Not only are new products are popping up constantly, but you also hear often how this famous movie star or that celebrated singer has spent 3-figures just to get a small tub of some kind of magic cream of a prestige brand. So, how do we know if the hefty price tag is really justified?

Of course, you’d expect that higher-end products tend to include better quality of higher concentration of ingredients per tub. And, they tend also to give you a more luxurious experience. Everything from branding, to the packaging, to the bottle to the texture is designed to make you please your senses and make you feel pampered. But know that’s what makes up the hefty price.

And what does it mean for how effective the products are? More affordable options can work just as well. So, how do you work out when to shell out and when to skimp?

Here’s a simple rule of thumb to follow: When you wash a product off your face, you can go for the affordable option. And, when you leave the product on your face for hours, invest. Keep in mind that this is only a rule of thumb and hence not foolproof. So let’s follow up more in-depth:

Makeup remover and cleansers – go for the affordable option

Makeup remover is a staple in your bathroom cabinet if you’re using makeup. It’s designed to dissolve your makeup and get’s rinsed down the drain or thrown into the rubbish bin if it’s a wipe.

The second step in double cleansing is to use a water-based cleanser to remove any debris and impurity left behind after removing your makeup. In both the first and second step, the products are on your skin for maybe a few minutes, so they don’t really have much time for “action”.

If you don’t have skin issues, you don’t even need products with special actives. The trick is to use a gentle cleanser that removes everything but doesn’t dry your skin and leave it feeling tight.

SPF – go for the affordable option

Just like cleanser, sunscreen is a staple that you use every day. And, SPF all have the same standard ingredients. Whether they’re cheap or expensive, they all work in the same way. They absorb UV light and transform it into a less damaging form of energy, that is heat. So, it’s not a great way to splurge.

The best sunscreen is one that you use. This means, it’s one you like and feels comfortable enough on the skin so you wear it every day.

Acne treatments – go for the affordable option

Same as with SPF, most over-the-counter acne treatments contain standard acne-fighting ingredients. These are either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Face masks – go for the affordable option

Photo by cottonbro

Whether you prefer sheet masks, cream masks, or clay masks, they have 2 things in common. The first thing is they’re not that expensive to make. Hence, they shouldn’t be expensive to buy. You can even make your own, just walk into a health food store and buy all the necessary ingredients of a good face mask.

The second thing is that masks are not essentials, even if all the different clay and sheet masks have become in recent years a staple in many people’s skincare routines. If you’ve found a skin care regimen that works for you, masks only give you the little extra to feel pampered.

Physical exfoliation – go for the affordable option

Scrubs physically exfoliate your skin. Its grainy, textured formula rubs or brushes away dead cells. So, similarly to masks, scrubs are made with fairly basic ingredients like salt or sugar. And both are not really pricy.

Hyaluronic Acid Serum – go for the affordable option

Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient to keep your skin hydrated. But, it’s always the same molecular structure in all the different products. Drugstore serums work just as well as high-end ones.

Eye cream – go for the affordable option

The truth is, eye creams contain the same ingredients as facial moisturisers. They just come in smaller jars with the same or even higher price tags. Just read the ingredient list and you’ll know.

Even so, it’s important to keep the delicate and thin area around your eyes moisturised and protected. But your tried and tested moisturiser, as well as SPF, will do just fine.

Moisturiser – it’s up for a toss

The moisturiser is the last step in a routine to seal in all the goodness of the previous steps. So, basically, its job is to prevent moisture from evaporating from your skin. Many ingredients can prevent dryness. Take a pick from natural oils and butters to skin-identical ingredients like ceramides and synthetic emollients like silicones.

If your moisturiser has more jobs to do, think anti-ageing for example, go ahead. But if you already use anti-ageing or serums with other effects, you can save on your moisturiser.

Chemical exfoliator – it’s up for a toss

Typically, you have AHAs and BHAs. The most popular AHAs are glycolic acid (for dry skin) that also have ancillary benefits as it also fades away dark spots or lactic acid (for sensitive skin) that also hydrate your skin. BHA, that is salicylic acid is better suited for oily and acne-prone skin.

These days, you find products with these ingredients easily in any drugstore. Of course, you can invest in a product that also has ingredients to help avoid irritation or have other ancillary benefits.

Toner – it’s up for a toss

With toner, I don’t mean the western-style ones with alcohol, but the Asian ones. These help soften and prepare your skin to absorb the following products better.

Some only have this one task and others are brightening or contain anti-ageing ingredients. Nonetheless, you there are excellent ones that don’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Facial oils – it’s up for a toss

Even if facial oils are all the hype nowadays, you still have a great choice of natural facial oils that shouldn’t cost all the world. You can find simple and natural oils in every health food store. Of course, some oils, such as argan oil, is pricier.

Serum – invest

Antioxidant serums are the secret that keep your skin healthy and can ward off damage even before it starts. If you have other issues such as acne scars, sun or ageing spots, or deep wrinkles, you’ll want to invest in serums to tackle them.

In general, serums are a good place to invest, since they usually have a higher concentration of actives. Especially, if you don’t want to use an expensive moisturiser.


Buying less the more affordable options will help you save. But you can do even more:

  • Use the right amount: you need only a dime- or nickel-sized amount of product
  • Mix and match: you don’t need all the products of a line or even the same brand for all your skin and body care products

It’s all about what works both for your skin and your budget. So, if you’re on a budget, go for the affordable options or even skip the non-essentials and invest in the products that are you see and feel the difference.

If you’ve liked the tips on when to save and when to shell out, I’d be hugely grateful if you could share them on social media.

Save How To Spend Your Money And When To Save On Skin Care for later

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