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Product Choice: Is Expensive Always the Best?

That is the question if you buy a cosmetic or skincare article. But does this calculation actually work? Luxury products are elegant, noble, recognizable. With the packaging alone, I express that I spoil myself and can afford it. In contrast, cheaper products usually come with a simpler presentation. But even if the eye is less attracted, does that mean you have to accept less quality when it comes to the content?

Cosmetics companies invest millions in research – and later also in advertising – and these have to be amortized somehow. Often the consumer pays an overpriced price for patented formulas or in-house developments of innovative or rare ingredients. But there is almost always a lack of scientific evidence that these are actually more effective and worth their price. And you also have to be clear about this: There is no such thing as a unique active ingredient that keeps the skin young and healthy. Rather, there are countless substances that can affect the skin’s metabolism.

Product choice: natural versus synthetic

Whether a brand relies on high-tech molecules from the laboratory or on plant substances from nature is primarily a question of image and the target group of buyers. Because a self-confessed user of natural cosmetics will never let chemicals on his skin. Nevertheless, a quick note on the term “natural”: Such substances are not necessarily better than the synthetic alternatives that are produced in a laboratory, or even differ from them

“Of course is a classic marketing word,” says Benjamin Knight Fuchs, pharmacist and founder of the US skincare Truth Treatment Systems. “For a chemist, there is nothing natural. The body doesn’t differentiate between natural and synthetic, it’s all about the molecular structure. When I take vitamin C (from nature) or make it in my laboratory, it’s the same molecule. I look on the ingredients to see if the body recognizes them.”

Usually several ingredients are necessary for a product to work anyway. The minimalism trend with fewer ingredients, which is particularly recommended for sensitive skin, does not necessarily suit every skin type. Also in terms of the concentration of an ingredient. It is more likely that an expensive cream will contain a higher proportion of it.

If a big player brings a new active ingredient onto the beauty market, which is then referred to in advertising as “revolutionizing the skincare market”, its path to the cream pots is mapped out. First of all, it will be made exclusively available to a luxury line from the house. After a year at the latest, it appears in lower doses in the cheaper categories. Is that why they are now less effective? I do not think so. Because, as I said, it is not just a single active ingredient that makes the skin successful, but the correct interaction of several substances.

Proof of effectiveness

In any case, there are only a handful of ingredients whose effectiveness has been scientifically proven. The Society for Dermopharmacy has compiled the evidence for the most frequently used substances in its guideline “Dermocosmetics against Skin Aging”, which was updated in March 2017. Proof of efficacy in placebo-controlled double-blind studies is rated highest. Only the following substances can show this: Retinol, i.e. vitamin A and its derivatives, vitamin C, certain peptides, salicyloyl phytosphingosine, low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, nicotinamide and alpha-lipoic acid. The latter, it is said, is less recommendable for the skin because, according to case reports, it is a potent contact allergen.

“With conventional anti-aging creams and serums, the effect is often not outstanding,” confirms Dr. Tatjana Pavicic, dermatologist specializing in aesthetics. “This is due to the fact that they appear too superficial and usually have too little of the really effective ingredients, otherwise they would be too expensive. As a result, there is usually only a short-term and, above all, slight improvement in the complexion of the skin. The long-term effect that most users want is often missing.”

It is often difficult for the consumer to “read” the package insert. Especially when it comes to skincare, you should make sure that the scientifically proven, active ingredients are at the top of the list. Even more important than the individual substances in the cream jar is that the product is used daily. This is the only way to improve the complexion of the skin and regulate the moisture balance. If you take hyaluronic acid, for example, it can only be kept for a short time in its natural form. It is broken down and completely metabolized by the body within a few days. Not to be confused with the injection material in aesthetic medicine. There the hyaluronic acid molecules are gently stabilized in certified processes.

Buy makeup by price?

If you take a closer look at the price differences for decorative cosmetics, you will see that the higher price, especially for foundation and lipsticks, is rewarded with higher pigmentation and longer lasting on the skin. You should therefore invest a little more money. Especially if you use foundation every day, it is important that it is nourishing and has a pleasant consistency that invisibly blends with the skin. And a wider range of colors helps you find just the right tone for yourself. I also like to invest a little more in lipstick when I have found “my” color with a texture that neither dries out the lips nor smudges quickly. It’s just a no-go for me when the lipstick leaves a red mark on the coffee cup, glass or napkin.

An effective mascara does not have to cost a fortune, because the textures of water, waxes, pigments and film formers do not differ significantly in the expensive and cheaper products. Rather, it depends on the brush, because that is how you achieve the desired effect. If you want more volume, a thicker brush is required. If you want a better definition of the lashes, you can use a thinner specimen with close-fitting bristles.

Even when it comes to nail polish, the luxury product is not necessarily the best, according to a study by a German online portal that compares products ( Color selection, coverage, application, ingredients and durability have to be convincing. The luxury brands with a price of 25 euros and 45 euros respectively landed in the last place. My favorites are nail polishes from brands that focus exclusively on this one product category. Because they understand their handicraft in the truest sense of the word!

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