Every wondered whether you should be spending on luxury skin care products?
Australian women spend more on skin care, personal care and cosmetic products each year than women in the US or the UK. We’re spending about $3600, compared with $2880 for the UK and $2000 for the US. No small bickies here.
Consumer trends show that not only are we buying an increasing number of these products, we’re also trading up, buying more and more luxury skin care brands – because we’re worth it. When you’re looking at Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Black, Clé de Peau Beauté La Crème or La Prairie Cellular Cream Platinum Rare you’re talking a very serious financial outlay.
We typically associate price with quality and therefore effectiveness. It seems in luxury skin care, just as with many other consumer products, high prices attract and low prices repel. From a psychological perspective, we use price to help us judge quality. Interestingly, we’re prepared to pay more when the product is associated with our identity and aspirations. Companies that make luxury goods know that the more aspirational the product, the more it is going to be sought after. However we also need to apply judgment to determine whether something is good value.
Youth elixirs or luxury marketing?
In the world of skin care, companies prey on our increasing desire to look perpetually youthful and spend extraordinary sums to package and market their products in ways that are both alluring and compelling, often also using science, or pseudo science, to convince us that their product has some rare patented ingredient or process that is unlike any other on the planet. Keep in mind that even a patent is not proof of effectiveness, it could simply just cover an ingredient, a combination of ingredients or a process.
Sometimes companies even conduct small-group consumer tests or doubtful research studies to baffle us and make their claims sound scientific, yet their work never makes it into the leading journals or gets reviewed by peers with the expertise to question it.
The cosmetics industry is not well regulated. Things like marketing claims typically come under consumer law, but all too often these fly under the radar. National research bodies really don’t spend their resources conducting double-blind placebo-controlled studies on the efficacy of the latest crème de la crème used by a mega celebrity such as Kim Kardashian.
This has not deterred many of us from blowing big dollars on products that may be luxurious to use but do little more than less expensive items to make our skin look and feel better.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my skin indulgences as much as the next person. I’ve spent a lifetime experimenting with the latest skin care products, and most especially over the past few years. I’ve been doing some serious road testing, including of some products claiming the latest breakthrough technology, unique delivery system or extraordinarily rare and transformative ingredient from the Arctic or some deep-cover laboratory.
Expensive skin care products may contain more expensive and cutting-edge ingredients and have better formulations, as one would expect, but it doesn’t guarantee it. There are some exceedingly disappointing ultra-pricey products out there with extraordinary packaging and huge marketing spends behind them but little by way of breakthrough science. And then there are some inexpensive brands with great formulations that deliver well beyond their price.
How expensive is too expensive?
If I’m going to lay down big dollars for my skin care, I expect the brand to be heavily invested in research and development, set high production and quality standards, and conduct extensive consumer testing of their products. For me, the integrity of the brand owner and the way it operates the business is also a deciding factor.
The story of Deciem and The Ordinary is enough to demonstrate that inexpensive does not have to mean poor quality, nasty or ineffective. It has rewritten perceptions around the world. Hopefully, even without Brandon Truaxe at the helm, the company will remember its roots and retain its original vision.
So the big question remains. How much should I spend to get the best skin care products? This is like asking should I buy a luxury car? It really depends on your budget, how important skin care is to you, how your skin responds to different products and how using them makes you feel. And what all this is worth to you.
What to look for in luxury skin care
So what do I look for in luxury skin care products?
For me, when choosing skin care products, my priorities are:
- The safety of the ingredients. Read our section on Skin Care Ingredients.
- The effectiveness of the active ingredients and delivery mechanism, based on the science.
- The formulation, and whether it works for my skin and I enjoy using it.
- The expertise of the brand and its research and development credentials.
- Value overall. Something may seem expensive, however if it delivers great results, is a dream to use and works for my skin, then it’s got my attention. But I certainly won’t drop $800 on a serum that delivers no more than a $100 serum.
- Does it fit into my routine? There really isn’t much point having products that don’t have a place in my skin care plan.
Should I splurge on luxury skin care?
If you want to splurge on some great, more expensive skin care products, but your budget needs a little coaxing, look to do this by concentrating your spend initially on the products that deliver the biggest bang, such as a quality antioxidant serum for the morning and a targeted retinoid or other treatment serum, depending on what your skin needs, for the evening. You can always work these in with other quality, but less expensive products. And, as budget allows, you can add in more products that may be a little expensive, but live up to their promises.
By spending time learning about what makes for good skin care and what ingredients actually do, you’re less likely to be manipulated by the marketing hype, influenced by the latest sponsored influencer or ‘sold to’ by the consultant who’s driven by a sales incentive.
Remember that even cosmetic dermatology clinics can be out to sell. Cosmeceutical and dermaceutical products can generate easy, repeat revenue for them without the investment of time that a consultation or treatment requires.
By improving your Skin Intelligence, you’re going to be better able to find some skin care products that are both lovely to use and really get the job done without having to stump up on the luxury skin care price tag.
Yours in better skin