The excitement that builds up when you want to buy a new skincare product is all fun and games until it fizzles out as once you get hit with the price.

As products become more expensive it is hard to prioritize which products to try out, especially when you are unsure if they will even be compatible with your skin type.

These days, the amount of skincare products widely available is overwhelming and can be confusing to anyone who is not a beauty expert or a cosmetic chemist.

Do products only work when they cost a fortune? Are affordable options just as effective? The answers to these questions depend on the type of product or brand.

However, one reassuring conclusion is that a higher price does not always correlate with a better product and tons of reasons exist as to why the prices of skincare products may vary. These include: 

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According to Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified NYC dermatologist, the main thing that contributes to how a moisturizer is priced is the concentration of certain ingredients in the formula.

“An expensive moisturizer will usually have a higher concentration of the ‘good’ ingredients,” Dr. Jaliman says. “They are usually safer for all skin types. Many times they would not contain added fragrances that can cause allergic reactions for some.”

“Less expensive moisturizers have less potent ingredients that can be by-products or left-overs.”

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It is important to keep in mind, that there are many affordable moisturizers that will have the same effective active ingredients as expensive ones. They just would not contain nearly as much of those effective ingredients. 

“Make sure the best ingredients are at the top of a products ingredients label list,” Dr. Jaliman says, listing things like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, retinol, niacinamide, and glycerin as good ingredients.

“I usually find that patients who come in with acne breakouts have at least one product in their regimen that is very inexpensive. This does not mean that all inexpensive products are bad.”

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Marketing and Packaging

It is not always the most expensive products that are the most scientifically proven to be effective, even if they contain “rarer” ingredients.

The difference between an affordable moisturizer versus an expensive moisturizer can be a few things: marketing, packaging, and possibly proprietary ingredients. In general, expensive does not always mean better.

These proprietary ingredients can be pricier as they are rare, but that does not mean they are more effective. Often, we are not given the scientific evidence that these ingredients are in fact, worth it.

The Bottom Line

All of these said, there are a ton of great, inexpensive products as well as not-so-great pricey ones. You just have to do your research.

Look at the ingredients list and patch test to make sure your skin does not have a bad reaction. Additionally, it may make more sense for you to splurge on serums (which penetrate deeper and offer more potency) than a moisturizer.

Whether you decide to go for a drugstore option or the ultimate luxury face cream, what is most important at the end of the day is that you actually use it regularly.

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