Picking a Top Ten list for the best makeup brands isn’t easy, but we are up for the challenge. After some extensive research (thanks, Sephora) and informal polling (ZoomTails with friends), we’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best.
Our criteria were simple: What looks great, feels good on your skin, and lasts all day long? We didn’t really factor in price, because there are some splurge brands that are worth every penny. Plus, lots of the luxe brands have more affordable duplicates (dupes, in industry lingo).
Without further ado, here’s our list of the best makeup brands:
MAC also ticks all the boxes when it comes to color collections, product quality and durability.
On top of that, every single MAC shop is run by professional makeup artists who can help you look on point. No wonder many women are full of praise for one of the best makeup brands!
2. Estée Lauder
Still the champion: Advanced Night Repair was the first hyaluronic serum on the market, designed to help reduce the signs of aging. You can say that it’s Estée Lauder’s most famous product, and they’re always looking for ways to improve it. The best of all you can find for yourself is fabulous Advanced Night Repair set.
The brand has also embraced the popular K-beauty item, the Essence, with its Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion.
This is an example of how much Estée Lauder invests into research and development, as well as keeping up with trends. So it’s no surprise that their wide variety of products have such high quality!
Francois Nars’s history as a photographer shows — nobody in the business understands color like he does.
That’s why its Orgasm blush comes in the universally flattering color: The perfect blend of peach and pink. This iconic color has cemented its spot as the best-selling blush in America since 1999.
Well, the attention-grabbing product name may have helped! Just like how other cheeky product names have helped to make Nars one of the best makeup brands for decades.
This is legacy stuff! Your grandmother probably hit the Clinique counter back in the day for a buttery yellow tube of Dramatically Different moisturizer.
As its name suggests, Clinique is synonymous with a clinical approach to beauty. Instead of making its products one-size-fits-all, it pinpoints your skin type first before providing more customized solutions.
The brand also avoids any ingredients that could irritate the skin or cause allergies. So if you have sensitive skin, this stuff is the best.
L’Oreal isn’t just one of the best makeup brands — it’s one of the best brands in the world, period. It offers everything from great skincare to hair color and of course, makeup lines. They own the luxury brand Lancôme, so this company puts a lot more into research and development than most of the moderate brands.
If you’re looking for an L’Oreal product to own, their Voluminous Original Mascara is a great choice. This can make lashes look up to 5 times thicker and never clumps. No wonder many makeup artists swear by it!
(Alternatively, you can consider Glamnetic’s magnetic eyelashes which give a similar effect without any eyelash glue. Plus, they only take a few minutes to apply and remove!)
Let’s get this out of the way. Perhaps best known for the iconic No. 5 fragrance, Chanel isn’t a budget-friendly member of the Best Makeup Brands list.
But the incredible quality of its exceptional products could make it splurge-worthy. After all, the ingredients are the best. The pigments are saturated so you don’t have to use as much. And a top-notch lipstick or eyeshadow is worth it to enhance your beauty routine.
7. La Mer
Okay, La Mer (cream of the sea) has a limited cosmetics line. But the skincare products are amazing — all harnessing the remarkable benefits of the sea.
Take Crème de la Mer for example. Formulated with sea kelp and a pioneering bio-fermentation process, it miraculously transformed the appearance of severe burns on skin. So imagine the wonders it can do for the rest of us!
Though with a price tag of $95 for 0.5 oz. La Mer is best suited for mature skin — with the accompanying mature budget.
Clarins sits among the best makeup brands, thanks to a long-time obsession with the French approach to beauty.
Focusing on skin health rather than makeup, it prides on achieving healthy, glowing skin with a “no makeup” makeup look.
Because of the emphasis on the natural French look, Clarins is huge on green makeup (as in sustainable). They source their raw materials from local communities and abide by fair trade principles. So you can feel good about paying 50 bucks for an ounce of night cream. But you’ll look great in the morning.
Revlon is the All-American counterpoint to the French L’Oreal. They made gap teeth a thing when they signed Lauren Hutton as the first beauty brand face. Their Cherries in the Snow nail polish and Love That Red lipsticks are still going strong after decades.
This is one of the best makeup brands as it offers some of the highest quality drugstore makeup. This is especially so for their base products, which can be said to be better than foundations from more expensive high-end brands.
10. Urban Decay
Urban Decay was an anomaly when it first hit the market. But it’s totally expected from a brand with “beauty with an edge” as its tagline.
In fact, this edgy vibe is what makes it stand out as one of the best makeup brands. So if you’re not into the usual demure, feminine makeup lines, this could be the brand for you. Go wild with their bold and brash colors and textures!
Why Isn’t My Favorite Brand Among the Best Makeup Brands?
I’d never argue that your indie blush that’s sourced from all-organic ingredients isn’t a super product. Hey, maybe it’s better than anything that Nars makes!
But today, we’re looking at brands: comprehensive lines of products that cover the beauty spectrum. So we’re looking at skincare — including sunscreens and self-tanners, along with cleansers and serums, makeup, and fragrance. Even Clinique has a couple of fragrances in their otherwise fragrance-free portfolio.
Also, a brand has to be widely marketed and available to crack the top ten best makeup brands. Yes, there are some amazing products coming on to the market every day. But these are generally limited and don’t have the expansive lines to qualify as a brand. We’ll do a “newbies to watch” (like No B.S Skin) list another day!