If you’re like most women, you always reach for the same beauty products, no matter the price. Call it brand loyalty or fear of experimentation, but we’re all guilty of spending our hard-earned dough on products based solely on the brand name. But believe it or not, you could actually save a bundle of money by choosing a generic face scrub, body wash, moisturizer or eye cream–as long as you’re willing to do your homework.
Instead of immediately brushing off beauty products that, perhaps, aren’t going to look as glam on your shelf, it’s important to remember that it’s what’s inside a bottle that counts. And, according to some experts, depending on what you’re looking for, there may not be a whole lot of difference between a $10 cream and a $60 one.
“Bigger doesn’t always mean better,” says Alia Hosch, founder of Spa Splurge Collection & Soul Amenities. “The size of the company has no determination on access to better or higher-end ingredients. It’s actually best to look at products based on their ingredients rather than their pricing. Some high priced products, even those that are ‘salon quality’ might have ingredients that are bad for your skin. It’s important to turn the package over, read the ingredients, know what works for your skin and/or hair and select products based on those two important pieces of information.”
When trying to figure out which products contain the ingredients you’re looking for–such as retinol, vitamins and peptides–it’s also important to consider how they’re placed on the “food chain” of active ingredients on a label. “The lower down an ingredient is listed in your product’s ingredient list, the smaller the proportion of that ingredient,” says Dr. Janet H. Prystowsky, a dermatologist and the founder of Livad Skin Care.
Another difference between generic and name-brand products can be a difference in the base lotion or cream used. “This is called the ‘vehicle,’ which brings the active agent (important ingredients) to your skin,” Prystowsky says. “With a great vehicle the active agent will easily absorb into your skin. With a lousy vehicle, the active agent will just stay up in the lotion or cream and will not get into your skin well.”
If your goal is to purchase a bath soap or facial cleanser and you aren’t in the market for more complex ingredients like kojic acid or retinol, you likely won’t notice much of a difference between generic and big name brands. But if you require a higher concentration of a specific ingredient to suit your skin needs, pay close attention to labels, compare the order in which ingredients appear on a label, and do your research before spending more money than necessary.