who decided the price of beauty needed to jump near 3 figures?! 😳
Through the feedback from the Hip2Save team and lots & lots of customer reviews, I’ve rounded up popular luxury products and their less expensive alternatives in the most common beauty product categories. Read on to see what’s worth the splurge and what dupes are the real deal…
My Thoughts: I honestly thought toner was a waste of money until I felt the refreshing mist from a quick spritz of rose water! It perks up your skin to help rejuvenate that healthy glow.
The most important thing to look for in toner is a solution that’s alcohol-free. The winner here is Mario Badescu Rose Water Mist – it’s both light AND hydrating, and most importantly, budget-friendly! That said, Beautycounter is also an awesome company that’s extremely transparent about the ingredients in their beauty products!
The Winner: Mario Badescu Rose Water Mist
My Thoughts: This one is kind of an uneven playing field since the LUXURY option has a skin tint while the LESS option is clear. But given the quality and functionality, benefit POREfessional Primer takes the cake here. It glides over skin setting up the groundwork for a flawless finish on skin. Feel free to skip the foundation on days you need to get out the door FAST! The tint provides light coverage to softly blur away any blemishes.
To me, primer was also one of those “ehh.. do I really need this?” items. I found that the more I used it, the more I came to love it’s qualities. Primer smooths out skin to make for an easy foundation application. Is it super necessary? Nah… but does it make applying makeup a breeze? Most definitely!
The Winner: benefit The POREfessional Face Primer
My Thoughts: Don’t get it twisted, this isn’t a BB cream – that fad has come and perished. While I’ve come across too many “pigmented creams” that left my skin feeling dried out, these tinted moisturizers provide all the benefits that a great hydrating day cream would.
It almost pains me to say this since I personally LOVE the Boots Noº7 brand, but HOURGLASS Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint prevails in this category. Not only does it offer a wider range of shades over Boots, the hyaluronic acid which holds 100 times its weight in water is the ultimate hydrating compound – makeup and skincare in one! Mixed in with pigment, this is another product that gets you out the door with an impressive amount of facial coverage in no time!
The Winner: HOURGLASS Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint
My Thoughts: If you started reading this and thought, “wait, I normally use powder foundation”, I have to urge you to give liquid foundation a shot. It’s blendable consistency and phenomenal coverage is so worth jumping ship! This is another category where I’m little hesitant to say the winner, but having personally used both, bareMinerals barePRO Liquid Foundation is absolutely fantastic!
Let me be honest here – I use The Ordinary Liquid Foundation on a DAILY BASIS. The $6 price point mixed with the all natural ingredients has me totally sold on this brand. But as far as the application and wear goes, bareMinerals knows their stuff. Oh, and if you still aren’t convinced on the liquid, there IS a powder version of the barePRO formula.
The Winner: bareMinerals PRO Liquid Foundation
HIP TIP: I recommend checking out the bareMinerals blending brush as well – it’s great for any liquid foundation application, even if it’s not specifically bareMinerals. Some other blending tools I’ve used are the Clarisonic oscillating makeup brush or the Real Techniques blender sponge.
When using a blender sponge, make sure you wet the sponge before use for a flawless application.
My Thoughts: I’ll get right into it – NYX Dark Circle Under Eye Concealer, you’ve stolen my heart. ❤️ Your creamy application, your subtle orange pigments that mask the blue undertones of my deep and dark under eye bags, your amazing price… I truly love this product! Listen, I’m proud of a lot of the genetics I’ve been blessed with, but dark circles sure isn’t one of them. If you’re in the market for a full coverage under eye concealer, give NYX a fair shot, especially at the $6 price point!
The Winner: NYX Dark Circle Under Eye Concealer
My Thoughts: When it comes to bronzer, LESS IS MORE, unless you love unnecessary shimmer and appearing like you have extremely sunken in cheeks. 😱 When applied lightly along the hairline, jawline, and just beneath the cheekbones, the Milani Baked Bronzer will give you a subtle glow and some contour definition. Yup, another dupe wins the battle!
Bronzer (when applied with a light hand) will go a long way so no need to constantly restock, thus even MORE money saved! SWEET!
The Winner: Milani Baked Bronzer
My Thoughts: While I LOVE the idea of having so many shade options on one palette, I have recommended Arbonne Blush, specifically in the Dusty Rose shade, to everyone because it looks SO good on every skin tone! If you haven’t heard of Arbonne from your Facebook feed or through an invite to a product party, all of their offerings (skin care, makeup, nutritional supplements, and hair care) follow strict ingredient guidelines so you can feel great about what you’re putting on your skin.
The Winner: Arbonne Blush in Dusty Rose
My Thoughts: Here’s another toss up in the group. This category totally depends on how seriously you take your highlighter game. If you’re thinking to yourself, “wait, should I be using highlighter?” then go with Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter. It packs a punch of illumination (again, we’re back to less is more) at a very approachable price point. If you’re thinking, “I can’t get ENOUGH of the glitzy shimmer!” then opt for Laura Geller Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator. This pressed powder offers a golden sheen when brushed across cheekbones, brow bones, and the center nose bow – and the product itself looks dazzling ✨
The Winner: Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter
My Thoughts: Bold brows have become much more prominent in the past few years, and I am all about it! I have to say that both of these products have stellar reviews, though due to the cult-like following of Glossier, Boy Brow takes the win here. Glossier founder & CEO, Emily Weiss, is a beauty blogger turned entrepreneur giving me all the more reason to love her products. It doesn’t hurt that this brow wand boasts easy application and fills sparse brows in just a few swipes!
I could probably write a whole post on brow color products based on the variety of mediums – gels, creams, gel creams (um, okay?), powders, pomades, pencils… seriously, there are a TON! And I’ve tried most of them until I found my go-to method: brown eye shadow applied with a flat angled brush. The deep brown shade works great for my brunette brows but for any blondes out there having a hard time looking for shades not-too-dark while not-too-light, check out Kelly Baker brow products. I have a natural blonde friend who SWEARS by the pigments that fill in her brows with a natural yet pronounced look!
The Winner: Glossier Boy Brow
My Thoughts: More brow products… I TOLD you brows were a big deal! Now that you’re good to go with brow color, these brow gels help tame stray hairs and keep your desired shape. Don’t hate me since this may go against competition protocol but I’m calling a TIE between Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel and NYX Control Freak Eyebrow Gel. Both lightweight gels offer hold and control over brows so it really comes down to your brand (and let’s be honest, price) preference since most reviews claim the products are pretty similar.
My Thoughts: I wear eye shadow solely on special occasions, which is a handful of times a year. However, Kimberly at Hip2Save uses eyes shadow like an artist which is why I fully trust her recommendation of the BHCosmetics Eye Shadow Palette!
While even she admits that Urban Decay is a bit more pigmented, her eye shadow application method utilizes a white NYX Jumbo Pencil as a primer before dabbing on her favorite BHCosmetics eye shadow shades to get incredibly bold colors on her eyelids! I’ve also heard that wetting an eye shadow brush before tapping into the powder can help boost the color. And don’t think these tricks are strictly for bright pigments – they’re great for neutrals too!
The Winner: BHCosmetics Eyeshadow Palette
My Thoughts: I WANT to save you money, I really do, but after using both of these products, the winner is Stila Liquid Liner, and it’s worth every cent.
My issue with so many other liquid liners is the weird, streaky application that’s always distributed unevenly. If that wasn’t annoying enough, anytime I would try to fill in the patchiness, I would end up REMOVING the existing liner when running the pen tip back over. Those issues don’t exist with Stila and its super smooth and EVEN application. What’s more, it has a thin felt tip for precise lines and fantastic staying power. I’ve worn the liner to bed and it somehow STILL looked good in the morning.
The Winner: Stila Liquid Liner
My Thoughts: Even though L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise has been making waves with its voluptuous formula and low price point, the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara is a favorite among the Hip2Save team, and it’s NOT just for the cheeky name! Thousands of raving reviews and endorsements from our team boast its unique buildable formula – one coat for fullness, another coat to add length, and a third coat to build up curl and volume!
The Winner: Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
There are A LOT of mascaras on the market, which is why I wanted to hand out some honorable mentions:
- Maybelline Great Lash: You know this one – the iconic pink and green tube encasing a formula that has stood the test of time, which is why it’s still widely available 40 years after its initial release!
- Maybelline Volum’ Express Mascara: My personal choice for mascara and its ability to add volume and length in a single, non-clumping coat!
- Essence Lash Princess: With amazing reviews, HUGE internet following, and a very low price point!
My Thoughts: Chunky lip pencils are probably one of the easier methods to apply lip color with their denser formula and pointed tips for precision.
At first glance, these pencils look identical between the packaging and the name itself! Based on their reviews, they both glide on smoothly and produce long lasting matte color, but the Sonia Kushuk Velvet Lip Pencil is the winner considering it gets the job done at a fraction of the price. However, its only downfall is the lack of colors available so if you’re looking for a specific shade and can’t find it from this dupe, give Nars a try!
The Winner: Sonia Kushuk Velvet Lip Pencil
My Thoughts: I’m so torn between these two lipsticks – MAC is KNOWN for it’s pigment-packed lipsticks available in every shade imaginable, while NYX created a dupe so comparable that it’s earned thousands of raving reviews. All that said, I have to hand it to MAC Matte Lipstick for its die-hard, cult-like following and offering 68 shades in the formula compared to NYX’s (still extremely impressive!) 45 shades. Life’s short, wear more lipstick.
The Winner: MAC Matte Lipstick
My Thoughts: Liquid lipstick has completely changed my makeup game – it’s the only thing I spend more than 15 seconds applying as it definitely takes practice and isn’t very forgiving.
Having tried both products, ColourPop Liquid Lipstick is the best bang for your buck and gives your lips ALL DAY color in a non-drying formula. They actually share the same manufacturer as Kylie Cosmetics, the buzzy millennial “sells-out-instantly” brand! In addition to the satin finish, it’s also offered in ultra matte or ultra blotted, the blotted having a more sheer effect which I highly suggest for those just getting into liquid lipstick. It does dry slightly darker than shown in the tube so keep that in mind when picking out shades.
The Winner: ColourPop Ultra Satin Liquid Lipstick
A tip in application – Start with a lip exfoliator to remove chapped, dead skin then apply color with a lip brush to eliminate the look of dried creases in lips. When you’re ready to take it all off, use an oil-based remover.
My Thoughts: Your makeup’s on and you’re ready to face the day (or night!), but that’s only HALF the battle. Save your artistry with OFRA Makeup Fixer spray that not only enriches your skin with aloe vera, chamomile flower extract, and vitamin E, the mist protects your skin against environmental damage like pollution and temperature changes. What’s even BETTER, it makes touch ups so simple – give your face a spray and blot the skin with a tissue followed by a quick dusting of powder for a smooth, velvety finish. What makes it the BEST is that even as a luxury item, it won’t break the bank!
The Winner: OFRA Makeup Fixer Spray
My Thoughts: You’re SOOO close to having your makeup done, I swear! Last but not least, setting powder – also called loose powder, finishing powder, compact powder… you get the gist.
The RCMA No Color Loose Powder is a favorite among makeup artists for its versatility and pigment-free formula that works with all shades of underlying makeup! Though it’s great that the winner here is the LESS option, you’re not going to find it easily on store shelves as it’s only available online. Check it out at Camera Ready Cosmetics for the cheapest shipping option and a free puff brush automatically added to your cart when you add the powder to your cart!
The Winner: RCMA No Color Loose Powder
My Thoughts: Now that you’ve spent your money and time buying and applying these makeup products, it’s time to take it all off.
What’s that you say? You don’t feel like it and would rather go right to bed? Same. But that’s why Simple Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes are a MUST HAVE. They’re easy enough to keep a pack in your nightstand for those “I’m too tired” moments. Because they’re made with skin-loving ingredients like Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and triple purified water, they’re great for ALL skin types! At $6 a pop, keep a pack in your purse for fix-ups on the go, a pack in your gym bag to wipe away facial sweat, and a pack really anywhere else you see fit!
The Winner: Simple Micellar Makeup Remover Wipes
Don’t see your go-to beauty items listed?
There are SO many options when it comes to makeup and I truly think every product featured in this post is FANTASTIC whether it won in its category or not. Let me know in the comments what products YOU love using!
Written by Emily for Hip2Save. Emily lives in Buffalo, NY where she spends her time drinking lots of coffee, scouring the internet for deals, and tackling DIY projects. She’s a big believer of self-care and living the fullest life possible, all while saving money of course.