Bargain Buys / Drugstore / Lip Looks / Lips

Pink Lips & The Great Debate: Drugstore or High End?

For those of you not on board with the pink lip, you’ll be happy to hear that this is the last one you’ll be seeing for awhile. I’m notoriously fickle with my lip wardrobe, but for at least the next season month week, I’m moving on to other colors. Dabbling with corals, playing with nudes, and going back to my long-term crush on red. Starting with Lancome Miss Coquelicot Rouge in Love. Hello there. Kindly hop into my shopping basket, will you?

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The last of the pink lip products I’ve purchased lately is part of the Maybelline Color Whisper Line. This is Faint For Fuchsia, a sheer baby pink. Maybe Maybelline wants to rethink that name…

It’s yet another iteration of the gloss-balm we’ve been seeing so much lately, with the slanted flat-top that practically screams, “Hell0, I am foolproof and forgiving.” It glides on nicely, with a formula that’s much less waxy than the Revlon Lip Butters. Here’s the overall effect:

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It’s more of a wearable pink than anything I currently in my stash (don’t take my word for that though, as I consistently forget what I do and do not own), and goes equally well with a clean face and dramatic night-out makeup. It’s pretty and decently moisturizing and basically everything a gloss balm should be. I like it. But I don’t love it.

See, for all my complaining way back when about how dupable the Dior Addict lipsticks are, I’m starting to realize they’re not as easily replaceable as I once thought. For one thing, the packaging is so much cooler. Stop laughing, I’m being serious. And for another, well, they’re just better all around. 1) The formula achieves a level of smoothness and moisturization I have yet to see in any of these drugstore renditions, 2) they’re such a pleasure to use, and 3) Kate Moss is in the ads, so end of story.

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gratuitous lip swatch to aid you in your thinking

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who gravitates toward high-end offerings. In fact, I used to think just the opposite, that I was a bargain-hunting, drugstore aisle-stalking beauty addict. But in the past year, I’ve begun to really appreciate the value of certain luxury brands. I’ve been doing a bit of beauty writing outside of Makeup Morsels lately, and my roundups and ‘best of’ lists have been overwhelmingly stacked in the favor of more expensive makeup (especially Chanel, I swear that brand will be my the death of my bank account). In fact, when I was assigned a story on spring drugstore launches, I almost pulled a muscle trying to get words onto the screen. My friend, who has absolutely no filter and never hesitates to say it like it is, gave me some feedback.

“I could feel the pain sweating out of your pores when I read that,” she said.

She gets me.

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To be clear, I remain very appreciative of the drugstore for its affordability, and won’t hesitate to haul a thing or two from there when the urge hits. But from a non-reviewer, beauty-writer standpoint, it’s hard not to be biased in favor of high-end brands. After all, they are the ones who set the trends. This is certainly not true in every case, but I’ve found that the luxury market and runways are where innovation tends to originate. From an aesthetic perspective, there’s simply no competition when it comes to packaging. And while not all expensive makeup is created equal, there are some standouts that simply cannot be recreated at a cheaper price point (I’m thinking Chanel shimmer right now, but there are many other things on the list).

So I turn it over to you now, do you prefer drugstore or high-end makeup? What are some specific beauty products worth splurging on? I’m sure you already know mine.

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24 thoughts on “Pink Lips & The Great Debate: Drugstore or High End?

  1. I do love you in pink lips, but I am not really feeling this color…not for me anyway, and I agree…the naming needs to be questioned. I totally feel you with the whole high end thing…the packaging is always stellar and the formula is nearly always better. I have really grown to appreciate it. Dior and Chanel nail polishes are my weaknesses. But I swear they trump everything. I try to spread myself between low, middle, and high end brands…but because I am a compulsive shopper, cheaper deals make crappy days better without damaging my bank account too much. I am sure once I am out of grad school, the crappy days will be less and the nice makeup more abundant.

    • I’m not really feeling it either compared to some of the other colors I own, but I don’t hate it enough to return it (wow, look at that ringing endorsement LOL). Ah yes, Chanel polishes. Often imitated never replicated.

  2. Very well put! I am with you 100%! High end makeup trumps drug store in certain areas, lipstick is ome of them. The Whispers are great! Easy, and smooth. Though other high end offers are easier, smoother and more incredible! The shades of higher end product simply cannot be beat!

    • Yes, exactly! The Whispers are good, but high end versions are BETTER. So at that point it’s just like, what do you want? Quantity or quality? Drugstore is a great way to try more colors in a formula you like, whereas I’d go high-end if I wanted one or two shades in a formula I loved.

    • OMG Guerlain. I lovee them, it’s a serious problem for my wallet. I go through phases too, drugstore is kind of where I test what I do and don’t like, and then I go high-end after I have a more solid idea.

  3. this is pretty on you!!! I have one of these color whispers (cherry on top) and it is quite bright! I haven’t ever tried the dior addict line, as I could never decide on a shade lol. I contemplated getting one from the sephora sale, but I just don’t know!

    • Thanks Joyce! Yes, I was originally going to get that one, but unfortunately they were all out. Sad because it seemed like my kind of shade. I highly highly recommend Dior lipsticks, they have the drugstore beat in terms of formula, and there are some stunning shades in the lineup.

  4. Ugh, the pink compliments your skin tone so well. But it is getting old, and orange is the thing nowadays! (also these obnoxiously bright colors are in season…WHY…a nightmare for a neutral lover like me)
    I most definitely prefer high-end products :) I like sticking to my lip balms & chapstick to play it safe (as always), but I am obsessed with Dior… I have a small eyeshadow and lipstick palette and a rosy-pink shimmery lip gloss in your favorite packaging…haha. But I do appreciate the convenience and kind prices of drugstore products, like Maybelline BabyLips & Burt’s Bees natural lip gloss ^___^
    I might try getting a stick of Color Whisper to see what the hype is about!

    • Aw, thank you! I’m a little lukewarm on it, but at least I feel like it looks ok with my coloring. I’m surprised we’re doing the whole orange for spring/summer thing again. After Tangerine Tango last year, I guess I just figured everyone would be sick of the shade, but I guess not. Yes, Dior has some really good stuff. I’m not crazy about their eyeshadows (much prefer their old formula), but their lip products are almost always on point.

      Skip the Color Whispers, go for the Dior Addicts.

  5. Oh MM, I love this cooler-toned pink on you!

    I also have a (almost) shameless preference for high-end products. The problem with Belgium is that we don’t have that many drugstore brands to begin with, and all the products are priced pretty high anyways. Anything would easily cost over 10 euros, and sometimes they have been opened and swatched. It freaks me out a little. There are drugstore products I own and love as much as luxury ones, but in general we are not blessed with as many choices.

    • Thanks Sunny! I still don’t really know how I feel about it LOL, I like it less and less every day. Maybe I’ll eventually come around though, who knows? And yes, I’ve noticed that America really has a different take on drugstore makeup compared to a lot of other countries. In Taiwan, it’s kind of the same case as Europe, where I’d classify the drugstore products as more mid-end in terms of pricing.

  6. While I’d like to indulge in high-end only, budget makes it impossible. And sometimes I want to experiment, which is safer to do with a drugstore item than investing in a $30 Chanel gloss that I might never actually wear. But this week I found that 3 of my remaining Revlon Colorburst glosses have gone bad and I’m so pissed. By comparison, I’ve had an old Dior gloss for years without any change in colour, scent or texture. Sometimes I’m inclined to agree that we get what we pay for, but I guess in the end we just need to be smart about it and do what’s best for individual situation. Somehow, I find it easier to pay a lot more for a good lipstick but I have a hard time paying a lot for gloss.

    • Well put! I don’t recommend starting out high end, I agree that a lot of the experimentation that goes into finding what you do and don’t like is much easier to do at the drugstore. But once you have a better understanding of your taste and have done your research, I feel that high-end is just…better. As long as you’re smart about it, of course. And I’m the same! I don’t know what that is, I’m just going to blame it on Lipstick Bandit mentality hahaha.

  7. Like Liz, I have a problem paying a high end price for certain items like gloss and mascara. Nail polish too. Not that I don’t EVER do it. But gloss and polish are things I just don’t use a lot, and I’m lucky that my lashes are nice so I can make any mascara work for me. Other things though are a different story. I find as I’ve aged, a lot of drugstore products just don’t cut it any more. I need more finely milled powders and foundations that blend easily. Formulas that work better on aging skin tend to be higher end, so those are the kinds of products I’ll spend more money on. As for lipsticks-it depends. I do tend to have more higher end ones because they have testers. I need to swatch before I buy, and a lot of drugstore lipsticks you can’t do that with.

    • I have a hard time paying high end prices for mascara, but I have not found a SINGLE drugstore mascara that I like. I like Canadian, Asian, and European drugstore mascaras, just not American ones. What is wrong with me LOL.

  8. Your lips look so luscious…hee hee. ;) I’m a big fan of pink lippies.

    Anyways, not gonna lie. I prefer high-end makeup. (That $350/year VIB minimum at Sephora? Piece of cake. Unfortunately.)

    That being said, I’m always open to learning about good drugstore finds. My latest has been CG’s Clump Crusher mascara.

    (I stocked up on some skincare basics from Sephora)

    • hahaha thank you my dear! What are some of your favorite pinks? And I actually never reach that because I prefer to do my beauty shopping at Nordstrom most of the time. Hmm, maybe I should try that one. So far, I’ve been disappointed by every US drugstore mascara I’ve ever tried, but maybe that one will change my mind.

  9. I think you know where I stand on this one MM! I’m high-end pretty much all the way. There are cases for and against, but I think it just comes down to individual preference and how what you use makes you feel. For me, I find when I buy drugstore, unless it totally rocks my world, I won’t use it much or I’ll rush to use it all up and get rid of it. That’s no way to view makeup! On the flipside, high-end just makes me happy looking at it, using it, etc. I don’t care if it stays in my stash for years – it looks GOOD and usually performs well because while I love luxury items, I also make sure to purchase ones I know I’ll love and use because the high cost demands it of me. There are some things I will still buy from the drugstore here and there and it’s cool, but overall I skip out on even going there because I’m almost always disappointed in some way, and while it may have cost $10 vs $30, if I do that once a month, in three months I could have just bought what I wanted. Ya know what I’m sayin’? (of course you do, you just wrote about it :o)

    • Yup, I think I do! There are things in my collection I still reach for that are from the drugstore, but they are becoming outnumbered by the higher end pieces. I’m also starting to get disappointed by my drugstore purchases. There are some that are great, but a lot of them just could be better, and then I’m just like what am I doing? If this could be better, that’s just another way of saying it’s a waste of money. And yes hahaha, I know what you’re sayin’ :P

  10. I’ve also started to gravitate more towards high-end stuff, because like you said, it’s generally better. On the flip side, I get super really pissed off when something that cost $30 disappears after an hour on my lips, and I’m always super thorough in researching stuff before I buy it, because I know there’s a lot of luxury makeup that just doesn’t perform. I was intrigued by the Color Whispers, but it sounds like they’re a little underwhelming, which is why I ended up opting not to buy one (that, and the fact that I have several lippies en route, ha!). I do wish that high end makeup were more accessible for me––I can swatch Dior, Chanel, and parts of NARS, but pretty much everything else has to be done online, which is annoying.

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