The Difference Between Drugstore and High-End Skincare

The Difference Between Drugstore and High-End Skincare


Khadija B.
November 1, 2021

A quality skincare routine doesn’t come cheap, and when you add in the cost of cosmetics and makeup accessories on top of it, you can easily get carried away spending your life savings.

An easy way to cut costs is to use drugstore products, but if you’re loyal to your brands, the very thought of this could fill you with dread.

What is the difference between drugstore and high-end makeup?

The formulation and concentration of makeup and skincare made for high-end and drugstore retail is the biggest difference, as well as how they’re packaged and marketed.

Many of the drugstore brands are owned by parent companies who have the high-end brands under their umbrella too, so they’re sometimes not as different as you think.

We’re here to compare the differences and similarities between high-end and drug store makeup, looking at the pros and cons of each.

With our help, you’ll know when to splurge and when to save, while still achieving that picture-perfect skin that you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

What Are Drugstore Skin Care Products?

What Are Drugstore Skin Care Products?

A drugstore skincare product is a term used for brands that are sold at the drugstore, and they’re generally priced at an affordable level for more people to enjoy.

These makeup and skincare brands include names like Revlon, Neutrogena, L’Oreal Paris, XX, Covergirl, and NYX.

These cheaper drugstore brands don’t have such a bad reputation, and it’s pretty easy to find dupes out there which you can switch to the expensive brands.

However, the most obvious difference is that the staying power simply isn’t as long and the ingredients might not be as potent, so it depends on what you’re looking for in a product.

The Pros

  • As long as you’re using skin care regularly, you’re still getting everything you need from drugstore products and taking the right steps to prepare and protect your skin. With regular moisturization, SPF application and cleansing of the face, you’ll still be doing more for your skin than most people.
  • There’s a huge selection of products available at the drugstore and many of them are just as impressive in quality as something you buy from a department store. Check out popular beauty bloggers to find out the best dupes.
  • Without a high price tag, people feel more willing to experiment with drugstore brands. You might try out a new color palette you’ve never used or spend some time perfecting liquid eyeliner because there’s no high price to scare you off.

The Cons

  • The impact of makeup might not be as dramatic when it comes from the drugstore. With less potent formulas you’ll need to use more to get a bigger effect which makes the price questionable.
  • Skin care products at this price don’t have as many high quality ingredients in them and they might not be suitable for all skin types because they’re designed to suit a wider range of users.

Who Are They Best For?

The beauty of drug store skincare and cosmetics is that they’re accessible to everyone, and if you find that they work for you, then you’re the best fit for them.

Provided you’re taking part in a regular skincare routine, cleansing your face, and moisturizing each day, the difference will be in these actions themselves and not necessarily the product you’re using.

Those looking for makeup and skincare that is convenient, affordable, and accessible will be thrilled to use the range available in drugstores.

Although the quality of the ingredients and the potency of them might be a little lower, they still get the job done, and will give you the boost of self-esteem you’re looking for.

What Are High-End Skin Care Products?

What Are High-End Skin Care Products?

High-end makeup and skincare brands can be purchased through a makeup or department store, with a price tag more than double of what the drugstore brands sell for.

Popular premium brands include Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Clinique, Tom Ford, Chanel, and Charlotte Tilbury.

Expensive makeup does not always mean better makeup, and it depends from product to product what’s on offer.

Some people prefer to use high-end brands for their bases, like concealers and foundations, as this is where the biggest difference is seen, as well as splurging on a few skincare cult favorites.

The Pros

  • The staying power of more expensive makeup is evident in people who need it. if you work in a job that requires 8+ hours of coverage, you’ll be happy to spend an extra $70 on a quality foundation that gives you what you need.
  • With a higher potency formula, you’ll likely find that just a little bit of product goes a long way. When it seems as though you’re spending a fortune on a high end moisturizer, it can end up evening out by the time you’re finished with the jar.
  • The ingredients used in premium products are usually better quality, but not always. This is where it pays to do some research into the products to weigh up how their formulas and ingredients differ.

The Cons

  • The biggest disadvantage is the price, which puts these types of products out of reach for many users. A premium moisturizer can cost a few hundred dollars compared to just $20 from the drugstore, so the difference is immense.
  • A dermatologist likely can’t tell the difference between someone who’s been using $100+ sunscreen and moisturizer or a $20 one, as long as they’re applying it regularly as recommended.

Who Are They Best For?

Even if you can afford premium skincare and makeup, that doesn’t mean you have to use them.

However, if you’re someone who wants to use only the highest quality ingredients and with potent formulas that have true staying power and results, you’ll probably prefer to shop this way.

Many people are loyal to certain brands that they’ve used for years, and this could be from either the cheaper or more expensive end of the scale.

High-end skin products usually feel and look different on the skin, but if you’re only worried about the basics like moisturization and cleansing, this won’t be enough to justify spending hundreds of dollars.

Consider what you prioritize when shopping for skincare, and maybe some products that you’re happy to splurge on, and that will lead you towards the smartest purchases.

The Price Difference Between Drug Store and High End

The Price Difference Between Drug Store and High End

One of the most important factors to look at when buying enough is the price of it, and it can have a lot of influence on your final decision.

When it comes to skincare and cosmetics, there’s quite a dramatic difference in the price of products, and assembling a complete kit from either can vary in price.

A trip to the drug store to get a makeup kit with the essentials like a foundation, blush, contouring tool, eyeshadow palette, eyebrow pencil, and lipstick or lip gloss will cost a little over $100.

Doing the same with a high-end brand would cost upwards of $1,000, so the difference is quite dramatic. When it comes to skincare products, this difference is even more jarring.

High-end skincare brands charge a premium price compared to the drug store, with single products being hundreds of dollars for just one item, which many everyday people find to be well out of their reach financially.

Knowing When to Buy What

Knowing When to Buy What

Ask any professional makeup artist and they’ll tell you that a good base is everything, and that’s exactly what you should be looking for when deciding where to splurge and save.

As a general rule of thumb, focus on a high-end brand for your foundations, concealers, and BB creams, and then go the drugstore route for products like eyeshadows, lipsticks, and mascara.

When it comes to skincare, going the cheaper route isn’t always the best idea.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get quality products from the drugstore but you will need to spend some time experimenting with what works for your skin.

Those with sensitive skin and issues like dryness and oiliness will be better off splurging on something formulated and effective for these skin types.

If you’re lucky enough to have normal type skin, you will find a lot more available at the drug store that cleanses and moisturizes your face without spending a fortune.

The Right Time to Spend and Splurge

It’s easy to find a balance between high-end makeup and skincare products and those you can find at the drug store, as long as you know the areas where you can spend and splurge.

Some products are more important than others when choosing the best fit for your skin, so spend a bit of time planning which your skincare and makeup essentials fall into.

Related Questions

Building up a reliable set of skincare and makeup products can take years to get right, but with so many options to select from, it’s hard to get started.

To make matters easier, we’ve answered some commonly asked questions about makeup essentials that can help you choose the important ones.

Is Foundation Good for Oily Skin?

People with oily skin may find a traditional foundation to be too oily on their skin, so opting for one that’s developed for this unique skin type is the best approach.

A matte finish foundation can help reduce the appearance of an oily complexion also, provided you don’t apply it too thick.

Do I Need Blush and Bronzer?

Do I Need Blush and Bronzer?

Although similar, blush and bronzer each deliver something else to the face and you may want to have both in your makeup bag.

Blush is specifically targeted on the cheeks and adds a rosy glow that accentuates them, whereas bronzer gives a healthy sun-kissed glow to the face by highlighting the areas that the sun would naturally hit.

How Much Does the Average Person Spend on Makeup?

According to the New York Post, the average American woman spends around $1,380 on cosmetics and beauty treatments.

In addition to this, they spend another $65 a month on various moisturizers and lotions, with a total of close to $200 spent per month on the whole lot.


Khadija B.