Over the course of the past week, more than one person has remarked on the fact that my skin looks particularly good, and I was going slightly crazy trying to remember what I did differently so I could replicate it. Then l recalled that I had purchased this True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster, which I’d used for a while in the past. It’s pricey, though, so when it ran out I went for a cheaper version by another brand because I thought, how different can Vitamin C formulations be? A lot different, as it turns out: Vitamin C degrades in water, so the fact that this comes in powder form means you’re getting the unadulterated good stuff. All I know is if it’s making people compliment me, I’m sold.
OK, your turn: which less-than-cheap products will forever be part of your skincare regimen?
I just had to come back to thank all of you who mentioned Biologique Recherche. It prompted me to try two of their products (Lotion P50 PIGM and Masque Vivant) and holy cow – they are game changing. I’ve tried other expensive cult-favorite brands (e.g., La Mer, Augustinus Bader, Barbara Sturm) but none come close to the efficacy of BM. I will gladly forego lattes and bubble tea to make room in my budget for these products! I want to try their elastine serum next.
I believe in Vitamin C serum and have found Mario Badescu’s product to be of very good quality at a fair price ($45 for 1 oz).
Love reading the recs.
Thank you for this post!
Several SkinMedica products. A small fortune!
Very much enjoying the comments! I am reminded again that I should try the P50 lotion. My skin has become horribly dry in the last couple of years. I’ve stuck with Peter Thomas Roth peel pads that I started using when I was still having trouble with breakouts, and finally found that a combination of The Ordinary’s hyaluronic acid and Laneige waterbank cream made a huge difference for me. I also Laneige’s sleep masks day and night. Dr. Jart’s cicapair serum and mists are helpful too.
I’ve had good results with the State Of Menopause products that were first discussed on the Everything Is Fine podcast with Stacey London. The oil is light enough for me to use all year round, the heavy cream got my face through the TexasArcticApocalypse this past winter and the spray I used on my face during the drive from Texas to the East Coast this last Spring because the air in the car was dry as was the air in the various hotel rooms.
I explored and tried several expensive skincare lines and the results were just okay. I took a break from the expensive lines and bought some Cerave products as a temporary solution. My skin has never been better. And my hidden treasure is Swedish Dream Sea Salt soap. It sounds like it would be drying but it’s not.
I love Swedish Dream Sea Salt soap. It actually helps calm my psoriasis.
I did the same! Filled a shelf with products I tried and rejected after they irritated my skin. I decided to do what the dermatologist had suggested — Vanicream facial cleanser, CeraVe moisturizers. Amazing. My skin looks and feels so much better.
That Swedish Dream Sea Salt soap is hands-down the best soap I’ve ever tried, and I now keep a healthy backup stash on hand at all times (it’s also great as a little gift). It leaves my skin clean and soft, and the exfoliation effect is gentle but effective to the point that I don’t need to use a separate exfoliation product.
I hate how much my skin loved Biologique Recherche P50W (the senstitive-skin version). My skin was so dang smooth the mornings after I’d used it. I’ve tried a bunch of other acid toners/serums (Sunday Riley, etc.), and nothing else has come close. A full-size bottle did last me over a year, so maybe it wasn’t actually as absurdly expensive as it seemed? (She says, trying to justify another purchase…)
Agree. P50 (I use 1970) is undupeable!
Splurge products: SK-II and, like Jill, P50. FWIW: We used True Botanicals vitamin C powder but switched to The Ordinary’s vitamin C powder that is $6 and we find it to be as effective in brightening (albeit packaging not as handy and texture not as nice). We mx with water or SK-II.
I’m typically a CeraVe & Vanicream gal for face washes and moisturizers but for sunscreen EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 is worth every penny. I love Stratia’s Liquid Gold moisturizer and their Rewind hydrating serum for dry winter skin and Maelove’s Glow Maker is a good vit C serum.
I’ll second the EltaMD rec. My skin cleared magically after switching to it. But I buy a bottle every 3-months so in the course of a year it does get expensive.
I just splurged (for me) on Korres Wild Rose and Vit C serum and so far it’s love.
Does anyone have other fave Korres products to recommend?!
AK, I’ve used their Wild Rose Brightening oil for years and years, I love it. Because it’s not a hydrous formulation, the vitamin C doesn’t oxidize. I’ve been thinking of switching to the serum, though, because the oil doesn’t smell as luscious as I remember. Either that or it’s been degrading in shipping. I also like the Greek Yogurt cleanser – leaves my skin bouncy year round, even here in the desert.
I love their mint and tea body wash and lotion. I’ve also liked most of the wild rose line. This sounds pretentious when I was in Greece I shopped their whole store and so many of the products are amazing but not available here
The Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser. Smells divine, does its job perfectly. I keep it in the shower and have repurchased twice.
Another vote for the Yoghurt cleanser, it’s gentle but can remove makeup. SKII is totally worth the money in my opinion. I buy the huge bottle from Costco and it lasts forever.
My skin care splurges are Elemis super food facial oil and pro-collagen cleansing balm. For my hair, I spend extra for Pureology shampoo & conditioner (although the liter bottles last me a long time).
Klur Symmetry Fluid (vit C serum) and face cleanser. Jordan Samuel Skin toner and cleanser. MineralScience SPF 50 sunscreen. “Green” makeup of various kinds because I need a way to limit my choices so I don’t get overwhelmed. For my non-splurge, I use a vegan Cerave dupe mixed with Daughters of the Land face oil, and my skin looks a lot better than when I used a gentle retinol. There’s only so much I can do to overcome a history of heedless sun exposure and the genetic lottery: in my family it’s either great legs or great skin, and I got the legs.
I splurged on U Beauty. I like that it’s just two products. I travel all the time and hate to schlep endless bottles.
It’s very moisturizing and sinks in properly.
I had microdermabrasion with a facial 3 months ago and ever since then I’ve used Skinceuticals C E Ferulic serum in the morning and SkinBetter AlphaRet at night. Both are expensive but I have seen a big difference in the tone and texture of my skin. When these run out though I am tempted to try less expensive alternatives—especially for the AlphaRet because I really hate the wasteful packaging.
Ditto some of the other comments – Elemis Cleansing Balm (smells divine!); Drunk Elephant Baby Facial (have tried less expensive/natural versions and none better); Augustinus Bader Rich Cream – I’ve tried the Cream and found it to be just ok. I do notice a diff w/ the Rich Cream but it is a bit heavy for summer; will keep in rotation for winter
I am a firm devotee to Marie Veronique’s skin care line. It’s just the only thing that has made sense to both my brain and my skin. Clean, supports the microbiome, actually works. Not cheap but not outrageous.
I’m addicted to Marie Veronique’s products. I think her CE Ferukic serum is better than the one by skinceuticals — and cheaper too.
Dr. Jart CicapairTiger Grass Calming Gel Cream. Newly discovered, hope they never change the formula. Moisturizes without oil, and absolutely calms my skin and thus me:)
Sulwhasoo Cleansing Oil is worth every penny. So is Vintner’s Daughter serum.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Eye Rescue. I have tried to give it up so many times but usually come back to it in less than a month. It just makes my eyes look better; my dark spots are less noticeable and my fine lines are plumped up. I can skip a couple of days and the results last so it’s a little more effective than just a temporary plumping product.
I’m a P50 1970 fan and have switched to the Elta MD SPF 46. I also use the Drunk Elephant Baby Facial. I used to spend on La Mer cream but have since found Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer and it’s a winner for my dry, sensitive skin. I’ve tried the Augustinius Bader Rich Cream, but it wasn’t a game changer for me.
I use the Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster and Eye Booster serums and love them both. I use a super-inexpensive daily moisturizer by Cetaphil and all sorts of other drugstore items, but these I shell out for.
The Trish McEvoy Beauty Booster is a perennial favorite of mine, especially as my skin is getting older. I mix it with a drop of Glossier Future Dew (a product that I hated until I tried this concoction) and that’s now my go-to makeup primer. It’s like magic!
Unfortunately, Nature Sustained conditioner is one of the few conditioners that doesn’t cause skin irritation and works for my fine, wavy hair. I also use their shampoo, but at least I can stretch out my shampoo supply with Trader Joe’s Tea Tree.
Ok GOACA community, help me with the vitamin C powder. I tried the ordinary’s, and I just hate the smell. Kinda like pennies or something. Do you experience that, and if so, any advice to reduce it?
Solo Glam developed a powder Vitamin C by Neogen that is fab and cheap and smells fine to me (light and lemony). I’ve used many brands, many formulations and this is my favorite.
Vitamin C can tend to smell like a bad penny or dirty hotdog water, IMO. But it works, so I tolerate it.
I use all kinds of not-spendy stuff from The Ordinary, Neutrogena and Cerave but I absolutely must have my Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum. I don’t mind running out of the one for face but I never let myself run out of the version for eyes. I also shell out for the night eye cream from that line.
Augustinus Bader the rich cream and Dr. Sturm super anti-aging serum. The cream is worth every penny, but I don’t think I’ll repurchase the serum.
I got the cream and rich cream duo during the pandemic and it was amazing. The only thing I can’t quite change about my personal behavior is using only that product. I know – it sounds crazy. Following their directions and using only their product, my skin looks fabulous. But I have a shelf of all these other things just going to waste! I will go back to it for the winter.
Ok, I tried giving it up but MEDIK8 R-RETIONATE INTENSE retinol cream is utterly phenomenal. And at AU$400 a pop, it’s want to be!
Recommended by Trinny Woodall. Took a punt with some ‘fun money’ and it’s the real deal. No peeling, no irritation – just opalescent skin. I’m 50 and need proper actives in my skincare. This is all my PM skin routine needs. Can’t rave about it enough!
Tretinoin seems to give the most bang for it’s buck if you’re looking for an anti-aging product. I also swear by Aquaphor for lip balm—i’ve tried other expensive lip balms including the Tascha lip mask and Aquaphor is just so much better. Also, for moisturizer, the Skinfix peptide cream is amazing! It’s so rich and creamy, I love it. I’m a seeker when it comes to skincare and I will never stop buying and trying new products even though I have found some that I love. Great post, thanks Kim!
Yes to Tretinoin! And Josie Maran tinted sunscreen. And Weleda’s Skin Food.
They can have my Retin-A when they pry it from my cold, dead hands. I SWEAR by it! That and my Prestidge Beauté Serum – the best!
I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Obagi. I use: Obagi C daily cleanser, toner, and exfoliating day cream. A little goes a long way, they last a long time.
iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus: spendy but effective (and not smelly at all, which is a big plus). A facialist recommended some years ago, and though I don’t get facials anymore—my skin has become too darn reactive—I still buy this from time to time.
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum. I hoarded it from airport duty free shops back when I still went to airports (sigh) because it was so much cheaper there. I’ve resorted to having it shipped by friends who live in Singapore to me, because Singapore’s airport shops have an online store. That’s how far I’ll go for it and how far I’ll avoid spending full retail on it. It’s that good of a product.
I lucked into a bunch of samples of this goodness last year. When I ran out, I looked at the price and well—didn’t order. But it is amazing!
Avene XeraCalm Lipid cleanser. Works for everybody in the house…teen with hormonal acne and occasional eczema, husband with some dermatitis, and my aging face!
A friend recommended the Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta ultra gentle daily peel pack. Use them 2x week and have noticed a huge difference in the texture a tone of my skin. So worth the splurge. Also the Cetaphil Daily Facial moisturizer with spf 50+as a drug store budget friendly accompaniment.
Thanks for posing the question! So much fun to see what everyones favorite splurge product, lots to check out.
My biggest non-splurge is an Rx retinol cream — I believe in retinol — called Trentinoin that I mix with a few drops of Niacimide from The Ordinary to apply. With my insurance it’s $55 a tube. For a person who always thought the face wash was the least important part of the crew to spend money on, these are now the only things I splurge on: Sanitas’ glycolic cleanser and lemon creme cleanser, which I use on alternating days. Couldn’t do this without them.
You can buy Retin-A, Retin A Micro, or Retino from online pharmacies in Canada, Mexico, or New Zealand. I’ve paid as little as $17 bucks a tube. Just takes some creative googling.
kimbersam, omg, what exactly do you mean by “creative googling”? I am so excited to try this for my next tube of Retin-A, which, even with the generic version and the GoodRx price, ends up costing me at least $150. I’d also love to see if I can get my generic version of Latisse that way. (A lot of people don’t realize that there is now a generic version of Latisse by Sandoz that costs considerably less. But it’s still pricey.) How exactly do you find the Canadian pharmacies online? And how do you get your Rx submitted to one?
During the pandemic I found Pacha Soap Co. I love their pump soaps. The lavender scent disappears after washing, so my guy likes it too. They’re still small enough that they sell out of my faves often, but I still want to spread the word because they’re an ethical corporation and worth supporting.
Skin Ceuticals CE Ferulic is my ride or die each morning and I also love Good Genes and the Elta MD spf 46 sunscreen. I suffered from dermatitis on my face for so many years and that vitamin C serum combined with Avene’s XeraCalm cleansing oil and moisturizing balm have made a world of difference.
I too love the CE Ferulic. I can’t seem to use it up in a year though. How long do you think this product stays effective?
Love skinCeuticals CE but a bit harsh for every day so I use it Tuesday and Thursday. Every day, I use SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid.
I’ve used The Ordinary’s and one from Philosophy (similar results, but more finely milled than The Ordinary) and they both have that smell – I agree, a kind of coppery citrusy smell, and I think that might just be part and parcel of vitamin c powders. Like if you freeze dried an orange!
Sunday Riley Good Genes–nothing else comes close in effectiveness when it comes to acids for me. (My wallet was relieved that P50 didn’t do much for me). I’m currently using the Sunday Riley CEO (vitamin C) serum, and like the texture more than other vitamin Cs I’ve used, but not sure I can justify the price jump over The Ordinary or Inkey List. On the bath front, I really like two different Le Labo bath gels: Rose 31 and a Hinoki one.
I like Bader’s the Rich Cream. It’s not life changing, I just prefer it to any other moisturizer I’ve tried. And sometimes that’s enough to have me opening my wallet! Mine lasts a pretty long time too.
I am a bit obsessed with the Caroline Hirons’ seasonal boxes – if Caroline loves a product, I’m basically in. The boxes are a good value (compared to full-price), but none of the items is ever inexpensive (individually or collectively). But I use virtually every product to the last drop. Otherwise, P50 (original) & Josh Rosebrook’s hydrating mist/spray – my skin is addicted!
1970 version of P50. It takes me forever to get through the larger bottle though, so the ROI is good. Are we allowed to talk about candles? I know it’s not skincare but good smells make me feel beautiful. Diptyque, Feu de Bois and Byredo, Library–if you please. Also-I am auditioning a new Boy Smells candle, Italian Kush and it smells like the most lovely sunlit kitchen garden on a warm day.
I’ll be 69 next month and am routinely told I look very young for my years. I routinely use water on my face and soap when required and that’s it. But always a hat to shade my face when I’m outside and that’s been my mantra since my early 30’s. Maybe I’ve been blessed with good genes or disinclined to regimens but sometimes less is more.
I agree. The two most important parts of my regimen are sunblock and drinking lots of water. I cannot discount the role genetics plays.