Luxury Skincare vs Drugstore: Which One is Better?

A luxury skincare cream is sitting on the surface

Except for the price and fancy packaging, what are the differences between luxury skincare vs drugstore products? ” I know most of you have thought about these often. Me too! Thus today, in this article, and I will be telling you differences between luxury skincare vs drugstore. And by the end of this article, you will be able to figure out whether investing in high end skincare brands/high end products is actually worth it.

There’s nothing wrong with spending after high end skincare brands. Especially if you like to decorate your skincare shelf. But a product that costs 20$ in the drugstore might work the same way a 200$ product does. Thus which product or brand is better, only your skin can answer that.

luxury skincare vs drugstore, which one is better only your skin can judge.
Your skin is the best judge. Photo by Park Street on Unsplash

Skincare is expensive, everyone tells that. But honestly, it doesn’t have to be. It’s true that products from high end skincare brands make you feel better (read rich!). However, most people can’t afford to spend $83 on a serum. While the appeal of high end skincare brands is undeniable—the price tag can make you and your bank balance teary eyes in a minute.

Here drugstore skincare comes to the rescue. Drugstore skincare is full of varieties but also wallet-friendly.

Maybe you are wondering if both drugstore and high end skin care sell the same thing: skincare, why such a huge price difference? Several factors contribute to the price tag.

The first thing is the formulation.

High end skincare brands might spend a fortune to formulate their products using unique ingredients while drugstore skincare brands often rely more heavily on synthetic ingredients or ingredients that are easy to formulate.

High end skin care brands often spend millions after R&D, clinical studies to to formulate unique, proprietary blend of ingredients. It’s more expensive for a brand to develop an exclusive, proprietary formula directly coming from their lab than it is to use a generic, ready-made formula.

On the other hand, drugstore brands often tweak an age old formula and sell into a new funky packaging.

Luxury skincare brands spend money to formulate their products
High end skincare brands spend a lot after R&D. Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

I can give you one example.

I know you all are familiar with the brand The ordinary. They are popular for their budget friendly skincare. But how do they do it?

Brands like ordinary give you options to buy wallet friendly products
Ordinary is known for their budget friendly products. Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

Take their retinol – vitamin A serum as an example. Retinol is one of the most studied and used in skincare for years. Its nothing new or groundbreaking. Its formulation is also ready-made and doesn’t cost much to make.

As actives like these are not new concepts, no clinical studies or technological involvement is required too. That’s why the price of the product is less. Smart, right?

It’s not like high end brands don’t use simple effective actives like vitamin A in their products. Of course they do, then why are they still so expensive?

Luxury skincare brands often include their own proprietary blend of ingredients. These are unique to the brands and cant be found in a normal drugstore products.

But the problem is using these proprietary blends still doesn’t justify the price cause we really don’t what they are made of. The catch is: because they are unique and patented by the brands, it is not required for them to reveal what they are using in it. The “unique” blend of ingredients could be just 95% water and 5% glycerin, for which we don’t need to break our banks. But you will never be able to know that!

Another thing is the quality and quantity of the ingredients.

Ingredients all play a role in the cost of a beauty product, If two products have the same kind of ingredients doesn’t mean they will always work the same.

Things like the source of the product, the purity, and the difficulty of manufacturing can add extra expenses.

Take green tea extract, for example. It is a common ingredient used in moisturizers and works great for skin hydration. But the purity of the product can really decide whether the moisturizer will be 30$ or 300$!

Luxury skincare brands usually go through the hassle to add the ingredient that are sourced organically and are pure. That adds the extra digit to the price tag.

Also, quantity matters.

A lot of times drugstore brands promote products saying it has a specific ingredient. But pay attention to the ingredient list and you will find that “specific magic ingredient” sitting down below. So even though a lot of time drugstore companies claim they have the ingredient in their product, chances are the concentration is quite low as it is cost-effective.

Luxury skin care brands don't usually deprive you from good ingredients.
Ingredient list can talk different in drugstore product. Photo by Katrin Hauf on Unsplash

Lastly, the packaging and marketing

These two important factors increase the cost of high end skincare products.

Marketing campaigns can affect the decision of consumers. Luxury brands are always innovative in their marketing and packaging and spend millions after that.

It is understandable because high end skin care brands are not selling only a product. They are also selling their name and lifestyle along with their products. You will never see Jeniffer Lopez promoting a product that costs 30$! Ever thought about that?

And people buy into that. It was proved by at least one study from Sweden.

In the study, 80 women were divided into three categories. One group was instructed to use a luxury cream in its original packaging, another group got the same luxury cream in neutral packaging. And the last group received a lower-cost cream in the luxury packaging. In the end, those who believed they were using the fancy cream in a fancy jar, even though it was a regular one, used it more regularly than group received the neutral jar. Money speaks!

Luxury skincare vs drugstore: packaging differs
Packaging can change the perception of the product. Photo by Melnychuk Nataliya on Unsplash

After reading this, I am not surprised why luxury brands are spending much on the packaging.

On the other hand, drugstore brands use minimal packaging. Cause they know, even with the not so pretty and not so efficient packaging, their products will sell anyway!

So, after explaining these differences seems like the high end products are expensive for all the valid reasons, I mean most of the valid reasons.

But does this mean luxury skincare prices are worth it?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell.

The product cost has little to nothing to do with the effectiveness. Propieratory ingredients and advanced formulas in high end skin care sound interesting. But how far they do work, is still questionable.

If a luxury product isn’t more effective than lower-priced options, then spending your coins after it is useless, But who gets to decide whether the high end or drugstore products are effective or not?


Sometimes it happens a drugstore product works excellent while a luxury one doesnt. Personally I have faced this many times. Which proves it all comes down to your skin. If your skin likes it, you like it!

To wrap up…

To conclude the war between, luxury skincare vs drugstore, I can say: whether its 20$ or 200$, in the long run, the brands help you look and feel your best is the best one for you. That can be a luxury or a drugstore!

But once in a while buying that 100$ serum doesn’t sound a bad idea? (wink wink)

What do you think about luxury skincare vs drugstore? Let me know in the comment below!

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