Makeup: When to Save And When to Splurge

By ABC News' Sandra Temko

Image Credit: ABC News

Have you ever spent nearly $800 on a makeup kit? ABC News' "The Lookout" did to find out when you can save and when you can splurge.

The team created three similar makeup looks at three wildly different price points. The "Luxury" look was created with high-end department store makeup costing a total of $790. The "Drugstore" look consisted of makeup bought at the drugstore and cost $145. The "Unbelievably Cheap" look was created mainly from makeup products that cost just a dollar, and the Graves sisters, who are identical triplets, modeled the results.

Can you spot the most expensive makeup look worn by the Graves sisters?

Makeup experts tell "The Lookout" team that skincare products such as foundation, concealers, primers and bronzers are what shoppers should splurge on, and they say there's a good reason for that.

"The more expensive foundations may have certain ingredients in them, such as sunscreen, vitamins and added antioxidants, all of which raise the price of makeup, " said dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf.

Celebrity makeup artist Carmindy of "What Not To Wear" concurred. "Skincare is where you should spend the money because the technology is really in those formulas and it's too expensive to put those in a drugstore brand."

Watch the full story on "ABC's The Lookout" Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.

But Carmindy advises to not always fall for lipstick with a logo on it. "You definitely want to save when it comes to lip colors, mascaras, pencils, eyebrow pencils, things like that."

She's been to factories where makeup is manufactured and said there might not always be a big difference with how high- and low-end products are made. "There's a very expensive lipstick being poured next to a very inexpensive lipstick. Dramatically different price points, same color, different names. You're paying for packaging, branding and celebrity endorsements."

And Carmindy busted another beauty myth: that you need to splurge on makeup brushes. "Now drugstores have incredible brush lines, a lot of them are natural hair. A lot of them are organic, " she said. To avoid buying a pre-packaged brush that's not right for your face, she advises to buy them individually, and avoid multiple sets. To tell whether a brush is good, she said "you want to feel the hair. If it's stiff you don't want to use it, but if it's soft at the touch, you do."

Women of color often have a tougher time trying to save on makeup because it can be difficult to find products that match certain skin tones. Makeup artist Spikey Love said when it comes to low-end cosmetics, it's harder to find pigments that are strong enough for darker toned skin. Carmindy advises to go for bold, bright shades. "Lips, cheeks, eyes, anything that's color related, if they go for bold and bright shades they'll be fine in a drugstore."

And while a common complaint with drugstore makeup is that you can't try on the products, Dr. Graf said "some drugstores actually do have testers. And if you ask, they have people who will let you test."

Also, there are drugstores, as well as department stores, that allow shoppers to return makeup products even after they were opened if you have a receipt. So do not settle for something you don't like!