Best Makeup Brands
Updated on 02/28/2018
What’s in your makeup can be as important as how good your makeup makes you look and feel. Look for products that are free of harmful ingredients, and follow a regular skincare regimen to keep your skin healthy and free of blemishes and outbreaks. Makeup comes in all types, including:
- Eye shadow
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Compare Reviews for Top Makeup Brands
Read 282 Reviews
Since Ulta Beauty was founded in 1990, the company has grown to be one of the largest beauty retailers in the U.S. Consumers can find anything from cosmetics to salon services at Ulta.
Read 165 Reviews
Sephora was founded in France in 1970 as a prestige cosmetic retailer. The first U.S. store opened in 1998, and the store continues to sell only prestige products. Stores offer customers consultations and makeup classes.
Read 389 Reviews
Neutrogena Acne is a complete system designed to treat a multitude of breakouts because as they say "not all breakouts are the same." With ingredients like salicylic acid, Neutrogena treats different acne and all skin types.
Read 32 Reviews
Younique is a direct sales company founded in 2012. It specializes in cosmetics and skin products such as mascara, lipstick and body lotion and was one of the first direct sales companies to use social media parties for sales.
Read 30 Reviews
Established in 1976, bareMinerals makes makeup products from natural ingredients, including essential minerals that can improve your skin over time. Find their prestige makeup products in select retailers and online.
Read 144 Reviews
Estee Lauder launched in 1946 as a skincare company for women. Today, the company continues to sell luxury and high-end skincare products and cosmetics online and at retailers around the world.
Read 25 Reviews
The prestige makeup brand MAC began as a single counter in a Toronto department store in 1984. The bold colors of MAC are popular among celebrities, and consumers can find MAC products and artists in upscale stores.
|Mary Kay Cosmetics|
Read 47 Reviews
Beauty by Mary Kay was launched in 1963, and today over three and a half million consultants sell Mary Kay products around the world. Find a full range of skincare and cosmetic products online or from a local consultant.
Read 83 Reviews
Founded in 1984 in Utah, Nu Skin is an international personal care and dietary supplement company specializing in makeup and dietary supplements. Its products are sold by over 1.2 million independent distributors in 54 markets.
Read 171 Reviews
Covergirl, which was founded fifty years ago in 1961, sells a full range of beauty products. The company is famous for promoting that women have their own unique beauty on the inside and out.
Considerations when buying a new makeup brand
Following a stringent skincare routine is essential for anyone who regularly wears makeup. Your face needs to be well moisturized, exfoliated and cleansed in order for your makeup to go on smoothly and to avoid breakouts. Many cosmetic brands produce skincare products, which are specially made to work with their cosmetics. To that end, you may benefit from using the same brand for both skincare and makeup since the products will build off one another and work together well.
- Cleanser: The type of cleanser you use will largely depend on your skin type. Dry skin will benefit from a gentle cleanser that doesn’t have any alcohol or fragrances, and oily skin will benefit from an oil-free foaming cleanser. Cleanse your face in the morning and at night, making sure all of your makeup is removed before you go to bed. It’s also a good idea to cleanse before you exercise to keep your makeup from clogging up your pores and prevent breakouts.
- Toner: Only use toner if you have oily skin, since it can quickly dry out your skin. If you have oily skin, applying a toner after cleansing your face can remove extra oil and make your face less shiny.
- Acne treatment: If you have acne or acne-prone skin, apply your benzoyl peroxide acne treatment before your moisturizer. Resist the urge to over-apply your acne treatment, as this can increase oil production and actually result in more acne.
- Moisturize: Every skin needs moisturizer, even oily skin. The key is finding the right moisturizer for your skin type. If you have oily skin and/or acne, look for a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer that won’t clog your pores. Look for a moisturizer with broad spectrum SPF to protect your face from sun damage. Moisturizers can vary, and lower-end ones tend to just sit on your face rather than sinking in and really moisturizing it. Spend some extra money on a good moisturizer with better emulsifiers that will sink into your skin and make it healthier.
- Primer: A lot of people don’t think about primer or think it’s just a gimmick. The reality is that primer can be really helpful for smoothing your skin out and hydrating it, creating a nice canvas for the rest of your makeup and increasing your makeup’s staying power. Some women even find that they only need to apply primer to get the evened out look they’re going for with makeup.
Different makeup products work on different skin types. Knowing your skin type is an important step in choosing the right makeup brand and type for your skin. Your skin type can change with the seasons, so you may find that the makeup that works during the warm spring and summer months doesn’t give you the right coverage during the cold, dry fall and winter months.
- Oily: People with oily skin want to avoid adding extra oil to their face, and oils can be found in more than just foundation. In addition to oil-free foundation, look for eyeshadow and blush that doesn’t have a creamy consistency, as these will likely have more oil than powder options. Opt for makeup that is water based instead of oil based.
- Dry: People with dry skin will want to take the opposite approach as those with oily skin. Seek out a foundation that adds moisture as well as creamy eyeshadow and blush. Applying an eye primer before applying powder eyeshadow can help your eyeshadow stay on and can avoid a cracked look.
- Combination skin: People with combination skin have part oily and part dry skin. Many women fall into this category, and generally the T-zone (forehead, nose and chin) are oily while the rest of the face is dry. In this scenario, use an oil free foundation for a matte finish. Dry areas can benefit from foundation with moisture. You might be able to use one type of foundation for your whole face, or you may find that combining two products works best.
Most women have a beauty dilemma they focus on when they’re choosing a makeup brand. The best way to figure out how to solve your beauty dilemma is to mix and match products, including getting samples and free applications to see how products work throughout your day.
- Acne: Acne is a common complaint, even among adult women who are well past the puberty years. Fluctuating hormones, airborne toxins and even food can all contribute to acne. Using water-based products instead of oil based will lower the amount of oil on your face, and they are less likely to clog your pores. You also will want to use an acne treatment, such as an over the counter product with benzoyl peroxide.
- Puffy eyes: Puffy eyes are common among women and can be caused by many things, including lack of sleep, allergies and stress. The first key to combat puffy eyes is to stay hydrated and avoid salt, since salt can lead to water retention, making your already puffy eyes look even worse. Next, look for a cooling eye gel, which can relieve the skin around your eye and reduce some puffiness. Applying a cool compress can also help relieve puffy eyes.
- Chronically chapped lips: Lipstick can be a great accent, but only if your lips are moisturized. Try a moisturizing lipstick formula, which will give you great color and the moisture your lips need to keep from cracking. You can also find some color in moisturizing lip glosses, which add shine and a light color to your lips.
One thing that separates high- and low-end makeup brands is the type of ingredients they use. Some research suggests a link between certain ingredients found in makeup and cancer, although nothing has been definitively proven. It’s important to know what is in the makeup you are putting on your face, since the chemicals in your makeup will be absorbed and will affect your internal tissue and organs.
- Toxins: There are a lot of ingredients in makeup, and some are less toxic than others. Some of the toxic ones to watch for include: Benzophenone (found in sunscreen, lip balm and nail polish), Carbon black (found in eyeliner, mascara and lipstick) and Octinoxate (found in sunscreen, lipstick, nail polish and skin creams). These ingredients have been linked to larger health problems, including cancer, hormone disruption and organ toxicity.
- Fragrance: The problem with seeing “fragrance” on your makeup bottle is that this one word can mean there are up to 100 different chemicals added to your makeup. Some of the worst offenders are phthalates and synthetic musks, which can mess with your hormones and have been linked to major health issues, including breast cancer and organ/reproductive toxicity.
- Organic: The problem with buying makeup based strictly on a brand’s “organic” label is that there currently are no regulations in the US for companies to follow when they label a beauty product as organic. This means that, while many brands do genuinely use all organic ingredients, many do not. They can still use the organic label based on just a few of their ingredients. It’s important for consumers to read labels carefully and ask brand ambassadors for more information on whether or not a product is truly organic.
The makeup brand you choose may depend on how much attention you receive from the brand’s representatives. Some makeup brands are very hands-on with their customers, while others never directly interact with consumers.
- Makeovers and application tips: Buying makeup from a brand that has a makeup counter at a store can be helpful for people who want extra attention and support applying makeup and finding the best one for their beauty dilemma. Most makeup brands offer makeovers and/or application sessions where the consultants will help consumers find the best products for their skin type and will walk them through an application routine.
- Mobile apps: Makeup brands that sell in drugstores and online might have an app to help you choose the right shade of foundation and let you test out different colors of blush and eyeshadow. These apps can save you money by letting you take products out on a virtual test drive before you invest in them.
- Samples: Many makeup brands will offer free samples of their products either in stores or online. Trying a free sample of a product can help you determine what type of makeup you like and save you money.
The final step in choosing the right makeup brand is making sure you have the right application tools to get the coverage you need. Many people look at application tools as a waste of money, but it’s important to consider that you will end up using less makeup each time you apply with a quality tool instead of your hand, so you’ll end up saving money in the long run. To save some money, start by only buying the essentials, and add tools as you go.
- Powder brush: Your powder brush is your go-to for applying powder and powdered foundation. It’s the largest of all the brushes and can easily cover your face in just one or two swift strokes.
- Foundation brush: A foundation brush works better than a sponge or your hand, increasing how far your makeup can go. This brush is medium-sized and can be either tapered or flat shape to allow for easy application of liquid. This versatile brush can be used for all cream-based cosmetics, including concealer, tinted moisturizer, liquid highlighter and foundation.
- Blush brush: Your blush brush is basically a smaller version of your powder brush that targets the t-zone and cheekbones. Use this brush for your powder, liquid or cream blush as well as your bronzer and cream-based accents.
Types of makeup brands
Prestige makeup brands are high-end and tend to contain better ingredients and cost more than mass brands. These makeup brands can be found in high-end department stores and online. Prestige makeup brands have their niche. Some are foundation based, while others cater to people with dry skin. You can try prestige makeup brands out at cosmetic counters and stores to get a feel for which one works best on your skin. Some people like to use prestige brands for base products, including foundation, moisturizer and primer and use mass brands for the rest of their cosmetic needs.
Mass makeup brands cost less than prestige brands and are generally found in drugstores and general stores. Many of them use quality ingredients at a more affordable price than prestige brands—make sure to check the ingredient list if you have specific concerns. Many mass makeup brands have apps that allow you to test different shades of makeup virtually, and some have a money-back guarantee if you wind up with a color or shade that doesn’t match your skin tone.
Organic makeup brands use at least some ingredients that are organic. Make sure to read the ingredient list carefully if you are concerned about using only organic makeup. Because there is no standard regulation for organic cosmetics, some brands claim the label of organic without actually including all organic ingredients.
People who use makeup
Teenagers tend to experiment with makeup, and they may be prone to acne due to fluctuating hormones. They should look for water-based makeup products and over-the-counter acne cream/ointment to prevent breakouts.
Many women wear makeup, and they tend to stay loyal to the same brand of makeup they have worn for years. However, pregnancy, menopause, weather and general aging can all influence your skin. Switching brands might help your skin look and feel better and handle new beauty dilemmas.
Men are increasingly applying makeup and/or skincare products to their faces to reduce signs of aging and smooth out their skin. Men should look for a good cleanser and moisturizer that is specially designed for men, since their skin has unique needs.
Pregnant women tend to experience changes in their skin as a result of their changing hormones, so they may need to adjust their skincare regimen and makeup brand accordingly. Pregnant women will want to be especially cautious of using makeup that contains harmful ingredients, as they may impact their baby.
Expert reviews for makeup brands
Clinique revolutionized skincare with their 1968 debut of their now iconic three-step skincare system, which was the first marketed skincare regiment to be created by a dermatologist, allergy-tested and 100 percent fragrance-free beauty product collection. Today, the company sells their products worldwide and online.
Avon has been empowering women to be their own bosses since 1886, the year that Avon’s founder, David H. McConnell, began recruiting women who used his products as salespeople. Today, women are still selling Avon as a way to earn extra income. Avon’s product line has expanded to include makeup, fragrances, clothes, skincare, bath and body products and jewelry.
Founded in 1930 as the cosmetics company Natone, Neutrogena is today part of the Johnson & Johnson Conglomerate, which bought the independent company Neutrogena in 1994. The company is known for being dermatologist recommended, and their product line includes skin care, cosmetics and sun care.
Josephine Ester Mentzer, nicknamed Estee in school, learned the chemistry of creating skincare products from her uncle, who was a chemist. She launched her product line in 1946. Today, the company carries on Estee’s tradition of gifts with purchase, elegant packaging and quality skincare products, which customers can buy online or in stores around the world.
Mary Kay Ash was an entrepreneur who launched her cosmetics company Beauty by Mary Kay in 1963. Her skincare line for men launched in 1964. Today, three and a half million Mary Kay independent consultants are empowered to sell products online and in person to make a commission and receive discounts on their own Mary Kay products.
Revlon launched in 1932 selling nail enamel in colors other than red. They now sell a full range of makeup products along with fragrances, hair color and makeup tools, which consumers can find online and at popular retailers around the world.
Maybelline revolutionized eyelashes when Mabel Williams first started experimenting with extending her eyelashes in 1915. They are still known for their mascara, and they also produce and sell face creams, foundation, powder, blush, primer, lip products, nail polish and other cosmetic products and tools. Consumers can find Maybelline products online and at popular retailers globally.
Sephora was founded in France in 1970 and now operates over 1,900 stores in 29 countries. They have partnered with the department store JCPenney and have over 485 Sephora stores inside of JCPenney locations in the United States. The company offers only prestige makeup brands, including their own Sephora line.
bareMinerals has been dedicated to creating and selling makeup made from only natural ingredients since 1976. The minerals in their makeup help your skin soften, smooth and revitalize. Consumers can find BareMinerals by Bare Escentuals online and at select retailers that sell prestige makeup products.
Known for their bright colors and bold makeup statements, MAC cosmetics is a prestige makeup brand with a heavy emphasis on the artistry behind makeup. Their makeup is featured on stage at New York’s fashion week, and consumers can find MAC products at select high-end retailers.
Founded in 1984 in Provo, Utah, Nu Skin is an international personal care and dietary supplement company. Its products are sold by over 1.2 million independent distributors in 54 markets. The name Nu Skin highlights the company’s commitment to products that reduce the effects of aging on physical appearance.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.
Compare Reviews for Top Makeup Brands
Read 164 Reviews
Clinique first rolled out their three-step skincare regimen in 1968, and their products are as popular now as they were in the beginning. While they started in skincare, Clinique also sells makeup, fragrances and sunscreen.
Read 151 Reviews
Best known for their mascara, Maybelline makes and sells a full range of cosmetics and makeup tools. Their lower price point makes them an affordable option for women of all skin types around the world.
Read 260 Reviews
Avon has been empowering women since the first Avon representatives began selling fragrances in 1886. Today, the representatives continue to sell fragrances along with quality makeup products, skincare, jewelry and more.
Read 261 Reviews
Launched in 1932, Revlon’s original business model was selling nail color in shades other than red. They currently sell nail polish, makeup, fragrances, hair color and makeup tools online and at budget retailers worldwide.
Read 11 Reviews
L'Oréal Paris is a brand of cosmetics distributed by the L'Oréal Group. Founded in 1909, it includes makeup, skincare and nail polish and is sold in mass merchandisers and drug stores across the United States.
Read 12 Reviews
Lancôme is a luxury cosmetics brand owned by the French company L'Oréal Group. It specializes in skin care and makeup offered for sale at department stores and luxury store companies throughout the United States.
Read 153 Reviews
Sheer Cover is a mineral makeup brand that sells products ranging from bronzer to concealer. The company promotes it's Perfect Shade® Mineral Foundation that contains 100% natural minerals.