Why Is Makeup So Expensive: 3 Beauty Insights

Why Is Makeup So Expensive: 3 Beauty Insights (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Makeup’s True Cost: A Breakdown

When you see a $20 tube of lipstick at the grocery store, that $20 is not paying for the cost of the ingredients themselves. In fact, that $20 pays far more for marketing and shipping costs than you think. Let’s break down the true cost of makeup by each element: ingredients, packaging and shipping, and marketing.

Cost of Ingredients

Would you be surprised to learn that, according to cosmetic chemists, ingredients for makeup only account for about 15% of their total prices? That’s the truth!

Cost of Packaging

Most of the cost of any makeup product comes from packaging, shipping, and marketing. The exact ratios aren’t fully known and vary from product to product and brand to brand. However, on average, packaging and shipping costs account for nearly 50% of the total price of a makeup product.

Cost of Marketing

The other 35% of the lipstick tube’s price, or approximately $7, is due to marketing costs. This isn’t entirely unexpected, of course. The cosmetic industry is highly competitive, and brands have to convince consumers to pick up their products as opposed to others.

“High-End” Makeup Isn’t Necessarily Better

The second beauty insight is that so-called high and/or high-quality makeup isn’t necessarily better than store-brand stuff you can find for much cheaper. Again, because most makeup product prices do not account for the cost of their ingredients, there isn’t much of a chemical or physical difference between two products as you may think.

  • The brand name and recognition. For example, many people like to stick with brands over the long term due to customer loyalty. Others may like to purchase well-known brands of cosmetics as a form of social competition or recognition.
  • The fancy displays at stores. There’s no denying some of the highest-priced makeup looks much better on a surface level than lower-priced makeup products.

Price Doesn’t Equal Quality

By the same token, here’s a third insight: the price is not necessarily a good proxy for quality. There’s little difference between a $20 tube of lipstick and a $50 tube of lipstick if they are both essentially the same shade when all is said and done.

Pro Tip: Know What You’re Looking For

So, how can you navigate the surprisingly complex world of commercial cosmetics? As a consumer, you are somewhat limited in terms of ingredients sourcing and ethical manufacturing practices. You have to buy what people provide, of course.


Overall, makeup is pretty expensive and will likely keep rising in cost for the foreseeable future. Eventually, the marketplace may shift in makeup could become more affordable for the average consumer. Until that time, it’s a good idea to read up on makeup ingredients and products so you can be an ethical consumer and so you can save money on high-priced makeup stuff you don’t really need.



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