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Why is Lancome more expensive than l’oreal?

Shelley Ann Asks…If L’Oreal ownes Lancome, why the heck is the price difference SO high? I recently received a foundation sample from Lancome and absolutely loved it. I went to the Lancome counter at Macys. . . the 0.85 oz full size product was $35.00. Yikes! The sales gal told me in France L’Oreal was at the department stores behind the counters and Lancome products were sold at France’s Walmarts, Target’s, and Walgreen stores. So what is up with this?

The Right Brain responds:

We can think of at least four different reasons why two different brands by the same company would be priced differently.

Reason 1: Higher quality = more expensive

In some cases there really is a difference in quality between brands that just justifies a different price.F or example, the Alberto Culver company used to make both VO5 shampoo and Tresemme shampoo. Tresemme shampoo was more expensive because it used richer surfactants and it more contained conditioning agents. The difference in performance justified a price difference.

On the other hand, we also know for a fact that large companies share formulations across different brands. In that case there may be low and high cost products using the exact same formula. When that happens the difference is based on pure marketing because the parent company wants one of the brands to be more prestige. The marketing position may vary across different regions like your example of L’Oreal being sold at Walmart in France. (By the way is it just me or is the idea of Walmart in France really funny? Also we’re pretty sure that if there was a Target store in France it would be pronounced “Tar-zhay.”

Anyway, the only way to tell for sure if the same formula is used across different products is to compare the ingredient list side-by-side. If you have any specific products you’re interested in we would glad to review them for you, just leave a note in the comment section.

Reason 2: More fashionable color choices = more expensive

Even though the basic chemistry may be the same, companies do charge more for brands with more fashionable colors. (At least in the case of color cosmetics.) For example we’ve heard that the color choices between L’Oreal and Lancome are different and that may be driving the difference in price.

Reason 3: More elaborate packaging = more expensive

A large part of the expense of any cosmetic product is the package. So, if Lancome uses more colors of ink, more expensive dispensing mechanisms, or even higher-priced design elements (like metallic accents) that could drive its price higher than the comparable L’Oreal product.

Reason 4: More marketing = more expensive

Of course it could be all these things combined with marketing that accounts for price differences between the ads. More advertising, promotions, celebrity spokespersons all add into the selling price a brand.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

What’s in the formula is only one small factor in determining the selling prices of a beauty product. The magical manipulations of marketers has a much greater effect.

{ 47 comments… add one }

  • laura spodek August 21, 2014, 2:15 pm

    What is the difference between Lancôme Renergie lift multi action and Loreal Regenerist multi action

  • Swapna November 13, 2014, 9:35 am

    Is Lancôme dual finish make up powder better than Loreal’s infallible?

    • Randy Schueller November 13, 2014, 10:54 am

      If you can post the ingredients for each product I’ll take a look at them.

  • Dawn DeAngelis December 20, 2014, 11:50 am

    Does Loreal hava a product that preforms the same as Lancome’s artliner?

  • Mya January 1, 2015, 1:13 am

    I love Lancome products. I have tried them all. I have used Loreal also. Loreal is much heavier and does not last as long.

  • B Fulford January 29, 2015, 9:00 am

    does L’Oreal make a serum comparable to Lancome

  • Toula Colovos February 18, 2015, 1:58 pm

    I have been buying Renergie by Lancome for more than twenty years and paying about 104,00 dollars per jar of 2.5 oz.
    I do not know if it is a matter of genes or the brand but the results are excellent.However, since I am aware of L’Oreal and Lancome being the same company I wonder if I should move to L’Oreal Renergie, if they are the same.

    I do hope youcan answer me as soon as possible because Lancome has a special here in California till the 23rd of February

    Thank you

    T. Colovos

    • Randy Schueller February 18, 2015, 4:02 pm

      Try a bottle of the L’Oreal product and see if you like it! You could save some money. You could even do a half face test where you try each product on your face at the same time so you can compare them better.

  • Dolly March 20, 2015, 9:20 pm

    I use Lancôme lift makeup. The shade is (lifting Clair). There are these numbers on the bottom of the bottle…..30c. and 18j201. My question is what shade would that be in Loreal?

    • Randy Schueller March 21, 2015, 7:23 am

      Hi Dolly. I’m not familiar enough with their product lines to know if there’s an exact match but maybe one of our readers will be able to help you out. Good luck!

      • gail omalley October 26, 2015, 10:27 am

        Randy never has an experienced answer. What’s he got to do with this. He doesn’t use the products. How do we get a straight answer. If he’s the expert. Can t he look at the ingredients. It’s a reasonable question

        • Randy Schueller October 26, 2015, 5:46 pm

          Hi Gail. When you say that I “never have an experienced answer” if you mean that my answers are never based on using the product, then that’s true for color cosmetics. I don’t wear makeup.

          But, just for the record, I never said Dolly’s question was unreasonable. It’s just impossible to answer solely based on looking at the ingredients because pigments can be mixed in different concentrations to create hundreds, if not thousands, of shades.

          Perhaps someone who’s used this product and is familiar with similar shades from other brands might be able to help her.

  • LenaC April 9, 2015, 8:25 am

    Speaking from France and hailing from North America, what the sales girl said to the person who submitted this question is just silly. The positioning of Lancome vs. L’Oreal here is exactly the same as in the US/Canada. Lancome is clearly marketed as more high-end, and I have yet to see it at any “Target equivalents”, etc.

  • alisha July 12, 2015, 7:37 pm

    It has absolutely nothing to do with packaging and all that other nonsense. There is a definite reason why Lancome is triple the price as drugstore brands and also has nothing to do with formulation but with the purity of ingredients. Like buying an avacodo from walmart vs publix…its about quality if ingredients not formulaton

    • Randy Schueller July 13, 2015, 8:12 am

      Hi Alisha. I’m sorry but if you believe that packaging and “all that other nonsense” like marketing has nothing to do with the price of cosmetic product then you’re sadly misinformed about the beauty industry.

  • Noelle October 12, 2015, 1:48 pm

    I just know that the “snobbery” of many of the Lancome sales staff can be outright obnoxious. I sold Lancome, myself, for one year, and if ANYONE had a return for ANY reason, I still treated them like Gold. Yet instead I felt treated like some low-life criminal. It is MY BUSINESS if I want to return ANYTHING! Lancome is so darn expensive, that after being treated that way, I have decided to try switching to L’Oréal. I bought a L’Oréal sirum, day cream, eye cream, exfoliator, toner, and two different cleansers. So far I am quite impressed! It also smells wonderful and I love the packaging! Lancome, you better get it together and learn to treat your clients more like ROYALTY if you are going to charge them royal prices! Good bye, Lancome! I don’t care how good a product is…if I am treated like crap, I simply WON’T BUY IT! Amen!

  • Noelle October 27, 2015, 9:32 pm

    Hi again, just wish to share another two weeks later after DROPPING Lancome and WOW, God as my witness, my skin has improved immensely! As I said above, I purchased ALL L’Oréal products only, and man, this is the first time I have really seen my scarring from acne almost completely disappear! Not kidding. Even a harsh frown rinkle on my forehead has softened. I had tried a serum from Lancome that didn’t improve it, and it was over $100. Yet along with all of the same L’Oréal products, and the “Age Perfect cell renewal” serum ($24), I am seeing huge results. See ya, Lancome…wouldn’t want to be ya! Thank you, L’Oréal.

  • Anna Stanley December 30, 2015, 10:12 am

    I also have been told that packaging has a lot to do with the price we pay. Yes, Lancôme owns L’Oreal. I personally have always loved Lancôme bug the price makes L’Oreal very appealing to try.

    • Randy Schueller December 30, 2015, 2:44 pm

      It’s true, packaging is often more expensive than the formula!

      • Kimmie February 5, 2016, 5:06 am

        I’m “sort of” an insider but with a different cosmeceutical company. I can tell you with 100% certainty that packaging, marketing, branding, etc are the drive behind inflated pricing for a similar or even identical product. You’re spot on.

  • Lisa February 3, 2016, 4:17 am

    Does anyone know if Loreal has a foundation similar to Absolue makeup absolute replenishing cream? I love it and have such crazy skin and it works perfectly but the price, $68! Thanks everyone!

    • Randy Schueller February 3, 2016, 8:06 am

      Hi Lisa. If you post the ingredient list for the product you’re interested in, I’ll take a look.

      • Kate August 8, 2016, 8:01 pm

        Randy, instead of asking the poster to list the two products’ ingredients lists, why can’t you do that? I’m sure ypu have access to those in digital form and it would be an easy cut and paste and answer process for you, whereas the poster has to either type in or photo and post the lists. It seems you’re not all that interested in actually answering questions.

        • Randy Schueller August 9, 2016, 8:10 am

          Hi Kate. You’re right, I could look up the ingredient list myself but here’s why I don’t: Each question we receive can take up to several hours to research (yes, some are quickies but others take quite a while.) In fact, we receive far more questions than we can answer.

          It can even take a while to track down an ingredient list, especially if the company doesn’t list it on their website. So, if I have to look up the ingredients of every product that people ask us about I would be able to answer fewer questions. If the person submitting the question can provide the ingredient list it saves me a lot of time and allows me to respond to more people. I know it’s more work for them but this is a free service after all. Thanks for understanding.

  • sarah February 5, 2016, 3:55 pm

    Loreal is the umbrella brand for lots of companies including ysl, armarni, and urban decay. All completely different and cant be compared.
    Same as in any industry you pay for quality ingredients, scientific research and luxury packaging.
    Loreal have cheaper versions available for those on a budget. But if you can afford the best then that’s up to the individual

    • Randy Schueller February 5, 2016, 4:03 pm

      You have a good point, Sarah, but remember that big companies will often leverage formulas across multiple brands. The bottom line is that you have to judge each product on the merits of its ingredients and not the brand name or price.

  • Julie February 13, 2016, 11:57 am

    Clearly ambiguity and contradiction:
    Randy Schueller October 26, 2015, 5:46 pm
    But, just for the record, I never said Dolly’s question was unreasonable.
    “It’s just impossible to answer solely based on looking at the ingredients” because pigments can be mixed in different concentrations to create hundreds, if not thousands, of shades.
    CHECK OUT HIS POST FEB 3 2016 8:06 pm saying:
    “If you post the ingredient list of the product you’re interest in, I’ll take a look”.

    I detect an “Oooooops” lol

    • Randy Schueller February 14, 2016, 8:19 am

      Hi Julie. Please let me clarify.

      Dolly asked me to tell her what shade of L’Oreal would correspond to a specific shade of Lancome. I told her that’s difficult/impossible based on looking at the ingredient list because of the way pigments are combined.

      Lisa asked is if L’Oreal has a foundation similar to Absolue makeup absolute replenishing cream. I assumed she was looking for a similar base product (rather than a color match) so I asked to review the ingredients. You can tell if a base formula is similar because the “backbone” of the product. That’s much easier that determining if two colors are identical just by looking at the list of ingredients.

      I hope that makes sense and I’m sorry if I confused anyone.

  • Greta February 17, 2016, 6:36 am

    As an esthetician, I can tell you that make-up artists use all brands of cosmetics. Whatever works best is what they use . . . even if that is Maybelline. Regarding Lancome vs. L’oreal, you really need to try each brand and see what you like best. Many types of items are probably just fine if you buy L’oreal. Their mascara is excellent, and since you need to change it out every month, why spend the big bucks? Ingredients in cosmetics tend to be very similar, so don’t let that dissuade you.

    That being said, I have VERY fair skin, and cannot find a foundation in L’oreal’s line that is light enough for my skin. I found an excellent brand in Lancome’s line. It covers very well, matches perfectly and I don’t even have to use concealer with it. BUT, this is one product in my entire repetoir of cosmetics that I use an expensive brand on. It is $47. Ouch! But if that’s what it takes, then I’ll bite the bullet for that ONE item and visit the drugstore for the rest of my items.

    • Kate August 8, 2016, 8:03 pm

      Good idea!

  • Denise, L'Oreal User March 7, 2016, 10:35 am

    Many years ago, a broadcast network primetime news show did a piece on drug store versus department store makeup. I can tell you what this columnist here is telling you is the same as the conclusions that report found. It actually had ingredients tested and compared. While formulations may not be exactly, 100% the same, they only differ in minute ways. The price difference is truly marketing. You may prefer a fragrance in the product or texture. If that’s worth the price difference, then unload your wallet to the company of choice. Granted I believe there are lines of makeup worth spending for when you need them on certain occasions. That is my personal indulgence, however. Everyday makeup and skincare need not cost a fortune.

  • Angie March 15, 2016, 1:50 pm

    I have been using Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Lotion but it’s $50 a bottle so I am trying to find a cheaper alternative. I am wondering if the Loreal Age Perfect Cell Renewal Lotion is similar.

    Ingredients for Bienfait:

    Ingredients for Age perfect:

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t think your previous answers were confusing at all 🙂

    • Randy Schueller March 16, 2016, 8:29 am

      Hey Angie. Actually these formulas are very different. For starters the Bienfait is a sunscreen (drug) which makes it more expensive. Second, the “backbone” of the two products are very different. Not to say that the Age Perfect product is bad but it may not be a good replacement. I guess you’d have to try it to find out how you like it.

      PS Thanks for your comment about our previous answers!

  • Cass May 17, 2016, 8:19 am

    Can you supply examples of literal and Lancôme products that are similar that you already know of ?

    • Randy Schueller May 17, 2016, 2:53 pm

      I don’t have any examples off hand but if you have two products you’d like us to compare just send me a link to the ingredient lists and I’d be happy to review them.

  • Duhha May 22, 2016, 12:36 pm

    Or maybe it’s just the simple fact that cosmetic and beauty product companies know that most women are suckers for such products and marketing, and will actually pay ridiculously high prices for chemicals and poison to put on their faces and bodies.

    • Randy Schueller May 22, 2016, 2:19 pm

      Poison? Seriously? You REALLY think that cosmetics contain ingredients which are poisonous when used as intended? I’d love to see some proof of that.

      • margeaux August 23, 2016, 2:42 pm

        Hi Randy, yes, I have researched ingredients and found a few that are carcinogenic; I would have to dig my notebook out to say which ones they are. Both were found in breast tissue and both were in a product that said organic. Research all ingredients, which takes time, yet a must if one wants to know. Most likely they are used as a preservative.

        • Randy Schueller August 23, 2016, 10:10 pm

          First of all, just because a cosmetic ingredient was found in breast tissue does not necessarily mean that it is carcinogenic. Please understand that toxicology is a VERY complex science and the experts in the field (who know much more than you or I) have not been able to proof there is concern in most cases. If you can cite credible evidence that specific cosmetic ingredients are dangerous, then we can have a serious discussion. Otherwise, I believe you’re just scaring people into using products that may be even LESS safe (by avoiding preservatives, for example.)

  • Monica July 7, 2016, 12:52 am

    Hi Everyone …. I use to buy expensive makeup at 1 point in my life after losing my job I had to settle for products from stores like Walmart , Target, CVS & Riteaid I discovered Loreal and let me tell you that’s all I buy now in every makeup product I use all the different formulas in Loreal’s products I’m happy with all of them . I’m now working again and have a good job but I’m staying with loreal because why waste money on high end products when loreal’s products are amazing . I strongly suggest trying all there lines of products you won’t be disappointed 🙂

  • Beverley July 18, 2016, 7:26 am

    I am 62 and just started using the lancome products. I have sensitive skin and dry. I found the lancome very expensive. Is there anything as good but less money. Genifique, Renergie lift multi action day and the night and the eye, toner and the calatee confort.

  • Martha August 18, 2016, 7:09 pm

    I’m French. No Walmart, Target in France. We have Monoprix. Carrefour. Would love Target, but Walmart …NON!(NO)

  • Paula August 18, 2016, 8:46 pm

    Hello everyone, I found this page after I received a sunblock face lotion from Lancome . I put it in my drawer and it just so happened that I had a similar bottle from L’oreal also. The two bottles are identical, SPF 50, face sunblock. L’oreal’s has an orange bottle and Lancome has a white one. This is the only difference. The ingredients are exactly the same compared side by side.
    I purchased L’Oreal bottle at Walmart on clearance for $6 and just saw Lancome is listed for $39 on the website. Huge difference.

    Now I’ve been using Lancome for almost 10 years and I love the smell of their products. I recently tried a L’oreal loose powder and I had to return it because I couldn’t stand the smell. It didn’t smell bad but I just didn’t like it. I am willing to pay more for enjoying the experience. I buy foundation once a year so on things you don’t buy that often, I think it’s worth spending more, even though they might have the exact same ingredients as the lower end brands.
    It’s important to like how it makes you feel, make-up or shoes or clothes, you name it. You don’t have to go telling people left and right that you are wearing expensive products. But it give you confidence and You know it’s the real deal.

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