September 26, 2017

Do You Prefer Mid-Range, High-End, Drugstore, or Indie Makeup?

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I used to be a high-end makeup h0r. Givency, Dior, you name it and I was on it like wildfire. When I started Musings of a Muse I was all about higher-end makeup brands and Asian beauty particularly Japanese drugstore makeup brands.

I’ve since evolved and I blame that mostly on this blog. When you blog beauty and makeup you end up discovering a vast ocean of different brands from both high-end to mid-range, drugstore, and indie brands.

Do you prefer mid-range, high-end, drugstore, or indie makeup?

I’ve always been a major indie lover even way before I started Musings of a Muse. I remember Skindazzles, Isle of Eden, and tons of other e-shops that I would purchase bath bombs, scrubs, and tons of other stuff. I could probably happily live off indie alone for my bath and body items. Makeup is hit or miss! A few years ago I really enjoy Aromaleigh but I find I become obsessed with some of these shops because they have so many shades and I just want them all so I avoid looking. My wallet feels safer that way.

I also really love indie fragrances. There are so many great places to purchase gourmand scents like Lathers n Lights or digging through Etsy produces some great brands like Zoologist.

Drugstore makeup has most definitely involved over the years and I can name any number of brands and items that I really enjoy using. Kiko comes to mind first! Although, not a typical drugstore brand it is very much a budget friendly brand who has a wide range of products and great seasonal releases at such an incredible mind. Milani is also a fantastic brand that’s always on sale and offers endlessly good products. But even more mainstream brands like Maybelline have improved so much over the years. Quality has gotten better and better over the years but prices have also become higher and higher. None the less, there are definitely some great options at the drugstore.

Over the years, higher-end makeup has actually decreased in quality. There are certain brands that remain consistent with quality but many brands are still charging premium prices but the quality simply isn’t there anymore. Where as other new high-end brands such as Marc Jacobs Beauty have shown a consistently good formula worthy of their higher price tag.

And finally, last but never least, the most popular category, mid-range. Too Faced, Urban Decay, Tarte, these all fall into the mid-range genre. I think a lot of these brands have decreased in quality over the years and aren’t quite what we know from them ten or more years ago. Formulas have changed a good deal over the years. That’s not to say that these brands don’t have good releases because they do. But you’re likely a little more cautious with your purchases when they do launch something new.

So, which do I prefer?

Most difficult question ever!

I suppose to prefer mid-range products as if I think about essential products I use daily most are from a mid-range brand followed by drugstore, indie, and higher-end items.

How about you?

Which do you prefer?

Do share!

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About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • FrugalCat

    Well, since I am a very frugal person (as you may guess from my user name) I do not like to spend a lot on makeup. So it’s drugstore lines for me, preferably on sale. The few times I have gone higher end, I don’t feel it’s worth it.

  • Emily

    Kind of all of the above! When I first started buying makeup as an adult, my makeup-loving friend introduced me to Urban Decay and BareMinerals, so I started there. Still use products from both. I use the BareMinerals 5-in-1 cream eyeshadow all the time. Lately, Tarte Rainforest After Dark has been my most-used weekday palette. I have branched out in all directions, and I wear my Physician’s Formula talc free mineral bronzer almost every day. I use a lot of ColourPop eyeshadows for nights out. My Juvia’s Place Nubian 2 palette is really impressive! I consider both of those Indie brands, though they’re larger, and I have a lot of love for them. I have a Marc Jacobs air blush that’s very nice and I don’t regret the purchase, but I don’t treasure it above my other blushes, Tarte, Becca, Clinique, whatever. And I’m glad for that, that I didn’t fall in love and get addicted. I’m generally not tempted by what I consider the more luxury brands, Tom Ford (though I do have a couple of his lipsticks that are pretty great), YSL, Dior, Chanel. There’s beauty everywhere. Thanks for getting me to think about my purchases and preferences.

  • wendy Sue

    I was the same Muse, I was the biggest makeup snob on the planet. Then I got laid off, and ouch! I had to explore my options because I simply couldn’t afford it anymore. I have discovered that I really love the mid-range, Tarte, Smashbox, etc. So much so, that I don’t even look at the high end stuff anymore (and I have a job now, so I could).


  • Emily

    Actually Muse, or any other readers, have you tried any of the NYX In Your Element shadow palettes? I’m looking at the In Your Element Earth Shadow Palette on Ulta’s website, 30% off, and I am really digging the color scheme. NYX is a brand that I don’t really know well. I think I’ve been overwhelmed by their sheer volume of offerings, though I know people love them.

      • Emily

        I ended up ordering the NYX Earth elements palette that day, it arrived yesterday, and I’m wearing it today. . . quite possibly the quickest I have ever gone from contemplating a palette to wearing it! It’s a beautiful array of shades perfect for fall. Attractive packaging. Applied as easy as any of the mid-range brands I use. I used a primer underneath, which I usually do anyway. I would recommend it, if anyone is considering it!

          • Emily

            And a PS to this. . . the colors stayed vibrant all day and into a long night, no noticeable fading or creasing.

  • Christina D.

    Mid-range, i.e. Urban Decay, Lorac, Kat Von D, BareMinerals, etc. would be my favorite. I’m a fan of a few high-end brands like Viseart, Marc Jacobs and Natasha Denona, so that would be my second fave. There’s only a few indies in my stash like Colourpop , Zoeva, Dose of Colors, and I’m pretty much completely done with drugstore.

  • Anne

    Mid-range! Granted, my experience with high-end tends to be only samples. But brands like Urban Decay deliver so consistently that I can’t imagine spending $$$$.

  • Carol

    I would say that currently, I am a mid-range girl. Used to be strictly drugstore, but the drugstore releases aren’t what they used to be. I remember the good old days (actually not too long ago) when Revlon/L’Oreal and Maybelline would do actual seasonal releases and they were typically pretty awesome. Now it only seems like WNW does season, LE collections. So right now, Urban Decay, Tarte & Too Faced are my usual go-to brands. Although with all this nonsense about release dates and LE products, I have to admit the whole thing is off-putting. Just put the damn palette on the website at the same time and have plenty for everyone! Never have done high-end because I really feel like the prices are completely out of control even if the quality is there because I know in reality it only takes pennies on the dollar to manufacture makeup, you are basically paying for the name and advertising when you are purchasing high-end. (Now that I think about it though, I do really love NYX and some “higher-end” drugstore finds.)

  • ChynnaBlue

    I prefer good makeup, so I buy from all of the above. Chanel polishes chip quickly on me but they make great foundations. Sally Hansen makes great polishes and the Miracle Gel line really does last for more than a week on me. Sinful colors are fun, too. Revlon and L’Oreal make great primers, but I usually go with a higher end foundation. I love to mix L’Oreal Magic Lumi primer into my moisturizer on no-makeup days or a moisturizer and foundation for a DIY tinted moisturizer. Indie nail polishes are beautiful and I have a lot of Indie polishes. There’s room for all of them because the only one I’m loyal to is me. 😉

  • Rachael

    I have used bareMinerals for over 10 years (and before that it was only drugstore brands). It’s only been in the last few years that I have started branching out with other mid range/luxury brands. Hourglass is my favorite high end brand – I love their ambient powders and blushes. But L’Oréal mascaras are the only mascara I wear. So, while most of my makeup collection is mid range, I like to dabble in drugstore and luxury.

  • hayley

    I just started discovering indie makeup brands, and I’m getting in to them, brands like Colour Pop, but I don’t shop them very often because I’m hesitant to buy too much makeup online bc I can’t see what the colors really look like, and it’s a hassle to send things back. For me, it’s mainly drugstore, primarily bc for me even the “mid-range” brands are usually too expensive. I just can’t bring myself to spend like $20 on a lipstick when there’s so many good drugstore options. If I buy mid-range or high end, it’s usually because I can’t find any good drugstore options of that particular product. And high, high end, like designer brands? Yeah, forget it, too expensive.

  • Agona

    I’ve tried drug store makeup I do love some, I can’t get over how annoying and flimsy the packaging is and it drives me nutty since I travel a lot. Plus, overseas “drugstore” brands are much better packaged (Etude House which is Korean and Kiko which is Italian) so I don’t understand why we can’t do the same in the US.

    I lean towards mid-ranged brands like bareMinerals, and tarte; Heimish for Korean brands. I really hate the cardboard packaging that prevalent among US mid-ranged brands though. It gets dirty after awhile, no matter how hard I try to keep it clean and neat.

    I do like some high-end brands but my collection is so large, it’s hard for me to justify the cost when I’m reaching for them just as infrequently as the rest of my palettes. I do own one Chanel quad that I will keep forever due to sentimental reasons. I did order the Viseart Golden Hour palette arriving soon because I’ve been wanting to try the Viseart formula, but honestly, I found the $49 price tag quite reasonable.

    • Agona

      I forgot to mention, I like the idea of indie brands but just don’t find shopping them very practical, unfortunately.

  • Amy

    Drugstore brands for me. I love a lot of the Flower line by Drew Barrymore & now you can order it off of it’s website instead of going in to Wal-mart! I said this in another reply but Maybelline makes the best mascaras (for me). I’ve recently discovered a few items from the Ulta beauty make-up line that I like. Also, I have recently become obsessed with the Sally Hansen color therapy nail polish line. I think I bought almost half of all the colors. Neutrogena, Covergirl, & Revlon make good concealers and foundations for my skin color and type. Moda & Eco tools make the best make up brushes. I’m not spending over $20 on anything.

  • Kimmwc03

    I mainly buy mid-range brands like MAC, Urban Decay, Too Faced, and bare Minerals. Sometimes I dip into a high-end since I love some Chanel, Guerlain and YSL. Drugstore prices have been turning me away lately.

  • Robin

    I’m all over the place: Essence for nail polish and Catrice for all lip products. I’m head over heels in love with Looxi Wonderfall eyeshadow collection (Muse you need this in your life!) Seven mattes and seven shimmers. Pretty fall collection. Mascara has been Essence, but I tried Eyeco mascara during 21 Days of Beauty at Ulta and now it’s my HG. I consider it high end. I tried Charlotte Tilbury Instant Face in a Palette, the first one, and I wasn’t impressed. 🙁 It was very light on my pale skin.

  • Christina

    I am mostly high end still. All my skincare and base products are high end (even if they’re Asian brands), and then my colour cosmetics are from a variety of Indie, Asian, high end, and just a bit of mid range (Urban Decay). I do not own anything that I personally went out and purchased from Tarte, Too Faced, Lorac, etc. because the brands just don’t work for me, and I hardly own anything from the drugstore except for maybe a couple lipsticks and mascara.
    I don’t buy palettes, which is prevalent among the mid range brands, so most of my eyeshadows and blushes tend to be from MAC, MUFE, , Shu Uemura, Guerlain, Addition (Japanese), Chanel, Nars, Anastasia, etc., or some indie brand that looks promising because they release a lot of single products.

    • Agona

      Can I ask you how you pair singles? They overwhelm me and I keep trying them but I never know how to combine singles. Either the colors to meld well (I must not be good at pairing undertones?) or the textures or something.

      • Christina

        Hmm, that’s a tough question since there are so many ways to combine eyeshadows. Are you having trouble figuring out which colours go well together, where you should place the colours, or are you finding that everything blends together into a muddy mess?

        If you’re trying to incorporate colour into your looks, it’s usually easiest if you use that on your lid (can be any texture) and then add a light to mid tone matte shade in a neutral like taupe/soft brown, etc. in your crease to help it transition into your skin tone. Then you can add a deep definer shade, adding a little at a time, until you’re satisfied with the dimension.

        Sometimes I pull out several of the same color that I want to use and see which one looks best with the other colours I’m going to use.

        When it come to colour mixing, buying a colour mixing wheel online or at an art store is really helpful because it’ll show you what happens when you add certain colours together. It’ll also help train your eye to see the different undertones.

        Let me know if this helped at all! It really does get easier with practice, so even if it doesn’t look right the first time, keep trying different combinations.

        • Agona

          I’m terrible with color theory. When I try to pair colors, they just somehow look off to me. I can do gradient colors but only if I check out a blog where there’s a review on the undertones. I can’t pick out undertones for the most part myself. :-\

          • Christina

            We’re our own worst critics, so perhaps it only looks off to you but looks great to everyone else! 🙂

            Regarding what colours pair well together, studying the colour wheel or buying the wheel to play with will definitely help give you a basis to go off of. It also explains colour theory and how to combine colours. Then you just experiment! Pull out all the colors you have of the same colour. Swatch them next to each other, and that’ll bring out each colour’s undertone–some should be distinctly cooler (bluer) than others and some should be obviously warmer (redder) than others; others still will just be somewhere in the middle (neutral). Browns and purples are good colours to experiment with. Swatch a warm brown next to a couple of purples and see which one looks nicer, then do the same with a cool brown.

            I’m not a pro, but even in our design classes, we had to experiment with mixing paint colours to understand theory and undertones better. It really is the best way!

  • lizzie

    I just love make up and I don’t discriminate I have Wet and Wild highlighters that share a space with my Burberry, and Dior, and Too Face, but I have to admit when I buy luxury products my expectations are set super high so I research the snot out of luxury products before I invest in them. I love this post because I was thinking about the newish Sephora Pro palettes and the new Physicians Formula collection and I’m noticing a creep up in prices. I’ve been watching several You Tube videos about drug store vs high end and comparing the difference and the truth is you can come up with a beautiful look with either so why do I chose to buy high end. For me its the design and weight of the packaging and the luxurious feel of the product. I don’t believe high end means long lasting either especially on my super oily skin. I would be curious to know what others think and why they pick high end products.

    • Christina

      You nailed it! I don’t discriminate against a brand just because it’s sold at the drugstore or it’s from an indie company. For me, it’s whether the pigmentation, texture, and colour meet my expectations and preferences. I prefer indie and high end over drugstore because I find the colours are usually more complex as opposed to one note (shimmer and base colour are the same). I also really enjoy tactile and luxurious packaging and designs, which drugstore brands just can’t produce and luxury brands do so well! I do, however, expect the products to perform well, so if a luxury product has beautiful packaging but underperforms, I most likely will not purchase it unless I really, really love the packaging (which I have not done yet).

      • lizzie

        Yeah I’m so happy to know I’m not the only person who loves the luxury experience of packaging design!

  • Dee

    Mostly midrange with drugstore added I . I use very little high end because I haven’t felt the need to do so. It’s wonderful that products in all price ranges are available.

  • TropicalChrome

    I tend towards the midrange and the drugstore. These days I’m starting to have trouble telling which is which, as some of the midrange brands have dropped their prices a bit, and a lot of the drugstore brands have raised theirs.

    I have a few pieces of high end makeup, and while yes, their packaging is aces, the product just isn’t that much better (and sometimes is worse, in the case of mascara. Sorry, Dior doesn’t work for me.). And as for indy….nope. Too much trouble to order online, too expensive, and the few pieces I have are basically average at best. Nope.

    Except nail polish, where I’ve embraced indies wholeheartedly :).

  • Andrea

    I mainly use indie brands and I dabble in mid-range. I basically ignore drugstore except for the Wet N Wild eye primer and Essence mascaras. I don’t even glance at high end because it seems like a waste for me. The quality doesn’t seem to warrant the much larger cost.

  • Linda Whitener

    I’ve used drugstore cosmetics most of my life. Not only were my parents frugal (having grown up during the Depression), my first job was working in a mom-and-pop drugstore after school. We had a terrific beauty dept. (at least for a small town in the south in the 1970s!) and the two women who ran that department – Stella and Mary Lee – took me in hand and taught me how to take care of my skin and use makeup. (I also learned to steer old ladies away from the fuchsia lipstick, and to recommend Clairol Metalex to women who came in wanting to fix a bad DIY dye job…all kinds of useful information.) I discovered the midrange when I started using Clinique in the late ’70s (because I still had the occasional breakout in my 20s). From time to time I’ve flirted with other midrange cosmetics, but I always come back to the DS; Revlon still makes great foundations, and I like L’Oreal’s eye makeup. (Now, do I use my Ulta points to splurge on the pricier stuff? Ohhhhhh yeah!!!)

  • CL

    I don’t ever buy the super-expensive brands like Chanel and Tom Ford. It’s obvious to me that no matter how good they are, they aren’t worth what they’re charging for them. I tend to buy mid-range when on sale only, and even tend to buy drugstore items only when they are on some kind of sale. I usually read a lot of reviews before trying something new, so I can justify spending the mid-range sale (or loyalty discount) price for a new item. (Personally, I don’t really think Kat von D is mid-range, as $19.00 for an eyeshadow is high!)

  • Katzkann

    A little of all three but leaning towards midrange and indie. Midrange for the foundation and the lippies depend on the type, color, and wear. I love playing with lippies and will splurge once in awhile.

  • Frozendiva

    Mostly department store brands, along with mid-range lines. I like a lot of the Tom Ford line, but $70CAD for a lipstick is a lot and an eyeshadow quad at $102 doesn’t interest me. I do treat myself to one or two Lips and Boys shades. I’ll buy an occasional Chanel nail polish but mainly stick to OPI or Essie or what I can find at Winners/TJ Maxx (in the US). I like the Chanel and Dior eyeshadow palettes, along with an occasional YSL one – I do have two of the UD inspired palettes. Don’t mind some UD, Bite Beauty for lipsticks.

    Am sensitive to dyes so some drugstore stuff is a gamble. For what it costs here I can go to Sephora and spend a few $ more to get a better product.

    The indie stuff like Colourpop comes with Canadian exchange and duty/customs so it’s not the really good deal.

    There is a lot out there now and really, I find it quite overwhelming.

  • Sammy

    I’m a mix. I love Tarte and Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palettes. I won’t buy any other mascara than Lorac Pro. I’m madly in love with Bite Amuse Bouche lipstick, as well as Too Faced La Matte lipstick. I love the Pixi Beauty line of cosmetics in Target. The H20 Skintint, Concealing Concentrate, Sheer Cheek Gel, and the Eyebright Liner…I won’t buy any other brand with those items, because they are just so perfect and youthful for my complexion. The one true drugstore product that I love is Burts Bees Napa Vineyard Lip Crayon. It’s the perfect red and it really performs! Last but not least, I’m a huge fan of Essie nail polish. No other nail polish, imo beats the quality of Essie.

  • Joyce

    I use to be a mid-range to high-end makeup gal when I first started using makeup, but over the years, and after a lot of experimenting, I honestly don’t think its worth it, and drugstore looks just as good once it’s on your face. The only thing I would think on splurging on these days is foundation and maaaybe eye shadows because I do think there is a difference in color selection there (I’m really pale and usually just can’t find a good shade match at the drugstore).

  • CarrieAnne

    I’d like to say I don’t discriminate but strictly speaking that’s not true. Mostly lo/drugstore and midrange. I’ve purchased higher end/ just shy of luxury products and been disappointed, even if I bought them at outlet prices. Two main issues putting a big bee in my bonnet, LOL, I’m bringing that back. Too many brands think a fragrance makes their product better and more desirable, which completely pisses off sensitive people like myself. The second is that there is, IMO, getting to be too much consolidation in the cosmetics business now, with Loreal and a few other juggernauts buying up everyone in the industry. That doesn’t improve quality or product development, contrary to popular belief, especially if a company is publicly traded and has to justify its bottom line to shareholders and boards. I’m sorry if the business lesson turns anyone off but it’s actually creating a problem for previous loyal customers who don’t want to pay for conglomerate business practices with budget manufacturing and high profit price tags. And my eyes don’t need to smell like peaches. LOL!

  • Lorraine. E.R

    I have had to get super frugal these past few years so it’s been drugstore with the occasional mid range or indie purchase here & there. I can’t afford high-end, lol. I probably buy maybe 10-15 products a year now, not counting things like hair products or moisturizer.
    I think there are some truly good products at drugstore level but I tend to trust mid range a little more. If I had the money I would buy more of it. I also love a lot of indie brands and feel you can’t beat the quality for the prices. Brands like fyrinnae & meow have interesting colors and quality formulas.

  • Brandy

    I tend to stick with drugstore makeup. The prices have been going up so I wait til they’re on sale at Ulta and Rite Aid. I have tried mid range and high end makeup before, but I wasn’t really wowed by them. I love Milani, Wet n Wild, BH Cosmetics, Makeup Revolution, and Essence. There’s just so many lower priced options that I’m happy with that I don’t really branch out.

  • Kay

    Mid-range! bareMinerals, Becca, Bobbi Brown, Kat Von D, and Mac. L’Oreal for mascaras and Physicians Formula are my drugstore faves.