Makeup Products » Best Makeup Brands

Best Makeup Brands

The Glowsly editors independently test and choose the best products. We may receive commissions on purchases made from the affiliate links.

Makeup is personal. From price to texture to color payoff, jumping headfirst into the makeup world can be a subjective experience. What one person thinks is a dream product can be a dud for someone else.

While we’re entirely aware that you might feel a noteworthy brand is missing from our list, we did our best to highlight a medley of top brands we believe should be in your makeup kit. From the classics that have been around longer than Marilyn Monroe to upstarts that have revolutionized the beauty industry, these are our picks for the best makeup brands.

Best makeup brands overview:

How we chose the best makeup brands

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including inclusivity, sustainability, whether it’s vegan or cruelty-free, and more, to create a short list of the top makeup brands. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best makeup brands for each category.

Our picks for the best makeup brands

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20-$40
  • $$$ = over $40

Best for the basics: Sephora Collection

Sephora Collection Colorful Eyeshadow

What we love

  • Affordable
  • Full product range that competes with brands also sold at Sephora
  • Accessible in-store and online

What we don’t love

  • Not cruelty free

To the casual shopper, Sephora is simply a retailer that offers a variety of cosmetics, fragrances, and skincare brands under one roof. And while this is true, that’s not all they do. Along with offering fantastic in-store service, the brand has its own makeup and skincare collection sold under the name “Sephora Collection.” 

The makeup offerings are reasonably priced and, more importantly, can be equally competitive to some of the more premium brands sold at Sephora, like NARS Cosmetics, Dior, and Make Up For Ever. Likewise, the Sephora brand offers innovative products that also hold their own against more indie-style brands like One/Size, Urban Decay, and Kaja.

Sephora Collection offers a complete makeup portfolio for the eyes, lips, and face with rich pigmentation, blendable shadows and blushes, and a comprehensive selection of makeup accessories and tools like brushes and lashes.

Hero product: Sephora Collection Colorful Eyeshadow

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: No | Packaging type: Plastic, recyclable | Price range: $

Best budget: Wet n Wild

Wet n Wild Mega Last Breakup-Proof Liquid Liner

What we love

  • Affordable and accessible in-store
  • Wide color range for lip and eye products
  • Quality formulations and rich pigmentation

What we don’t love

  • Limited shade range for some complexion products
  • Deeper complexion shades may not always be available

If you’re anything like most beauty lovers, you probably did your initial makeup shopping at your local drugstore or big box retailer. And more than likely, Wet n Wild was one of the first brands you purchased (or maybe Bonnie Bell’s Lipsmackers!). Wet n Wild has consistently been one of those fantastic drugstore brands that’s equal parts nostalgia and quality. 

While known for its wallet-friendly pricing, this isn’t a brand you should ignore. To this day, Wet n Wild produces professional-quality products that can easily compete with more premium brands. Meanwhile, it’s a cruelty-free pick with a complete product catalog covering every makeup need to get you ready and out the door. 

The brand’s eyeshadow and lip colors offer a wide range of hues to appeal to a variety of skin tones. The only drawback with this brand is that the complexion product shade range for foundations and concealers tends to prioritize fair to medium shades. And in many cases, even when the brand does offer a wider range assortment, deeper shades may be out of stock online or difficult to find in-store.

Hero product: Wet n Wild Mega Last Breakup-Proof Liquid Liner

Inclusive range: Lip and eye — yes, face — no | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: Yes | Packaging type: Plastic, recyclable | Price range: $

Best for inclusivity: Fenty Beauty

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft matte Foundation

What we love

  • Commitment to inclusivity
  • Full makeup catalog
  • Rich pigmentation

What we don’t love

  • May be an online-only brand, depending on customer location

It’s almost criminal to need to give Fenty Beauty an introduction. But as the kids say, if you know, you know. We’re not saying that Fenty is the first brand to be inclusive, but it was one of the first to drop an entire collection with a full shade range assortment for its foundation. 

By comparison, pre-2017 (when Fenty launched), many brands would initially release foundations and concealers focused primarily on fair to medium shades. Then, deeper tones would slowly roll out in the following months. Instead, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty released 40 shades at once — and the melanated community rejoiced. 

The brand has become synonymous with rich pigmentation and long-lasting foundations and lippies. Now, skincare via Fenty Skin has a cult following as strong as Rihanna’s Navy. Additionally, if you don’t live in a place where the brand is accessible in-store, you can use the virtual try-on feature through the website to get a proper shade match.

Hero product: Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft matte Foundation

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: Yes | Packaging type: Plastic, glass, recyclable | Price range: $$

Best for multitasking: IT Cosmetics

IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+

What we love

  • Makeup that addresses common skincare concerns
  • Full makeup assortment
  • Focuses on sun protection

What we don’t love

  • Expensive

IT Cosmetics isn’t the first brand to create makeup that also helps your skin, but it’s certainly perfected the art of doing so. The brand was one of the first to use live models on shopping networks with “real skin” issues like rosacea to highlight how effectively IT Cosmetics’ foundations could cover minor and more significant imperfections. 

Today, IT Cosmetics’ offerings have grown to a complete makeup and skincare collection, incorporating active ingredients to tackle common concerns such as anti-aging, hyperpigmentation, large pores, skin irritation, and puffiness. While you can shop for eye color and lipstick, the brand’s complexion products tend to be the main draw. With some of the highest SPF in a CC cream, the multitasking products prime, conceal, hydrate, and provide broad-spectrum protection. And it does all of this without cracking or creasing.

Hero Product: IT Cosmetics CC+ Cream Full-Coverage Foundation with SPF 50+

Inclusive range: Somewhat | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: Yes | Packaging type: Plastic, recyclable | Price range: $$$

Best MUA-backed: Pat McGrath Labs

Pat McGrath Labs Mothership VII Divine Rose

What we love

  • Broad complexion shade range
  • Minimal fallout for powder products
  • Hydrating foundations

What we don’t love

  • Very expensive

If you’re heavily invested in the beauty world, you know who Pat McGrath is. A celebrity makeup artist turned beauty boss, Ms. McGrath is affectionately referred to as “Muva” in the industry. While her eponymous Pat McGrath Labs brand is a serious splurge, it’s well worth the money. 

Along with rich pigmentation that offers gorgeous color payoff across all skin tones, you’ll get creamy foundations that blend effortlessly into the skin and concealers that don’t cake or crease. Meanwhile, the Mothership pressed eyeshadow palettes and blush singles don’t fade throughout the day and result in minimal to no fallout. Plus, a Pat McGrath Labs lip is ultra hydrating and leaves you with a bold pout. 

Hero product: Pat McGrath Labs Mothership VII: Divine Rose

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: No | Packaging type: Paper, glass | Price range: $$$

Best luxury: Dior

Dior Forever Skin Glow

What we love

  • Inclusive shade range
  • Vast color assortment for lips
  • Wide variety of foundations

What we don’t love

  • Expensive

It’s not uncommon to have a luxury fashion house release a companion beauty collection. Dior is a French fashion brand that’s decided to travel this path. Even though this is a splurge entry on our list, we feel the price is well-deserved. Dior offers an entire makeup collection with an inclusive shade range, especially for complexion products. 

With various textures, finishes, and formulas, the brand’s foundation offerings, from long-wear liquids to SPF-infused cushions, are cult favorites amongst beauty mavens everywhere. Meanwhile, the plush lip glosses and lipsticks are the perfect way to accentuate your pout. If your budget can accommodate it, it’s a worthy addition to your makeup vanity. 

Hero product: Dior Forever Skin Glow

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: No | Packaging type: Plastic, glass | Price range: $$$

Best for universal products: NARS Cosmetics

NARS Cosmetics The Multiple in Orgasm

What we love

  • Very inclusive shade range
  • Multiple formulas within makeup subcategories
  • Hydrating formulas

What we don’t love

  • Not cruelty free

What exactly is a universal product? In the context of this article, we’re talking about something that looks good on all skin tones. And now, NARS’ award should make a lot of sense to you if you’re familiar with its cult classic blush shade, Orgasm.

Yes, NARS is a full catalog professional makeup brand, meaning you can create a complete makeup look without ever needing a product from a competitor. This brand is frequently found backstage at fashion weeks around the world. Along with its timeless Orgasm blush, the brand offers a beautifully inclusive assortment of complexion products with long-wear formulas in addition to richly pigmented eyeshadows, lip colors, and, of course, blushes. 

But hands down, Orgasm blush is the hero product from NARS, thanks to its gorgeous pink-peach hue with hints of gold. This means that it translates beautifully on all skin tones. More importantly, the lush pressed-powder version was so popular that Orgasm has been carried forward into a liquid, cream, gel, and multifunction cream stick blush format.

Hero product: NARS Cosmetics The Multiple in Orgasm

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: No | Packaging type: Paper, plastic, glass | Price range: $$

Best drugstore: Maybelline New York

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

What we love

  • Affordable
  • Wide foundation and concealer shade range
  • Mascaras that lengthen, volumize, and curl

What we don’t love

  • In-store foundation shade range can vary

The makeup world can be a competitive place. Social media often leaves the impression that if you’re not dropping $60 or more on a single foundation, you’re not wearing the right makeup. So, it’s easy to forget that you can find many winning products in a drugstore.

Enter Maybelline New York, a cosmetics brand that’s been around since 1914 and began as a mascara and brow makeup company. Fast forward more than 100 years, and Maybelline is one of the few heritage drugstore brands that competes and wins in a crowded beauty world against other innovative and upstart indie makeup brands. 

Maybelline’s Fit Me is a massive foundation line, while the Instant Age Rewind concealer has gained TikTok trending status thanks to the eyeglasses concealer hack viral video. The brand’s various mascaras are still fan-favorites many years later, and the wide range of Super Stay lip colors continues to delight beauties everywhere. Most importantly, knowing you can walk into nearly any drugstore in the U.S. and find the Maybelline section makes it an incredibly accessible and beginner-friendly brand. 

Hero product: Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Foundation

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: No | Packaging type: Plastic, glass | Price range: $

Best indie: Juvia’s Place

Juvia’s Place I Am Magic Velvety Matte Foundation

What we love

  • Inclusive shade range
  • Black-owned makeup brand
  • Cruelty free

What we don’t love

  • Not widely available in-store

It’s hard to pick just one indie beauty brand because so many offer incredible products these days. But Juvia’s Place, a themed brand that combines indie beauty with centering melanin beauty, is one of our top picks. Yes, the brand is inclusive of all skin tones. But the packaging and marketing show you that it’s an unapologetically Black-owned brand. 

Aside from elevating and centering marginalized voices and faces, the brand also makes an incredible product across makeup categories. As with all the other brands in our roundup, this is a full portfolio pick, meaning you can create a full face with Juvia’s Place. 

Additionally, the prices are affordable, making it accessible to a diverse range of customers. Key features include bold pigmentation for eye shadows, a comprehensive shade range for foundations, and a variety of textures and finishes for both the foundations and lip colors. 

Hero product: Juvia’s Place I Am Magic Velvety Matte Foundation

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: Yes | Packaging type: Plastic, paper | Price range: $$

Best heritage: MAC Cosmetics

MAC Cosmetics Eye Shadow

What we love

  • Wide shade range across products
  • Memorable special edition collections
  • Great formulations

What we don’t love

  • Not cruelty free

Before Fenty Beauty and other brands prioritized inclusivity, MAC Cosmetics was one of the originals from the 90s that did more than pay lip service to a real issue in the beauty world. Beyond simply creating inclusive products, MAC was known for teaming up with iconic faces like Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Shirley Manson, and even Elton John for the Viva Glam collection. Fun fact: Rihanna got her beauty start with MAC for the iconic Ruby Woo shade. 

But back to the makeup. MAC was one of the few mainstream brands that offered a more diverse shade range assortment for complexion products. The brand is still pushing the envelope and offering professional quality makeup products that include long-wear foundations, bold lip pigments, and special edition collections like the release and re-release of Selena La Reina Collection in honor of the late Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla. 

Hero product: MAC Cosmetics Eye Shadow

Inclusive range: Yes | Full vegan: No | Fully cruelty free: No | Packaging type: Plastic, glass | Price range: $$

The best picks for your makeup vanity

We can’t stress enough that makeup is personal. Plenty of amazing brands could be top picks. Still, to be considered one of the best, a makeup brand should offer an inclusive shade range for complexion makeup, deliver on the promises made for its products, and cover all makeup subcategories for a full-face look. 

Every entry in our roundup fits these criteria. If you’re looking for a modestly priced brand to start your search, look no further than Sephora’s own: Sephora Collection.  

How to pick the right makeup brand for you

We know very few people who exclusively wear all their makeup from one brand and one brand only. That’s something of a unicorn customer — meaning they pretty much don’t exist. But when shopping for makeup, consider your goals, budget, ethics, skin type, and the promises the product is making. 


No one wants a makeup product that disappears an hour or two after you put it on. If it’s a foundation or concealer, you don’t want it settling into fine lines, cracks, and creases. But there’s a caveat. While product formulation is important, it’s essential to understand your skin type as well. 

For example, suppose you have oily skin and decide to use a cream foundation. In that case, this encourages product shifting and fading because creamy products and oily skin are rarely compatible. So, part of getting the best performance from your makeup is being mindful of your skin type, how you plan to wear the product, and how to use it properly. 


These days, people want their makeup brands to have morals. At a minimum, this usually means a brand is cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals. But this can also mean vegan formulas (no animal ingredients) or offering clean formulas free from phthalates, mineral oil, petrolatum, formaldehyde, and more. Unfortunately, because cosmetics aren’t regulated as heavily by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as pharmaceuticals, there’s not as much oversight to ensure that a brand truly fits any of those criteria. 

To truly qualify as cruelty-free, a brand should bear the seal of one of two official animal testing oversight organizations: PETA and Leaping Bunny (includes Choose Cruelty Free in Australia and Cruelty Free International for the rest of the world). Each organization has a specific bunny label. But be careful when looking at brand packaging, as many brands post a random bunny on their products to make a cruelty-free claim. That logo, however, may not be associated with any formal organization. Of the two, Leaping Bunny and its international affiliates offer stronger oversight. 

Vegan and clean beauty claims can be as equally dubious as animal testing. While brands can request vegan-certified status from and The Vegan Society, technically, they need to be cruelty-free and not include animal ingredients or byproducts to qualify as vegan. By contrast, EWG is a clean certification organization that tests a wide range of health and beauty and household cleaning supplies. While brands can claim to be clean by simply avoiding known harsh ingredients, an EWG seal will let you know that the products have been certified clean by a third party. 

Shade inclusivity

Considering the vast range of skin tones worldwide, people with more melanin shouldn’t have to search for the right foundation or concealer to match their skin tone. Historically, many affordable and median-priced brands focused primarily on the fair to medium shade range and only supplied a handful of deeper tones. Thankfully, times are changing, and it’s now more expected that a brand will wait to release a complexion product unless it can offer a wide assortment at the initial launch. 

You’ll note in our guide that the bulk of our makeup brand picks offer more comprehensive ranges for foundations and concealers, with the average being 35 or more shades for foundations and anywhere from 15 to 20 for concealers. However, even today, BB creams, CC creams, cushions, and tinted moisturizers tend to have limited shade ranges because of formula limitations.


What’s the best-selling makeup brand? 

In truth, the answer to this question depends on your criteria. If you’re asking which makeup brand sold the most cosmetics, then L’Oreal is the top winner of 2021. Meanwhile, if you drill down to the best-selling lipstick in the world, the answer is MAC Cosmetics. 

What’s the best and most affordable makeup brand?

The best and most affordable makeup brand depends on your budget, what you’re willing to spend, and how the formula agrees (or doesn’t agree) with your skin. Our guide outlines a range of budget, median, and luxury options to fit a variety of beauty wallets. If you’re working on a tight budget, we recommend Wet n Wild because it offers professional quality products at incredibly affordable prices. Meanwhile, if money is no object, Pat McGrath Labs and Dior are both excellent choices. 

What’s high-end makeup?

High-end makeup is usually defined as a prestige brand with individual products that tend to retail for $50 or more. Typically, these brands are sold at proprietary stores, department stores, or beauty retailers such as Sephora. Within our guide, this would include Pat McGrath Labs and Dior, as both offer products with premium price points.