Is More Expensive Better When It Comes to Beauty?

Should you pay for more for beauty products

This is a question I’m often asked, and in brief; it depends what you are looking for from a beauty product.

After two decades working in the beauty industry, I also feel that in beauty as in life, you generally do get what you pay for.

With beauty, women prioritise products differently. What one woman makes a priority and will pay top dollar for, another has at the bottom of her list and will buy any brand at any price.

For example, many women want to invest in high priced skincare. This is a high spend category for many, as is the right foundation. Cleanser, and general body products can often be a lower priority for Australia women so they shop for lower prices for those items.

But what exactly are you paying for when you buy a high end product? What makes up the price difference?

When you buy an expensive moisturiser for example you are often buying research, and/or rare or imported ingredients, and a unique formula. Quality organic ingredients – super popular right now are also expensive.

Where the products are sold can also dictate the price tag. Products sold online have far less overheads than those in-store with rent, staff and so on to pay.

But let’s be honest, you are also paying a lot for marketing within any designer price tag. Marketing costs include the price of celebrities, advertising, influencers, on-line campaigns, shoots, launches and so on.

And to be fair, this doesn’t nil apply to beauty. It could be said of all high end products.

That is one reason why the cost of celebrity driven beauty brands such as Fenty is pretty reasonable – Rhianna owns the brand, so she doesn’t have to pay a huge price for a celebrity to promote the beauty brand, as she already is.

Plus it’s important to note there is a huge overall mark up on all beauty products at every end of the price scale.

For me, my biggest ticket items are fragrance, and you really can’t get away with cheap substitutes here. Whenever someone in my family asks what to buy me as a beauty gift, it’s easy. A fabulous fragrance, and I think it’s worth it.

The more expensive the fragrance, the longer it lasts, the fresher the ingredients, the more modern the scent and so on. And I love European fragrances, which carry a duty and an added luxury cost.

But there are always times when we want a substitute – when travelling for example. We may not want to travel with our La Mer moisturiser, so a cheaper product makes sense. Especially if we lose it.

If you stay at your partner’s, have a holiday house, or move between your parent’s abodes, the same applies. It’s nice not to have to cart bags of products when you are returning to the same location, so a cheaper item can work.

So how do you decide whether to pay more or less for a product? I have a few tips:

  1. Read online reviews; we have a lot on Bondi Beauty, but there are so many honest reviews out there. Take the time to read a handful before you buy anything.
  2. Test it: This is tough right now in the post-Covid-19 world, but test anything whenever you can.
  3. If buying on-line, only buy from a brand that will take the item back and send you something else if it is not right for you skin.
  4. Calculate the per-gram cost. This might sound stingy but sometimes products, particularly cleansers (eg La Prairie facial cleanser) are body products are actually good value for money when you realise they are a large size, so the per gram cost is not too bad.
  5. Use your expensive products. All beauty products are best when used fresh, and when they are at their pst potent. The most expensive spend is on any product you don’t love and don’t use.

After many requests I thought I’d start to feature a favourite luxe to less pair of beauty products each week in my column, the I use and can recommend.

Oil-free Moisturiser Luxe to Less

I love luxury, but for days when I’ve maxed my credit card, some fab products with a smaller price tag that work are what I reach for.

La Mer Beauty

LUXE: La Mer The Moisturising Matte Lotion is my favourite luxe oil-free day moisturiser to keep my skin glowing, but not oily or greasy under all weather conditions. I love having the white luxury tube in my bathroom and revering the history of this iconic brand every time I look at it. The product is light to the touch, and firms as well as mattifies. The ultimate. RRP:$375.00

Alpha-H Liquid Gold

LESS: I enjoy using Alpha-H liquid gold, the hyaluronic acid, resurfacing product, and the brand’s moisturiser, Alpha-H Essential Skin Perfecting Moisturiser has a non-greasy, light texture, and importantly has SPF 15. It’s easy to use, feels smooth on the skin and is a great buy. RRP:$59.95

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Renae Leith-Manos

Editor and Founder of Bondi Beauty

Renae Leith-Manos loves fitness, new beauty products, long chats and long flights. She is at her best when traveling the world writing about luxury hotels and Michelin Star restaurants ( She has had a colourful media career as a journalist inmagazines and newspapers, in Australia and Asia. She spends her time writing, cooking, consulting to new businesses, running and working out.

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