The different categories of makeup | Is there a difference between drugstore and high end?

Good morning you gorgeous bunch of humans! So I thought I’d mix things up today with a different kind of post. Now you know I am a kook for affordable makeup. There’s something about discovering an awesome product that doesn’t break the bank that feels like a massive win! But lately I’ve also been appreciating the world of high end makeup now that I’m trying to work on my hoarding tendencies (which had me leaning on drugstore makeup because it allowed me to be more of a hoarder). I’m still extra picky in what I’ll go high end for and I’ll always adore affordable makeup but I wanted to talk about the difference between in the two in regards to the different categories of makeup.

Shall we jump into the post?

Setting spray

I use to find that drugstore setting sprays absolutely sucked but in the last two or so years they’ve really stepped up their game! I’m not overly fussy when it comes to setting sprays – as long as they give a fine and even mist, settle down the powdery look to the skin and don’t ruin my foundation (perhaps extend wear-time) – I’m happy. The biggest difference between drugstore and high end setting sprays is that there are more “wear-time” boosting setting sprays in the high end category.  I will say my absolute ride or day setting sprays are the Urban Decay ‘All Nighter’ – nothing compares to that one and the Too Faced ‘Hangover 3 in 1’ Spray. There are many from the drugstore I love using for the everyday including the Maybelline ‘Master fix’ and the Nyx dewy and matte setting sprays. The drugstore setting sprays are nice but there is a higher risk of stumbling upon ones with a horrible mist that can wreck your foundation. But I’ve discovered many that don’t do that … I’ll be telling you about them all in another post.


This is the one category where I straight up struggle to find affordable ride or die primers. Don’t get me wrong I’ve tried many I’ve liked and that do a lovely job for everyday foundations. The Pixi rose flash balm, the nivea after shave balm, the raw cosmetics wild berry boost primer …. The closest to my favourite affordable primer, even the revolution pro primer and hydrate (which is a dupe for the too faced hangover primer). But when I think of ride or die primers – I think of primers that will make the most stubborn foundation work awesome every single time. I didn’t delve into high end primers until the last 6 months but it was 10000% worth it! The more expensive primers I swear by are the smashbox ‘photo finish primerizer’ primer, the YSL ‘Touche Eclat’ Blur primer, the Marc Jacobs coconut primer and the Gurelain L’OR radiance concentrate. I have a few more fancy primers on my wish list that I plan to get and I’m sure I’ll be just as obsessed with them. Basically with High end primers, they make an enormous difference at smoothing, hydrating and keeping foundation on longer.


I have many many foundations both in the drugstore and high end category which I love. I will say that this is a category with noticeable differences in quality but that doesn’t mean you won’t find favourites. Essentially the biggest difference are shade range (drugstore options are more limited), wear-time (it’s easier to find more long-wearing foundations in the high end category) but if you skin type is normal-dry/dehydrated – you won’t struggle with this. The ingredients can also be better for your skin when going high end. The affordable foundations I love are the Bourjois healthy mix foundation, chichi fabulous and flawless foundation and the L’Oreal Paris pro glow foundation. While the more fancy options would have to be Too Faced Born this way, It cosmetics CC cream, Smashbox 15 hour wear and Huda Faux filter.


I don’t own much in this category, I basically only have the pixi corrector in brightening peach which is pretty much my go-to every time I wear makeup! This is one category that comes with a lot of flexibility so you aren’t bound by drugstore/high end.


The main difference for me when it comes to drugstore vs. high end concealers is a) shade range – once again drugstore options are always limited, even more so with concealer. You’ll be lucky if you get 3-5 options. Wear-time is also usually better with concealer BUT I have so many affordable concealers I absolutely adore. Maybelline, in general, makes the best concealers – their mast precise and age rewind being my favourite! The makeup revolution conceal and define concealer is also amazing. Coverage is also more flexible in the high-end category – there are more full coverage concealers you can use under the eyes without caking – Tarte shape tape and Too faced Born this way Super full coverage being my top two!

Setting powder

Setting powders are usually more finely milled, less drying/cakey and lock in your foundation better when it comes to the high end category. I find there’s also a lot more options for differing skin types AND you can find more setting powders for those with very dry skin. Hourglass Veil translucent, Becca Hydra Mist set and refresh, Marc Jacobs coconut powder and the Cover Fx ‘Perfect’ Setting powder being my absolute favourites. I also have many drugstore setting powders that work wonderfully well – the chichi mineral loose setting powder being my favourite. Basically BASE products compared to many of the other categories of makeup will have a more varying difference in quality when comparing drugstore to high end.

Brow products

Brow products are one category that is completely versatile. There are so many affordable options that work brilliantly so going fancy would really just be if you felt like it. I know shade range is the one area technically high end brands would have more options in. My brows are super low maintenance so I haven’t ever needed to go high end and for me it would be a waste because of how low maintenance my brows are. Those who perhaps need to spend a good amount of their makeup routine doing their brows would perhaps want to invest more in brow products – but it’s a category you can easily get away with. Maybelline is my favourite brand for brow products! The nyx also make awesome brow products and I love their ‘control freak’ clear brow gel.


Bronzer is another category that doesn’t leave much difference between drugstore and high end. What I’ve notice is being of a pale skin type it’s really difficult finding great shades when you are pale in the drugstore category. The physician’s formula butter bronzer is my favourite bronzer of all time and that’s a drugstore option. There isn’t much difference in quality between drugstore and high end that I’ve noticed aside from shade options. The high end bronzers I do love are the Hourglass Ambient lighting bronzer and the too faced milk chocolate bronzer.


This is definitely one category that doesn’t have a lot of differences in regards to quality. In fact I mainly have drugstore blushes and only a few high end options (which were more of a treat ‘yo self’ purchase). If I had to pick 2 blushes worthy to go high end for it would be the Hourglass Ambient lighting blushes (because they are too gorgeous to resist) and the Tarte Amazonian clay blushes – which are the only powder blush I’ve tried that are long-wearing.


There are plenty of awesome highlighter options both affordable and high end! At first I struggled to find any affordable highlighters I loved – they were either too sparkly and chalky or too subtle but the drugstore have really stepped up their highlighter game! I find the Makeup revolution makes the best highlighters and I also love the models own ‘sculpt and glow’ highlighters. When it comes to high end highlighters they originally were awesome for coming out with blinding highlighters (that didn’t look glittery). I do find them to give an intense glow (though intensity will range widely in drugstore and high end brands). My favourite high end highlighters are the Becca ‘Shimmering perfector’ pressed highlighters, the dior ‘backstage’ highlighter kit, the Anastasia x amrezy highlighter and the ofra highlighters. I definitely think with all the affordable options you could be more than content with affordable highlighters.

Eye shadow palettes

This is one category where the quality varies GREATLY! Now this variation isn’t just between drugstore brands vs. high end brands. I feel like within drugstore brands there’s a massive variation in the quality of eye shadow palettes and that goes the same for high end brands. The main distinctions however between high end and drugstore palettes are usually pigmentation – High end brands will consistently shuffle out palettes with awesome pigmentations (though this isn’t guaranteed). The formula is also very different – high end brands can come out with shadows that are richer, creamy, buttery and blendable not to mention have a better wear time. This does not mean drugstore brands do not have a strong eye shadow palette game because they definitely do – there can just be more hit and misses. Makeup revolution (particularly the reloaded and jewel palettes) as well as colour pop which has the best cream and pressed powder eye shadows ever. Makeup Geek (not technically drugstore but still affordable also make fantastic eye shadows). I’d have to say my favourite high end brands in regards to eye shadow palettes and their formula would have to be – Tarte, Huda Beauty and Anastasia Beverly Hills.

Eye liner

I’m not a huge liner user but I do like me a liquid liner. I’d say the biggest difference between drugstore and high end eye liners is longevity and pigmentation. There’s a lot of hit and misses with drugstore liners. What I will say is drugstore brands still make awesome liners – Maybelline is one of my favourite brands for drugstore liners. Way back when I did try the Stila stay all day liner and it really was long wearing. So if you need a completely bullet proof eye liner – that’s when it’s worth it to go high end.


The drugstore ABSOLUTELY SMASHES mascaras. I’d say 95% of my ride or die mascaras are from the drugstore and it’s definitely one category you absolutely do not need to go high end for. Unless you’ve tried many affordable mascaras and haven’t found one to work for you. Maybelline makes the best mascaras! I love the push up angel mascara and the colossal volume express. I’ve also used the Rimmel lash accelerator mascara for years. Two high end mascaras I am loving at the moment is the benefit bad gal bang and the tarte ‘lights camera lashes’ mascara. This is definitely one category you could happily stay in the drugstore lane – considering mascaras are the quickest to dry/run out – it’s probably wiser.

Lip products

Last but not least is lipsticks! This is one category I am seriously lazy in! It’s mainly for two reasons a) I love nude lipsticks and wearing eye shadow so I pretty much only go for nude shades b) I absolutely hate having to reapply lipstick – I’m that lazy. So I don’t buy from this category often and about 98% of my lipsticks are affordable. The main difference in affordable and high end lipsticks would be shade range and longevity. There are definitely more comfy but long-wearing lipstick options in the high end category. But it’s definitely a category that has so many awesome and affordable options. I love the chichi viva la diva lipsticks, the sports girl lipsticks and the pixi liquid lipsticks as well as the colour pop ultra glossy.

And that wraps up this long ass post! What do you guys love more drugstore or high-end brands? What categories have you gone for and which option? Drop a comment and let’s chat about it. I hope you all have a great day and I’ll see you in the next post.

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  1. Emily

    February 7, 2019 at 2:31 am

    I agree with the mascara part. Some of my favourite mascaras are from Maybelline and L’Oreal.

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 7, 2019 at 12:11 pm

      Yes, Maybelline kill the mascara game. I’m so content in that area there’s no need to go fancy. x

  2. Gemma Etc.

    February 7, 2019 at 9:40 am

    I love both, and like to have a good mix of drugstore and highend within my makeup and skincare routine xx

    Gemma • Gemma Etc . ❤️

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 7, 2019 at 12:12 pm

      Exactly, it’s good to find some affordable holy grails to throw in the mix.

  3. Siobhán

    February 7, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    So many people swear by drugstore mascaras but I have only ever found one that I loved – L’Oreal Lash Paradise! Other than that, none have lived up to any luxury mascaras I’ve tried xx


  4. Hannah

    February 7, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    I like having a mix of high end and drugstore, but with mascaras I find there are some really great ones that are so affordable. I love the ones from Maybelline xx

    Hannah | luxuryblush

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 7, 2019 at 10:12 pm

      Definitely, it’s good to have a combination of both high end and drugstore, especially to stop breaking the bank.

  5. claire

    February 7, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    i love high end eyeliners but right now i am using the NYX one and i am in love ! it’s so good and long lasting!

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 7, 2019 at 10:14 pm

      There are some hidden gem eyeliners in the drugstore for sure. Nyx and Maybelline make awesome liners. x

  6. Jasmine

    February 7, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    Mascara is definitely the product I almost always choose to save on! Foundation is the thing I splurge on usually

    Jasmine xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 7, 2019 at 10:13 pm

      Foundation is definitely worth the investment, especially for long-wearing formulas. I like my everyday options to be on the affordable side. x

  7. A Woman Of A Certain Age

    February 8, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Whenever I splurge on mascara I regret it 3 months later when it’s time to replace it.

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 8, 2019 at 9:57 am

      Exactly! And there’s just endless affordable options that are so dang good!

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 8, 2019 at 10:00 pm

      They always kill the mascara game. x

  8. Missy May

    February 8, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    I don’t mind drugstore makeup at all. One can find some goodies there. Your post just reminded me that I need a setting spray. Thanks 🙂

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 8, 2019 at 9:59 pm

      Yes drugstore makeup has some seriously awesome gems. The nyx matte and dewy setting spray, the milani setting sprays and the maybelline master precise setting spray are my favourites. x

  9. Marina Rosie

    February 9, 2019 at 4:35 pm

    Wonderful and original post! I love trying out drugstore products and seeing how they perform as opposed to my regular OGs. I’ve always loved the NYX dewy setting spray and the L’oreal Volume Million Lashes mascara so, for those categories I’m down but, admittedly, I just can’t scale down when it comes to highlighters – I’ve just never found something as wet-looking and beautiful as the glow kits from ABH. x
    Marina Rosie x

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 10, 2019 at 12:35 am

      Thank you so much. Yes that Nyx setting spray is so awesome and L’Oreal do such a great job on mascaras. Have you tried the Wet n wild powder highlighter? That is one of my favourite affordable highlighters, as well as the pixi highlighter duo (which gives a seriously wet look)

  10. Danielle Alexa

    February 9, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    I feel like for my awkward skin, high-end just seems to be the best fit for me!

    Danielle xx

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 10, 2019 at 12:33 am

      Yes I feel those with a more oilier skin type are limited in the drugstore catagory, because if there’s one main difference between drugstore and highend it’s longevity.

  11. Deanna

    February 10, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Totally agree with you on this one – especially with eyeshadows and mascaras. Colourpop seems to be the best drugstore option. Their stuff is just great quality for the cost. I use mostly drugstore mascaras too! Most high end seem frivolous considering you shouldn’t be keeping them longer than 3/4 months.

    Lovely post!
    Deanna |

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 10, 2019 at 9:07 pm

      Literally colour pop pressed powder shadows make it unnecessary to go high end with eye shadow. I mean I still do but their quality is insane.

  12. Hannah

    February 12, 2019 at 6:17 am

    I tend to lean toward high end which is so not good for my wallet! But I love a good drugstore haul too especially from NYX, ColourPop, Wet n Wild, etc. I loved the L’Oreal True Match Lumi Foundation before I started going cruelty-free.

    Hannah the Mad Dog

    1. The Makeup Aficionado

      February 12, 2019 at 9:34 am

      I’m getting more and more into high end makeup and it’s scaring me haha. x

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