Case Study: Spendy Skincare

I am a skincare junkie and do not have a problem with that. It is a habit (character trait – could we call it that?) I developed very early on in life, and over the years, no matter whether I really had any disposable money or not, I always made enough materialise to buy small jars of smelly ointments (also, a skill).

Having dedicated most of my life to reading fashion magazines and trying out products, at the time of writing I can say with some confidence that I have a fairly good overall grasp of what works for me and what doesn’t. I like a product that delivers. If it sparks joy, it’s an added bonus. This means, consequently, that the juice really must pack more punch than most other things on the market. This also means that the products I tend to turn to are on the spendy side.


Must a product be expensive to work?
No. But very often there are reasons why some products are pricier than others. For example the following:

  • Ingredients. I would not want to encourage you to turn into a maniac INCI-list nerd (nothing worse than people quoting chemical element abbreviations in casual conversations), but if in doubt, do glance at the ingredients list on the packaging. If the top 5 ingredients feature mainly mineral oils and other inexpensive fillers, whatever active ingredient there was supposed to be, it will not have a chance in hell to actually deliver. Example: you want to see serious results from your hyaluronic acid product. If hyaluronic acid is not among the first 8 components of your product, its effect will be minimal.
  • A word about mineral oil – it’s not nasty. It’s not dangerous. It is widely used in cosmetics because it costs shit and is odourless and colourless. It is a purified derivative from petroleum. In other words: the perfect filler ingredient. It does nothing bad for your skin (quite the contrary, its moisturising ability is excellent), but it is dirt cheap for the industry to use, thus it is all over the place, and if you buy a product that mainly contains mineral oil, well then that’s what you’ll get.
  • Because of the high concentration of quality ingredients, using a smaller amount of product is often sufficient – also known as another lame excuse for an expensive stash “oh but it will last for ages.” But in a way yes. Consider the instructions to “use 2-3 pumps of eye cream” normative only, unless your eye contour area actually measures a full square meter (I use half a pump and this seems perfectly adequate.) Your face does not need to swim in an expensive serum. An extra cream floating above your epidermis is not going to bring about any extra results. A small 30ml bottle of high quality serum can last for months.
  • Which brings me nicely to facial toners. Apply serums and creams on a damp skin (as opposed to patted-dry-skin following cleansing) and you will need less product.
  • There is no rule, but I tend to spend the least on products that wash off (cleansers, shampoos, shower gels) and most on those that need to work (Serums. Serums. Serums.) If I see a good deal, I jump on it. Like during my last visit to the NYC – both Fresh and First Aid Beauty were celebrating their birthdays (20 and 10 years respectively) and because USA, there were magnificent birthday offers for super-sized cleansers. I am likely to wash my face with these tubs for the rest of my journey on this Earth.
  • There will always be the expensive mistake. Happens to the best of us, trust me. Above two of mine. I fell for Tatcha’s tinted eye contour cream at Sephora lately (I blame it on the jet lag), and the product has absolutely no justification whatsoever. It’s not a proper eye cream, also its shade of course is different from my makeup foundation. I like Tatcha’s other products a lot, but the gimmickiness of this one really confuses me big time. Hair products are another inexplicable weakness of mine. The above New Day Mist somehow is supposed to freshen up unwashed hair 1-2-3 days after, and, well, it does not. Given its sweet, lingering smell, it might work in a fruit-fly trap.

Finally, it’s only skincare. There’s no need to sweat it. Spend on it, don’t spend on it. Do a thousand-step Korean routine or don’t. There will always be bigger problems in the world: Trump in the White House, Brexit, Harvey Weinstein pretending his legs can no longer can support his criminal, corrupt upper body.

Spending a couple of extra spondolicks on a calming toner – please.

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