As a beauty editor specializing in an audience age 50-plus, I test and compare new products that range from expensive to low-cost ... with a big dose of skepticism. That’s because beneath the glitzy title I’m a practical woman who balks at spending $400 on a new face cream and $45 on a cleanser. I also know how smart marketing, trendy buzzwords and bargain pricing can make a $16 serum or $30 moisturizer seem like dupes for those double or triple the price. Can inexpensive beauty products — whether sold at drugstores, mass retailers or specialty stores — match or beat those with the Midas touch? Here are the ones that do.
1. ‘Natural’ serums and oils
Do the words clean, green, vegan, organic or natural resonate with you? How about cruelty-free and paraben-, phthalate- and sulfate-free? You’re probably intrigued by serums and oils that incorporate botanicals, but Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum with 22 extracts is $195 and Tata Harper Elixir Vitae Ultimate Wrinkle Solution is a whopping $490! Take a look. Drugstores have stepped up and now stock their beauty aisles with face oils like the Botanics Organic Facial Oil ($18, target.com), which includes rose hip oil rich in essential fatty acids; Cocokind Chia Facial Oil ($15, target.com) — vegan and high in omega-3; and serums like the vegan Versed Stroke of Brilliance Brightening Serum ($20, target.com) and Pacifica Sea & C Love Vitamin Serum ($21, target.com), both with vitamin C.
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2. Creams that shout out proven ingredients
Let’s not get seduced by a moisturizer’s iconic fame, price tag or fancy jar. If you’re intrigued but mystified by Creme de La Mer’s “Miracle Broth” or La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream’s exclusive cellular complex, know that many luxury brands use “proprietary blends of ingredients,” or formulas that don’t explicitly reveal their mix. Drugstore creams have learned to put proven ingredients right on the label — so you know exactly what you’re getting. Want dewier, fresher skin? Choose hyaluronic acid like the Cetaphil Deep Hydration Healthy Glow Daily Cream with Hyaluronic Acid ($22, target.com). Brighter, firmer and bouncier skin? Look for peptides like Olay Regenerist Vitamin C + Peptide 24 Face Moisturizer ($30, target.com), with a bonus of skin-brightening vitamin C; or e.l.f. Holy Hydration Face Cream Fragrance Free with Hyaluronic Acid + Peptides ($13, target.com) for a mix of both. There’s no guesswork.