Skincare: When To Splurge And When To Save

If you are a frequenter of beauty magazines, blogs, or the cosmetic area of department stores you may have developed a fear of missing out. You’ll be tempted to think you need to spend a small fortune on skincare to keep your skin in great shape. 

Let’s face it the older we get the more we feel pressure to reverse damage and look as refreshed as possible. As we age, we start loosening our purse strings for products and treatments we never thought we would need.

Are You A Saver or a Splurger?

Skincare: When to Splurge and When to Save

Buying even the minimum amount of products for a skincare routine is an investment. Most women fall into two camps when it comes to buying skincare: you are a skeptic who doesn’t believe hype and you buy minimal products or you are a maximalist who wants it all. If you are a beauty junkie you might wonder if you need a second job just to keep your stash restocked.

Not to get too much in your business but if you’re complaining about the price of a serum but you have designer shoes, bags, a daily Starbucks habit, or other indulgences you may need to prioritize.

Purses and shoes eventually wear out or go out of style. Starbucks is overpriced. Your skin has to last the rest of your life. So which is more important? Trying to impress people with your fashion sense or maintaining healthy skin? Choose wisely my friend!

Some of you may have a hubby that you are afraid will squawk about how much your skincare costs. They may expect you to shop your skincare at the drugstore. If you like drugstore products fine.

However if this man has an electronic habit, an addiction to Apple products, and/or subscribes to expensive sports channels on TV you need to give him your best raised eyebrow and educate him! I’m tired of hearing, “My husband would kill me if I bought that.”

On the other end of the skincare spectrum, if you have more product than you can possibly use before it expires, you need to reign in that spending. If your cabinets and drawers are overflowing you probably aren’t using a consistent routine which is best for you. Creative Ways To Organize Bathroom Clutter

Let’s examine where you can save your dollars and when you can splurge on skincare.

Cleanser Don't Need To Be Expensive


Cleansers-I adore the double cleanse method and so should you. While I have a favorite luxury cleanser it might be more practical to buy inexpensive cleansers.

Cleansers don’t stay on long enough to do much but remove makeup and grime so there’s no need to overspend on fancy ingredients.

If there is a special cleanser you love because of the sensory experience or it just makes you happy go ahead and splurge. Just know that you don’t need to.

Toners-Here is another area that it’s not essential to break the bank, unless you’ve found your Holy Grail product that makes your skin feel like no other. Please know when I say toner I’m talking about hydrating products not astringents.

I’d be inclined to spend more on a toner than a cleanser because it actually is staying on the skin. Recently there’ve been amazing ingredients added to toners and mists as well.

Serums-Ok this is where you can do some serious damage to your bank account and go hog wild, especially as you get to the midlife arena. Good quality serums cost more than the other steps in your routine because they have a higher concentration of performance ingredients.

Serums target specific skin concerns such as lightening pigmentation, firming lax skin, or delivering antioxidant protection.

Good serums also should have delivery systems that help those actives penetrate and get where they need to go. The best delivery systems aren’t cheap either. If it’s a brand that does research and development that will affect the price too. My favorite eye serum I mentioned here Best Skincare and Makeup for Mature Eyes is an investment!

Definitely invest in the best serums you can afford.

What To Spend on Skincare

Moisturizers-I’m kind of on the fence here. Technically if you are buying the best serums you just need something to add hydration, protect from the elements, and nourish the skin. Unfortunately a lot of moisturizers are full of cheap filler ingredients and the better ingredients are in such a small quantity.

Moisturizers can be such a personal preference based on scent, texture, and how well it wears with makeup.

Climate can affect your purchase of a moisturizer too. When it’s summer I can use a lightweight moisturizer with great ingredients. In winter I need a heavy duty occlusive product. Sometimes when you want a heavier cream you might pay more if you don’t want a product with cheap fillers high on the ingredient list. Fortunately, there’s been an abundance of mid-range moisturizers that balance the luxury-drugstore price point.

For more in depth information on what types of products to look for, check out Practical Skincare For Any Age.

I’d love to hear in the comments what your skincare buying philosophy is. When it comes to skincare, when do you save and when do you splurge?

16 thoughts on “Skincare: When To Splurge And When To Save”

  1. I love this and am pretty similar in my thinking. I’ve used CeraVe foaming cleanser forever but definitely splurge on my antioxidants, retinol, and SPF.

    • Thank you, Hilary! I splurge on SPF too when it’s on my face. I might be more economical when it’s for body. I agree, splurge on antioxidants and a good retinol serum.

  2. I only tend to splurge if I truly love a product, regardless of which type it is. if it makes me happy, I’ll spend the $ on it!

  3. The older I get, the more I realize that when there is a pricey product that works for you and you love it, you spend the money and when there is a product just as good but it’s drugstore, save your money.
    I was unemployed for a year so I learned very quickly not everything I put on my face had to be designer. I splurge on serums and eye creams.
    My cleanser is a little on the pricey side but it lasts forever so on a cost per use side it works out to drugstore prices.
    I am also big on researching before I purchase. I have extremely sensitive/allergic skin so thankfully it saves me from not jumping on every product I see on Instagram. If it has too many essential oils, natural ingredients in it, the price goes up and my skin goes down very quickly, so in that respect I have to say thank you to my skin for saving my designer wallet 😉

    • Allie,

      You’ve touched on so many great topics! I agree with your philosophy on buying what you love when your skin responds well to it. Glad you are investing in your serums too.

      Another great point is sometimes pricier products are more concentrated (not always) and can last much longer than a less expensive product.

      Many plant based/botanical ingredients are highly sensitizing and not best for the skin.

      Thank you for weighing in and stopping by!

  4. When I was younger I didn’t spend a lot of money on skin care, but after 40 it’s really become a priority. You’re absolutely right about the serums! I have dropped some serious cash on serums! LOL! I do tend to stay with in a beauty brand with the cleanser, toner, serum and moisturizer. But I will use different masks from other brands and a night serum from someone else. I’m afraid to mess too much with my skin because I don’t want to break out.

    Really great post! Thank you so much for taking the time!

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! I didn’t spend much either before 40. Funny how when everything starts to head south that changes. 😉

      Sounds like a good routine for you. Thank you for weighing in!

  5. Love this post Pam, specially in the current social media platform where it seems to have become a competition of who has the most products. I try to keep it minimal & stick to core products that work & the hell (excuse the punch 😉) with whatever the hype is, as I only have one face. There are thousands of products out there – impossible to keep up. I focus on what my skin concerns are & my main investments are in serums, SPF & masks to support the needs my skin will have on a given day. Skincare has been a ritual I learned from young age thanks to my mother & grandmother 💕 My goal is to age gracefully 😘

  6. I really enjoyed this article and never thought before about the cleanser all going down the sink….! I usually stick to mid range products but often splurge on moisturiser. This is mainly due to not being able to find a serum that doesn’t bring my skin up in spots or sting. I have quite sensitive skin but am also occasionally prone to the odd spot despite being 51.

    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! If the breakouts are occurring on the chin/jawline area it is hormonal. If it is immediately following using an active product, it may not be a bad thing. Sometimes our skin will purge and then balance itself out. However, if a product is continuing to cause breakouts its not a good fit. I can email you more questions so I can make some recommendations.



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