Luxury v/s budget-friendly skincare: 5 superhero ingredients that you can have both ways
Effective without the heavy price tag – but use with caution
Ever daydream about filling your bathroom with every fancy-sounding serum, moisturiser, sunscreen and chemical exfoliator you come across? Trying them all one day at a time and waking up with a magical JLo glow. Sadly, an overload of beauty acids would probably strip the top layer of your face and you’d get worried calls from the bank to ask if someone had stolen your card. The world of budget-friendly skincare dupes is your only respite.
The amazing thing about the booming beauty world is that whatever new product or fanciful core ingredient a cosmetic company promotes, it’s only a matter of time before someone discovers a cheaper version of it out there.
Of course, opting for the luxury version versus the dupe has its benefits. You’re not only paying for that core active ingredient but also every other supporting element and ingredients that it contains. Often, the supplements boost the efficacy of the active ingredient, enhancing the look, feel and application of a product. On the other hand, the white tubes and little bottles that our chemistwale bhaiyas hand out over the counter (OTC) might not look or feel as lavish, but with the same core ingredient, they get the job done without the heavy price tag.
Are these skincare ‘dupes’ as effective?
“Why are these products expensive? It comes down to how they feel on the skin, how they spread. Pricier products use other vehicles to make the ingredient easier to use and also make it less irritating,” says Surat-based dermatologist Dr. Anchal Panth. “With pharmaceutical products, you have to be careful when you use them. You need to understand your skin — what the concentration of this ingredient is, how you’re using it and whether you’re prepping your skin adequately or not.”
For example, if your skin is dry, after using the pharmaceutical product you need to use a moisturiser. She adds, “Such problems won’t arise with cosmetic products because most high-end cosmetics are formulated in a manner to balance the active ingredient with others to protect your skin.”
Founder of Kosmoderma Skin and Hair Clinics, Cosmetic Dermatologist Dr. Chytra V Anand says, “A product marked as a drug or pharma is held to strict standards and is capable of altering the skin. Hence, it’s definitely more potent. Most OTC products tend to sit on the skin surface and have a feel-good factor. Only those that have active ingredients can actually repair or modify the skin.”
Panth agrees with the effectiveness factor, but warns that “if you have reactive skin, it might create problems if you don’t know how to use it correctly.”
We spotlight some of the MVP ingredients of the beauty world and offer both luxe and budget-friendly skincare options. Read up about ingredients or consult a local dermatologist before you dive into the world of skincare dupes and accidentally burn your face off.
Also known as Nicotinamide, Niacinamide is one of two major forms of Vitamin B3. It’s known for its texture-smoothing abilities and has been studied for its benefits. It can even out skin tone, reduces pigmentation, increases hydration and promotes a healthy skin barrier. It’s also said to help minimise the appearance of large pores by regulating sebum production, reduces redness and stimulates the production of collagen.
2. Glycolic Acid
Glycolic acid has been hailed as the miracle ingredient among chemical exfoliators. An MVP among AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) it works on the skin’s surface by gently sloughing off dead skin cells to reveal brighter, clearer skin. Whether you go for high-end or for budget-friendly skincare options, be careful how you use it because you can over-exfoliate and damage your skin.
3. Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) and the obvious choice for many acne-prone skin types to combat breakouts. It can be used in the form of a serum (if your skin can handle it), a mask, and it’s even effective as a face wash (a better choice if you have drier, irritated skin). It can control oil production, break up the dirt in our pores and gently exfoliate the skin.
4. Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that naturally occurs in our skin at varying levels. It can attract and hold on to 1000x its weight in moisture. Its hydrating abilities keep the skin replenished, looking supple and healthy — perfect for people who have dry and dehydrated skin.
Its plumping effect can temporarily combat the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Make sure you moisturise your skin when using this ingredient so you don’t cause more skin dehydration (what you’re already trying to counter).
Calendula is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, so it soothes irritated skin. It’s a calming and healing ingredient in skincare products for redness, sunburn and even inflammation of acne. Calendula extract can be a good antioxidant, anti-ageing (when supplemented with others) and moisturising ingredient.
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