The Best of Top Makeup Brands

A quick rundown of the biggest strengths (and a few weaknesses) of some of the most popular makeup brands:

Urban Decay: Inventive and edgy, this brand ironically hit the stratosphere with a neutral palette, showing what the consumer constantly craves is a natural shade collection with a mix of textures and finishes. My opinion was Naked II was too similar to the original palette to warrant a new release, but the brand rode the popularity like a joke told one too many times. To continue to stay on people's radar, it needs to release more palettes that "make sense," meaning they have the strategy behind the Nakeds. Many of their older and newer palettes seem illogically mixed and a rundown of familiar colors.

Wet 'N Wild: This brand's saddest move has been removing the quality of the 6-pan palettes with the quantity of the 8-pan palettes (shattered shadow, anyone?). Lust and Greed still burn in my memory with the very adjectives behind their names. This brand caught everyone's attention by launching quality products at a fire-sale price. Their singles need to continue to be able to stand on their own, and they need to fix whatever is making the 8-pan palettes a fall-out nightmare. Overall, still a sturdy name that lives up to the hype.

Maybelline: It doesn't seem to know when to remove a bad product (rhymes with Hate Splash) and when to keep a quality product (Dream Mousse concealer). Though everyone buzzes about this line's under eye concealer, Maybelline's most inventive launch recently is the Age Rewind finishing powder: No other drugstore brand has put SPF in a powder compact, making being sun-smart easy on those of us who don't want to wipe off our makeup to reapply. Now I'm seeing this product on clearance, so I expect it to be ripped off the shelves yesterday. I thought the consumer loathing around Fit Me would end it come 2012, but Maybelline seems to determined to MAKE-US-LIKE-THIS. Judging by the clearance on their lipsticks, they're finally acknowledging the consumer doesn't want 800 versions of a frosty white-pink lip. While we're on the topic, I would kill to find just one shade of a neutral pink lipstick with a creme finish and not a hint of Barbie. Guessing I'm not alone.

Cover Girl: This brand has a nostalgic place in my heart like a first love. I even love that Noxema smell everyone else hates. Its strengths: eyeliner, mascaras (for the women with ample natural lashes), and affordable blushes. Unlike Maybelline, this brand will continue to display lines that haven't sold since the early 90s (Professional mascara, Clean foundation). There are times when you need to know when to fold them and take them away. Also, don't put an "age" on the consumer and market products for older skin: No woman wants that tag on her buying habits, even if she subconsciously (or consciously ) does this. The best thing for a brand is to market the products as quality and inventive. This will draw in consumers no matter what their age. Put makeup artist Pat McGrath behind more launches than a few lipsticks, and Cover Girl's stock would quickly rise.

MAC: Socially conscious, racially inclusive, creative and quirky. Their following comes from their willingness to go out on a limb and be the wildest one in the room. This brand has so much Limited Edition collections, even the MAC-aholics' heads spin when trying to remember if it was late 2010 or early 2011 that the shadow came and went. I can't keep track, so I don't keep up. Limited Edition often is a term put around products to make them seem rare and fuel us to buy quicker. The reality is most LE shades are dupable and in unlimited supply.

Revlon and L'Oreal: Knowing that they are owned by the same company (many cosmetic brands are under L'Oreal) has long made me group these two together. Their strengths and weaknesses are the same: Lipstick is by far one of the best of both brands, especially Revlon. It's always beautifully pigmented and at the quality of much more expensive brands. Their shadows and mascaras are too varied (was that Voluminous Carbon Black or Million Lashes or version 20?) and hit-or-miss to make them a safe bet.

Brands worth watching: Milani, Graftobian, Inglot, The Balm, NYX


  1. Agree on all points! I tend to ignore most of the LE collection MAC puts out, unless something really catches my eye as unique (which is rare.). I did't know that L'Oreal and Revlon were owned by the same company! People often list Revlon as a cruelty free brand (though that's not my hill to die on), but knowing that L'Oreal is owned by the same company means Revlon is not cruelty free!

  2. Hi Angela, L'Oreal has stopped most of its animal testing and is stopping all animal testing by 2013. Unfortunately, most drugstore brands still test on animals.


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