Cosmetics: Cheap or expensive?

March 27, 2008 10:22:57 AM PDT
High end cosmetics at low prices. Can you really get that the same quality of the top brands for less at the drug store? Audrey Mansfield found out.

For more information on Paula Begoun's Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me:

Drugstore products featured in this segment:

    Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle NIght Cream, $17.39 for 1.4 oz.
    Olay Regenerist Perfecting Cream, $18.99 for 1.7 oz.
    CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, $11.99 for 12 oz.
    Garnier Nutriste Nutri-Pure Microbead Cream Scrub, $5.99 for 5 oz.
    Jane Be Pure Pillow Blush, $5.99
    ELF Eyeshadow, $1
    CoverGirl Smoothwear Liptints, $6.49
    ELF Super Glossy Lip Gloss, $1
    Maybelline Age Rewind, $5.39
    CoverGirl Lash Exact Mascara, $6.99

Must-haves from Paula Begoun:


  • Best water soluble cleansers for all skin types
    Inexpensive: Cera Ve
    Expensive: La Mer

  • Best toners for all skin types
    Inexpensive: Nu Skin NaPCA Moisture Mist ($10.74 for 8.4 ounces); Jane Iredale Pom Mist ($17.50 for 2 ounces).
    Expensive: MD Formulations Moisture Defense Antioxidant Spray ($28 for 8.3 ounces); M.A.C. Lightful Softening Lotion ($28 for 5 ounces).

  • Best scrubs
    Inexpensive: Garnier-Nutri-pure
    Expensive: Dior-Exfoliant

  • Best makeup removers
    Inexpensive: Pond's Bare & Repair, Conditioning Eye Make-Up Remover ($6.09 for 4 ounces)
    Expensive: Elizabeth Arden All Gone Eye and Lip Makeup Remover ($16 for 3.4 ounces)

  • Best acne products
    Inexpensive: Oxy Oxy Lotion, Vanishing Acne Medication ($5.69 for 1 ounce); J&J Persa-Gel
    Expensive: NV Perricone- Acne Treatment Gel Cream

  • Best moisturizers for normal to dry skin
    Inexpensive: Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Aging Moisturizer, Mature Skin Therapy ($17.49 for 1.7 ounces)
    Expensive: Clinique Continuous Rescue Antioxidant Moisturizer Dry/Combination ($39.50 for 1.7 ounces)

  • Best serums for all skin types
    Inexpensive: Sonia Kashuk Repair Vitamin Enriched Serum ($18.99 for 0.5 ounce; available only at Target stores
    Expensive: Chanel Age Delay Rejuvenation Serum ($68.50 for 1 ounce)

  • Best sunscreens and daytime moisturizers
    Inexpensive: Almay Daily Moisturizer for Normal/Combo Skin with Grape Seed SPF 15 ($11.99 for 4 ounces); Dove Energy Glow Brightening Moisturizer SPF 15 ($10.99 for 1.7 ounce)
    Expensive: DDF Daily Protective Moisturizer SPF 15 ($36 for 1.7 ounces); Estee Lauder Future Perfect Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Lotion SPF 15, for Normal/Combination Skin ($65 for 1.7 ounces).

  • Best skin-lightening
    Inexpensive: Alpha Hydrox Spot Light Targeted Skin Lightener ($15 for 0.85 ounce)
    Expensive: Rodan + Fields Reverse Step 3 Treat: Skin Lightening Lotion ($65 for 1.7 ounces)

  • Best oil-absorbing/blotting papers for normal to very oily skin
    Inexpensive: e.l.f. Professional Shine Eraser ($1 for 50 sheets)
    Expensive: Shu Uemura Face Paper ($12 for 40 sheets)


  • Best foundations with sunscreen (SPF 15 or Greater)
    Inexpensive: L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Makeup SPF 17 ($9.99)
    Expensive: Chanel Double Perfection Fluide Matte Reflecting Makeup SPF 15 ($42.50)

  • Best sheer foundations/tinted moisturizers with sunscreen
    Inexpensive: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer SPF 20 ($10.99)
    Expensive: N.V. Perricone Active Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15 ($65)

Best foundations without sunscreen for very oily skin:

  • Best concealers
    Inexpensive: Maybelline New York Instant Age Rewind Under Eye Concealer ($5.39)
    Expensive: Stila Illuminating Concealer ($22)

  • Best pressed powders
    Inexpensive: Maybelline New York Dream Matte Face Powder ($7.99) or Cover Girl Advanced Radiance Age-Defying Pressed Powder ($6.99)
    Expensive: Lorac Translucent Touch Up Powder ($32) or M.A.C. Mineralized Skinfinish ($24.50)

  • Best powder blushes
    Inexpensive: Jane Blushing Cheeks Blush ($3.79)
    Expensive: Clarins Compact Powder Blush ($26) Estee Lauder- tender blush

  • Best eyebrow gels and brow tints
    Inexpensive: e.l.f. Wet Gloss Lash & Brow Clear Mascara ($1; clear brow gel); Stila Brow Polish ($12; tinted)
    Expensive: Trish McEvoy Brow Gel ($20; clear brow gel); Bobbi Brown Natural Brow Shaper ($17; tinted)

  • Best cream lipsticks
    Inexpensive: Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick ($5.99) or L'Oreal H-I-P Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor ($10)
    Expensive: Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Plump Perfect Lipstick ($21.50) or Giorgio Armani Lipstick Mania ($25)

  • Best lip pencils
    Inexpensive: Prestige Cosmetics Waterproof Automatic Lip Liner ($4.89)
    Expensive: Lancome Le Crayon Lip Contour ($21)

  • Best mascaras
    Inexpensive: L'Oreal Lash Architect 3-D Dramatic Mascara ($8.29, straight or curved brush) or Max Factor Volume Couture Mascara ($6.99)
    Expensive: Lancome Fatale Exceptional Volume Sculpting 3D Comb Mascara ($23) or Chanel Sculpte Cils Sculpting Mascara Extreme Length Fine Lashes ($25)

  • Best makeup brushes
    Inexpensive: The Body Shop ($8.50-$24.50)
    Expensive: Trish McEvoy ($14-$72)