Can you tell the difference between a cheap + expensive skincare product by looking at the ingredients?
So here is a challenge on this cold January evening: have a look at the two lists of ingredients below and decide which one you think is the expensive face moisturiser and which one is the cheap face moisturiser…
OK, which one did you choose? A or B? And why? Moisturiser B looks a bit fancier, right? It’s 99.92% naturally derived, has lots of interesting ingredients in it. Moisturiser A sounds a bit less ‘organic’, right?
But, of course, the more expensive moisturiser is A.
Yes, I know what you are thinking. And the Frank Body moisturiser isn’t exactly cheap either. There is a £116 price difference between these two products. The Frank Body product has 27 ingredients, the Sturm one has 32. At least with the £16 tube you get 30 ml more than the Sturm cream.
So what exactly are you paying a premium for when you purchase these expensive skincare products? Perhaps it is the quality fo the ingredients. But how do you know that? The Sturm product proudly says it is ‘Made in Germany’ but that does not mean that all the ingredients are made in Germany by any means. Aren’t all natural ingredients more expensive? Clearly not. The two products are actually extremely similar in ingredient profile (as virtually all face moisturisers are) - they share 13 ingredients in common, which are highlighted in yellow:
All the standard ingredients are there: binding agents, preservatives, water, alcohol, emollients, humectants, emulsifiers, different types of oil, vitamin E. To me, these two products are actually basically identical. The Frank Body one also has an added fragrance.
So what is my point? My point is this: save your money. The high price comes from the name on the container and the beautiful jar, the marketing, the logistics and distribution, the PR team…but it does not let you differentiate between a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ skincare product. Choose the product that you like and that you can afford and remember that none of these face moisturisers are magic. They all do the same thing - keep your skin hydrated by sitting on top of the skin and preventing transepidermal water loss (occlusives), soften and smooth the skin (emollients) and draw and hold water in the stratum corner (humectants). All face moisturisers are made of a combination of these three type of standard ingredients - more occlusive ones generally feel more greasy. And they all need water, preservatives and emulsifiers. And that’s it.