In a world where affordable dupes are constantly going viral, is there really a difference in luxury makeup? Anyone who’s ever opened a Tom Ford eyeshadow palette or swiped on a Valentino lipstick will tell you: you definitely feel the difference with a high-end beauty product. There’s an undeniable allure to experiencing it, from the premium, thoughtful packaging to the long-lasting, super-luxe formulas, and, of course, the thrill of a designer purchase – without having to spend a fortune on a single item of Clothing. You apply products to your face every day, so why not invest?
Experts agree that premium products stand out. “As a dermatologist, I like ingredients and studies/results to inform my opinion of a product’s performance,” says Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist Karen Kagha, MD. “Combining that with great branding, as many luxury brands have done for years, it’s the best of both worlds.”
Another bonus? The formulas of luxury makeup brands have also become more advanced than ever. According to cosmetic chemist and licensed esthetician Esther Olu, the growing popularity of skincare post-2020 has led more makeup brands to prioritize creating skincare-infused formulas. Think: Foundations with ingredients you’d find in a serum (like niacinamide, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid), or concealers with peptides and caffeine you’d expect in an eye cream. “Consumers want a natural, skin-like finish while caring for their skin, without looking like they’re wearing makeup,” she says. “That’s how hybrid formulations started and have grown ever since.”
Given the growing interest in high-end products, we’ve rounded up some luxury favorites at Sephora that are definitely worth their price tag:
The latest addition to makeup artist Gucci Westman’s cosmetics line is like a serum and foundation in one. It contains tsubaki oil, which helps the skin to hydrate according to Olu. As for application, Soriano says fingertips are best. Target the red areas of the face first, then apply to the rest of the face. “Use the middle and ring finger as it gives great control,” she says. “The heat in your hands will melt the makeup into the skin, giving it a natural ‘dewy’ look.”
If you’re looking for dewy skin, here’s your new favorite foundation. It’s ideal for light to medium daily coverage and is more like a moisturizer, thanks to the hydrating hyaluronic acid and glycerin in its formula. “These ingredients essentially attract, bind, and retain water in the skin,” Olu says. “Through the use of these ingredients in foundations, it makes skin look more hydrated, plump, and softer.”
This new blush – Gucci’s first powder blush – blends like a dream. With a matte finish, it achieves the natural pink you’d get after receiving a compliment. “A great place to add cheek color is on the cheekbone,” says Soriano. “It’s just below the outer corner of the eye. It frames the eyes and lifts the face. She also suggests using a blush-specific brush for application (her favorite is the Sephora Collection Pro Blush Brush #93).
Behold, your lipstick tube forever. The sleek red and gold logo-adorned case alone is worth a splurge, but the interchangeable shades (choose from 50) really seal the deal. Soriano calls the lipstick “pure luxury” and suggests “Blushing Nude” for fall. “It’s a great neutral color for a lot of skin tones, and can be enhanced with a lip liner or one of the satin finishes on top,” she says.
Armani’s award-winning Best of Beauty foundation needs no introduction — it’s achieved fan-favorite status for its skin-like, glowing finish. You get full coverage without the weight, thanks to an oil-free formula. “Having an oil-free foundation can help improve the sensory experience,” Olu says, citing a less oily texture and appearance.
Like the “Paris” Instagram filter in real life, this concealer gives your skin a blurry finish. The waterproof, full-coverage formula contains microspherical powders, which Olu says look like tiny hollow beads. “The microspheres possess light-reflecting benefits, which provide a temporary wrinkle-filling optical blurring effect,” she says. “Due to this light-reflecting property, this allows the microspheres to even out skin tone and minimize the appearance of fine lines.”
If there’s only one eyeshadow palette you use, it’s this one. Create a range of eye looks – from subtle to dramatic – with just four shades. The shadows are unrivaled for their blendability and anti-crease, long-lasting finish. When it comes to application, Soriano suggests “going from light to dark and flat to shiny.” For a smokey eye, use the darkest color on the lid and below the lash line. “Add your highlight colors to the inner corner and brow line as a very bright color in the center of the eye,” says Soriano.
Looking for a long-lasting foundation? This heat and humidity resistant foundation won’t budge all day. Soriano suggests using a sponge or wedge blender for best application. “This type of foundation is buildable, so depending on the finish you want, you can add layers slowly for longer wear,” she says, “But, at the same time, still maintaining that natural glow.”
Pat McGrath is a master of pigments, and this 10-shade palette is full of them. You get one-pass color payoff, a velvety blend, and no creases with this mix of mattes and metallics. From holographic lavender glitter to everyday taupe, the combinations are endless. It also comes beautifully packaged in a case that showcases each shade like jewelry.
Here’s a tube you’ll gladly take out of your purse to reapply, simply because of its sleek design. The black and gold logo lipstick also features highly pigmented satin colors while grape oil helps hydrate lips for a comfortable wear. “Be bold and wear a statement color,” advises Soriano. “My favorite is 1971 Rouge Provocation. It’s gorgeous, luxurious and one of those amazing pigments that will suit so many skin tones.”
There is a reason for this Seduce Best of Beauty winner continues to sell out. The sumptuous formula, enriched with antioxidant-rich cherry oil, doubles as a conditioner and gloss that adapts to your pH to create a flattering, custom shade. Makeup artist Nina Soriano is a “big fan” of this non-sticky gloss. “It’s a wonderful hybrid of lipstick and lip gloss in one,” she says. “My favorites are ‘Rosewood’ and ‘Mahogany.’ Both colors are perfect for that natural lip color.”