Sunday, November 14, 2010

High-end vs. low-end vs. indie

In case you haven't noticed, there's a lot of debate about whether high-end makeup is any better than low-end stuff. A lot of this leaves out the indie companies at least half my stash comes from. So I thought I'd do a quick pros and cons of each category.

The biggest criteria people use when they refer to high-end and low-end products is cost and quality. Higher cost doesn't necessarily equate higher-quality, but it does sometimes. There are also some excellent and low-cost products out there.

High-end pros:
Packaging is always beautiful
Available at Sephora, Ulta, and online
Larger companies have access to some really good ingredients and formulas

High-end cons:
Some products really just don't work as well as you'd hope.
Sometimes the ingredients list looks just as bad as low-end stuff.

High-end winners (worth the dough - but maybe wait for sales anyway):
-Tarte cheek stains. Beautiful products. The natural formula ones are hit-and-miss (I swapped away Green Siren because it was so hard and waxy, but Natural Beauty and Ten are beautiful).
-Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliners. Great staying power, and more color selection than cheaper knockoffs (some of which are actually ok)
-Korres eyeliners - creamy, natural colors without questionable ingredients.
-Josie Maran argan oil sunblock - doesn't clog skin, works great!
-Gabriel Color lipsticks (cost similar to high-end, available more at natural stores). Also good. I really like their lipglosses, too.

Low-end/drugstore pros:
Easily available.
Some really good stuff out thare.

Low-end/drugstore cons:
Much more likely to be full of synthetic crap.
Some really sucky products (I'm looking at you, Cover Girl smoky shadow stick).
Packaging often looks and feels cheaper.
Harder to find good bright colors.

Low-end/drugstore winners (Good stuff, great price, extra win!):
-Ecotools brushes. Most of my brushes are Ecotools, and they are excellent.
-Physicians Formula Healthy Wear powder foundation. SPF!!! 50!!!
-Wet N Wild Color Icon eyeshadow palettes - surprisingly good pigmentation!

Now, my favorite category of makeup is indie, artisan stuff. There are tons of small companies started by people who love makeup and just want to make some really good stuff for makeup fiends everywhere. Prices for indie stuff tend to be a little more than drugstore but less than high-end. Quality varies from brand to brand, and you have to be careful that you're not just buying repackaged mica. You can avoid this by knowing how plain mica behaves without a base and following bloggers.

Indie pros:
Wide variety of products.
Creators usually have a lot of passion for it, which shows.
Creators are very responsive to customer feedback.
Some really awesome stuff!

Indie cons:
You have to sample in order to know if a color will work, because you can't make returns and don't want to be surprised by products that don't look like the picture.
Shipping costs money most places.
Some shops have minimum orders.
Research is super-necessary.

Indie winners!
Silk Naturals skincare, eyeshadow, vegan lip gloss.
Hi-Fi shadows
Aromaleigh everything (so sad about them, still)
Fyrinnae shadows
adorned with Grace foundation and blush
Morgana Cryptoria vegan lipstick.

Probably will expound on this topic more later - but I have to get ready to kid-wrangle. :)

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