Save or Splurge: Which Beauty Products Are Worth the Expense

With so many beauty products on the market, it’s tough to decipher what products are worth splurging on and which ones function relatively the same regardless of cost. As total product junkies (we have boxes filled to the brim to prove it!) we have learned which products hold their weight in dollars and which ones are all pretty much the same. Here’s our guideline on which products to splurge on and which ones to save on.


Foundation: Not all foundations are created equal! A flawless base is the key ingredient to great makeup application. If there is one product you must invest in, it’s a great foundation. Skip the drugstore on this one and head to Sephora and consult with a makeup artist there to help you find a quality foundation for your skin type. Brand recommendations: MAC, Smashbox, Dior, Chanel, Tarte, Lancome, Makeup Forever. Cost: $20+

Concealer: Great foundation and concealer go hand and hand. Again, a flawless base is vital, so be sure to invest in a quality concealer to hide blemishes, dark cirlces etc. Brand recommendations: Cle de Peau, Benefit, YSL, Tarte, Laura Mercier, Makeup Forever Cost: $20+

Eye Cream: Eyes are the first part of the face that start to show age. Due to the fragility and thinness of the surrounding skin, wrinkles can appear around the eyes as early as your teen years! It’s important to invest in a good eye cream early on and use it religiously. Look for products with peptides and retinol. If you suffer from puffiness also look for products that also contain caffeine, cucumber or witch hazel. Brand recommendations: Dior, La Mer, Kinerase, Perricone, Caudalie, Lancome Cost: $40+

Sunless Tanner: Avoid the oompa loompa look by investing in a good sunless tanner. If you really want perfection go for a professional hand applied airbrush tan –especially if you’re new to sunless tanners and have a special event! If you do attempt a self applied sunless tanner, apply at least 48 hours before your event to  allow room for error. The only self applied sunless tanner that has never done us wrong is St. Tropez. Even for newbies, the application is pretty flawless. Brand recommendations: St. Tropez Cost: $20+

Lip Gloss: Lip gloss can be so hit or miss. Some lower end brands look great in the tube but then rub off within minutes. When it comes to gloss, we want stuff that lasts and shines! That’s why we go higher end for our lipgloss. Brand recommendations: MAC, Lancome, Dior Cost: $15+

Eyeliner: Long lasting eyeliner that doesn’t run and rub off is essential –especially during warmer  months or if your skin is on the oilier side. We can’t live without a quality long lasting eyeliner. Don’t skimp on this one! Brand recommendations: MAC, Makeup Forever, Urban Decay, Tarte, Bobbi Brown  Cost: $15+

Shampoo & Conditioner: Using a quality shampoo and conditioner with proper PH is essential. If you’re having trouble with dryness, breakage, splitends, flyaways, limpness, dry scalp etc., it’s time to rethink your shampoo and conditioner. Many lower end brands are loaded with sulfates, fillers, and imbalanced PH which can cause multiple hair issues. Invest in a great shampoo and conditioner –you’ll see the difference! Brand recommendations: Pureology, Paul Mitchell, Biolage, Sebastian, Kenra Cost: $20+


Mascara: Yep, we’ve tried them all! And guess which is our favorite? CoverGirl LashBlast Waterproof Mascara. This is one product that you can get lower end that will function similar to expensive products. If you have lashes that are difficult to curl, try a waterproof formula. Also, we’re advocates of the eyelash curler! It’s essential if you have straight lashes. Brand recommendations: L’oreal, Covergirl, Maybelline Cost: $5-$10

Lipstick: Luckily many drugstore brands are making super long lasting lipsticks that rival more expensive brands. Color is also no issue –the selection is endless! This is definitely a product  you can get at your local drugstore and not notice the difference, just be sure to opt for a long lasting formula. Brand recommendations: Revlon, L’oreal, Maybelline Cost: $5-$10

Toner: Many professionals recommend skipping this step all together because toners are not essential to a skincare regimen.   Many are also loaded with alcohol, so be sure to read the ingredient list before purchasing. Our preference for toner is simply rose water or witch hazel. We like Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera Alcohol-Free Toner available for around $5. L’oreal, Neutrogena, Olay and several other drugstore brands also make alcohol free toners. Brand recommendations: Thayers, Lo’real, Neutrogena, Olay Cost: $5

Body Products: Lotions, exfoliators, body sprays etc. are pretty much all the same. Unless you have a preference for a specific fragrance these products function very similar. You can find many drugstore products with moisturizing and anti-aging benefits for less than $10. One of our favorite moisturizers is Nivea’s Co-Q10 lotion.  Brand recommendations: Nivea, Olay, Dove Cost: $5-$10

Blush: Blush is fairly easy to mimic and replace. In fact, when you’re in a crunch you can even use a dab of lipstick as a stand-in for blush. Many drugstore brands make blush in smooth, long lasting formulas. Brand recommendations: Physicians Formula, Revlon, L’oreal, Rimmel Cost: $4-$8

Lipliner: Lipliner can definitely be hit or miss if you don’t use a long lasting formula. Luckily you can find several waterproof formulas for pretty cheap. Just make sure the label says waterproof or long wearing. Brand recommendations: Prestige, Revlon, Rimmel, Maybelline Cost: $4-$7


Powder: Powder can be tricky. It just depends on what your preference is and how important it is in your makeup routine. If you’re not someone who uses much powder then you can get away with a drugstore brand. If you’re someone with oily skin who really needs a powder that works over time, you may want to try a higher end brand. We love Smashbox Halo for a smooth, natural look.

Eyeshadow:  The performance of eyeshadow also largely depends on your skin type. If you have oily skin, it’s going to fade much quicker than if you have dry skin. If you’re not a big eyeshadow user, try a midrange drugstore brands such as L’oreal, Revlon, Physicians Formula. If you love eyeshadow and use it often we recommend Urban Decay (Naked Palette is our holy grail), Makeup Forever, MAC, Lorac, and Dior.



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Desiree Rabuse

Desiree Rabuse is a social entrepreneur and founder & CEO of StyleFox®. She's a devout bookworm, a fan of "Dad" jokes, and an apparent INTP. She loves snowboarding, philosophy, traveling, martial arts, coffee, and helping people lead healthy, happy, more efficient lives.

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