Is Expensive Skincare ACTUALLY Any Better?
– Hello, hi everyone, and welcome to skincare with Hyram. If you don’t know who I am, my name is Hyram and passionate about teaching you how to perfect your skincare routine, so make sure you subscribe to my channel, and hit the notification bell so that you can see my videos every single week.
All right, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to answer the age old, never dying question, does a price reflect the quality of a skincare product? Now, this is a question I’ve explored at large personally, because it was one of the main reasons I was actually interested in the skincare world in the first place.
I was working at a luxury department store and I was seeing people drop over $1,200 for a single skincare product, $1,200. And I would see them say, “Well, this brand is the best. This product is the best, and so if I want to have good skin, I’m willing to pay a lot of money for it.
” And it always intrigued and kind of confused me, because I was like what in God’s name is in that products that could justify that incredible price point, and to this day I continue to see that attitude with a bunch of different brands, (Hyram clears throat) Lumiere, (Hyram clears throat) Sicily, and typically the conversation revolving around whether higher priced skincare products are actually worth it or not, comes down to anecdotal experience.
“Well I Lumiere and also tried Savvy, and I think Lumiere feels better.” Because who cares about the ingredients and whether they’re effective as long as it feels good. I’m kinda throwing shade, I know that everyone approach a skincare differently, and some people do approach it from an experiential standpoint.
They just want a really nice sensorial experience, and for those people, I say, you’re welcome to try whatever you want, you’re welcome to spend as much as you want. I will judge you just a little bit if you’re dropping $1,200 on a product, but at the end of the day, that’s your choice, and that’s how you choose to spend money.
Where it bothers me is that I see the conversation so oftentimes revolve around wanting effective skincare products that deliver amazing results, and thereby justifying a high price point. That’s where it gets tricky.
Inversely as well, I see a lot of speculation of products that are extremely low priced, and a lot of people being skeptical about whether or not they actually work, but also equally as important, if they’re actually even helping the health of the skin, and while the question that price reflects the quality of a skincare product seems like it has a pretty simple answer, the truth, like everything else in the skincare industry, is actually quite a gray area and very nuanced.
And you will see so many different opinions from people who are just new to skincare, all the way up to experts. I’m so excited to share my thoughts as to whether or not I think price point is in relation to the quality of a product, and I actually have very special guests for this video.
I can’t wait to introduce them. They are some of my favorite people in this industry and have so much insight, and knowledge, and expertise when it comes to working in the behind the scenes of building a brand and high quality affordable formulas.
Stay tuned, this is going to be a controversial one y’all, so let’s get into it. So obviously there’s multiple layers to this, because skincare products are complicated and have a bunch of different components and a bunch of different reasons why they could be expensive.
So let’s break them down. First step is ingredients, my favorite. Surprising or not to you, not every ingredient is created equally. There are different levels of quality when it comes to any ingredient on the market, just because you see centella asiatica on two different products, one of which is $150, and one of which is $20, does not mean that they are the same quality of centella asiatica, and you may not see the same level of results because of that difference of quality.
And frustratingly enough, you can’t know the quality of an ingredient just by looking at the ingredient list alone. As much as I could know all the information about every ingredient every product uses, we don’t have information about their ingredient suppliers.
Because they keep this information proprietary or private in order to, you know, protect the products from being ripped off or duplicated, there’s really no way to know the quality which is why my recommendation is always to know what percentage inclusion that ingredient is.
Knowing what percentage of that ingredient is included in the product gives you an overall perspective as to how effective that product is going to be in resolving your skin concerns. Unfortunately, this does not tell the whole story, not even close to it, because you have to take into factor things like concentration versus percentage.
You could have a higher percentage of an ingredient, but you could also have that same ingredient in a higher quality form, significantly more concentrated at that same percentage, and you would think that they have the same benefits, but they don’t always necessarily do.
And then another thing that a lot of really luxury brands do that drives me crazy, they will list a term for their proprietary blend of ingredients, which doesn’t reveal which specific ingredients are in the formula.
Oftentimes these products are very expensive, and we’re expected to just blindly trust whatever is in the formula, not know what the proprietary blend of ingredients are, and pay a really high price point for it, which confuses me because I would not do that.
I would rather know exactly what I’m using, and then determine whether I’m going to buy it or not, and even though someone like me is obsessed with ingredients, reading ingredient lists, and determining whether I want a product or not just by the ingredient list alone, the ingredient list doesn’t tell you everything, and there’s a lot of information that you’re just not able to know unless you work for the specific company or you work deep in the industry.
I mean, because of that reason, that’s why I recommended supporting brands that are overly transparent about what ingredients they use in order to get better judgment of the quality. A lot of brands can charge a really high price point for their ingredient list, or a brand can charge a really low price, and they could be sourcing from the same suppliers, and that may sound kind of outrageous, but it’s actually very common and very normal in the industry.
You will find a very expensive products utilizing the same quality ingredients from the same supplier as drugstore affordable brands. So the formula itself may not even justify the price points. And then there’s packaging, which unfortunately in most cases is far more expensive than the formula itself.
When you’re buying a skincare product, chances are the majority of the money that you paid to get that product is actually going to packaging. Cosmetic packaging is expensive, and when it comes to really luxury brands, typically that’s 90% of what you’re paying for.
Okay, 90% isn’t exact, don’t quote me on that. But typically when it comes to luxury skincare, what you really are paying for is the packaging. It can be very fancy, luxurious, and heavy, and some people are really big fan of that, and I won’t lie, you know, I do notice cute packaging, but packaging is nowhere near as important to me as the formula, formula is the most important thing when it comes to using a product.
But you know, if you have really pretty packaging, that’s what will initially draw and people to the brand and attract them to the formula, and that’s not to say it’s bad if packaging does actually cost more than the formula, because like I said, that’s the majority of cases.
However, I do think there’s something to be said when you’re paying $500 for a product that has gorgeous luxurious packaging, and a less than great formula. Really makes you wonder how much am I paying for the product packaging? You know, you feel me? Another element that would contribute to or justify the price point is the sourcing, how the ingredients are sourced, where they’re from, the process, et cetera.
The sourcing of specific ingredients actually makes a big impact on the price points. More than a lot of people realize, not only do you have the differentiation between synthetically produced ingredients, and naturally sourced ingredients, synthetic typically being more affordable, and naturally sourced typically being more expensive, the price point will also differ depending on if an ingredient is sourced sustainably or unsustainably.
It is unfortunately not a secret that many of the ingredients that go into skincare products actually come from sources where overexploitation is common, regions are over harvested, the crop is sourced at an unsustainable rate, and communities are disempowered, it’s a really unfortunate reality.
And I wish I could say, “Guys, don’t worry, just pay some more money for a skincare product, put a little bit of an extra investment into it, that way you can make sure that you’re getting ingredients from sustainable sources,” but that’s not the case.
Like the ingredient quality conversation, the exact same principle is applied to sourcing sustainability and transparency. There are tons of luxury brands out there who have no too little idea of where their ingredients are coming from and how they’re sourced, and typically that’s a bad sign.
The best thing you can do to determine the sustainable or unsustainable sourcing of an ingredient, is seeing how transparent a brand is about how the ingredients are sourced processed or made. If you see that they’re being overly transparent in their entire process of how ingredients are sourced, that’s a good sign because it’s more of a sign that the brand has nothing to hide, as opposed to ignoring and pretending like that conversation doesn’t exist.
I have spoken to many corporate representatives of huge cosmetic companies and ask them details as to how this specific ingredient that they use is sourced, where it’s from, how the communities are impacted, and they have absolutely no idea.
And that is a little bit scary to me because it reveals ignorance that is so commonplace in the industry, even among the biggest companies. Finding brands to support that are transparent about that is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the highest quality sourcing ingredients.
Another element that is not talked about quite as much, but I still see being spread around, is saying that luxury products typically have more scientific data surrounding their benefits. I get super annoyed when I hear this, and obviously it depends because there are so many different types of products, and so many different levels of cost for products, but I’ve seen this set about products that range from $500 to a thousand dollars each, and honestly, just because it’s more expensive, does not mean it has more scientific data surrounding it.
Oftentimes, even most of the time in my experience, the most well-researched brands are some of the most affordable brands out there, and when it comes to more luxury brands, especially more extreme luxury skincare brands, it’s silence, or they have that one study that they’ve propped up for 20 years and used for everything and all of their marketing and that’s about it, and I find it kind of ironic because you would think that a brand that is able to charge so much for their individual products would have an unlimited budget to be able to carry out extensive scientific research studies and collect data about their ingredients and products that they use.
And here, to share their perspective on all of these thoughts are founders of my favorite skincare brand, the Inkey List, Mark and Colette. They’re incredible people, and if you don’t follow me on Instagram, you won’t have known that we are already buddies, we’re best pals.
I’ve been able to do Instagram lives with them, and they are so amazing, such inspiring people, and I’m so fortunate to be able to have them in this video, as they have championed the conversation around creating high quality skincare products for a very affordable rate on a level of ethics that impresses me and is hard to find for products that are at that low of a price point.
Here’s Mark and Colette. Hello, everyone. I’m so excited to have the founders of the Inkey List here with me. They’re incredible people, and I’m really excited to have you in this video just to kind of share your viewpoint on price point of skincare products, what that means, and kind of your opinion on it based off of your extended experience in the industry.
– Hi, I’m Colette. – And I’m Mark. – And we are co-founders of the Inkey List, as Hyram says, and we’ve got between us, how many years of industry expertise? Probably too many. About twenty- – 25. (Colette gasps) – That’s surreal.
– Not all ingredients are the same, how would you say the difference in ingredient quality affects the price point of a product? – It’s everything, it’s no difference to when you go down to the supermarket and you see multiple different types of apples and multiple different types of prices, that’s the easiest way I would be able to find it, because there is a certain grade of certain chemicals that they work well in certain formulations, or are able to withstand certain conditions, versus others as well.
So, kind of pay at ingredient level for what you get, and you have to be choiceful about what are you wanting to end up with in the end, because you’re wanting a Rolls Royce ingredient, and then everything else doesn’t matter, you know, you need to make other choices around that.
But if you want just a generic, whatever formula, you don’t really care about what happens down the supply chain, you’re not really bothered about how partners deal with people upstream or downstream, then you could probably have quite a great price for quite a lot of stuff, but it’s not necessarily the right stuff.
– You do get what you pay for when you buy an ingredient from a raw material supplier, and for kind of more affordable brands, that is a super challenge, because you want to get the best grade ingredient, but you don’t always want to pass that on to the consumer.
– Yeah definitely, and I think it’s so interesting, I think a lot of people have the tendency, and I used to believe this too, where if you look at an ingredient list, that every ingredient that you see across all products is the same, because it says the same thing, on the back of the packaging, which is not true whatsoever.
There’s so many different variations and so many different ways and ingredient could be produced, created, grown, that affects the overall quality, and I never believe the price point too. So, thank you for sharing that.
I mean, in line with that too, I remember being shocked when I learned about not just the cost of ingredients, but the cost of packaging. What’s normal in the industry is for packaging to be way more expensive than the formula itself.
I’d love to get your thoughts on like, what is the impact of, you know, the packaging on the product price point, and does it really play a big factor into that? – Absolutely, if you really want that fancy packaging, and you know, if you go to the supplier and want it to be, you know, bespoke and created, double walled glass, beautiful stopper, that’s going to cost a lot of money, and ultimately, unless you raise your price point, you’re going to have to cut costs elsewhere.
So you either make something crazy expensive to enable this beautiful bottle and a beautiful formula, or sometimes you pay a lot for packaging, which, you know, sometimes we all love something lovely, perfume is the perfect example of this.
So when you buy your fragrance, it’s actually like horrible to think about the amount that you’re paying for the packaging, versus the kind of water that’s inside. So, it definitely has a huge, huge impact, and really our philosophy is very much around packing the formula, and really kind of making sure that that is perfect, and just making sure that the packaging that sits around it works with the formula, because we need to make sure it’s compatible, but ultimately really getting the formula to be where we spend our money.
Being sustainable, you know, it’s as a duty of brands to try and be as sustainable as possible, but my goodness, is it expensive. So if you go for kind of virgin plastic versus, you know, something that’s much better for the planet, it costs a lot of money and it’s a huge challenge.
– It’s okay, and this is all about personal choice, like it is gutting, and you mentioned fragrance. I knowingly get ripped off buying the two fragrances that I love, and do you know what? – He loves it.
– I love them, I’m going to spend the money for them, and they make me feel good, and I know how much the bottle costs, and I know how much the juice depressingly costs. – He loves it, so pretty. – Exactly, yeah, you know, and at the end of the day, it does come down to like what you want.
And in line with that, one of the philosophies on my channel when I first started, was kind of fighting against this notion that if a product is more expensive, that always means it’s more effective or better than a product that’s a lot more affordable, which I’d love to pose that question to you.
Do you think that just because a product is more expensive, that means it’s better quality? – You know, I think the industry is moving so far, especially in the last few years. Like, when I think back to me when I was younger, trying to get good skincare, you know, you had to spend a lot of money, whereas, you know, you don’t have to now, you need to find great products with great ingredients that are efficacious and gentle on the skin, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money- – I’ve been in meetings in the past, and as we’ve just said, that’s a long time, where somebody says, “We call it something like an elixir, you can maybe increase the price point.
” I was like, huh? That doesn’t make sense. As long you’re dead clear on why you are offering something at a price, and that fits well with you, your company, your brand, then everyone has got a choice to buy it or not, and I think that’s why, Hyram, your channel and others like it, and the whole industry has swayed beyond now, this haze of being dazzled by a bit of tinsel over here, when being really blunt, getting under the bonnet of the formulation, there’s not much to it, and I think we’re a long way down that track now.
– Yeah, it’s been so encouraging to see the industry has almost 180’d since even I first entered the industry. You guys have seen that firsthand, these, you know, the movement that has been created around like affordable, effective skincare, personally through your skincare brand, and I’d love to ask you guys, how do you, you know, ensure that your products can be high quality with good ingredients while still maintaining an affordable price point? – It’s really hard.
It’s really taxing. It’s about, you know, deciding what’s important to you, and for the Inkey List, what’s super important is that formula, and we do everything we possibly can around that to try to cost engineer, simple packaging, make sure our operations are super lean, you know, buy our ingredients from right up the chain, you know, really try and do everything we can to get the best possible formula at the best possible price, and it’s difficult.
It’s really challenging, isn’t it? There’s so many ingredients. People are saying, “Why doesn’t the Inkey List have azelaic acid?” We can’t afford it, we desperately want it, you know? That’s super honest.
– But the point is, we can’t afford it at the price point that we think it should be sold at. So I guess that’s the thing, and to be quite frankly, it takes not to be greedy. It takes quite a bit of non-greedy, but we’re okay with that because we’re intoxicated by the possibility of people learning something new, learning a new ingredient, and finding something that’s really great for their skin.
– Yeah, and I mean, that’s why I respect and have so much love for you guys, and as our friendship has really grown, I’ve been able to see your guys’ commitment to really what skincare is about, which is about empowerment and about helping people, you know, with their health and their confidence, the level of ethics and morality that I’ve seen you guys approach everything that you do, I think is just so impressive, and I think that’s extremely evident through your products, which is why I have so much for you guys and the brand.
Thank you so much for sharing your responses. I mean, it’s really valuable to hear your expertise and use your critical thinking skills, be aware, learn about, you know, the values of the company, the ethics of the company, the ingredients, the quality, you know, when you learn about all those things, it makes it a lot easier to figure out, like, what’s actually going to be, you know, in line with your approach to skincare, and then if you want to purchase the most expensive thing out there, you’re more than welcome to.
If you want to purchase the most affordable thing out there, you’re more than welcome to as long as you’re educated and know what you’re buying into, you know? – Love that. – But Hyram, you’re doing the hard work for everyone, which is amazing.
Shortcutting, you know, helping people to understand what’s good, you know, where to spend money, you know? So there’s some things that you do want to, you know, invest in that are going to remake that impact on your skin, and so, you know, we thank you for helping move the industry forward.
It’s absolutely incredible the role that you’re playing, so thank you from us. – Aren’t they amazing? I absolutely love them. They inspire me so much, and I think what they’re doing in the industry and the way that they’ve contributed, and the new conversations that they’re starting are so needed, and more than anything, I love recommending the Inkey List products, because I know that people can get access to high quality formulas for a low price point, see the results in their skin without having to pay an extremely high price point.
So I know there was a lot of thoughts in this video, and they kind of seem like they’re all back and forth, which is why we come to the final verdict. Does a higher price point mean a skincare product is better? No, not necessarily.
You can pay a lot of money for a skincare product, when in reality, the ingredients, the packaging, the sourcing, and the scientific data are all identical to affordable drugstore formulas. But, does the lower price point mean the product is better? Not necessarily.
There are plenty of extremely affordable products on the market where I look at the ingredient list, I look at the packaging, I look at the overall messaging and ethics of the brand and I think, yeah, they look pretty cheap.
They look like they’re not putting any effort into finding high quality ingredients, or really investing into their formulas, or finding new scientific research and data. They just look like they’re putting out a skincare brand, and trying to make it as affordable as possible to as many people as possible, which is, you know, a strategy that works, and maybe it’s not as bad as, you know, trying to charge people a thousand dollars for a single skincare product, but it’s still not great.
I think more than anything, the point I want to make in this video is that price point does not reflect the quality of a skincare product. There are so many different factors at play, and that’s why I think it’s really important that you support brands that have the same level of ethics, the same level of transparency of thorough data and results that you want from some of your favorite skincare products.
Instead of just looking at products as, “Oh, that’s expensive, so it must work,” or, “Oh, that’s the cheapest product I can find. I’m just going to buy it and use it.” I think it’s important to have a balanced view, a nuanced view, and learn a little bit more about brands, their philosophy, how they make their products, where the ingredients are from, the scientific data before deciding whether or not you’re going to purchase a product.
This will not only mean that you’re getting amazing products in your skincare routine, it’s also ensuring you’re being the most responsible consumer you can be, and it’ll prevent you from buying unnecessary amounts of skincare products, and wasting a lot of money down the road.
But what do you guys think? I would love to know your thoughts and opinions on this. Do you agree with me? Do you disagree with me? I thought this was really fun to make because honestly I could talk about this all day.
I’m passionate about price points. But I’d love to know your thoughts, and if you guys haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my channel, and to hit the notification bell so that you can see my videos every single week, (bell ding) And I’ll see you guys in the next one.