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Let’s not beat around the bush. The holidays are expensive. So is it really worth it to splurge on that Marc Jacobs eyeshadow palette, Kat Von D lipstick and Charlotte Tilbury brush set?

We created two gorgeous holiday looks (with the help of some outfits from WINNERS and Marshalls) to see if we can prove once and for all if high-end makeup is actually better than the cheap stuff.

Tools

First off, a battle of equipment. These Dollarama sponges (nevertheless handy for foundation application, and provide a nice dewy finish when damp) were no match for the Charlotte Tilbury mini brush set. The real star of the show however, was the Charlotte Tilbury Powder & Sculpt brush. Though pretty pricey at $60, we can confidently say it’s the best contouring brush we’ve ever used.

The Loop
Charlotte Tilbury mini brush set vs Dollarama sponges, The Loop

Contour

While we were impressed with the Dollarama’s offerings (who knew the Dollarama would even have a contouring kit?), we found that the Kat Von D shade + light palette ($55) gave our model that glow-up that the dollar store failed to do. Not only did the palette add some oomph to those cheekbones, it also somehow managed to diffuse imperfections.

Kat Von D contour kit vs Mariposa contour kit, The Loop
Kat Von D shade + light palette vs Mariposa contour kit, The Loop

Blush

The Dollarama version packed more of a punch (a lighter hand was key), while Kevyn Aucoin’s pure powder glow in Dolline ($51) gave our model that ‘glow from within’ look. Again, we were impressed with the contour/highlighter options that the Dollarama had to offer.

Kevyn Aucoin pure powder glow vs Mariposa blush and contour, The Loop
Kevyn Aucoin pure powder glow vs Mariposa blush and contour, The Loop
The Loop
The Loop

Eyes

Gone are the days when dollar store palettes were lightly pigmented and ever disappointing. This Mariposa eyeshadow palette is filled with fun, frosty colours that blend smoothly. It’s competitor, the Marc Jacobs About Last Night palette ($99) features shadows that have a more sophisticated satin finish. Both are winners in our book, depending on your mood.

Marc Jacobs about last night vs Dollarama eyeshadow palette
Marc Jacobs About Last Night vs Dollarama eyeshadow palette, The Loop
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The Loop
The Loop
The Loop

Lips

These two formulas couldn’t be any more different, and both have their pros and cons. The dollar store’s lip crayon is more hydrating, though it’s staying power is nothing to write home about. Kat Von D’s everlasting liquid lipstick ($24) however, could last through the apocalypse–which is why we’ll forgive its slightly drying formula.

Kat Von D mini everlasting liquid lipstick vs Dollarama lip crayon
Kat Von D mini everlasting liquid lipstick vs Dollarama lip crayon
The Loop
The Loop

Final Looks

Dollarama

The makeup had a youthful, fun vibe so we decided to pair it with an equally dazzling outfit. This Velvet Sheath Dress ($129.99 at WINNERS) and this Oxblood Faux Fur Vest ($39.99 at WINNERS) were just the ticket. Paired with these Long Jewelled Earrings, ($24.99 at WINNERS), no one would ever know you bought all your makeup from the dollar store.

The Loop
The Loop

Seriously. No one.

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The Loop

High-End
Of course, we won’t judge you if you choose to go all out at Sephora. To pair with the sophisticated makeup style, we mixed textures to create an edgy yet elegant holiday look. This Faux Leather Pleated Skirt ($39.99 at WINNERS) and Embossed Faux Leather Jacket ($199.99 at WINNERS) worked beautifully with a blinged out Jewelled Choker ($24.99 at Marshalls),

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The Loop
The Loop
The Loop

Now go forth and choose your makeup wisely.