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Mass vs Prestige Makeup

Which side of Ulta are you on?

Mass vs. Prestige Makeup – Is there a difference?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I was groomed in the world of prestige cosmetics and that I later moved on to be a regional makeup artist and trainer for a European brand in the mass category.

The general consensus is that prestige cosmetics (and this includes hair and skincare as well as makeup) are better quality than mass brands because they are more expensive.

But does more expensive mean better quality?

5 years ago the answer would’ve been YES more times than not. However, with the internet and social media putting the entire production process on blast, alongside private label and custom formulation manufacturing companies importing from China and popping up like Starbucks-the consensus has changed.

The ever-shifting playing field and pace have evolved in similarity to that of electronics. And the bigger companies are struggling to stay on trend and create new ones.

The breakdown

“What do prestige and mass mean?”  is EXACTLY what I thought when I began to hear these terms tossed around in brand training updates.  When I started with Bobbi Brown, I had no idea these varying categories even existed much less what they’re names meant.  Allow me to enlighten you.


Mass is a category that I recently learned is called Food, Drug and Mass in its entirety. You may know it simply as drugstore brands. They are found in stores like CVS, Rite Aid, Target and the ‘inexpensive’ side of Ulta. Some examples of these types of makeup brands include:

  • Cover Girl
  • NYX
  • Maybellene
  • Neutrogena
  • Garnier
  • L’oreal


The prestige category consists of the brands that used to be available only in department stores. But now can also be found in Sephora, Blue Mercury, Ulta and boutique style shops all over.  Some brands in this category include:

  • Urban Decay
  • Too Faced
  • Bobbi Brown
  • Tarte
  • Lancome
  • Makeup Forever


There is also the subcategory of the prestige category called the luxury category. This last category seriously gives me life. These brands are found in some of the places prestige are found but mostly in higher caliber department stores like Saks, Bergdorf and the like. Some of these brands include:

  • Gucci
  • YSL
  • Dolce & Gabana
  • By Terry
  • Chantecaille
  • Cle de Peau Beaute

Final Thoughts

While the luxury brands I mentioned above have never let me down. I have found that the lines tend to blur a bit more in the prestige vs mass categories as of late. I mean seriously, have you seen NYX’s portfolio??

Depending on the person’s age and skin type, certain products in mass do and will work just as well as the more expensive options. And at the very least add dimension to an already dope makeup kit.

I hope this helps to clarify the differences and options available. Do leave any thoughts and comments below!


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