ST. LOUIS — Designer makeup is all the rage, but it can break the bank. Is it worth it?

That’s the question 5 On Your Side set out to answer.

We asked St. Louis stylist Valerie Brown to put some low-cost versions of high-end products to the test on our two models, Kayla Meyers and Kate Michaud, who have opposite beauty beliefs.

"I typically stick to brands I know, which are typically in Sephora," Kayla said.

"Honestly the cheap stuff," Kate said. "I really don't wear makeup."

For each test, Valerie applied the expensive products to the left side of the face and their less expensive counterparts to the right.

Kayla(L) and Kate(R) helped us put the makeup to the test.

Eyeshadow palettes

Urban Decay's Naked 3: $54 vs. L.A. Girl Nudes: $7.99

Urban Decay's Naked 3: $54 vs. L.A. Girl Nudes: $7.99

Valerie noted a quality difference in the brushes included in each set. Urban Decay's palette included a fluffy brush, while L.A. Girl's came with a spongy wand.

"I don't have much hope in this," she said of L.A. Girl’s wand.  "I mean it's not really fluffy at all.”

But, despite the difference in applicators, Valerie applied the shadows, they looked nearly identical.

“I can’t even tell a difference in the eyes,” model Kate said.


Dior Diorshow: $29.50 vs. Maybelline Total Temptation $10.49

Dior Diorshow: $29.50 vs. Maybelline Total Temptation $10.49

One of our models, Kayla, uses Diorshow every day.

"It just gives me the look that I'm looking for," she said. “I love that it gives me a lot of volume.”

Valerie quickly noticed a difference in the consistency of the products. She said the Maybelline felt lighter, while the Diorshow felt thicker.

But when the test was complete, we couldn’t tell a difference.

“The look looks the same,” Valerie said.

Kayla told us after several hours of wear, the Maybelline mascara did start to flake.

Valerie’s tip: no matter what mascara you use, curl your eyelashes.

“Curling eyelashes makes a huge difference,” she said.


NARS powder blush: $30 vs. Milani baked powder blush: $6.99

NARS powder blush: $30 vs. Milani baked powder blush: $6.99

Brown wasn't a fan of the budget-friendly Milani.

"More pigmented and not in a good way," she said.

But model Kate preferred the Milani brand. When she compared cheek to cheek, she said she couldn’t tell a difference.


Kylie Lip Kit in Mary Jo K: $29 vs. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Amsterdam $6.50

Kylie Lip Kit in Mary Jo K: $29 vs. NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Amsterdam $6.50

The classic red lip is hard to top.

The two shades we tried, Mary Jo K in the Kylie Lip Kit and Amsterdam in the NYX lip cream, weren’t perfect matches. Mary Jo K was a deeper, darker red, while Amsterdam is a lighter, brighter shade.

But that wasn’t the only thing that stood out. Both of our models liked the way the cheap product more than the pricey one.

Stylist Valerie said the NYX was also easier to apply.

"[The NYX] still feels really moisturized and like velvety, and [the Kylie Lip Kit] one feels really dry," Kayla said.

"It is. There's definitely a difference," Kate said.

Our bill

The designer products set us back $142.50.
The drug store brands totaled just $32.


If you can achieve a similar look for a fraction of the cost, why do high-end products cost more?

To answer that question, we checked in with Washington University dermatologist Dr. M. Laurin Council. She studied the products we tested and found the biggest differences were in the packaging.

"The ingredients were very similar," Dr. Council said. “But what you might find is they might have differences in how they’re packaged or how they’re processed. Some may last longer than others. Some may go on more easily. But from a dermatology perspective, there’s not a tremendous amount of difference."

But she said to be aware of irritants.

“Any cosmetic, whether it’s expensive or really [in]expensive can cause irritation,” she said. “It has nothing to do with the cost of the products. It’s just that some of the ingredients may cause more irritation than others.”

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