I am ridiculously loyal to some of my beauty products; I used the same shampoo from age 14 until I started coloring my hair and had to switch. My hairspray has been the same for 10 years. And I wore the same mascara brand for the last 18 years.

I’ll be honest, it’s partially because I’m cheap. I don’t want to spend money on a product that is an unknown entity. It’s wasteful for me to buy something only to toss it out if I feel it doesn’t suit me. Add to that the fact that I like getting as much value as possible out of money I spend on beauty products and we have an impasse. Does the $40 lipstick from Sephora really last any longer than the $10 one from Shoppers Drug Mart? Do I need to spend $90 on concealer when the one for $30 does the trick? These are all questions that I ask myself when I’m tempted by the pretty packaging or the slick ads.

But then I joined one of the boxed sample of the month clubs and have tried 3 new mascaras this year. This has precipitated me actually buying a different brand for the first time since high school! Not only have I cheated on my old mascara, but I’m still playing the field, looking for the next great thing. However this has been a real boon for me because I was finally able to test products side by side without forking out a bunch of money.

So here is my Mascara Experiment.

I tested the fancy mascara which retails for $29 on one eye and an inexpensive $7 mascara on the other eye for the whole day and took pictures to document it.

Here I am with no mascara on at all.
No Mascara
Here is the expensive mascara on the left (my right eye).

Right Eye - Fancy Mascara

And the cheap mascara is on the other eye

Left Eye Cheap Mascara

Here are both eyes 12 hours later.

Both 12 hours later

Not a huge amount of difference is there?

This last picture is 3 hours later (15 hours total) You can see that the cheap mascara is starting to get flakey while the expensive one is untouched.

Both 15 Hours Later

And then I did the unthinkable and didn’t wash it off before I went to bed. I did not take a picture when I woke up (trust me, no one wants to see that) and in the morning, even though the cheap mascara had flaked off some more, it was still obviously there. The expensive stuff was going strong. In the side by side experiment, the cheap mascara held up remarkably well but I would give the edge to the good stuff.

However there’s also a question of value for the money. The good stuff performs well, but it dries out super-fast. This summer, I tried a sample of mascara similar to the one I tested here and really liked it so I bought a full tube. I got it home and was utterly disappointed by the fact that it didn’t look or smell like the sample. Turns out it was already dried out. I exchanged it for a fresh tube which then only lasted about a month; at the end it was dry, sticky and hard to apply so I threw it out.

The cheap brand, will last several months. You are supposed to replace mascara every 3 months or sooner if it gets clumpy, dry, or if you notice a change in color or smell. You should also chuck it and move on if you’ve recently had an eye infection.

So should I spend $29/month for mascara or $2.33/month for mascara? For my bottom line, despite the fact that I loved it, it’s just not worth the extra money for the fancy mascara. Cheap mascara for the win!

Oh, and here is what I tested 🙂

The Colossal by Maybelline and They're Real from Benfit

What beauty products do you scrimp on and what are your indulgences?