well it’s not couture — that’s a misnomer. you’re thinking of high end / luxury. luxury brands typically use more expensive formulations of things in their products… not all beeswax is the same, and the kind of wax and other stuff that goes into lipstick, all that stuff, has different costs of production depending on what kind you use and how much of it. the packaging is also more expensive. granted some of it is just huge mark up — lancome’s regenerist cream is just glorified aspirin mixed with yogurt, for example — but the formulation of estee lauder lipstick is straight up superior to drugstore brands because they put different stuff in it and marketed it differently. and also lxuury brands like lipstick queen are much, much smaller and have fewer points of distribution which can drive the cost per unit up a lot. the smaller batch of stuff you make the more expensive it is to make and therefore the more you have to sell it for. the exclusivity is part of marketing as much as it is part of the feature of the production cost itself. lots of it is snobbery but it’s not complete B.S, either. i hope that explanation helps a bit?