• Kate Foster

THE REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HIGH-END AND DRUGSTORE MAKEUP

We've all been there: After weeks of deliberation, you finally decide to shell out the extra cash for a crazy expensive beauty product. You bring it home, take it out of the box, swipe it on and... it's not all that great, after all. Ugh.


Would it blow your mind if we told you it’s no coincidence that your makeup bag is as high-low as your closet (a drugstore mascara here, a designer foundation there)? Or that the price of a product often has nothing to do with its quality? "Often, there are minimal differences between the actual formulas and most are made in the same labs and factories," says CLOVE + HALLOW Founder and CEO Sarah Biggers-Stewart, who also formulates our products. Here are some things you might be paying extra for when you decide to splurge.



BRANDING & PACKAGING

If you find yourself tempted to buy a product because it looks gorgeous on every influencer's vanity, know that you may be paying a premium for the packaging, not the actual product inside. Just like you choose between cheap and expensive products when shopping, beauty brands choose between more and less affordable versions of packaging, and when they choose a less affordable version, they have to boost the product price to cover the extra packaging cost. In general, if a product comes in very complex packaging—especially in a shape or color you've only ever seen that brand use—there's probably an included up-charge.


Similarly, if you're attracted to a product because it's a designer brand with a well-known name, know that you'll probably pay more for your product carrying the brand name alone. In essence, because that brand knows you'll pay more for a product with their name and/or logo, they charge more. It might sound shady, but it's how designer products have been sold for... well, pretty much forever.


MARKETING

Commercials. Magazine ads. Social media ads. Celebrity endorsements. Events. Influencer promotion. All of these things cost money—often huge amounts of money. (Some influencers make hundreds of thousands of dollars for one post!) Unfortunately, that money doesn't just appear out of thin air. You're helping pay for it with every product you buy. Think about it: You know those beauty brands that have a cult following for their under-$15 products? Not only do they have super simple packaging (see above), but you've probably never seen an ad for them anywhere.


CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

First, a clarification: There's a big difference between customer service and customer experience. A brand should always be held to high customer service standards. Customer experience encompasses things like free samples, one-on-one consultations, and try-on-at-home services. "These all eat away at margins, so only luxury-priced brands can offer them sustainably," says Biggers-Stewart.


CLEANER SUPPLY CHAIN

Of course, there are some very legitimate reasons to pay a little extra for certain products. "Sometimes you are paying for a 'cleaner' supply chain, such as sourcing raw materials from the United States or EU instead of China," says Biggers-Stewart. This might mean the raw material is sourced more sustainably or ethically, has been tested more thoroughly for safety, or is derived from a source that's proven to yield a more potent ingredient. In general, brands will want to promote a cleaner supply chain, so if they're not up-front about sourcing, they're likely up-charging on products for one of the reasons above.

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