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Does Costly mean Quality? Which is Really Better – Clinique or Rimmel Eye Shadow Makeup?

Updated on August 7, 2012
Photo © Redberry Sky
Photo © Redberry Sky

Does Cost Equal Quality? Clinique Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo v. Rimmel Glam Eyes Trio

Is more expensive make up really better quality than budget ranges? Being something of a girly girl when it comes to make up and perfume and potions and lotions, the answer to this question could be a crucial factor in the health of my bank balance for years to come. So I rummaged in my extensive make up room – er, I mean bag – to find two fairly comparable products: one high-end and one budget. What I found was two eye shadow palettes, one by Rimmel that cost me around £6.50 from the supermarket, and one by Clinique that cost me £20 from a department store make up counter. Both were purchased within the last 6 weeks (I know, I know: I got two near-identical products in less than two months - I’m a make up freak).

Eyeshadow is a fairly simple thing, and before I did this head-to-head test of the high priced Clinique and the budget Rimmel shadows, I found it difficult to imagine what could possibly make a difference between them except cost and superficial points like packaging.

But I found that there are some major differences between the two when it comes to application, sheerness, staying power, sensitivity and the coverage of the eye shadow, and that in this particular case, it was the more expensive product that won out on almost every point.

Application

As might be expected, the applicator provided with Clinique’s ‘Colour Surge Eye Shadow Duo’ is of a much higher quality. The sponge end of the applicator is soft and broad, and is a gentle whisper on the eyelids. By comparison, Rimmel’s applicator is thin and hard, and it was quite difficult to actually get the powder to go where I wanted. Clinique’s applicator also comes with a soft brush on one end, to blend and smudge the two colours so that the line from lid to eyebrow is graduated. Not so Rimmel, which has hard, harsh sponges at both ends of the applicator.

Clinique's shadow after use - the powder in the tray is barey ruffled. Photo © Redberry Sky.
Clinique's shadow after use - the powder in the tray is barey ruffled. Photo © Redberry Sky.
Rimmel's shadow after use - the powder is quite disturbed and 'bitty', which indicated to me that with regular use the product will wear down quickly and need replacing. Photo © Redberry Sky.
Rimmel's shadow after use - the powder is quite disturbed and 'bitty', which indicated to me that with regular use the product will wear down quickly and need replacing. Photo © Redberry Sky.

The Powder

The problem with the Rimmel applicator could easily be solved by using a separately-bought applicator, but since buying ‘extras’ negates the whole point of budget make up ranges, I was unwilling to use one of my own to test this idea. The Rimmel sponge applicator really did drag my skin, with the result that the shadow itself was uneven and flaky close-up. The powder of the Clinique product went on very smoothly and had a very natural and even finish.

How Long the Product will Last

When gathering powder with the applicators, Rimmel’s powder tended to crumble and go ‘bitty’ in its tray, whereas the Clinique powder has stayed largely unruffled. This makes me think that the Rimmel eye shadow would wear down quickly and need to be replaced more often.

The two eyeshadows when first applied: Clinique is on the left, Rimmel on the right. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The two eyeshadows when first applied: Clinique is on the left, Rimmel on the right. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The two eyeshadows an hour after application - both have faded a great deal (although I was careful to avoid rubbing, smudging or touching the hand I applied them to), but Rimmel's shadow has fared much better in my opinion. Photo © Redberry Sky.
The two eyeshadows an hour after application - both have faded a great deal (although I was careful to avoid rubbing, smudging or touching the hand I applied them to), but Rimmel's shadow has fared much better in my opinion. Photo © Redberry Sky.

Richness of Colour and Staying Power of the Make Up

In these areas, Rimmel won out. Clinique colours do tend towards the pale and natural, which for day wear I love, but for evening, they tend to disappear in the low lights. The difference between the palettes was minimal – both comprise dark brown for the eyelid and a pale pink for under the eyebrow, but the Rimmel tones, when applied, are much deeper and vibrant.

Rimmel’s shadow also lasted much longer. As a test, one day I used one product and the next the other. After a couple of hours, Clinique fades fast, but Rimmel is still going strong, and at the point where I was reapplying my Clinique shadow for the third time of the day, I was beginning to appreciate Rimmel a whole lot more.

The photos on the right demonstrate a little of the staying power of the shadows: I applied a little of each to my hand and was very careful to try not to disturb them, and took a photo after an hour to see which one fared better. It wasn't under laboratory conditions, but I think it gives an idea of the difference, not only of staying power but also of the difference in the richness of colour between the two brands.

Sensitivity

I don’t normally associate sensitivity with eye shadow. Mascara certainly, and sometimes eyeliner, but eye shadow doesn’t tend to cause any stinging or discomfort. However, I did notice that my eyes did feel a little more prickly when I used the Rimmel, so in the sensitivity test, the more expensive product won the round.

Packaging

Clinique easily wins in this category, as it comes in a small and sturdy pretty box with its own mirror and an applicator that effectively does the job. Rimmel’s packaging is very plain and utilitarian, and I don’t really have much confidence that the thin plastic will stand much shuffling in a purse before it falls apart.

Overall

Rimmel eye shadow scored highly for me on the richness of its colour and its staying power, but low on ease of application, sensitivity and how long I believe the product will last before it needs replacing.

Clinique scored highly on everything except that it is a little too faint for evening wear, and it fades quite quickly once applied.

Although Rimmel’s product is only a third of the price of Clinique’s – I paid £6.46 for Rimmel and £20 for Clinique – if I used the Glam Eyes regularly I would have to buy a decent applicator for it, which can be anything from £1 to £10. Add to this that the crumbly nature of the Rimmel means that I’m pretty sure it would last half as long or less than the more expensive product, which all brings the real cost of the two much closer together.

So is it all Packaging and Hype; or do you really get what you pay for?

I think it’s a little of both. I think manufacturers can probably obtain decent applicators for very low prices, so for Rimmel to include such an inferior one with the shadow is rubbish. Since I do have quite sensitive eyes, most people won’t suffer from the same reaction to it (and since my sensitivity comes and goes, I probably won’t either, a lot of the time). I think Rimmel’s colours are amazing, but Clinique’s shadow is more sheer and gives better coverage. It’s not difficult to see why Clinique’s shadow is more expensive, but on the other hand it’s easy to see why Rimmel’s budget range is so popular

Star Ratings

Overall, I’d give Rimmel 3 stars out of 5, because it is a fun, inexpensive shadow that has rich colours and lasts for hours, but desperately needs a better applicator and it crumbles a bit too easily.

Clinique I’d give 4 stars out of 5. It loses a star because it fades a bit too soon. Was I swayed by price and packaging when giving stars? I tried not to be, but since I am talking about a very girly make up product, I’d have to hold my hands up and say that I’m as much of a sucker for pretty mirrored boxes as the next girl!

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    • Pauline Davenport profile image

      Pauline Davenport 4 years ago from Isle of Man

      Thanks yet again for another useful make up review Redberry Sky - I really appreciate your make up reviews, as I have to 'look the part' each day at the pharmacy counter where I work. It's interesting to be able to know the differences between the two, before wondering if it's worth splashing out on the more expensive item. Have you tried using the testers before you buy? We have a lovely L'Oreal stand in the shop now - some of it a bit on the expensive side (for me) but we do have fun with the testers. Thanks again, and do please keep these lovely hubs coming.

    • Redberry Sky profile image
      Author

      Redberry Sky 4 years ago

      Hi Pauline, I often do use testers in the shops, but it's not always possible if it's very busy, and I can only apply it to my hand which doesn't look the same (no foundation, no moisturiser etc) but I must admit I have spent many a happy hour in pharmacies and department stores playing with their 'test' products, and I would be an absolute *pest* in your pharmacy because I really like L'Oreal make up! :)

    • tamron profile image

      tamron 4 years ago

      Clinique is the best! I was an exotic dancer and one of the girls used Clinique to cover a tattoo. I was amazed because how well Clinique covered that tattoo over other makeup. That is when I started wearing it. I throughout my other makeup. Clinique is the only makeup I ever use. Vote Up FB Like

    • Pauline Davenport profile image

      Pauline Davenport 4 years ago from Isle of Man

      Awww no - you wouldn't be a pest at all - it's lovely when folk come in to 'play' with the make up and and get into all sorts of chats - makes my day bless you

    • Redberry Sky profile image
      Author

      Redberry Sky 4 years ago

      I'm actually tempted to jump the ferry over to the IOM now, Pauline, just to chat and shop for my make up! :)

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