Makeup and Money - Department Store vs. Discount vs. Catalog

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

The origins of makeup can be attributed to the Egyptians. Henna and gold were used to increase facial features, as well as protect Egyptians from the sun. For the most part, only those from wealthy means wore the face paint. Through history, the use of makeup was associated with social stature. The use of white powder on the face was associated with wealth and pureness of a woman, while red rouge symbolized a lesser of means.

The reason I mention this is basically because even in today's society, often times, expensive brands are just bought because people feel their "class" in society depends on the brands they buy. A great tool in marketing and advertising is social acceptance. Even Max Factor, known as the father of modern makeup, worked his way up from selling handmade potions of makeup at county and state fairs to Hollywood, by using the premise that all women could look like a Hollywood starlet with his line of makeup.

So are there any differences in expensive department store make-ups or catalog make-ups and their cheaper adversary, the drug-store brands? The research shows varying opinions on the subject. I'll let you be your own judge.

First, let's take ingredients into account. Often times when you pay more for a makeup you assume that the ingredients are better and "one-of-a-kind"; not always true. Although, many department and catalog brands have expensive ingredients in them, it's usually very small quantities. And often times, you can read the labels of drug store brands and find that they too have the same ingredients.

But there are exceptions to any rule. For example, face powder. Often more expensive brands use talcs a very smoothing and fine blend of powder. The less expensive drug store brands are often chalky. But check the ingredients, in today's market, even the drug store brand may have high talc levels.

Liquid foundations in the drug stores often contain large amounts of water, often times more expensive brands contain less water and more ingredients like creams that make the makeup last longer and keep an overall flawless look. Again, checking the labels will help you decide between the two.

Many companies, even the drug-store brands make claims on what their products can do and won't do to your skin. The best advice found is check the ingredients and educate yourself on your skin type and what you need. If you have dry skin and want a foundation that moisturizes, look for make-ups with moisturizers and less water, always check the content labels. One of the advantages that department stores have over the drug store and catalog markets are the ability for the women to come in and try it. As women, we know that trial and error are the basis for our makeup choices.

Often times, we may spend $5 for a lipstick at the drug store only to find that within an hour you have to reapply it. Department stores often offer free samples, free consultations, and allow you to try on the products prior to purchase.

The key is not to impulse buy. Retailers know that consumers may try on a certain lipstick and say, "Oh that looks good"; then buy it. Sampling a type of makeup at department store will not benefit you any if 3 or 4 hours later, you're not happy with the results. Try it out for a few hours, then if that lipstick doesn't need reapplying after 4 or 5 hours, go back another time and buy it.

With foundations and full coverage products like face powders, you may need help matching your skin tone with the color of the makeup. Department stores are great means of doing this. I don't know about you, but often times holding the bottle to my wrist, doesn't help me at all. In all honesty, you need to try a foundation and powder on before purchasing it. Drug stores and catalogs do not offer this to their consumers.

Drug store brands and catalogs often offer something that women need that department stores can't, convenience. Often times, women are too busy to set at a makeup counter and discuss what looks best on their face. They want a quick and easy way to cover imperfections. This is perhaps why the drug store brands are still winning the battles of revenue in the makeup industry. Often, time, is more important than money or a woman's personal skin care needs. Luckily for women everywhere, you can find great options at the local drug stores and in catalogs.

Most professional makeup artist's opinions on where to buy makeup or which makeup is best vary; but all agree on one thing. It's often not where you buy the makeup but the techniques used to apply the makeup. Women need to educate themselves on their skin type needs, first. Look for makeup that meet those needs, and then learn how to apply the makeup so that even a $20 regiment can look as great as a $200 regiment.