There are a lot of factors involved when you choose skincare and cosmetics. I am pretty sure, for most of us, our choices are based on emotional reasons for purchasing as well as the effectiveness of the product. The age old question of drug store buys vs luxury products is a complex one. We have so many choices today and the beauty industry keeps growing rapidly with new and innovative products. Can you build a routine on drug store buys alone? Read on...
You really can't put a price tag on looking great right? Well just like fashion, there are certain products you should splurge on and certain products you can save on. Why spend $1000 on a t-shirt? The same can be said for beauty products. It's also no secret that the more expensive luxury brands mark their products up; you are paying for packaging, prestige and perception. So now you know what you may be paying for with a more expensive brand. Even though this is the case I firmly believe some luxury brands work better; if you find an expensive brand that you are willing to pay for stick to it...
Drug Store Cleansers
A good cleanser is hard to find - I am not sure why such a basic step is always difficult - so when you find a good one you should keep using it. A general rule of thumb in your routine is sticking to a good basic cleanser that cleans without stripping. It shouldn't contain any nasty ingredients or irritants either. A lot of people swear by drug store cleansers like Dove and dermatologists in Australia recommend Cetaphil. Generally cleansers get washed down the sink; so you shouldn't spend 100s of dollars on one because your money is better used on sit on products. That said I have difficult skin and I wouldn't dare put Dove on my face and Cetaphil really doesn't feel like it cleans. So with this in mind; I would have to say that your purchasing decision is based on much more than budget and emotional drivers.
The type of skin you have plays a part in your purchasing decision too. Less in the cleansing space and more in the leave on product space however. Other things that would come into play when you buy products are whether you care about recycled packaging, cruelty free products, whether your loyalty lies with a brand, whether you are trying something new, and so on.
Vehicle Ingredients and Active Ingredients
No matter your budget it is important to know the difference between active ingredients and vehicle ingredients. Active ingredients like Vitamin C, glycolic acid or caffeine, and vehicle ingredients, like the ingredients that make up the lotions or cream that the active ingredients are dissolved in. Obviously active ingredients are more expensive and they work wonders on your skin. I really love using glycolic acid as a regular exfoliator and you can't go past a spot cream when you have a pimple to get rid of.
Which Products are Worth the Splurge?
Although most people suggest cleansers, toners and sunscreens can be bought on a budget having sensitive skin means I really have to watch what I put on my face. I really can't buy a standard sunscreen for my face cheaply at the chemist in Australia. It is true that sunscreen ratings are regulated by the government so you are getting the same protection from equivalent SPF numbers no matter where you purchase... However, most chemist sunscreens aren't formulated for sensitive, acne and dermatitis prone skin. I am a big fan of natural products; however when it comes to sunscreen, you need it to work. Plus I don't really want to put Dove on my face. However I do agree with the general consensus that splurging on treatment products like eye creams, moisturizers, exfoliants and antioxidants is a must. Often the more active a product is, the more expensive it is.
Keep an Eye on Expiry Dates
I have written a whole blog post dedicated to this subject - Skincare and Cosmetic Expiry Dates.
Pay attention to the printed expiry dates on the pack. Usually products with active ingredients have these codes in black. They tell you when the actives are less effective and you can go and buy more. Other products that have shorter freshness periods are skin food products and more natural products. Most of these products are good for three to twelve months.
Remember that Price Doesn't Always mean Effective
Although most of the time more active products with better/premium ingredients are more expensive, this doesn’t mean drugstore/chemist brands aren’t efficacious. You should invest in a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and sun protection that works for you. How you look after your skin, what you choose to eat and how you exercise will dictate how you age.
You can Mix and Match Different Brands
You can mix and match different brands; however just be aware of the ingredients you are layering over one another. If you chemical peel or get laser done; you should have a break from using active products. There’s also an advantage in using one brand because you can be sure they are consistent internally in terms of ingredients and formulation.
What about Cheaper Cosmetics?
I have also spoken about this topic before in my big review post on different mascaras. I believe the same rules apply here. Although most of the time better/premium ingredients and pigments are more expensive, this doesn’t mean drugstore/chemist brands aren’t efficacious. We can see this in the results of my Top Mascara for 2017 below:
Set to Glow's Top Mascara for 2017 is the Giorgio Armani Eyes To Kill Wet Length & Volume Waterproof Mascara with a 5 out of 5!
Followed closely by the cheaper Japanese Dejavu Lash Knockout Extra Volume Mascara with a 4.5 out of 5!
Set to Glow's WORST Mascara for 2017 is the Yves Saint Laurent Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils (Shocking) Mascara with a 0 out of 5!
So The Answer? Can you get Away with a Drug Store Beauty Routine?
My answer would have been no a while ago; but that was before active brands that are affordable ( like The Ordinary ) came about. I feel like it is more possible to build a drug store skincare routine now more than ever. However; there are a lot of other factors and there is no one answer to this question. If you find luxury brands that you like that work for you you should buy them too if that is what makes you happy. Bear the ingredients in mind and the general rule - splurging on treatment products like eye creams, moisturizers, exfoliants and antioxidants is a must. Often the more active a product is, the more expensive it is.