What is the Difference Between Drugstore and High End Skincare?
People often ask me one very common question: what should I use on my skin? Is there a difference between something I can purchase at the drugstore, something at SEPHORA/ULTA Beauty or through a department store? Dermatologists and Estheticians often recommend products that you can purchase through a drugstore or through certain cosmetic lines because of their ingredients and efficacy. The cost of a product is not the determining factor in its choice.
The past couple of months I have been reading up on cosmetic chemistry, to educate myself on the topic of what exactly goes into skincare and cosmetics. I find the topic fascinating, to say the least. And one does not have to be a cosmetic chemist to understand the subject. Although, a rudimentary understanding of chemistry is needed. I urge you to become as educated as possible regarding what goes into skincare and cosmetics too. The more educated you are, the more money you will save.
The main difference between drugstore (or mass market as they are sometimes referred to) skincare products and high end products is not necessarily in the ingredients. According to Kelly Dobos, Cosmetic Chemist, "There are so many factors that go into the cost of cosmetic and personal care products. Ingredients, packaging, product development and manufacturing, overhead, marketing, etc. But I’m a firm believer, due to all of my studies and time in the cosmetic industry, that higher cost does not necessarily mean better efficacy. Effective products are available at reasonable price points."
Let me use a product such as OLAY Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream as an example. This happens to be one of the most known and well regarded mass market facial creams. OLAY Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream retails for about $34.00 and is designed to visibly diminish wrinkles and fine lines in as little as one day of use. It is infused with Vitamin B3 (niacinamide), amino-peptides, hyaluronic acid (a humectant that brings moisture into the skin) and antioxidants to protect the skin against free radicals. The moisture binding formula instantly hydrates skin to improve elasticity and firms for a more lifted look. Niacinamide helps to improves surface skin cell turnover and regeneration. But it also helps to exfoliate and removes dead, dull surface skin cells for a more youthful looking complexion. When used as the last step as your skincare routine, it leaves skin looking more hydrated, plump and is supposed to deliver moisture up to 10 layers deep in the skin's surface. Used daily it is designed to make significant transformation in your skin in about 28 days.
|(photo courtesy of SEPHORA)|
Compare OLAY Regenerist to this high end product like SK-II R.N.A. Power Anti-Aging Face Cream, which is available through SEPHORA for $235.00. The velvety moisturizing night cream supposedly restores skin suppleness and elasticity with intense hydration and is inspired by award-winning science. This cream is best for fine lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, elasticity and dullness/uneven skin texture. It is packed with nourishing ingredients, such as pitera (a bio-ingredient that helps to renew skin, boost radiance and combat signs of aging). The advanced formula combines SK-II Radical New Age (R.N.A. complex with their signature pitera ingredient). SK-II is one of the most trusted and bestselling skincare brands in Asia, and is quickly becoming a must-have among beauty experts in North America.
When comparing and contrasting these two products I looked at the ingredients and found that both contain Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) as one of their primary anti-aging ingredients. However, the OLAY Regenerist contains a different primary humectant than the SK-II R.N.A. Cream. Regenerist contains a form of hyaluronic acid (sodium hyluronate), which is a humectant that holds 1,000 times its own weight in water. Both the SK-II and OLAY Regenerist contain glycerin, which does attract moisture to the skin, but not in the same capacity. The molecule for glycerin is actually smaller and works deeper in the skin than hyaluronic acid. It is a much better humectant than hyaluronic acid. They also both contain Vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate), an antioxidant that helps protect the skin against free radicals. Also included is Pro-Vitamin B5 (panthenol) a softening, soothing, and anti-irritant agent, that helps your skin build up a barrier against irritation and moisture loss. Both products contain peptides, which are chains of amino acids that are called “boss babe” molecules. These amino acids act to fight against fine-lines and wrinkles and are the building blocks of skin cells.
When comparing and contrasting the two products it appears that the OLAY Regenerist ($34.00) cream contains essentially the same primary ingredients (in the same order) as the SK-II R.N.A Power Anti-Aging Cream ($235) cream (save for the pitera in the SK-II cream). Which means it should perform just as well. One must remember that ingredients are listed in the degree of concentration. This means that the majority of the cream is usually 60%-85% water, then the rest of the ingredients make up the remaining portion of the product. Water is listed first because it is an emulsifier. Water acts to emulsify and bring together all of the ingredients and to create that tactile texture you enjoy with a rich cream. So if you want to purchase a $235 cream you can purchase it, but an equally excellent alternative is the OLAY Regenerist. It will do exactly the same thing for a HUGE fraction of the cost. The $235 cream would certainly count as an indulgence.
|courtesy of GLAMGLOW|
Another product comparison would be between the GLAMGLOW SUPERMUD Charcoal Instant Treatment Mask ($60.00) and Freeman Charcoal + Black Sugar Mud Mask ($4.29). SUPERMUD is GLAMGLOW'S most advanced clearing treatment and the #1 best-selling charcoal mud mask. It fights problem skin and skin imperfections with activated charcoal, a blend of 6 acids, and K-17 clay. The charcoal helps lift out dirt, debris, toxins and excess sebum from the pores (hair follicles) and purifies them. The blend of 6 acids: glycolic, salicylic, pyruvic, tartaric, mandelic and lactic acid helps to loosen and exfoliate the skin, leaving fresh, smooth skin behind. This mask visibly and instantly clears the complexion in one use and is especially suitable for acne-prone skin.
The Freeman Beauty Charcoal + Black Sugar Mud Mask also contains activated charcoal to help "detoxify" (essentially rid the skin and hair follicles of sebum, dirt and debris) so that skin is less congested. Bentonite clay draws out impurities from the hair follicles and helps decongest skin. Black Sugar hydrates and smooths away rough skin. Silt helps to exfoliate the skin. This mask also contains natural fruit extracts such as papaya, raspberry, banana, coconut and guava extract. These fruit extracts help to exfoliate and smooth the skin in a more gentle fashion than regular acids.
The differences between the GLAMGLOW and the Freeman Beauty Mask are mainly in price. While both are made from activated charcoal, clay and contain varying degrees of fruit acids, the GLAMGLOW mask is significantly more expensive. Does that make is better? Not necessarily. Looking through the lens of a cosmetic chemist, you can see that the ingredients are essentially similar in nature. Always look at the ingredients as they will tell you what to look for in a product. The difference in price between the two masks is steep and either one works very well.
There is a website where you can compare and contrast products with each other, it is called Skinskool Beauty. On this website is a comprehensive database of skincare products whereby one can input a skincare product and the system will spit out a duplicate of that product which is comparable to what you have put in. It will give you a list of matches according a percentage based on ingredients.
Well, I do hope that you have found this post helpful and educational. It is important to be informed about what you put on your skin, as it is a living organ with a blood supply and it provides protection for your body. Enjoy learning about skincare, especially because you can save yourself some money in the process. After all, when you save on one thing maybe you can splurge on something else!
Until Next Time~