To Buy or Not To Buy: Comparing Drug Store vs Department Store Products

Recently in a group of friends one asked if I use ‘expensive’ products… something I’ve been asked before.  So I decided to do a little study of products from department stores vs say, a local drug store or retail box such as Target.  As I told her I usually review products in which I get samples and as we know usually only department stores or places like Sephora or Ulta offer those.

My point of reference was a recent trip to Napa where I committed the ultimate ‘Oh no!!!” as the TSA officer informed me that there were several “unauthorized” products in my carry on that had to be disposed.  I was close to tears as I watched in horror as over $100 in products were tossed into the TSA trash container.  To be fair, the officer believed I could run to Virgin’s main check-in and try to locate my checked bag to insert those products, but fearing I would miss my plane I chose to purchase replacements when I arrived at our destination. (I might add that my flight was delayed coming in from New York City by over an hour so I would have had time… But this “oops!” offered a learning experience for me since I would have to go to Target to replace everything.) What I learned (in most cases) is the validly of that age old saying –“you get what you pay for.”

Hairspray: I watched my $25 can of hairspray being tossed but was able to replace it with another from Target.  It sorta kinda worked for me.  Make sense?  “Firm” was more like a helmet head and “Natural” just didn’t hold at all.  They were left at the B&B for another guest who may have suffered my fate. Enough said.

Lipstick: A good lipstick relies on excellent pigmentation and long-lasting wear throughout the day. Buying a more expensive lipstick can give you ideal color payoff again and again or a less expensive brand will need to be renewed often.  You don’t need to be nearly as picky with lip gloss as you do with lipstick, so feel free to purchase this item anywhere.  You don’t need the same pigment you do from lipstick.

Foundation:  Department store brands will often have more pigments, along with add-ins such as serums, light-reflectors, and sunscreen, which drug store brands might not include or may offer in lower doses. It all depends on the benefits you’re looking for in your foundation.

Eye shadow, much like blush, has similar ingredients across the board, but department store brands have premium versions of those ingredients. Drugstore eye shadow can sometimes feel chalky and have less pigmentation, while department store brands might have better color payoff and provide a smoother application, which means you don’t have to use as much product per wear. If you compare the two you will notice less expensive brands tend to have more frost in their eye shadows which is probably talc.

As for eyeliners, I’ve have used department store and drugstore brands, and as long as they have a soft kohl tip they perform basically the same. You might pay for a better applicator on a department store pencil, and some have a built-in pencil sharpener, so it’s up to you to decide.

One other comment.  Retinol.  Many products state they contain Retinol, which is a every woman’s BFF.  If the product packaging states it – it must be in there.  However the percentage is where the cost factor comes in to play.

Regardless of where you purchase your products – use them faithfully.  Taking care of our skin is so important.  Gone are the days when you wash your face, pat it dry and know you are doing the best you can.  Too much sun exposure will break down collagen and elastin.  Free radicals which are associated with the sun’s ultraviolet light can cause skin damage. The list goes on and on.  Bottom line?  Spend five minutes a day in caring for your skin… and always smile!

Her smiles are magic and her eyes are a glimpse of Heaven. – jo

3 thoughts on “To Buy or Not To Buy: Comparing Drug Store vs Department Store Products

  1. This is great information, Judy! I am comparing mascaras now, Cover Girl, vs Lancome. Also, I forgot to check my skin products for Retinol so thank you for that reminder! There are so many products out there to choose from, your blog is very helpful!!!

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