Is pricey makeup worth the splurge? We tested mascara, foundation, and more so you won't have to

·Personal Finance Reporter

When it comes to cosmetics, there’s no shortage of options, and new celebrity-branded products and must-have makeup seem to roll out every day. But is the expensive stuff really worth it, or can you shop the drugstore aisles instead?

To help decide what’s worth the splurge, and where you can save, Yahoo Finance teamed up with Yahoo Lifestyle Beauty Director Dana Oliver for a makeup blind test. Oliver tested four categories: foundation, eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick; with drugstore, mid-range and high-end priced products.

“I don’t believe in spending a fortune on high-end makeup, especially since there are so many affordable, high-quality options right on drugstore shelves,” Oliver said. “But I do make exceptions — splurging on lipsticks and eyeshadow because I need intense color payoff.”

Here’s which products came out on top.


When it comes to foundation, Oliver said she looks for smooth application and a seamless color match. Her top pick? Maybelline New York Fit Me 360, a drugstore brand that’s just $7.99.

“I’m not surprised that the drugstore won, I’ve actually found some pretty amazing foundations there,” Oliver said. “It was definitely spot on.”

Oliver was also impressed with the color match of the high-end option, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, $65.

But it was the midrange that got the thumbs down from Oliver. She said the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r, which costs $34, looked like clay, and felt like it was sitting on top of her skin. It’s worth noting that this foundation formula does oxidize (body heat and chemistry causes color to change).


Oliver looks for long-lasting color when it comes to her eye shadow, and was really impressed with the high-end eyeshadow option, Pat McGrath Labs MTHRSHP Subversive, for $55.

“The finish is gleaming, and it looks like money,” she said. “It’s the perfect consistency, it went on smooth, and I love the gold shine.”

Coming in close second was the midrange option, Huda Beauty Smokey Obsessions, which costs $27. Oliver said the eyeshadow looked “like literal gold.”

This time, the drugstore option, NYX “Love you so mochi,” $20, came in as Oliver’s bottom pick.


The high-end mascara option took another win in this round. Oliver loved Dior Diorshow Mascara, for $29.50, and said the product gave her lashes a “butterfly-winged effect.”

Oliver was also impressed with the mid-range option, Benefit: Bad Gal Bang, which is $24. She said the mascara grabbed every lash hair and made them look dark and full.

But when it came to the drugstore brand, Oliver wasn’t impressed. Covergirl Peacock Flare, for $5.50, didn’t coat her lashes at all, and Oliver said it felt like she was “just combing my lash hairs.”

“I guess you can’t cut costs when it comes to mascara,” Oliver said.


In the final round, high-end came out on top yet again. Gucci Lip Iconic Red, for $39, got high marks for its bright hue. “This isn’t a red for wallflowers,” Oliver said. She also loved the consistency and how smooth it felt on her lips.

Oliver was also a fan of the drugstore option, Milani Burnt Red, $6. The lipstick smelled like candy, and went on smooth. Oliver’s bottom choice was the midrange option, Nars Hellgate, which costs $29. The color was more of a matte finish and she needed to take more time to apply it evenly.

High-end products took top prize in three categories: eyeshadow, mascara, and lipstick; and the drugstore brand had a win when it came to foundation. Would you splurge on high-end makeup products? Share in the comments below!

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