Are expensive skin care products better than cheaper brands?
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 09:42PM
Jafeth Rodriguez

Dermatologists and beauty experts generally agree that price isn't a direct indication of how effective a skin care product is.  Generally speaking, expensive brands are not necessarily better than less costly brands to the point of price being sometimes irrelevant.

Sometimes, however, there is a true and valid reason for a product to be expensive.  Some ingredients can be hard to come by or prepare. This doesn't mean that the more exotic an active ingredient in a cream or lotion, the more powerful it would be when it comes to moisturising or repairing your skin.  

Another consideration for increased costs and price lies in the quality of ingredients.  Very often a product manufacturer would have the option of selecting a good quality raw material versus a cheaper, lower quality alternative.  The brand proposition would dictate the policy for the selection of raw materials and this could certainly have an effect on the end product.  I do believe a product with better quality ingredients would derive better results.

Another cost driver is research and development. Some organisations spend a lot of resources in R&D.  This is a great thing for the advancement of current products and the discovery of new ones.  This investment often gets reflected in the price of a particular line of products.  A lot more goes into making a good skin care product than we are aware of. You need to get the right percentage of active ingredients, the appropriate pH level for your skin, the right attributes in terms of absorption levels and overall feel on the skin.  The product also needs to look right in terms of its consistency and fragrance, and must keep stable over time. All these things take time and effort to achieve and impact the overall cost of the item.

The packaging and advertising spends are also a consideration when it comes to defining the attributes of a brand, including pricing.  

In summary, expensive brand names alone shouldn't be the only consideration when purchasing a skin care product.  Pharmacy products, available at a fraction of the price of top brands, can be as effective, sometimes more effective.  Very cheap products, on the other hand, are not necessarily the same as higher priced items.  There are both good and bad products at different price tags.  

Going into the other side of the equation, you will find the homebrand products, packaged and marketed by the Coles and Woolworths of this world.  Then we touch on a number of other issues altogether.  It is quite possible that you find a suitable product within the  ever growing spectrum of homebrand products.  The problem with this is the process by which these prices and products come together.  Large supermarket chains are known for putting great pressure on manufacturers and suppliers to create more homebrand products, which are underwritten by the supermarket chains themselves.  I believe there is a conflict of interest in this, as the trend is to for supermarket chains to promote their own products, regardless of what is better for suppliers and end consumers.

Homebrand products are being pushed so hard that in a few years it is expected to have 25-30% of supermarket shelves offering homebrand products.  In particular categories you may only find homebrand products, which means that options are being eliminated, suppliers and manufacturers are being pushed out of supermarket shelves and supermarkets may have the power to charge whatever they want for their own homebrand products.  With no competition, the biggest looser at the end of the queue may be the end consumer.  

A similar model is being brewed in the pharmacy channel, with organisations such as Chemist Warehouse learning from the models created by Coles and Woolworths and finding ways to applying them in the pharmacy space.  

In summary, I am not suggesting you to buy cheaper products, homebrand products or the more expensive brand names.  At the end of the day, you have the choice and you should exercise that powerful option.  I am suggesting that you go and face the supermarket and pharmacy shelves with a discerning frame of mind.  If you decide to support a particular product you do so because you like the product, you like what it does to your skin and you want to support that particular brand or manufacturer.  If you go and buy a homebrand product, that is fine too, and you are doing so with an understanding of who you are supporting and who you are affecting with your choices.  

"Beauty is what happens when you’re busy being yourself" - Anonymous

Article originally appeared on Instituto Español (
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