What Are High-End, Mid-End and Low-End Beauty Products?

High End Low End Drugstore Makeup


It's no wonder some people on the interwebs are confused as to which beauty products come under which category – are they high end, mid-end, low end? And what's drugstore all about? This is because wider market places and a mass saturation of brands and products mean the traditional boundaries between product classifications has blurred. Brands used to fit clearly into luxury and non-luxury goods, but now there's a definite middle ground, and some might say there's emerging sub-categories between these three groups as well. It leads bloggers to get all confused and call mid end products high end or drugstore by mistake. 

As a rule, high end beauty brands (makeup, skincare, haircare, nail polish, fragrance) are also known as luxury or designer products. They are usually attributed to a fashion house or particular designer, though not always. A beauty brand can label their own category when they launch (or re-launch), so they can call themselves luxury without having any connection to the fashion industry. Luxury or high end quality is reflected in the ingredients used, usually of superior quality, and of course in the price. 

Mid-end or mid-range brands are confusing. They're often sold in drugstores like Boots in the UK, though their slightly higher price and quality reflects their 'higher rank' as it were. To confuse matters more, high end brands are also sold on the high street and in drugstores. Am I losing you? 

Low end brands usually go by the much nicer name of 'drugstore' or 'high street', and tend to have far cheaper ingredients and packaging. Talc is a commonly used product in low end brands, it bulks up the product in place of higher quantities of pigment that mid end or high end makeup would use, and low end skincare will probably have less organic and natural ingredients, or less super-duper scientific wizardry. Several years ago a BBC investigation programme tested many ranges of anti-ageing skincare and found that Boots' own brand No.7 was the only one that actually had any reversal effects on lines and wrinkles. So this was a case of low end triumphing over the other two. This was quite a while ago though, and since then science has stepped up massively in skincare across the board. I don't understand how Natasha Denona eyeshadows can retail at $250 a palette when they contain talc, no high end makeup brand should ever have this in it, and it's a mystery why so many beauty bloggers and YouTubers got excited over this 'luxury' product. Hmmm…


Here's a general category list: 

High End 

Tom Ford, Victoria Beckham, Guerlain, YSL, Chanel, Givenchy, Clinique, Clarins, Aurelia, NARS, Bobbi Brown, Shiseido, Hourglass, Dolce & Gabbana, Victor & Rolf, Kenzo, Dior, Laura Mercier, Estee Lauder, Creme de la Mer, Giorgio Armani, Chantecaille, Dr Sebagh, Sisley, Perricone MD, La Prairie, Diptyque, Marc Jacobs, Sunday Riley, Charlotte Tilbury, Tata Harper, By Terry, Oskia

Mid End

Benefit, Urban Decay, BECCA, Too Faced, MAC, Tarte, Kat Von D, Stila, Merumaya, Body Shop, Cargo, Origins, Kiehls, Anastasia Beverly Hills, Jeffree Star, Kylie Jenner, Jouer, Huda Beauty, Pixi, Elemis, Eyeko, Illamasqua

Low End

L'Oreal, Covergirl, Rimmel London, ELF, Sleek, Maybelline, Revlon, NYX, Nivea, Barry M, Bourgois, Max Factor, Miss Sporty, Collection, Zoella Beauty, Garnier, Neutrogena, Dove, Olay, Makeup Revolution, Morphe, Sigma, Tanya Burr


As you can see, it's problematic as people have been vocal online about some mid-end brands being made in the same factories as low end brands, and with very little (sometimes no) difference in ingredients, so the person or people fronting the brand are what bring it from one price point to another. As with Natasha Denona, there are also other brands you might see in the luxury list punching above their weight when it comes to quality of ingredients, but that's a whole other issue…


All the cosmetic images in the top picture are from reviews in my Makeup section.