Cheap Vs. Luxury Cosmetics Products: Which Beauty Items Will Win?!

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The best makeup is both cheap and luxurious!

woman holding up powders

Love high-end beauty products, but hate the prices?!

The best makeup products aren’t always reflected on their price tags. There is nothing better than finding products that are complementary to your face and make you feel beautiful, and that certainly does not mean you have to spend as much as you think!

One of the reasons I love, love, LOVE Sephora, for instance, is because they let you return products even after you’ve tried them out because makeup IS an investment that comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. After all, if you’re willing to spend $50 on a foundation every few months, you better love it!

gift guide for beauty makeup lover — "this bag contains my face" makeup bag

Based on my own feedback as well as some of our Hip2Save team members, I’m comparing the trendiest picks from both luxury products and less expensive alternatives in the order of an advanced makeup routine.

Keep reading to find out which luxury vs. cheap make up and skin care products you should go with!

 This face toner for your skin will hydrate and leave you feeling fresh.

hand holding a bottle of mario badescu skin care best make up brands cheap vs luxury

A good toner will leave your face feeling refreshed and rejuvenated! Mario Badescu Rose Water Mist is sold at so many locations, has tons of different scents, and is cost-efficient. It hydrates your skin and makes it feel light and soft. Not to mention, it’s alcohol-free!

“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.” – Emily

🥇 Our Pick: Mario Badescu Rose Water Mist

 The best face primer will give your makeup a flawless look.

benefit porefessional face primer

A face primer is essential before applying any makeup if you’re looking for long-lasting results. This one is kind of an uneven playing field since the luxury option from benefit has a skin tint while the less expensive option is just clear.

But that said, given the quality and functionality, benefit POREfessional Primer takes the cake! It glides over skin setting up the groundwork for a flawless finish on the 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.

“I love this face primer because it fills in the look of pores and smooths my skin which makes my makeup look so much better! I use it every time I put on makeup and absolutely love it!” – Amber

🥇 Our Pick: benefit The POREfessional Face Primer

The best liquid foundation will be a dream to use and will wear great all day.

fit me foundation vs nars foundation

A full-coverage, long-wear foundation is something to take advantage of during the winter months. I always recommend, and use myself, Maybelline Fit Me foundation as it is as full coverage as it gets at a price that almost feels like it’s too good to be true. The shade range is also spectacular compared to all makeup but especially for a drug store foundation.

NARS is a luxe option I’ve tried out because it does do the job of full coverage but always felt a bit too cakey for me and not worth the price. When it comes to luxury full coverage foundations, I’d recommend Rare Beauty or Fenty, but Maybelline’s Fit Me is one of the best foundations of all time and is definitely worth grabbing.

🥇 Our Pick: Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless Liquid Foundation

Hip Tip: Full coverage foundations work best with those with oily/normal skin as they will dry out anyone with drier skin. If you do have dry skin, try a tinted moisturizer instead.

A quality contour stick is going to enhance the definition of your cheekbones!

Holding Fente Beauty contour stick

Now I know the L.A. Girl option is technically a concealer, however, I used to use this as a contour stick due to the number of videos I’d watch of people doing the same! It’s a little too streaky for a concealer for someone with oily skin, but it works well as a contour. It’s a solid choice if you’re looking to spend under $10, but admittedly it’s not the best you’ll find.

Fenty Beauty is one of my favorite makeup brands currently, and their contour stick is seriously the best contour I’ve ever used! My face looks so defined, and it will last all day. If you’re more of a bronzer girl, Fenty’s Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer is also an incredible choice. You totally don’t need both, but sometimes I do combine both if I’m feeling spicy! 🤩

🥇 Our Pick: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Contour Skinstick

 Is Tarte concealer really the game-changer every dark undereye circle craves?

woman using tarte shape tape concealer

Yes! I truly believe Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer is the best concealer to ever exist! Where you’re going through sleepless nights, struggle with dark circles, or are just looking to brighten up your face and conceal any imperfections, there’s no better choice!

I’ve tried TONS of concealers – cheap, mid-range, and expensive. It’s one thing I normally don’t ever leave the house without (hello mom of 3 undereye bags!). The day I splurged on Tarte’s Shape Tape was the day my makeup game went up 100 levels. It’s silky smooth and never creases in my under-eye or around my nose (where I tend to get a little redness). I can’t imagine ever going back to anything else and it’s worth the splurge!” – Sara

“I am a Shape Tape convert too as I didn’t believe the hype until I saw the proof with my own eyes (on my undereyes lol!) It’s such a high-potency concealer though, so you’ll want to make sure you blend it very well so you don’t end up with a stark contrast between the areas where you’ve applied it and the rest of your face.” – Emily

“The e.l.f. Camo Concealer is the ultimate alternative to Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer. It holds up just as well, stays on all day, and is a fraction of the cost!” – Angela

🥇 Our Pick: e.l.f. Camo Concealer AND Tarte’s Shape Tape

Honorable Mention: L’Oreal Paris Full Wear Waterproof Concealer

L'Oreal Paris Makeup Full Wear Waterproof Concealer

We recently had a reader mention how similar this concealer is to Tarte Shape Tape, and, according to reviews, we’d have to agree! It comes in over 20 shades and offers a full-coverage matte finish. It’s also waterproof!

“I love it and use it every day for my dark eye circles. Covers very well and a few dots goes a VERY long way.” – Didi

Applying liquid blush gives the perfect burst of color!

woman wearing Rare Beauty liquid blush

Rare Beauty’s liquid blush is by far the most pigmented blush I have EVER gotten my hands on, and it’s going to last you ages because you only need the tiniest dot for the biggest difference! Seriously though, the first time I applied this, I didn’t know a little goes a long way and I ended up looking sunburnt. 🤣

Milani’s Cheek Kiss blush is another solid pick for a quality liquid blush, but there’s no way it’ll last nearly as long as Rare Beauty’s will, so that’s my pick by a landslide!

🥇 Our Pick: Rare Beauty Soft Pinch Liquid Blush

This highlighter will make you glow the brightest!

woman holding fenty beauty highlighter

Although one is a stick and the other is powder, these two colors are almost identical, so I had to compare them. For me, golds and silvers don’t really show up, so I tried something different and went with a purple-ish tone from Fenty Beauty. This specific shade isn’t as loud as it sounds; I get compliments every time I put this on, and it really makes my makeup routine pop!

The ColourPop one I only hear good things about, and based on side-by-side swatches I saw of the two, they have pretty much the same results. Since I don’t normally use powder highlighters though, my pick goes to Fenty based on the application method.

🥇 Our Pick: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Shimmer Skinstick

This translucent powder will lock in your look for hours!

woman baking with translucent powder

So, my technique is not the neatest 😂, but by FAR, this is the recommendation I’m most excited about! A loose setting powder is highly recommended for baking (the process of letting setting powders sit for several minutes before blending to lock in any face products), especially liquid concealers and foundation, for all-day, long-lasting coverage.

I had used the Laura Mercier for years because it is a classic, incredible product, but when my sister introduced me to Coty Airspun’s Loose Powder, my world changed! You could buy about seven Coty Airspun powders for the price of Laura Mercier.

Both these products are awesome, and I don’t stand for slander about Laura Mercier; I just feel like Coty Airspun does an equally amazing job, therefore I’ll always pick it for baking my face!

🥇 Our Pick: Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder

 Which eyebrow product is the ultimate?

woman holding brow product

I am crazy about a good brow product! I really feel like if your eyebrows look good, you don’t even need any other makeup. 💁‍♀️

My go-to brow product is Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo! Although it may look small, this little highly pigmented compact will keep your brows full for months; one lasts me over a year, and I use it almost every day! The only complaint is it doesn’t come with a brush, and at this price point, it probably should! 😉

🥇 Our Pick: Anastasia Beverly Hills  Brow Powder Duo

 Are expensive eye shadow palettes all they’re cracked up to be?

huda beauty nude palette

Eyeshadow is such a fun and playful way to express yourself and try new colors out! As much as I enjoy the Huda Beauty Nude Eyeshadow Palette, it’s taken me years to buy it because it is so expensive! I do think it’s great quality, but I don’t think it’s worth the price.

The Milani Gilded Nude Eyeshadow Palette is one I’ve heard amazing things about! Compared to Huda Beauty, both have a similar color range, while featuring a variety of shimmer and matte shades. And since the powders themselves all apply very creamy and pigmented, I have to recommend this budget-friendly option here!

🥇 Our pick: Milani Gilded Nude Eyeshadow Palette

 Which eyeliner makes the world of a difference?

woman putting on liquid eyeliner

Eyeliner is the perfect way to make your eyes pop with some subtle intensity. I love eyeliner so much that we have to break down the best liquid liner AND gel liner!

For gel liner, I cannot begin to explain how in love I am with Rare Beauty’s Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner. It will last all day and is super pigmented, matte, and easy to apply. NYX’s liner is another fabulous choice. Both options are waterproof and cruelty-free, but I don’t think NYX’s is as dark in color as Rare Beauty’s.

🥇 Our Pick: Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Matte Liquid Liner

holding two eyeliner pencils

Patrick Ta liner is super pigmented but is more suited for those who love a very dramatic effect. It is easily transferable as it is designed with the intention to easily smudge into a smokey eye/wing.

While Patrick Ta is a tough competitor, Maybelline is a reliable staple with a rich color that doesn’t smudge, though you can easily build up if that’s the look you’re in the mood for. It’s long-lasting and will suit your eye, whether you like your liner thick or thin!

🥇 Our Pick: Maybelline TattooStudio Sharpenable Gel Pencil

 Thrive mascara is stealing the show!

woman trying on thrive mascara

I’m a false lashes kind of gal because I love to make my eyes pop, and my lashes are super straight, therefore, no mascara worked for me even if I curled them! That’s until I tried Thrive Cosmetics Mascara. 😍

No mascara has ever impacted my eyes the way Thrive does; I get compliments every time I wear it! A very close product is the L’Oreal Telescopic mascara. Both are effective lengthening mascaras, and although I think Thrive’s requires fewer coats of mascara than L’Oreal’s to get that gorgeous lengthening effect, you can’t go wrong with either one!

Savings Tip – Use our Thrive referral link here to get $10 off a $50 purchase, plus free shipping!

🥇 Our Pick: Thrive Cosmetics Mascara AND L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara

These affordable lip pencils are the best on the market.

woman holding black haus laboratories makeup wearing glasses best-makeup-brands-cheap-vs-luxury

Chunky lip pencils are probably one of the easier methods to apply lip color with their denser formula and pointed tips for precision. I know you may not think it makes a difference to just apply lipstick, but trust me; it’s a world of a difference! Our recommendation is definitely Haus Laboratories.

I know what you’re thinking…$16 (regular price) is still a lot to spend on a lip liner, but I’ve found with the cheaper lip liners that they tend to clump and not last for even an hour – meaning, you’re actually using more product and likely spending more money in the long run. Check out my full review.

Based on the reviews for our luxury and less expensive brands, they both glide on smoothly and produce long-lasting matte color. However, Lady Gaga’s takes the win for a less expensive long-lasting wear, gorgeous matte colors, and gorgeous packaging to boot!” – Sara

🥇 Our Pick: Haus Laboratories by Lady Gaga Demi Matte Lip Liner

 Which lip gloss will give the ultimate shine?

trying on charlotte tilburry lip gloss

I’ve always heard amazing reviews regarding Charlotte Tilbury, including her lip gloss, so I gave it a try. The texture is super sticky, at least in the shade I have, and it just didn’t feel compatible with my lips. It also felt like the applicator does not grab enough of the product as the brush always feels half dry.

But NYX Professional Butter Gloss has a formula as if it was created by heaven! Seriously, these lip glosses are absolutely gorgeous and have that perfect combination of shine and color you’re looking for. Did I mention it comes in 31 shades?!

My favorite part about it is that it’s not sticky at all and feels hydrating! Ulta and Target almost always have half of these beauties sold out (I can understand why), so Amazon is the place to grab them.

🥇 Our Pick: NYX Professional Butter Gloss

The best face setting spray to finish your makeup doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

rows of black nyx matte finish setting spray bottles best make up brands cheap vs luxury

Your makeup’s on point and you’re ready to face the day (or take on the night!), but that’s only HALF the battle. With a good setting spray, you can ensure your flawless makeup look will be photo-ready whenever the moment strikes.

“Save your artistry with OFRA Makeup Fixer spray which not only enriches your skin with aloe vera, chamomile flower extract, and vitamin E, but 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, blot the skin with a tissue, and follow up with 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 totally break the bank as the bottle itself is huge!” – Emily

🥇 Our Pick: OFRA Makeup Fixer Spray

Finish your day with the best makeup remover wipes.

Neutrogena Makeup Wipes on store shelf

Arguably, the most satisfying part of the day is removing your makeup and cleaning that beautiful face of yours! You don’t have to spend a ton to use the best-value makeup wipes, and Neutrogena always takes care of my face and has me feeling fresh.

🥇 Our Pick: Neutrogena Fragrance-Free Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipe

 We found the best anti-aging facial serums with The Ordinary brand.

row of clear and brown amber dropper bottles with the ordinary labels on front best make up brands cheap vs luxury

We all want to achieve that youthful look so after cleansing your face, make sure you’re finishing up with the perfect facial serum to diminish fine lines and wrinkles and even that skin tone!

However, bear in mind that many of the brands for facial serums that claim to be the “best” can cost you upwards of $300 or more. 😱Oh, the price some of us will pay to feel and look good! Whether it’s worth it to you or not, we’ve got our hands on one that’s totally affordable for any budget and works!

“I’ve tried multiple versions of Vitamin C and Retinols/Retinoids from The Ordinary brand, and I experienced no irritation. None. Zilch. Nada. If you’ve ever felt the itching, burning, and peeling of retinol, you know this is HUGE. In fact, I’ve yet to experience any kind of irritation from any of The Ordinary’s super-potent serums starting at around $7, and I’ve tried a lot of them!

The Ordinary line is outstanding – you could build an entire line-up for a new facial routine and still spend less than the expensive brands out there for just one bottle. Read my full take on their products over here…” – Cass

🥇 Our Pick: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Check out the beauty products our team can’t live without!

About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.

Join The Discussion

Comments 21

  1. jaimiv

    Have you tried the Il Makiage foundation and concealer? I never thought I would spend that much on makeup, but I do t wear a lot, so it has lasted a long time. I would love to know if there is a comparable lower cost brand. I love that there is no scent, it doesn’t feel like I’ve got makeup on and the skin match is incredible.

    • Lori

      I’ve wondered if it was really as good as it claims. Thanks for your input.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for the suggestion!🤗 I have passed this along to the team!

    • Kim

      I have no idea the cost but have you tried Seint? It’s cream based and I love it!

  2. silvgoddess

    Thanks for the recommendations!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You’re most welcome! 💞

  3. Julie

    Can you share the link for the Maybelline eye liner? It goes to the wrong product.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Sorry for the confusion, Julie! Thanks for catching that! 🥰The link has been updated if you wanted to check again!🙌

  4. Angela

    Hip2Save you need to try Flower Beauty products. They are truly high end. No I don’t work for them lol but I am a former makeup artist and I do TV part time now and I can say their products truly work in any lighting or conditions and are luxe. The foundations are amazing and the eyeshadows are spot on. And the lip color works on many skin tones too
    It’s cruelty free too which is awesome

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh wow! Thanks a ton for your recommendation, Angela! I’ll pass this along! 🙌💖

  5. weigella

    I love posts like this!!! Thanks for the info!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      You bet! 🤗 Thanks so much for the feedback! Glad you’re loving this list!

  6. Materof6

    Thanks for the post! These are always fun! Trader Joe’s has a nice, affordable rose water facial mist that I’ve enjoyed.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for the tip! Good to know! 💞

  7. Amy

    Surprised there isn’t more colourpop love in this. They’re my favorite reasonably priced brand by far!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for letting us know what your favorite brand has been, Amy! We sure appreciate the feedback! 🤗💖

  8. molly

    Love the $3 Elf eyebrow pencil. Such a steal at Target!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      I love that one too, Molly! 💞🙌

  9. ShellyShel

    I love this post, going to try a few. Thanks!

    • Collin (Mrs. Hip)

      Yay! You’re very welcome! SO glad you’re loving these! Thanks for the sweet comment! 🥰

  10. Katibell

    Love this kind of post

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