Is expensive makeup worth the investment?

‘The best thing is to look natural, but it takes makeup to look natural’ – Calvin Klein

I’ve always been jealous of girls who are class at putting make up on, I have two friends; Helena and Janine who are particularly brilliant and I often call on them to make me look half decent for a wedding or night out. As such, my inability to perfect the coveted smokey eye means that I’m a bit of a dunce when it comes to buying my make up.

I approach make up pretty much like most other things in my life; quantity over quality. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Rimmel, Seventeen and Collection, simply because they’re cheap and have always argued that you don’t need to spend a fortune on decent make up. Or do you?

I was invited to a beauty event at Lancome in Newcastle earlier on this year and in my gift bag was a sample of their Photogenic Lumessence liquid foundation. This little beige pot of gold has turn everything I know about make up on it’s head and made me question my whole make up belief system.


Ok, that sounds dramatic but it really is very good, and on the few occasions I’ve worn it, people have commented on how good my skin looks. So (in my best Carrie Bradshaw voice) It got me to thinking, when it comes to makeup, do you really get what you pay for?

This is a cross section of my current, staple, everyday make up:


As you can see it’s not all the super low end of the market, however the most expensive thing there is my No7 powder foundation (£14.50 – put I had one of those oh so handy No7 £5 off vouchers). The liquid foundation I’ve been using for a few years on and off for a few years now as I was assured it would help with my acne. I’ll be honest I’m not entirely sure it does however it’s only £6.99, a little bit goes a long way. It seems to ‘do the job’ as an every day foundation. That’s where I’m a little conflicted, I’m almost in my mid thirties, am developing a few more extra ‘laughter lines’. I’ll admit that Seventeen foundation is pretty much all but melted off by the end of a working day. I’m not sure I should be buying stuff that simply ‘does the job’ anymore. On the flip side, I’m not sure I want to be spending £30 on foundation either. *bashes head against the wall*

So I thought I’d ask some of my blogging friends who buy more expensive makeup with more regularity to me to see what they thought, after all, they can’t have been using MAC and Lancome all their lives and must have at some point made the transition into makeup womanhood that I’m currently considering..

I believe that buying high end means that you have to buy less. Invest in one of everything that you truly like and you won’t have to spend money constantly trying to find the ‘perfect’ product. The Chanel bronzer I use has lasted me for a very, very long time and it works better than any other I’ve tried, for example. – Katie Meehan

Because although I buy cheap, I have wasted a lot of money throwing out stuff (particularly mascaras) that I’ve bought but are rubbish, poor quality where I could have gotten one good mascara from somewhere like Benefit for less than multiple letdowns.

I think it depends on the product – lipstick – not sure it’s worth paying £25+ when Maybeline/Rimmel etc work just as well (and you easily lose lipsticks). Foundation however – worth the investment – Samantha Rickelton

I think the more expensive stuff does last longer (I have a Mac eye shadow that’s a years old and nowhere near running out!) but high street brands are catching up on quality. I always use Rimmel Night and Day mascara and am yet to find a high-end rival to beat it. Definitely mix and match brands but probably opt for more expensive core products (foundation, concealer) as I get older. – Dawn Tindle

I also agree on the lipstick front as every handbag I own seems to harbour it’s own little collection of lipstcks of yore and I don’t wear bright lipsticks often enough to be happy paying over about £6 for one. I also agree that the small amount of Lancome foundation I got, although I only use it when I go out, seems to be a magic bottomless little pot – it’s lasted yonkers!


On the rare occasion  I do wear red lippy, I undoubtedly end up in Zapatistas…

For me, buying high end often means I’m more likely to enjoy the product. Whether that comes from the placebo/halo effect, I don’t know, but I know if I buy high end I feel more likely to get on with a product. Base products, brands are more likely to dish out samples to make sure you like it. Plus the ingredients list is often a little nicer. I buy less because they last longer too, but it’s a complicated relationship. There are some true drugstore gems out there, but often you have to fish through the crap to find them – Chloe Witty

This isn’t something I’d considered before but Chloe makes a really interesting point. When I wear my tiny little bit of Lancome poshness or some They’re Real mascara (which I got as a present for Christmas) I do feel better, I feel more confident and (don’t hate me feminists) I feel prettier, so that’s got to be worth  a few quid right? Also when I do have my make up done properly, it looks waaaay better..


A rare day off work at the races – glammed up courtesy of the No7 counter in Boots

 I’ve used a lot of different make up brands over the years and work as a model too so have had various different MUA’s make me up too and have asked their advice as I’ve built up my collection.  One thing I’ve found is that while I occasionally buy cheaper brands if I’m trying out a “fashion” look, they have so much less pigment and staying power than a bigger, more luxury brand. Kiko i’ve found to be quite poor – I know they’re a Bloggers favourite but the staying power is terrible and you have to cover yourself in product to achieve any depth of colour.  One of the high street brands I do believe meets in the middle in terms of quality vs value for money is Topshop – their makeup range is on point!  great fashion colours balanced with everyday essentials. – Pixie Tenenbaum 
So, what I’m picking up is that your bases; foundation, powder and mascara are worth investing in, but anything a little more fashiony or something you don’t wear that often, don’t necessarily have to be the most expensive things in the world to still look good.

Makes sense. Although I’m still torn. I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to start spending £30 on a bottle of foundation just yet, I mean it’s good, it’s really good, I’m just not not sure it’s £30 good. Afterall, that’s 4 tops from Primark or 9 bottles of wine from Asda (if they still have their 3 for a tenner offer on) and lets me honest after 9 bottles of wine I’m not going to give a crap what my makeup looks like!

So I reckon the answer is somewhere inbetween, if i’m finding my £6.99 foundation has slipped off by the end of the day, then I don’t necessarily have to jump straight up to a £30 foundation, there must be somewhere in the middle that both my face and my bank balance are happy with. I think I’m just going to have to be brave and ask the scary women on the make up counters with the tattooed on eyebrows for some samples to try and find my dream concoction!

Thanks to everyone else who helped me with this, check out their brilliant blogs if you get chance:


  1. May 18, 2016 / 9:12 am

    Good blog post! I love make up and have a range of stuff in my multiple make up bags! I use a Maybelline foundation but a Smashbox or Lancome primer so it stays on all day. My blusher is Maybelline but my highlighter is Benefit. I’ll only use Urban Decay eyeshadow (with a primer) as they have so much pigment and last forever but don’t think you can knock a Rimmel eyeliner. I think the most important thing is to choose the products right for you, there is nothing wrong with stuff from the lower end of the spendy scale as long as they do what they’re supposed to. But, I do love how it feels to put on some expensive make up, it’s a little treat, just for me, everyday.

  2. May 18, 2016 / 1:29 pm

    Loved this post so much! I think investing in a high end foundation and mascara for me is a must but the rest i work around! Would love to do a collab with you on this topic! X

    • May 18, 2016 / 1:41 pm

      Thanks Jess, Definitely up for working together on something, do you want to drop me a line via the contact page and we can put our heads together! X

      • May 18, 2016 / 1:43 pm

        Awesome yeah i will do! X will be my first time collabing, you might have to give extra help lol xx would be great x

  3. May 18, 2016 / 6:55 pm

    Fab post and I totally read it as if you were Carrie! I’m crap at make up too and it never seems to last all day!

  4. tlalsworth
    May 21, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    Great post! For me it’s all about ingredients. owning both drugstore and higher end beauty products I’ve noticed that a lot of the more expensive brands (Chanel,YSL) can contain fragrance and other not so great things for your skin. For me it’s choosing products that are the least harmful for me skin especially those that I’m putting on my face and wearing the least amount of products while getting the most results. If that products costs $10 or even $100 it’s worth the same to me.

  5. February 22, 2017 / 12:06 pm

    Hi! Well written and the last lines made me laugh a bit. Totally agree that one should invest for base makeup as it sets the ground for your makeup and you can play with other things like lipstick blush or nail paints.

    • April 5, 2023 / 12:57 pm

      checkout Fashion and Beauty blog here:

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