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 • Skincare  • Skincare Guides  • Revealed: The One Skincare Product Actually Worth Spending More on

Revealed: The One Skincare Product Actually Worth Spending More on

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Main image – Juliememe/Stocksy

Skincare can provide us with quite the dilemma can’t it? Because on the one hand, there’s doing a consistent four or five step skincare regime that helps, treats and improves your skin. And then there’s actually being able to afford to maintain it. 

Finding the right balance, according to your skin concerns and budget, is key. The advice is to make sure you’re consistent, but make sure you’re using products that you can afford to be consistent with.

Because believe it or not, we’re not all in the fortunate position of being able to spend hundreds on a night cream, another fifty on a serum and what’s left of your monthly food allowance on a tiny eye cream

But is buying expensive skincare better for your skin? Or can budget-friendly formulas do just as much good? And if we had to spend money on only one product, what do the experts say it should be?

Athlete and owner of Body + Soul Julia Shih, skincare expert Merry Thornton and board-certified dermatologist Dr Madeleine Gantz give their advice on whether investing money in expensive skincare is the only way forwards, and what in particular we should be spending more on.

 


Is expensive skincare better skincare?

In short: no. “Skincare routines are important because they help keep the skin healthy and prevent damage that causes aging from occurring,” explains Thornton. But you can still buy skincare products that achieve this, without having to spend your life savings. 

Shih says you should base your purchase on quality instead. “It really comes down to the ingredients, not the price,” she explains. “Many luxury brands charge you a markup for the brand, but the active ingredients can be found in more affordable products that work just as well.” 

 

Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

 

Excellent news! So what should you be looking for? “Ingredients that are proven to work for the results you are targeting. I’m a big fan of plant-based products, particularly for people with more sensitive skin.”

Brands like The Ordinary, CeraVe and La Roche Posay sell skincare products containing popular, results-proven ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and vitamin C. (They just don’t overcharge for the privilege!) 

 


The one skincare investment you need to make

Ok, so buying a hyaluronic acid serum from The Ordinary will cost you under £10. It should do near enough the same job as one that costs £50 if they contain all the same ingredients. But there is one product you shouldn’t scrimp on.

Sunscreen is the most important product in any skincare routine,” says Thornton. “Without sunscreen, we can get skin cancer, premature ageing, brown spots, wrinkles and sagging skin.” 

 

Image – Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy

 

Forget expensive retinols, ceramides and peptides, a broad-spectrum SPF is the most effective anti-aging product of them all! “If you look at the study of the truck driver who had [the left-hand side of his] face exposed from the sun coming through the driver window for years, it becomes very apparent how much the sun affects our skin,” says Thornton.

“UVA rays are more responsible for ageing and can penetrate glass while UVB rays cause burns. So get an SPF that is broad-spectrum for the best protection from harmful rays,” she adds. 

Make sure you find one you love so that you actually want to wear it consistently. “If you need to spend a little extra for the perfect match then it’s definitely worth it,” says Dr Gantz

Don’t be put off by wearing a daily sunscreen. These days, they don’t all leave a white veil over your skin or feel thick and greasy. There are now formulas that blend seamlessly into the skin and that layer well with your other skincare products. 

You can even get ones containing other skincare benefits like antioxidants, protection from blue light, extra hydration and ones that suit individual skin types. “The skin of those who have never used a sunscreen will look drastically different from those who have,” warns Thornton.

 


Our favourite SPFs

Image – REN

  • Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen Mineral SPF

Our Editor, Sally Underwood, says, “My favourite is Ultra Violette’s Lean Screen Mineral SPF (£34 from Space NK UK).  As someone who has both rosacea and melasma, mineral sunscreen is a must. Not only because it protects my skin from the sun damage which makes both of these conditions worse, but because it’s gentle enough not to irritate already sensitive skin.

“It is one of the absolute best I’ve come across; no white cast, doesn’t pill with other products and gives me a lovely dewy base for makeup.” 

Stay clear if you don’t like heavy formulas though.  “Oily or acne skin types may not enjoy the glow or slightly tacky texture here.”

  • REN’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30

She adds: “I also really like REN’s Clean Screen Mineral SPF 30 (£33 from Cult Beauty UK /$40 from Look Fantastic US),” she says.  “It doesn’t leave a white cast and also has a lovely dewy finish.”

  • Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturiser SPF 30

Sally’s final favourite is a multipurpose product. “Paula’s Choice Essential Glow Moisturiser SPF 30 (£34 from Cult Beauty UK /$35 from Paula’s Choice US) not only doubles as a moisturiser and an SPF but also contains ingredients like liquorice to tackle pigmentation. Just be aware to use enough of this product to get full SPF protection though.”

  • La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Oil-Free SPF 50+

My personal favourite is La Roche Posay Anthelios Clear Skin Oil-Free SPF 50+ (£21.90 from Cult Beauty UK /$19.99 from La Roche Posay US). It doesn’t feel tacky or heavy on my skin and it absorbs quickly.

  • Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF 50

Another favourite is Eucerin Oil Control Sun Gel-Cream Dry Touch SPF 50 (£12 from Boots UK /$26.30 from Look Fantastic US) which is ideal for my oil-prone skin and dries almost instantly which makes it easier to apply makeup over the top.

  • Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray

I also really love Kate Somerville UncompliKated SPF 50 Soft Focus Makeup Setting Spray (£36 from Space NK UK /$44 from Ulta Beauty US) which is an SPF 50 make setting spray so is designed to be spritzed over makeup. This is perfect for when I need to reapply my SPF but don’t want to ruin my makeup. Make sure you cover all areas of your face though as sprays are much finer than creams. 

 


The takeaway

According to the experts, expensive skincare doesn’t necessarily mean it is better skincare. Hallelujah!

So, look for the quality and not the price tag. If a product costs £10, contains ingredients that you know are proven to benefit the skin and it’s suited to your skin type then you’re onto a winner. 

If it contains the sacred nectar from an ancient precious stone from billions of years ago and costs £250, then fair enough. But if it costs the same and includes similar ingredients to the £10 one, it might have something to do with the name you’re buying it from, in which case you can save your pennies. 

The moral of the story though is that it’s always worth spending more on sunscreen. And a sunscreen you actually like! If you don’t enjoy using it, you won’t wear it. So, if there is one you prefer that costs that little bit extra, it’ll be worth its weight in gold.

 

Meet the experts

Julia Shih is an athlete and owner of of Body + Soul, a vegan and chemical-free beauty brand.

 

Merry Thornton is a Board Certified Physician Assistant in Dermatology, licensed skincare expert and Founder of Element Medical Aesthetics in New Canaan

 

Madeleine Gantz is a board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology. She has a diverse educational background, having received a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Lafayette College as well as a Master’s in nutrition from Columbia University.  

 

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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University
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