Thursday, April 24, 2014
My Skincare is Cheap as Shit
I have a theory that humans are hard-wired to associate high prices and beautiful containers with luxury products. Who can deny that a $136 Sisley Paris mask looks and sounds more beautiful than a $4 Queen Helene Mint Julep mask? Does a $10 pot of body cream really get your motor going the way a tub of lemony, luscious Kiehl's Creme de Corps does? ? And who among us hasn't walked past the La Mer counter and felt drawn to the infamous brand's promises of eternal youth and beauty, even if we know in our heart of hearts that there's nothing that special in its formulation?
I ask because a recent Into the Gloss article, "The $3000 Skincare Routine," left me wanting gorgeous Guerlain containers for my non-existent vanity and $165 tubes of body cream for my generally well-behaved skin. I actually had to sit myself down and say, "Renee, your skincare is fine. Your skincare is GREAT, even. Your face looks fine and your wallet is empty. Why lust after the expensive stuff?"
My most expensive products are my sunscreen (Shiseido SPF50+ is $39.00 at Sephora) and my cure-all balm (Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, $19.50), yet both of these products are regularly available at TJ Maxx and Marshall's for half the price. Hilariously, the products I depend on most to keep my dry skin from looking lizardy are the cheapest ones in my collection: Haus of Gloi skincare rarely retails for more than $10, the Avon Nurtura cream regularly goes on BOGO sale, a tube of Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream will last you a thousand years, and that impossibly huge bottle of Queen Helene Cocoa Butter was $2 at Wal-Mart. With the possible exception of the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Intensive Moisturizing Body Treatment, no high-end moisturizer has ever compared to these budget buys.
Of course, I know that the cost and effectiveness of my skincare is just part of a larger equation: my mother and grandmother always had beautiful, youthful skin, so to an extent I hit the genetic lottery. But I also learned good beauty practices from them, things like "always wash off your makeup" and "use a moisturizer with sunscreen," which I think have had an even bigger effect on my skin's clarity. Add to that the fact that I eat a decent diet with plenty of raw vegetables and water, and a $500 night cream has never been necessary.
I don't say these things to be smug or superior, simply to make a point: that affordable skincare, used alongside good skincare and eating practices, seem to get the job done. Yet the skincare market is absolutely saturated with bank-busting beauty products that promise to work a thousand times better than the drugstore alternatives. And I cannot deny that I've purchased $60 foundations instead of similar $6 formulations, or that I've tested out those uber-expensive oils and creams in the hopes of finding a miracle in a bottle. I also own at least three times more skincare and haircare products than the rest of the household combined:
Yeah, that's kind of embarrassing.
So I'm wondering: have any of you ever eyed expensive skincare, even if you didn't think it was necessary? Have you tried the $300 creams and serums--did they make a noticeable difference, or were they all hype? Why do we desire these incredibly expensive products? And of course, is it wrong to want luxury when affordability is seemingly just as effective (or is it)?