Are Skincare Products A Waste Of Money?

Considering the increase in the skincare market these past few years you may be beginning to question whether all these products are actually worth your money. The skincare industry is booming, especially in the bespoke and natural product sectors; this naturally means a rise in more expensive brands and labels. But are these skincare products a waste of your money?

First things first, skincare products are not a waste of money

Your facial and body skin requires a certain level of care to remain clear and healthy. This includes cleansing, moisturising and sun protection (the bare minimum steps). While serums, exfoliants and face masks aren’t critical they do have multiple benefits for your skin.

Think about it, you shower often to cleanse your body which washes away dirt, dead skin cells and sweat. The exact same thing applies to your face. Cleansing your facial skin is a critical process through which you wash away any dirt and oils which have the potential to cause breakouts and a dull-complexion. It’s worthwhile to purchase a gentle, effective cleanser that works for your skin type; this is certainly not a waste of your hard earned money.

Moisturising replenishes lost hydration through both the cleansing step, and if you suffer from dry skin. Dry skin is also more pronounced in the winter months due to the cold weather and decreased humidity. Moisturised skin is less prone to cracking, peeling and damage from environmental effects. It’s best to purchase a moisturiser suitable for your skin type; if you suffer from dry skin consider a richer moisturiser with the addition of hyaluronic acid; if you suffer from oily skin purchase a lighter non-comedogenic moisturiser that is oil-free.

SPF is absolutely critical; UV rays from the sun have the potential to cause serious skin damage if left unprotected. UV damage can cause premature aging as well as lead to skin cancers. Free radical production is increased with sunlight exposure which are unstable molecules which try to snatch an electron from the skin. When this happens, the skin’s DNA is damaged; this is what can cause aging and cancer. It’s good practise to invest in a minimum SPF 30+ product with broad spectrum UVA & UVB protection.

Serums provide the skin with treatment that cannot be achieved with cleansing and moisturising alone. These are known as targeted treatments; there is a targeted treatment for almost every skin concern. These serums are not a waste of money provided you’re purchasing the right product for you; e.g. if you have acne prone skin, salicylic acid can work wonders in minimising breakouts and regulating sebum production. You have to see it to believe it, your scepticism may be overcome if you try the products for yourself; these ingredients have been rigorously medically examined for their efficacy so it’s no doubt they’re effective.

That being said, how much you spend on these products is something to consider. You could be wasting your money spending 10x the amount on a skincare product/serum given that a cheaper product could potentially provide the same results, this brings us on to the next point:

Expensive doesn’t always mean better

person with money
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

This holds especially true in the skincare world, branding is everything. It’s very enticing to purchase a product with a fancy label, but you need to get down to the base ingredients. Often you’ll find that two products have very similar ingredients, but at drastically different price points. For example, if you’re comparing two serums that both contain 5% glycolic acid, there might not be a world of a difference in the results they provide. An example of a brand that provides fantastic formulations at a cheap-as-chips price point is The Ordinary.

We recommended doing suitable market research prior to making any purchases. Ensure any products you buy are for your skin type and concerns, and always compare similar brands and formulations.

With all that considered, certain products may be more steep depending on how they’re formulated, how extensive the testing process was, as well as how ethical the ingredient sourcing process is.

Ethical ingredient sourcing = increase in price

green plants depicting ethics
Photo by Emily Hopper on Unsplash

I cannot emphasise the importance of ethically sourced ingredients enough; it is critical to maintain ecosystems and improve the general sustainability of the skincare and cosmetics sector.

Spending a little more money on a sustainable product is worth every penny. Using squalane as an example, 60% of market supplied squalane is from non-sustainable sources: shark livers. Thousands of sharks are poached yearly for their fins and livers amongst other things. This is a barbaric practise which needs to stop to maintain the integrity of ocean ecosystems. Squalane can also be extracted from olives, sugar cane and wheat bran; this process is a little more expensive but should not be overlooked.

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of the effect their actions have on the environment, the demand for new cruelty-free, vegan, ‘green’ brands has drastically shot up. No doubt manufacturing in this manner means increased cost which affects you, the consumer, just remember that you’re doing your part. Spending more money this way is not a waste by any means.

More rigorous testing means increased cost

There’s a minimum level of testing required to put any skincare product for sale, but while the bare minimum ensures that the product is safe to use, it isn’t always enough.

Effective testing can take years with the amount of things to consider;

  • Testing on people with different skin types
  • Testing for compatibility across different age groups
  • Confirming the effectiveness of the product, ensuring no adverse reactions

Just one of many things skincare brands need to pay attention to. Ultimately the goal is to get sales of their product by providing results; it’s these results that can take years, rigorous testing and millions in cash to achieve. Smaller brands might not be able to achieve this level of testing and validation, which often reflects in product price.

The ethics of testing is also under scrutiny. Animal testing is an unethical procedure, but is often significantly cheaper than testing on human subjects. Brands which do not test on animals have to get creative, and spend a significant amount of time and money developing methods to test their products to ensure they’re safe for human use.

Not all skincare products are effective as they claim to be

Items that fall under this category are pore refining serums, anti-aging creams and so on. Often these serums have little medical backing, in which case you might be wasting your money. For example, many anti-aging creams are simply based on anecdotal evidence, best to manage your expectations when using products like these.

To sum it up

Skincare products are not a waste of money. They’re essential to maintain good skin health. That being said, it’s best to do your own market research as expensive doesn’t always mean improved results. Some things to pay attention to include the ingredient sourcing process and the testing procedure.

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