clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What You're Paying For When You Buy Expensive Makeup

New, 2 comments
Photo: Sephora/Facebook

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

The cost of cosmetics is no joke. Quartz reports that the average American woman will spend over $15,000 on makeup during her lifetime, and that most of this cost can be attributed to extremely inflated prices. Quartz found that the ingredients in your products rarely ever make up more than 15% of the total cost you end up paying at the store. Rather, premium prices are paid for things like packaging, marketing, and brand prestige.

Cosmetic chemist Randy Schueller tells Quartz, "Price does not really correlate to quality when it comes to cosmetic products." Packaging and where makeup is sold have become much more important factors in a product's pricetag. Karen Grant, who works as a beauty industry analyst, says that cosmetic companies can go two different routes when marketing their product. With higher-end stores, companies are paying "for the display areas and the people who are helping to sell the product, whereas in a mass environment it can be sealed up behind a package and sit on a shelf."

Shilling at department stores results in a more costly item, but this hasn't slowed down growth in the high-end beauty industry. There was $56.9 billion spent on high-end makeup last year, according to Euromonitor, and experts predict that number will continue to climb simply because there are now more customers willing to shell out money for more expensive cosmetics. To avoid overpaying for makeup, Quartz suggests looking for products that serve an explicit purpose — whether that be long-lasting lipstick or no-run mascara.


Racked Video: MAC makeup looks