Makeup Wars: Drugstore vs. Mary Kay vs. Beauty Counter

So I have used a lot of different foundations and never felt a particular degree of loyalty to one or another. I haven’t found “MY” foundation.  I had been using Mary Kay (my sister sold it last year), but got low and grabbed some Cover Girl at Wal-Mart.  A few weeks later I got sucked into the makeup counter at Ulta and bought some new (expensive) foundation.
But I really wanted to take an honest look at the different products, so over three days I wore three different foundations, took pictures, and wrote down some honest thoughts about the products.
First off, I am currently using Say Yes to Tomatoes acne repair face wash ($9.99) and S.t Ives apricot scrub ($5.99). I also am currently using Mary Kay’s timewise moisturizer ($13, I think). In all photos I am wearing Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara!

Mary Kay

The first day I used Mary Kay’s mineral powder foundation.  It is $18 and lasts approximately 6 months. I also used their tinted moisturizer as the base.


Without makeup (and in bad lighting)  
             With Mary Kay foundation and mascara.

Overall Thoughts:
1.) It doesn’t feel like wearing makeup: very fresh and light feeling
2.) The coverage isn’t awesome. In these pictures I can really tell on my forehead.  It’s light feeling cause, in my opinion, it’s lighter coverage.
3. Nate liked this one best because it didn’t look like I was wearing makeup, just the best version of myself.  I think this is the best choice for someone who doesn’t like to wear makeup or doesn’t need as much coverage. It is reasonably priced and comes in a wide range of shades

This last photo was taken approximately 8 hours after applying makeup.  I’m a fairly active person, and went on a long walk before taking this picture and didn’t do anything else “special.”

Once again, my 8 hours later my beef is still the coverage. I have a lot more redness coming through, still better than no makeup, but definitely not as polished as I would like it to be.

Cover Girl (Drugstore)

The next day I wore Cover Girl’s Clean Makeup; it’s a liquid and runs $4-5 at most drugstores.  This foundation probably doesn’t belong in the same category since it is a liquid competing with mineral powder’s but it is what I had and I wanted to compare it alongside the others.  I mean, come on, if Cover Girl is as good as the pricey stuff—get thee to WalMart! haha!

Okay here is my lovely face:



Overall Thoughts:
1.) You know you’re wearing makeup!  This makeup definitely felt heavy on my skin and it felt more “oily” as the day went on.
2.) The coverage is pretty good.  My sister actually thought this was the beauty counter makeup when she first saw it on me!
3.) I think the heavy feel and quick fading nature of this foundation will make it a “no” in the future for me.
Looking at this 8 hours later photo (I know lighting sucks!) you can tell the coverage has majorly faded—there’s lots of redness and my acne is coming through on my forehead and chin. Sad smile


Urban Decay (Beauty Counter)

The final day of the challenge I used my new Ulta purchase Urban Decay’s Surreal Skin Mineral Makeup.  I bought it because in Ulta the nice makeup lady put it on my face and I thought my skin looked flawless. It was $36 at Ulta and the makeup lady told me it would last a year! (I seriously doubt that though, but time will tell.) I kind of bought it on a whim and wanted to see if it would stand up outside the beauty store.


Overall Thoughts:
1.)  I could feel this makeup on my skin, but it didn’t feel greasy and heavy like the Cover Girl. It wasn’t as “no-makeup” feeling as the Mary Kay so I guess it is a good balance.
2.) I think the coverage is pretty excellent on this product.  It covered nicely and felt really smooth on my skin.
3.) I liked it.  I don’t splurge on a lot, but this impulse buy I think has paid off. Look how consistent the coverage is 8 hours later!  I also noticed that my skin is a bit clearer since using it for a few weeks.

IMG_0466 - Copy

I’m really glad I completed this makeup experiment!    It’s nice to have some evidence to back up your makeup choices. My official rankings of the makeup war are: 1st place to Urban Decay, 2nd to Mary Kay, and 3rd to Cover Girl.
Of course, makeup is EXTREMELY personal. You may or may not agree with my choice, but I would encourage you to test out different makeups to make sure you are getting something you love!
What kind of foundation do you use?


  1. Running In Boise says

    I actually don't use foundation because my skin is so oily & I hate how foundation feels on my skin within a few hours. I have always used pressed powder & just picked up Loreal Infallible powder & think it is pretty good.

  2. says

    Yeah, I always try to go without on Saturdays to give my skin a break from all the product. I don't think I've ever tried Loreal, but I'm glad you like it!

  3. Cindy says

    Hi Kate. I saw your post and I actually sell Mary Kay. I noticed you stated that you had acne and I’m assuming that is the reason you use coverup/foundation. Have you ever tried the new Mary Kay Clear Proof system? For everyone I’ve had use it, they can tell a huge difference in less than a weeks time. Now it’s not completely clear at that point, but you can definitely see improvement. Shoot me an email to discuss :)



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