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Ask Val: Will I Get a Better Mascara or Eye Shadow if I Spend More?
A: Yes, you can get better eye makeup if you pay more for it—up to a point, says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer, founder and president of Mix Solutions in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. There are terrific options at the drugstore, home of big brands with great research and development teams. Because they're vying for your loyalty, these companies are constantly developing cutting-edge applicator and pigment technologies. At the department store, says Hammer, you'll see diminishing returns on your money: What you get is very similar to high-end drugstore brands.
Very similar, maybe, but not the same, says Anne Carullo, senior vice president of global product development at EstÉe Lauder. "The arsenal of ingredients and processes available to us aren't available to less expensive brands," she says. "We create our own pigments and coat them in a way that makes the application smoother and the wear longer, and we use a higher concentration of color." Department store brands are also likely to have more-durable packaging and include more bells and whistles. (A weighty gold compact does not equal better eyeshadow, but pulling it out of your bag can feel pleasingly luxurious.)
Keep in mind: Whether you're thrifty or extravagant, don't forget to replace your mascara every three months and your eyeshadows every two years, because they can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
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