The Ordinary is known and loved by many for its affordable and straightforward approach to effective skincare. But, with reports of store closures, lots of us have been left wondering where to find our favourite skin fixes without shelling out over the odds.
Skincare needn't just be for those with a heavy purse, and many brands have caught on to the fact that consumers are more informed than ever and are demanding products that work for a fair price. The truth is ingredients don't need to be new or pioneering to perform and this logic has been the basis behind the rise in affordable skincare. The trick is to take well-known ingredients with a track record of excellence behind them. Ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, niacinamide and glycolic acid, which have already been tried, tested and proven. And, since the technology is already there and the research has been done, they aren't very expensive to produce.
So, where do the high prices of premium products come from? Of course, brand loyalty plays into it – most of us are willing to pay more for a brand that we trust or that feels like a treat. Sometimes, it’s down to new innovation. Products that are truly groundbreaking require research, development, testing and technology, which all cost money, and that’s reflected in the price. But, more often than not, the mark-up in price comes from factors like distribution costs and expensive marketing campaigns. But, as Gill Sinclair, founder of Victoria Health (which stocks a whole host of affordable skincare brands) points out, we are all becoming increasingly informed, and brands that are prepared to be transparent are taking the lead. After all, she says: “Fair pricing that represents what products and ingredients should cost can only be a positive thing."
Here's The AFFORDABLE AND EFFECTIVE BEAUTY BRANDS to try
The Inkey List
New brand The Inkey List launched in the UK earlier this year, and has already made a splash for its performance-led and fairly-priced skincare. Like The Ordinary, it's opted for no-fuss, reliable ingredients that solve everyday concerns (dryness, dullness, wrinkles, spots, pigmentation). What's more, the brand has worked hard to make its packaging as informative as possible. Not only do you get the name of the ingredient, The Inkey List tell you what exactly it does, which is good news if you reckon lactic acid sounds more like a carpet cleaner than skincare hero. (As it happens, lactic acid is a gentle exfoliator that evens out skin texture.) Everything is priced under a tenner and everything works. I love the retinol, which does exactly what it says on the box – "helps to enhance skin renewal and enhance collagen production" – which means it'll give you firmer, plumper, glowier skin (just be careful to build up your tolerance to retinol slowly and use it alongside an SPF).
Before you write Primark skincare off as cheap and poor-quality, it really is worth taking a look at what's on offer. The brand has overhauled its beauty hall in the last year, working hard to make sure its ingredients are animal-friendly (they were certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny earlier this year). Plus, they've called on the help of beauty experts and insiders to ensure its offering is up to scratch. In fact, the range, made with award-winning beauty journalist Alessandra Steinherr, has just launched and features 20 affordably priced products (everything is under a fiver), with proven, results-driven ingredients that deliver on performance. Speaking of the collaboration, Steinherr said, "I'm extremely passionate that everyone deserves beautiful skin." What's more, it's built with busy women in mind, with products like the Pump & Glow Facial In A Stick, which is spiked with hydrating hyaluronic acid and acts as a multitasking cleanser and moisturiser in one. It'll leave your face soft as you like, too.
GARDEN OF WISDOM
I can't help but love Garden of Wisdom's unassuming approach to efficacious products that focus on gorgeous, natural (potent) ingredients and pretty much eschew marketing altogether (as evidenced by its almost non-existent social-media presence and ancient-looking website). It was set up over a decade ago, in Arizona, well ahead of the new wave of affordable beauty crusaders, and has stuck to its simple ethos of investing in "top-notch ingredients" rather than packaging ("your skin doesn't wear pretty bottles and labels") ever since. Fact is, the brand doesn't need to shout about its products, because they speak for themselves. The buzz around it was created largely by its loyal customers, who took to Reddit to sing its praises. It's now available in the UK from Victoria Health and is priced between £9 and £20. You can find everything, from cold-pressed argan oil and hyaluronic acid to multi-peptide serums; however, the vegetarian 100% Squalane Oil is particularly brilliant for leaving skin thoroughly hydrated and soft, plus it feels nice and lightweight.
For Beauty Pie, the digital-only brand that launched at the end of 2016, its first skincare product was packed with a variety of familiar ingredients. “We put everything into it,” says founder Marcia Kilgore. “Hyaluronic acid, pentapeptides, resveratrol, collagen stimulators – and in a beautiful glass jar, with recyclable paper eco-ink boxes and a soft pink lining; no matter what we added, we couldn’t get it to cost much more than £10. ”Beauty Pie's pricing aptly illustrates the price you could be paying against the general market rate. It offers members (subscription starts from £5 a month) the opportunity to pick up products made in the same factories and to the same standard as high-end brands, at more affordable prices, by cutting out the middle man (distributors) and selling straight from the site. In real terms, it means members can get, for instance, the supremely plumping Jeju Daily Antioxidant Superinfusion Serum (which evens skin tone, hydrates and soothes – particularly if your skin's sensitive) for £9.02, while non-subscribers pay the market rate of £75.