We experimentally investigate propagation of laser beams with different intensity profiles in highly scattering media. We generate transverse laser amplitude profiles with Gaussian, Bessel and Airy function envelopes. We then propagate these beams through optical phantoms formed with variable density intralipid solutions. At the sample exit, we compare change in maximum intensities, as well as beam profile reconstruction. We show that self-reconstruction properties of Bessel and Airy beams bring about slower decrease in maximum intensity with increasing scatterer density. On the other hand, the beam profiles deteriorate faster, as compared to reference Gaussian beams. Slower decrease in the intensity can be attributed to the wavevector spectra providing a continuous flow of energy to the beam center, while beam deterioration is linked to total beam volume in the scattering medium. These results show that beam shaping methods can significantly enhance delivery of intense light deeper into turbid media, but this enhancement is compromised by stronger speckling of beam profiles. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.