Are High-End Skincare Products Actually Better For You Than Drugstore Brands?

LancĂ´me Official

When it comes to beauty and especially skincare, we're made to believe that high-end products are better for us because, well, the price point suggests so. These products must have some special elixir or anti-aging ingredient that only high-end brands can offer.

But is that really the case? 

We set out to answer that question. After selecting some of Sephora's bestselling high-end skincare products, we compared their ingredient list to common drugstore alternatives that claim to offer comparative benefits. By consulting with data provided by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), we've pittead each product's active ingredients against the others in an attempt to decide if dishing out big bucks really does pay off. 

In short, we've concluded that high-end skincare products aren't always the better choice, largely based on price and ingredients. A more informed decision suggests that if you're willing to splurge a little on beauty products then natural and non-toxic are the best options. 

This isn't our way of trying to dissuade readers from using certain products or brands, we're simply trying to talk ourselves through the process because, after all, the gif below is most of us.

1 / 5


Each of these foundations offer three basic advantages for users — coverage, of course, along with SPF and serum. PERRICONE MD charges customers $60 per 1 oz., while Rimmel London's foundation is priced $5.49 for the same amount. So, why the price difference? 

Both products received four-star reviews on their respective purchase sites and boast Titanium Dioxide, the active ingredient in sunscreen, which according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a moderate cancer risk. Rimmel London's foundation includes a few other ingredients to be on the lookout for like Talc. And while both foundations have a laundry list of ingredients that a spelling bee winner couldn't pronounce, the main difference we can suss out appears that PERRICONE does offer more natural ingredients, such as lemon oil and other plant extracts. 
Additionally, PERRICONE is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. 

If natural and non-toxic is what you're after, we suggest trying Burt's Bees Goodness Glows liquid foundation, which is 98.9% natural, or make your own.

WINNER: Neither

CANE + AUSTIN and St. Ives
2 / 5

Face Cream

Both of these facial moisturizers boast an improved appearance to skin's texture and tone. However, CANE + AUSTIN charges $80 per 1.6 oz, while St. Ives charges $5.44 per 10 oz. 

Each product received equal reviews. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a closer look at the ingredients. The two key players here are CANE + AUSTIN's Glycolic Acid and St. Ives' mineral oil & collagen duo. Glycolic Acid is a natural-occurring ingredient, while mineral oil is made from petroleum, and an ingredient to try and avoid. St. Ives also utilizes Propylene GlycolPEG-100 Stearate, and Phenoxyethanol, which all seem to raise organ toxicity concerns with the EWG. 

However, equally distressing, despite utilizing the powers of Vitamin A, C, E, and COQ10, CANE + AUSTIN's remaining ingredients include MethylparabenPropylparaben, and Imidazolidinyl Urea, which the EWG associates with cancer risks. 

WINNER: Neither

BELIF and Dickinson's
3 / 5

Witch Hazel Toners

We're going with a clear winner on these witch hazel-based toners. While BELIF ($28) may be one of Sephora's top-selling brands, based on price and ingredients list, Dickinson's ($5.79) is an easy choice. While BELIF is a botanical toner, chockfull of leaf extracts, we can't deny that Dickinson's 100% natural ingredients (there's only 3) and $15 price difference, is hard to beat. 

WINNER: Dickinson's

SUPERGOOP! and Aveeno
4 / 5

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an iffy subject, as, there's been a lot of reports surface about the prolonged use of certain sunscreens actually increasing a person's risk of cancer. But let's take a look at these two popular products and compare. 

Each the SUPERGOOP! ($19) and the Aveeno ($12.99) share the same active ingredients: Avobenzone - 3 %, Homosalate - 10 %, and Octisalate - 5 %. Of these three, the latter raise a few red flags with the EWG. The good thing about both of these products is that neither explicitly lists Titanium Dioxide, which is linked to cancer. 

Additionally, SUPERGOOP! clearly states that it's free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates. 

In this case, it's hard to pick a winner between the two products.

If you're looking for an inexpensive alternative that's completely natural, try using Coconut Oil. 


GUERLAIN and Maybelline
5 / 5

BB Creams

Much like the liquid foundations we compared earlier, these two BB Creams boast Titanium Dioxide as the active ingredient for sun protection. We couldn't find a full ingredients list for GUERLAIN's product ($54), so a comprehensive comparison to Maybelline's Dream Fresh ($9.49) cream can't clearly be presented. 

So, considering both products utilize Titanium Dioxide, we're purely basing this decision on price.

WINNER: Maybelline



lifestyle blogger + avocado aficionado

Lover of all things pumpkin spice. Happiest in sweater weather. Inflexible yogi still workin' on my King Pigeon. Binge-watcher of Riverdale. Love the smell of new books, not old ones. Eater of clean greens, peanut butter, and Panera Bread. Oh, and, #Jughead4Life. 


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