If you’ve ever browsed a skincare website, a cosmetic shop or even the aisles of your local drugstore, you may have noticed tiny bottles of product with big price tags attached. It seems like the cost of maintaining healthy, youthful skin is ever increasing and with each bump in price it seems as though the amount of product you get dwindles.

But spending more does not necessarily equal perfect skin. In fact, there’s no reason to shell out the big bucks for $50 cleansers, $65 moisturizers and $100 gold infused eye creams. Top of the line skincare can be affordable and accessible. So before you take out a second mortgage to finance your facial cleanser, read on and learn why that high price tag doesn’t necessarily mean high quality.

Why You’re Tempted To Spend More In The First Place

We’ve all heard the old adage about “keeping up with the Joneses,” but these days, the Joneses are on Instagram and they all have flawless complexions. And underneath the pristine pictures of blemish free faces are often endorsement links to the products credited for the perfection. Social comparison is often the source of inspiration to splurge on things like pricey skincare and beauty products.

In a study published in Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, researchers noted that adolescents surveyed often engaged in upward social comparison with their friends and classmates, as well as, to a lesser extent, media celebrities. What one adolescent had, another coveted, which can lead to spending on items, like overpriced skincare, that can boost social perception.

But the model extends beyond teenagers looking to fit in with friends. In the fiercely competitive Shanghai cosmetic market, image is still key and luxury is king. An emerging Norwegian skincare brand entered this highly selective market. A study about their experience was published by the Norwegian Business School. They had this to say about the trade: “A high price symbolizes high quality, as do a foreign branded product. Additionally, many consumers have a relatively low brand loyalty towards their preferred products.”

An environment of high prices equated to luxury and a fickle consumer looking for the next big thing seems like an ideal opportunity for Norwegian skincare to permeate the market. However, it can make the matter of choosing the right skincare products even more confusing for shoppers.

 

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Do Your Own Research And Know Your Stuff

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The best armor against upwards social comparison and competitive pricing between brands bent on selling luxury is your own knowledge of what you want from your skincare products. By understanding what you want out of your experience – be it a cure for dry skin or something to help combat those visible signs of aging – you’re already ruling out a whole swath of tempting, expensive products that wouldn’t be right for you anyway.

Doing your own research can help you better home in on where to buy skincare products as well. In a study by the University of Georgia, women over 35 were given an online questionnaire about their beauty purchases. Brand reputation was cited as the largest factor in determining whether or not to purchase a product, but many women also relied on a sales person to guide them in their choice. “With the high percentage of women receiving consultations at the department store,” the study claims, “it is no surprise women choose to buy the luxury brands.” Do your research at home, through blogs, forums, magazines and studies, and you may be able to avoid department stores altogether and, if you have to make your way to Macy’s, you can be knowledgeable enough to withstand even the most persuasive salesperson.

One more point to note from the same University of Georgia study is the power of the package. “The more expensive products are perceived to be better quality and also tend to have the more attractive containers which women are pleased to display on their bathroom counters.” It seems silly, but keep this in the back of your mind when you’re perusing skincare and you’ll be too smart and well-informed to be tricked into making a purchase for a fancy bottle. Besides, getting the skincare you need and want is more satisfying than a designer label prominently displayed in your bathroom.

Choose The Right Skincare For You

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You’ve learned to look past social envy and duck the pushy sales folks at the department stores and you know what you need out of your skincare, but how do you winnow down your perfect products from the sea of skincare? It’s a simple process of elimination. Ask yourself if the product meets your needs and fits your price point. If the answer is no, move along. Keep in mind the efficacy of your product as well. Research the ingredients, look up reviews and steer clear of anything that seems a little shady.

Dermatoethics, a journal of ethics in dermatology, points out that oftentimes product endorsement by physicians isn’t as meaningful as it sounds. A conflict of interest arises when doctors have the opportunity to promote profitable products to patients. Make sure to once again do a little digging to find some empirical support for any product’s claims.

Know your needs, know your products and know that what works for your friends might not work for you and you’ll be able to find skincare products without that inflated price tag that meet your specific needs.