There are such wide-ranging prices when it comes to make-up that I've sometimes wondered if I'm wasting my cash on the mainstream brands.
After all, it's possible to pay anything between 50p and £15.00 for a lipstick — and I'm not shopping in the most expensive places.
I started to wonder if I was falling victim to adverts; if pseudo-science was persuading me to spend four times as much as I need to.
So I visited the make-up stand at my local indoor market. I wanted to see how cheap I could kit out my make-up bag and how the quality compared.
The price of powders and potions
At the market, the make-up stand had a huge amount of choice — much more than you'd get in a supermarket, which is where I usually buy my cosmetics.
The woman behind the counter didn't bat an eyelid when I asked which her cheapest brands were; in fact she came round to the front point them out. There was considerable choice even among the budget brands, and I picked up a foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, mascara and eye shadow.
In total, I paid £5.50.
Before I can compare the prices, I need to bite the bullet and work out exactly how much I've paid for my existing everyday make-up.
|My current make-up||The budget brands|
|Eye shadow||£6.99||Eye shadow||£0.50|
That's £40.96 more. £40.96 more, in fact, the expensive brands are a whopping 844% the price of the cheaper ones — that's a crazy difference.
Unbelievable as those figures are, I've always believed I don't buy the expensive make-up brands. After all, if I let myself loose on the Benefit counter at Debenhams, I'm sure I could spend over £100 on just those basic few items.
But it's not a saving unless the budget brands are actually usable, so I've been testing them out.
Applying the foundation, there was an obvious immediate difference. I use Max Factor Miracle Touch Foundation, which is a soft mousse-like product that feels really light on my skin.
The £1.70 alternative felt much heavier but gave my skin less cover. A few minutes after applying, I couldn't really tell that I was wearing any, although my skin felt greasy and clogged.
The mascara was a bit of a letdown too — it's dryer than my usual brand and doesn't apply well.
My new lipstick is a great colour and applies easily — it looks good. The only difference between this and a more expensive brand seems to be that it wears off more quickly. If you don't mind re-applying more often then the lipstick is fine.
It's the same with my new, cheap eyeliner and eye shadow. Despite the massive difference in prices, the quality was pretty good. Again, I did need to re-apply sooner than usual, but not so often that the more expensive brands would have worked out cheaper.
So what would I buy again? I'm unwilling to switch to a cheaper brand of foundation. My skin felt oily and clogged but it didn't give me even skin colour. I'd also not consider switching mascaras.
The other bits of make-up were fine and I'd certainly be willing to save money by using them in the future.
If I was going to a party or an event where I couldn't check and update my make-up, I'd certainly prefer to be wearing the pricier brands. But for everyday make-up, I'm sure I could save money by switching to these cheaper options.
Saving without sacrificing
This experiment has shown me that there is some value in the well-known but pricier brands — the quality is different.
But my trip to the market was an eye opener. Although I only bought the cheapest brands for this comparison, the stall was stocked with all the mainstream brands I usually buy.
From Max Factor to Rimmel, there was a huge array of my usual products but all at around a third less than I pay elsewhere.
I may not be willing to switch to the budget brands but I'm definitely going to switch where I shop.
- Felicity is Yahoo! Finance's new money-saving columnist. If you have a money-saving scheme you'd like to see tried out then let us know in the comment box below.