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You’ve probably seen the headlines about drugstore skincare products that outperform premium brands, or the skin care “experts” who say that pricing of premier products all lies in packaging and branding. But don’t fall for it. There can be significant differences between prestige skincare products and the type you find at the drugstore or supermarket. While some low-end products may be able to actually moisturize or exfoliate, that doesn’t mean they do it well. Cheap exfoliators can actually be quite damaging.

“Because many of these scrubs have natural ingredients like apricot kernels, consumers mistakenly think that the product will be gentle on their skin.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Apricot kernels and other nut shells are jagged in shape, and thus extremely abrasive. They often over-exfoliate, leaving skin raw and red. Additionally, such scrubs can enlarge pores and cause pitting, and the damage done is often irreversible. “Somewhere along the line, one guy heard that it was a good idea to use apricot kernels to scrub his face. And he told another guy. And that guy told another guy until…Every single guy we know has a tube of this shall-not-be-named face exfoliator in his shower. Apricot kernels have no business anywhere near your face, since they're naturally harsh and sharp and pokey—it's like taking a handful of gravel and scraping it all over your skin.” - Mollie Chen, Editorial Director of Birchbox.

A number of drugstore exfoliators also use microbeads, which have proven to be harmful to the environment. These plastic beads can infiltrate the water supply once they are rinsed off, where they are free to pollute ecosystems. Many lower end products also contain harmful parabens or artificial colors, or have been tested on animals.

“Today, a number of prestige brands have shied away from using such harmful chemicals and are also animal cruelty-free.”

Many prestige products also use the power of special ingredients to give you safe, gentle exfoliators. You’ll often find that the individual particles that give premium scrubs their grit are more round in shape, and thus of a higher quality than the cheap alternatives. With natural serums that dissolve dead skin and dirt, some even manage to exfoliate without need of an abrasion agent. Moisturizers and cleansers in many prestige products also tend to be of a much higher quality and provide longer lasting results.

It’s important to remember that it all comes down to formulation.

“More often than not, prestige product lines may also contain active ingredients that low end brands or even masstige products (luxury for the masses) simply don’t contain.”

There are several reasons for this - many natural key ingredients are rare or expensive to import, or they require special care and handling, which also increases cost and ultimately purchase price. Prestige products may also contain more of certain key ingredients making them more effective. 

So the next time you shop for men’s skincare products, remember that choosing a premium brand isn’t a wasted effort. It may cost a bit more but your skin and well-being is certainly worth the investment.

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