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Best Makeup Brands

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What’s used in your makeup can affect how it makes you look and feel. Use our guide to research the best makeup brand for you. We explain how to look for lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, foundation and more that is free of harmful ingredients.

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Considerations when buying a new makeup brand

Skin care

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.

Skin type

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.

Beauty dilemma

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 issue, 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.

Customer service

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.

Application tools

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

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.

Makeup brands FAQ

Is expensive makeup really better?
To know whether expensive makeup is better, you need to evaluate each product on a case-by-case basis. Many retail store brands have similar ingredients to their premium counterparts, so you can frequently get more bang for your buck with less expensive makeup.

However, it might be worth springing for higher-end products if it’s something you wear every day or if it covers a lot of your skin, such as with foundation or a setting spray.

What are facial cosmetics?
Facial cosmetics enhance the appearance of your face by adding color, smoothing out imperfections or improving the health of your skin.
What are the must-have makeup items?
Most makeup bags include a few key staples, including:
  • Primer
  • Foundation
  • Concealer
  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Eye shadow
  • Blush
  • Bronzer
  • Lipstick or lip gloss
  • Brushes & other tools
You also want a good moisturizer and cleanser to keep your skin healthy and soft.
How do you know what shade of foundation to get?
To find the right shade of foundation, first determine if your skin’s undertone is warm, cool or neutral.
  • Warm undertones are better suited for gold- or yellow-based foundations
  • Cool skin tones need a foundation with a base of red or blue
  • Neutral undertones look best with a subtle, possibly golden foundation that doesn’t have any strong yellows, reds or blues
If you’re not sure what your skin tone is, visit a makeup store to test a few shades or get professionally color matched.
What’s the difference between mineral makeup and regular makeup?
Mineral makeup is less likely to cause breakouts because it has fewer filler ingredients like parabens, fragrances and preservatives.

Mineral makeup also includes anti-irritation agents to protect sensitive skin and ingredients like mica, zinc, titanium dioxide and iron oxides.

Is foundation good for your skin?
Yes, wearing foundation can protect your skin from ultraviolet damage and pollutants, but it depends on the product you’re using. Make sure your foundation has some SPF or titanium dioxide to defend against the sun’s rays and opt for noncomedogenic formulas if you’re prone to breakouts or clogged pores.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Author 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.

    Read more about Clinique
    Avon Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about Avon Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about Neutrogena
    Estee Lauder

    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.

    Read more about Estee Lauder
    Mary Kay Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about Mary Kay Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about Revlon
    Maybelline Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about Maybelline Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about Sephora

    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.

    Read more about bareMinerals
    MAC Cosmetics

    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.

    Read more about MAC Cosmetics
    Nu Skin

    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.

    Read more about Nu Skin

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