The Difference Between A $6 Lipstick & A $30 One

As anyone who's eaten a $2.15 In-N-Out burger knows full well, you don't always have to drop cash for quality. Sometimes, the cheap stuff is actually better than the fancier versions — and it's true at the drugstore, too.
Thanks to serious innovations in the last few years (plus new brands like Nyx and Colourpop), the drugstore is now home to some of the best beauty buys in the game. To see how our favorite budget lipsticks really stack up against their high-end competitors, we grabbed two R29 staffers for a blind test, asking them to evaluate the sheen, pigment, and longevity of four lipsticks without revealing the price. Check out their reactions above.
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So how do you navigate the extensive drugstore makeup selection like a pro? We spoke with makeup artist Nina Soriano to get her take on balancing price vs. pigment. "Luxury brands tend to deliver in color and application quality over drugstore varieties," she admits. But a little research goes a long way. Soriano recommends testing out designer brands in a department store and then trying to find color and texture dupes at the drugstore. "This way, when you're searching for a less expensive version, you have a better idea of how it's going to look on you," she says.
Soriano also broke down some lipstick basics for spotting quality, regardless of where you're shopping. "When you swipe a lipstick on your hand, see how the color glides. If the color stays solid, it's a good sign of great pigment," she says. And if it spreads on easily, that suggests that it contains a lot of moisture and will deliver smoothly onto your lips. "You definitely don't want to have a dry lipstick with an uneven or cakey consistency," she adds.
Soriano counts Revlon, Maybelline, and L'Oréal as her go-to drugstore lipstick brands. You can check out other budget picks we swear by right here.
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