Expensive Skincare: How I Got Hooked

Some people splurge on shoes. I splurge on skincare.


Some people splurge on shoes. Some people splurge on a daily coffee. I splurge on skincare. When I stopped wearing foundation about four months ago, I realized there was no turning back on my expensive routine.

Let’s back up for a sec.

At its worst last year, my face was flaky, sensitive and oily, with one of those monthly pimples that would not go away no matter what. Thinking I’d make my skin look better, I bought four new foundations in the span of a few months. Surely, it was the foundation, right?

Of course not. Even a nice foundation will look like shit if you don’t have good skin. So, unbeknownst to me at the time, I headed down a skincare rabbit hole that would lead me to spend a big chunk of change.

Last fall, I was using Trader Joe’s moisturizer with SPF and sweet almond oil as a cleanser. This wasn’t helping my occasional milia, dehydrated skin and hormonal acne.


Slowly, I started buying more skincare products. I tried Glossier’s moisturizing primer. At my local Ulta, I bought a handful of Mario Badescu. I tried Kiehl’s and Origins.

The more things I tried, the more products that failed me or simply didn’t impress me, the more I learned about my skin and what might work better. I decided to avoid mineral oil, fragrance and alcohol. I began to try quality products, even though the prices were higher than anything I was used to.

I turned to Sunday Riley and fell hard for its facial oils, particularly the anti-aging retinoid Luna; Artemis, for troubled skin; and the one without any essential oils, Juno. Pricey as they may be ($75-$105), my skin likes them a lot. I started feeling less oily and less dehydrated. I also dove into Missha, the Korean skincare brand best known for its Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (and one of the most affordable lines I now use).

Over the course of my year-long experiment, there were some hits (Foreo Luna) and misses (a few La Roche-Posay products). Finally, I landed at Biologique Recherche — the holy grail of French skincare. Anyone that’s ever read beauty blogs knows about its cult product, P50 ($95 for 8.4 ounces). Let me tell you right now that it is the best thing that ever happened to my skin. Aside from helping brighten, it also single-handedly minimized my acne and oil. Since hopping on the BR bandwagon, I’ve found a few other products from the line that I love.


My current daily routine is paired down to what I find the most essential. In the mornings, that’s Biologique Recherche Lait U cream cleanser ($36) — gentle but effective. I follow with P50, and the BR Placenta moisturizer ($61), which soaks right in and helps reduce oil production around my T-zone. A couple of drops of the Juno oil or the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil ($57) and I’m ready for sunscreen. I use the Dr. Jart Every Day Sunscreen ($34) or La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX serum ($42.50).

At night, I use the Lait U cleanser with my Foreo Luna, followed by a Retin-A once or twice a week. Retin-A is a new thing I’m trying that is not only effective but also relatively inexpensive. On nights I’m not using Retin-A, I use a retinol product from Makeup Artist’s Choice ($34). I’m only 27, but I can already tell I love Retin-A. (But that’s a whole ‘nother topic.)


If I’m being honest, the one step that I feel like I could lose is serum. Currently, I use the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, a dupe of the Estée Advanced Night Repair, which I used until it ran out.

On Retin-A nights, I use the Ultra Facial Cream, then the Artemis oil. Or I use the Luna or Artemis right after the retinol. Once a week, I’ll use BR Masque Vivant ($65) and Exfolikate ($85).

There is no more need for foundation, and no more worrying about flaky, uneven or blotchy skin. I haven’t even had a pimple in like two or three months! My skin is better today than it ever has been. Maybe it is a coincidence that almost everything I’ve loved is a bit pricey. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for good marketing and YouTube hype.

Do you splurge on skincare? What are your miracle products?

Collages by Maria Jia Ling Pitt. 

Get more Beauty ?
  • Gwyn

    i love skincare so much but i don’t have the budget to splurge on it! i find there a lot of drugstore and lower price products that work pretty well, but i do wish i could get some of the luxury stuff.

    • Kim

      Check out The Ordinary, a sub brand of Deciem. Totally affordable and high quality. I also like a bunch of Niod stuff, another sub brand they have which is a more expensive.

      • Gwyn

        THANK YOU!!!!!!

  • Gaby

    I just recently started paying more attention to skincare. Since I started using a cleanser, tonic and moisturizer from the same line, my skins feels and looks better. But I still have a long way to go in terms of a more even tone and texture. I want a second article on that whole other topic that is Retin-A! My mom swears by it, but I always thought it was for older skins. Intriguing.

  • Currently really loving my Tatcha cleansing oil and rice powder! They pair well with Chanel hydra beauty creme to keep winter skin happy…even for my combination/oily/sensitive skin.

  • Amelia Diamond

    Cool now I want all of this

    • MMR

      aahh same! Julissa, what did you find the most helpful for your milia??

      • Julissa

        This is not helpful because it’s not a single product, but I think once I started incorporating a proper cleanser and a moisturizer without spf, that’s when it went away. I took like two days.

  • Christel Michelle

    Excuse me while I scrap my original christmas list and put all of this on it instead.

  • i haven’t worn foundation in months either! the Belief aqua bomb is my holy grail moisturizer, and the glossier cleanser has changed my life!

    • Lilli


  • shayna gonsalves

    SkinCeuticals has been my savior, particularly the Phloretin CF, Metacell B3, and the Redness Reducer! I am working on having the visage of an angel.

  • Jackie

    Never heard of Recherche Biologique. They seem to be of the annoying kind that only sell their products through beauticians, the worse. I love expensive products but my experience over the years is that their smell and texture is better but I have never had that great results. Or if I think my skin looks better for a few days but the effect is never long lasting even if I use the same product. I’ve seen real improvement with sleep, water, running, going outside in a clean air environment and food of course. Better save the money for holidays I now think.

    • tmm16

      You could describe BP as the “annoying” kind but let me tell you, their products work. And I’ve gone through maybe 100+ creams, masks, cleansers, you name it, to cure my problem skin. Doesn’t hurt giving it a try!

    • belle

      I can assure you BR products don’t smell good, but they do work.

  • Ashley Marie Perkins

    I have also fallen down the expensive skincare rabbit hole. It’s a problem. Indulgences that work include Tata Harper Illuminating Eye Cream (which is probably masking my dark circles with its’ consistency more than actually combating them), my NuFace microcurrent device, Paula’s Choice Resist Retinol, Embryolisse body lotion (which isn’t that expensive, but at the rate I go through it, it gets to be pretty pricey)… Maybe I’ve just fallen down the expensive beauty rabbit hole? Because I recently bought a Mason Pearson hairbrush, two $80 Viseart eyeshadow palettes, and a Byredo perfume.

    • kjrobot

      Oh the Byredo perfume! I just discovered it at Space NK and now I will never own a home.

  • Maryna Velychko

    in my opinion, skincare is not smth to save on, if it helps you and you can afford it, why not? some ‘aesop’ products really helped me, they are not as pricey as some other skincare, but still
    also every time you apply an expensive stuff on your skin it feels like some sort of ritual 🙂

  • Caroline Jones

    I’ve used half of these skin care products, and being someone with incredibly sensitive skin (and a touch of 24-year-old-vanity), I think there are certain products that price makes the difference. That being said, there are benefits to going the slightly more natural and simple route. I recently started using jojoba oil ($8 from trader joes) on my face twice a day to keep my dry skin hydrated in the winter and I have noticed a HUGE difference! I’m with Julissa in that serums would be the first to go. You feel like a fancy skincare expert using them, but I have yet to notice any major changes in my skin because of them–cheap or high end. I love Lush products, they’re both natural and emphasize hydration, does anyone else use Lush still? I feel like all I ever hear is about their bathbombs, but their products are so amazing and at a great price point.

    • Alessia

      I love Lush products! I have oily skin and use their Vanishing cream for my face and Grease Lightning on my spots. Their fresh masks and scrubs are also very good!!

  • The Fluffy Owl

    i totally splurge on skin care and make up!! I can’t buy high end clothing, but at least my face can look the part! First Aid Beauty, Origins, Fresh, L’Occitane,Dior and Ole Henriksen are my skin care staples at the moment.

  • Jenelle

    I splurge on skincare. I only wear makeup about once or twice a week so I’m fine with spending money if it means being completely comfortable with my skin. The BR P50 and maque vivant are life. Honestly, if I had to give up everything earthly possession I would still somehow manage to hold on to these two things because I think they make a huge difference. I follow Caroline Hirons blog so I don’t spend much on cleansers since that stays on your face for the least amount of time or moisturizers and instead spend money on toner and serums. I love Drunk Elephant’s vitamin C serum for day because I think it gives me that elusive glow everyone always wants and I use Osmosis vitamin a serum at night because it’s completely evened out my skin tone.

  • Sam

    Just got Biologique Recherche P50 few days ago and OBSESSED. I used to use coconut oil/castor oil/tea tree oil as a cleanser and diluted apple cider vinegar as a toner and call it a day. One year and one break up later, my beauty cabinet is filled with probably $2K worth of …. stuff. But, it works! I’m also obsessed with the Khiel’s Overnight Hydrating Mask. Trust.

    • Brynn Sibley

      yes that mask is a godsend

  • MT

    My skincare is a healthy mix of inexpensive and splurgey. My skin gets congested very, very easily, so I use chemical exfoliants frequently. I mask a lot.

    But I super disagree on the serum front. I’ve got mostly inexpensive ones (ilu The Ordinary) but my skin is soooo haaaaappy with them. I layer a few on at night, varying depending on what Issues I’m currently having, and wake up all hydrated and glowy without being greasy or oily.

    • Yna Musico

      Reaching out as a person whose skin get congested easily, any tips on chemical exfoliants? I haven’t found one that works for me. 🙁 Also what serums do you recommend? 🙂

      • MT

        I got my start with glycolic peels at the salon. Eventually I brought it home with the Pixi line, first with glow tonic and then the peel pads. I also love Vichy’s double glow peel, and PTR’s pumpkin enzyme peel. PTR’s is expensive at like $58 for a jar (but that jar will last a hell of a long time), the others are all around $20 and available at Target (Vichy is also available at CVS).

        In terms of serums, I started with Mizon’s snail repair ampoule (like ten bucks on Amazon), and then went a little nutty on The Ordinary’s site at one point. Their Niacinamide + Zinc is great for my oily skin, but where they really shine is there Buffet, which is a blend of actives and I’ve heard lots of people with lots of skin types sing its praises, including me. Also it’s $14.

        • blkxoxo

          A really effective and affordable peel I have been using is the ASDM “GLYCOLIC LACTIC COMPLEX PEEL”

  • nevvvvave

    we both are in love with BR <3 ; I've been using the P50 1970 on a nearly daily basis for over a yr and there's nothing else I've tried that brightens my skin and reduces discoloration/scarring so well. I recently splurged on the crème placenta (sometimes I mix it with the kiehls face oils) and masque vivante- and am really enjoying those as well. I def want to try LRP sunblock but can't decide which one- can anyone recommend one with minimal white cast but that's a physical rather than chemical block? Basically even though I'm 23 I'd rather splurge on a few effective, curated products bc 1) preventative care and 2) my strict routine de-stresses me b/c I KNOW I'm slathering on something that actually works

    • helen09

      You should try the Bareminerals sunscreen. It goes on white but adjusts. I insist on a broad spectrum, high-SPF sunscreen, and that one is by far the gentlest and best under makeup.

  • kellymcd

    I splurged a lot on skincare last year and a good portion of this year trying to figure out wth to do with my face. Finally, I made the biggest splurge of all-a damn good facial. And now I’m hooked. While I’m not scooping up every single product that sounds like a miracle, a good chunk of change is being dropped on maintaining my face when I see my (Jesus in disguise) facialist. She sells me products as well, which are pricey, but not the same way some other things I was trying. And they’re effective right away, because she knows my face better than me. I’m not abandoning a $50 serum after three uses anymore (such a waste!!!) The only thing from my experimental days I’m still clinging to is Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. My skin likes it and I like how my skin looks when I use it

    • kjrobot

      Don’t hold out on us! What are the products!!! 🙂

      • kellymcd

        She has sold me Rhonda Allison products! I’m not sure if they’re widely available or only for sale through estheticians, but I’ve been pretty pleased. The ones I really like and find effective are listed below (and the price if I was able to locate it)
        -Cucumber spritz face spray $12
        -MVC serum (a Vit. C serum) $50
        -Face and body sunscreen (use on face only)
        -Face buffing scrub (for men)
        -Drops of Essence moisturizing serum (for night) $50
        -Milk Plus cleanser $32

        She also recently sold me an undereye oil from Josh Rosebrook called Occulus Eye Formula ($70)

  • Grace B

    I mostly stick to rosehip oil and when I feel like it I use Derma-E glycolic scrub to cut down on redness. It seems to work okay. I’m pretty fortunate I don’t have the cystic acne my younger siblings have.

    I do have a roughly $50/mo (down from $100/mo) supplement habit though — probiotics, zinc, and triphala.

    • Erin Lares

      I got a part-time job at a natural foods store to supplement my supplement habit.

      • Grace B

        oh, that is a REALLY good idea.

  • Kelly

    I don’t understand why you would need to use both a retinol *and* Luna (which contains trans-retinol ester) during the same application. What am I missing here, or did I just read that incorrectly?

    • Julissa

      TBH I love Luna but it seems to be like a SUPER mild anti-aging product so I’ve never had issues with using both. I just really like it as a night oil.

  • Diandra

    Amen to all of that. I also have embraced P50 1970 and not looked back. I have previously used Retin-A to get rid of the bulk of my hormonal acne. But even after that I kept getting the pesky breakouts. P50 really ended that. I layer it with Good Genes and I just ordered her Tidal cream too!

    • Lenam Mahj

      Where did you buy the P50?

      • Diandra

        Shop rescue spa online! You have to create a login account to see prices and purchase.

  • Alicia McElhaney

    LOVE this list. I started splurging on my skin when I moved to New York at the beginning of the year (I felt like my skin was never clean enough!) and have since started paring it down to the essentials. In the a.m. I rinse my face with water, then put on The Ordinary’s HA serum and Glossier’s priming moisturizer. At night, I wash with Glossier’s milky jelly. When the mood strikes, I mask with Mario Badescu’s drying mask, Bliss’ Triple Oxygen Mask or use a m61 power glow peel wipe. When zits pop up, I use Badescu’s pink stuff.

    This routine is hella pared down from what it was, and I dropped a ton of cash trying to figure out what works. Turns out my skin likes moisture, and the hormonal acne I was getting monthly on my chin went away when I cut most dairy out of my diet (note: I’m already allergic to soy so that’s not in my diet as well!)

  • KC

    I want nothing more than to buy Biologique Recherche items. I reached out to purchase many moons ago and they said I would have to come in and get my skin tested, or something like that? Any tips for those of us that live very far from NY and would probably never get the opportunity to make an appointment there? Pleeeease

    • Audra

      I used to get mine shipped from Rescue Spa! http://shoprescuespa.com/

    • belle

      Just order online from Rescue Spa. Read some blog posts to familiarize yourself with the different versions, and when in doubt start off with a small bottle of the more gentle formula.

    • Anna V


  • Lizzie Slaughter

    some of these products, specifically the SPF products, may qualify for use FSA dollars. I recently bought a bunch of fancy sunscreen on a website that’s specifically approved for FSA spending, and it sure made those $50 face sunscreens easier to swallow. through that site I got my hands on the La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX serum and I’m pretty into it myself.

    • Erin Lares

      Brilliant. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sarah

      could you share this site pretty please?

  • Lindsey

    I totally jumped on the Korean 10-step train, and hard. My favorite exfoliator are these little wine soaked scrubby pads. My skin has never been so soft, ever. I also use the Son & Park beauty water, and I sheet mask probably twice a week. Also, the Neogen sunscreen is incredible. I actually want to put on sunscreen every day.

  • Anda Marei

    Pixi Glow Tonic, MMHC by NIOD, Perricone MD’s DMAE Firming Pads, The Ordinary Rosehip Oil &Aurelia Miracle Cleanser. I could go on and on… My friend and I are constantly in beauty withdrawal so we’ve channelled our addiction into an Instagram page to confront it head on. 🚀

  • meganalley

    I worship at the thrown of Caroline Hiron’s, a London based facialist turned blogger/YouTube and my skin has never looked better. Pixi Glow tonic (not THAT expensive), Kypris Antioxidant Dew, January Labs Balancing Moisturizer and Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel are a few of my faves.

  • meganalley

    I worship at the throne of Caroline Hirons, a London-based facialist turned blogger/YouTubers and my skin has never looked better. Some of my faves: Pixi Glow Tonic, Oskia Renaissance Cleanser, Kypris Antioxidant Dew and January Labs Balancing Moisturizer.

    • Cait

      I am also a total Hirons disciple; she has changed my skin with her routine. I love to try new products, but I will be forever loyal to BR P50 (the 1970 version, because I like the tingle!). I also really like Verso’s 2 Day Cream– it has retinol and SPF. I swear by oil cleansing (Nude makes great ones that rinse off well) and treatment oils (Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and Luna are great)– adding oil has kept my skin consistant throughout the year, I don’t get dry patches in the winter or get too oily in swampy DC summers. May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon is rationed for special occasions when I need a pick me up.

    • Lindsey Lamer

      Agreed! Caroline Hirons taught me everything I know. I always give her credit when I’m complimented on my skin. I’ve come a long way from the first trip to the Clinique counter for the three step system with my mom when I was 13 year old. 🙂

    • I also follow (almost) everything The Hirons says. My bank balance hates her though.

    • Becca C

      And Stephanie Nicole on Youtube! Wow am I getting an education from her… game changer.

  • Jackie

    I have a box under my bed with unfinished Luna and May Lindstrom and the rest. Why? Discovered prescription retinoids. $40 a tube (35 pounds in Scotland). See a dermatologist, save a fortune and see a dramatic improvement. Good luck.

    • Lola

      So…is the deal that you pay to see a dermatologist and just ask for the prescription retinoids?

  • Audra

    BR P50, Retin-A micro, and Elta MD sunscreen are the only constants in my routine. Even if everything is working for me I always want to change it up and try something new. It can be an expensive habit, but luckily, I recently discovered the very affordable The Ordinary line and was able to splurge on 4 serums for a total of just $27!!

    • Lola

      Yes! The Ordinary is seriously amazing. The 2% retinol I’m using every PM because it’s so non-irritating (the Peter Roth one nearly made my face fall off) and also loving the vitamin C suspension although it burrrrrns. Also shout out to the rosehip oil.

      • Audra

        I really wanted to try the vitamin C suspension, but it has an ingredient that I know makes me break out 🙁 My favorite so far is the lactic acid serum! And the price is so good I don’t feel guilty using it on the kp on my arms too. Also love the rosehip oil!

  • The Missha BB cream listed here is amazing. $12-$15, one tube lasts me nearly a year and the color adapts to my skin tone. Would recommmend!!

    • Ana P

      Omg omg omg now I HAVE to try it.

  • tmm16

    BP P50 saved my skin. It was literally a godsend for me. I use the Lait U cream cleanser and have tried Masque Vivant as well. It’s my favorite brand – and when I have a little extra money to spend, I splurge on BP. I’m glad it works for so many others as well!

  • Sabletoothtigre

    After so much hype, Sunday Riley is pretty meh for my skin (doesn’t do anything bad but also doesn’t improve much either?). But Drunk Elephant is THE SHIT — I have all their products and I love them all, except for the sunscreen which is too pasty IMO. Korean beauty brands make the best sunscreens, feel wise and protection wise.

    • Lindsey Lamer

      I’ve been wanting to try Drunk Elephant and this comment pushed it right into my cart! Thanks!

    • Rose

      Any korean sunscreens you recommend?? I’m always looking to try new ones. My current fave is Supergoop’s City Serum Sunscreen.

      • Sabletoothtigre

        Missha’s Mild Essence Sun Milk (https://sokoglam.com/products/missha-mild-essence-sun-milk) or Goodal Sun Essence (https://www.glowrecipe.com/products/goodal-mild-protect-sun-essence-spf-sunblock) are two I usually go back and forth with. They’re both super light, with an emulsion-type of texture and absorb quickly without leaving a white cast.
        Also people like to fight over this, but since Korean beauty products like sunscreen aren’t subject to FDA regulation, they’re able to use more powerful UV-blocking ingredients, thus the “SPF PA 50+++” which just means that it’ll protect you more than 50x longer than being in the sun without any protection. It usually means using chemical sunscreens rather than mineral/physical sunscreens but if that doesn’t irritate you, then you’re good to go.

  • Lenam Mahj

    Where do people buy this P50 potion????

  • ujwillis

    BR P50 is life changing, I do not say this lightly not only is my skin clearer but I feel like this has made my other skincare products more effective.

    I love Drunk Elephant’s Vitamin C serum. I only buy it from dermstore when they have a sale. I also love the Herbivore Lapis Oil, I’m an oily skin person who has become a recent convert into the church of facial oil .

    • kellymcd

      LAPIS <3

  • savannah

    Ahhh yes to all of this! I’m addicted to both P50 and Luna. I just started using ‘Slay’ perfecting serum by Anese and it’s amazing. Sunday Riley is definitely my favorite – the ceramic slip cleanser changed my life a few years ago and I’m OBSESSED with the eye cream! Loved this article.

  • Kelsey

    Oh man, I love a good skincare splurge. I think between my wife and I we have every Murad product and I’m trying to subsist on Tata Harper resurfacing mask, Tatcha rice powder, and Drunk Elephant day serum samples. I’m contemplating shelling out for some full size ExfoliKate. It just feels like such a nice form of self care, you know?

    • doublecurl

      ExfoliKate is so worth it!!!!

  • Mariela

    I definitely splurge on skin care! Eminence Organics is great though only available through spas or spas that sell online (don’t buy from Amazon – they sell expired stuff).

    Definitely DONT skip serums – serums are best for treatment and prevention, and with really great formulas these days that are more effective than retinol without the drying/sensitizing effect.

  • Zoë

    I have the foreo but never fell in love with it. Why do you love it so much? Maybe I should give it another go!

    • Julissa

      It feels nice and cleans my skin really well without being too harsh. There are probably cheaper options out there, but if you already have it, give it another try!

  • Abi

    Real talk are glossier products worth the cash?? Looking to save my lips with some expensive moisturizer this winter season

    • Julissa

      I like their boy brow a ton! Skincare, not really.

    • jellymo

      balm dot com is essentially aquaphor! save yo cash

    • Olivia AP

      NO. I’m deeply disappointed. I have used Balm dot com, their priming moisturizer, the supers and glossier phase 2. The supers are a total scam, they are not expensive compared to other serums, but I have been using them for 2 ½ months and they have done absolutely NOTHING. Never buy them! I think the only product that is worth the money is Boy Brow, not even Balm dot com because there are a bunch of products that are exaclty the same. I feel like nobody is telling the truth about Glossier, for me their products are okay if you are under 20, with no skin issues and you just care about pretty packaging.

      • Kimberley

        Yes that is exactly true. Anyone serious about skincare or older than 30 should not bother with Glossier. That brand is great for people starting out with minimal skin issues. Not bad pricing and very good with their marketing but lacking in results. Pretty shell, no substance.

    • kellymcd

      I personally like Glossier Balm Dot Com A LOT. And I’m picky with lip balms. I’ve found it to be more moisturizing and thicker than Aquaphor. They’re boy brow is a seriously awesome product and the color is spot on for me (I get blonde). I really like the priming moisturizer, but it doesn’t have SPF. The Supers are worth skipping. Their facial mist is basically rosewater. The masks however, are A+ in my book. The mega greens mask (mentioned here) is a great detox mask that isn’t harsh. The moisture moon mask will make you glowy and plump, clutch for the intense use of space heaters this time of the year. Bottom line, if you want to try it, do it. Don’t let all the opinions sway you too much 🙂

      • kellymcd


        Their stretch concealer is LIFE.

      • Olivia AP

        I really don’t think that people that didn’t like their products are haters. I don’t live in the US and I went through a big mess to try them. I’m very loyal to everything ITG but I was underwhelmed. The supers got me very dissapointed I don’t think they worked at all. Boy brow is great, but for the rest (that I tried) there are similar and better products out there.

        • Eliza

          Hi OliviaAP, I also do not live in the US but enjoy using Glossier products. What would you say the alternative to the Milky Jelly Cleanser is?

    • Yna Musico

      To be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of Glossier. I have incredibly sensitive acne prone skin, and seeing a brand like glossier lit some dark crevice in me, like /hey! A gentle skincare make up hybrid brand/ I’m not sure what ingredient it is exactly that I react to, but my god, after using the skin tint and the milky jelly cleaner (I’m still incredibly upset by this), I broke out so much. Even more than I usually do. 8 give it a go every now and then, but every time I do i just break out. The Boy Brow is probably your best bet here. I don’t necessarily think that it’s a great skincare brand. (Sorry, Emily! I love you, but damn your brand just made my skin feel like hell) All that coconut oil in the other products (Haloscope) seem to break me out too. 🙁 I’ve tried nearly everything, save for the Supers (which I’m afraid to touch because they’re so concentrated). The masks are all right, there are better ones in the market. But yeah. It just sucks that I feel so ugly when I wear it and break out and find myself comparing my bumpy face next to their immaculate skinned models. I mean worth a try as make up. But in my opinion, not much as a skincare brand.

  • Finnfun

    One word: Lumene, both skincare and makeup products. Glow boost vitamin drops literally save my skin during winter! Super affordable as well.

  • BK

    SK-II facial treatment essence is probably a bit boring now compared to all the wonderments out there now but it really makes a difference to my skin & pores considering it has the smell and overall appearance of yeast-infused water

  • Sarah

    MD Solar Sciences matte sunscreen. Not only because over time I have noticed an improvement to my skin but b/c people think I’m ten years younger than my real age. Also Retin A user for 30+ years.

  • Wildfire Charm

    Wow, you’ve come a long way. Yay for no breakouts for 2-3 months. That’s amazing! I have similar skin to yours and I’m slowly diving into facial oils. I am a huge lover of micellar waters though and I think they have changed my skincare so far 🙂


  • mpuniew

    For those who use the BR P50 do you also use their cleanser and/or moisturizer. I want to splurge because it sounds like a gift from the heavens but not sure if it is best to keep the products you use in the family or mix and match?

    • jellymo

      I’ve tried the cleanser and moisturizer (and serums and masks and everything else they offer) and I think if you aren’t made of money cetaphil gentle facial wash works just as well as the lait cleanser, is just as gentle, and the moisturizer is easily replaced as well. the p50 is unlike any other, though!!!

    • Jenelle

      Honestly, I think using the toner is enough. The cleanser and moisturizer are pretty expensive, I just use Cerave moisturizer and I still see a massive difference in my skin from just using the toner.

  • Currently in the middle of writing my dissertation on millennial non-branding and using Glossier as a case study. Had a total ‘oh shit’ moment when I was talking through my progress and ideas with my tutor and she told me she never uses ANY skincare and just rinses her face when she showers, occasionally using whatever soap she’s using on her body. She has totally normal, fairly clear skin, btw. I was literally shell shocked, as someone who has had a regimented skincare routine for as long as I can remember I’d never really considered that other people aren’t all doing the same. Especially over the last year, when my skin broke out with serious hormonal imbalances, I find so much joy (in a weird dermo-obsessive way) in researching the best products and trying them out. Also, my routine feels like a nice bit of down time.
    But, I then thought, why not stop all together? See if that works in calming down my complexion? But I never went through with it. I’m uncertain if that’s because I enjoy skincare so much or because if it works that would be like admitting defeat and realising I’ve wasted so much of my hard earned cash on ‘miracle products’ that weren’t at all miraculous.

    • Emma

      That sounds like such an interesting dissertation!

      • Isis Marques

        Yes, I’d love to read it when it’s done! =)

    • blkxoxo

      I’m the same! Even if I knew my skin would be better without products, I wouldn’t want to give them up because I love skincare

  • Nikki Prsa

    Rescue Spa is in Philly! So awesome!! I just ordered the P50. I have no self control!!!!! All of these comments have me totally convinced.

  • Gwyn

    anyone have a suggestion for acne treatment against hormonal acne?

    • Jesse Kadjo

      I have had horrible hormonal acne that flares up around my period week. I’ve been using the “Spa Teen” line of Pevonia products since June and have had consistently clear skin. It is amazing. I have also recently added the Biologique Recherche P50 and the Umbrian Clay Purifying Clay Facial Toner from Fresh and they are also amazing. My super acne-prone skin has never looked better. I stopped wearing regular foundation because it made me look worse. Now use a few drops of the Makeup Forever Water Blend foundation that is 80% water and more sheer than the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer. Don’t need a lot when your skin is on point.

      • Gwyn

        thank you so much!!!!

    • Raquel

      Ask your dermatologist for Spironolactone. You’ll need to have a blood screening to make sure your potassium levels are ok or something, but it’s literally the miracle pill that has completely cleared up my hormonal cystic acne 100% (on the lowest dose, to boot). Plus it’s a diuretic which is nice because nobody likes water retention.

      • Kathleen Higashiyama

        I second this! Spironolactone saved my skin after a year-long bout with hormonal acne. I highly recommend asking your dermatologist about this miracle prescription.

  • Kayla Monis

    For years, I tried to perfect my skin and treat my mild acne but nothing was miraculous. I used mostly Neutrogena face washes and natural products like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, lemon, tree tree oil etc.. While I did notice a difference, skin care was like another full-time job until I splurged on a product I had been eye-balling for nearly a year! I’m obsessed with blogger Marianna Hewitt’s skin so I decided to try iS Clinical skin care. The Active Serum is seriously life changing. I don’t wear makeup anymore. A year ago you couldn’t get me out of the house without foundation if my life depended on it. My skin is acne free now and more radiant than ever.

  • Fran

    I won’t argue with success! My own rosacea has calmed down to near normal with daily use of mineral sunscreen, plus avoiding skincare that contains irritants (fragrance, alcohol denat., essential oils, etc.). My favorite skincare brands are Paula’s Choice, First Aid Beauty, CeraVe, Josie Maran, and Simple… I think you can get excellent results with mid-range and drugstore products, but each person’s skin reacts differently to products, so, I say — if it works, and you’re happy with it, stick with it!

  • Claudia Tetreault-Percy

    Advanced Night Repair by Estée Lauder and Bio Oil is what gets me through. I have acne scaring from teenage years, and these two products are amazing to smoothe and eliminate redness!

    • Claudia Tetreault-Percy

      Also, Dr. Hauschka!

    • Olivia AP

      ANR is great. I’m afarid to use Bio Oil on my face. It didn’t break you out?

      • Claudia Tetreault-Percy

        No, it didn’t actually! I was afraid of that too, at first. But I think the trick is not to use too much at a time. Couple of drops and massage it evenly over your face, even though you feel like you might not have put enough on. It’s worked miracles for my redness. And I only ever use it at night, kind of as a serum. During the day would be too shiny!

        • Olivia AP

          Thanks, I’ll try that out 🙂

      • Anna V


  • Alessia

    I don’t think you necessarily need to splurge on skincare, there are definitely cheap products that are good. HOWEVER Alpha H Liquid Gold is the. best. thing. ever!

  • BorinLauren

    I am in the Mario Badescu part of this journey. After getting sober and getting alarmingly close to 30, my skin has changed dramatically and the clinique products that i had used my entire life, were no longer cutting the mustard. so ive been on a pursuit, the skin care version of Wild, really. A combination of MB moisturizers and masks, Mary Kay micro-derm exfoliaters, and Kiehl’s hydro serum, are keeping my crazy dry skin balanced, but i’m still on the hunt for something for my hormonal acne.

  • Kat Shapka

    Had to comment as I love skincare. I’m 29 and have been on the hunt for the perfect moisturizer/skin care routine as I’ve gotten older. I have an oily T-zone that shines in the middle of a work day with the monthly breakouts. A few months ago I tried Tatcha, and fell in love. They provide a set of 4 products in travel size so you can test what works for your skin. In the morning I use rice powder to gently exfoliate, followed by radiance cream to minimize pores and brighten, finished by a water based moisturizer. At night I start my routine with camellia cleaning oil, followed by what I do in the morning. My skin has been soft and glowy.. Just wanted to share!

  • I was using coconut oil to cleanse and moisturize my face this fall and wound up with a bunch more acne than usual, so I thought I might finally delve into real moisturizers and hopefully that would be a gateway into an adult skincare routine eventually… except my new moisturizer left my face so much drier than it was pre-moistuizing. I ended up going to whole foods and picking up a bottle of jojoba oil, which my face seems to like. I’m still afraid of investing in skincare.

  • Farah Al-Sharief

    Ok I need to add one thing that helped my skin besides quitting foundation: putting a tissue between my face and pillow!!!!!!!

  • Shelby

    What brand of retin-A?

  • Lindsey Lamer

    I absolutely splurge on skincare and I agree 100% that no foundation (regardless of cost) will look good on not great skin. I upped my game slowly (as my budget allowed) on skincare and it made all the difference. My holy grails are my Clarisonic, Sunday Riley’s Juno & Good Genes, Tata Harper’s Rejuvenating Serum, Kate Somerville’s Nourish moisturizer, & African Black Soap for cleansing. A note for anyone nervous about the cost: All of these products last forever for me! I’ve had my Luna oil for over a year and expect to get the same mileage from Good Genes. Kate Somerville’s Nourish is replaced every six months and Tata Harper’s serum lasts forever too. It’s worth it! 🙂

  • Kylie Vincent-Hall

    I used to think this way until I started using Deciem products. Really great skincare doesn’t have to be expensive. But it is. Do you really need to charge $100 for a serum that has a drop of actives and then packed with HA and glycerin? No, you probably don’t. The trouble is most people have no idea how to read an ingredient list and end up overpaying because a brand is overhyped (La Mer for example).

    Your routine pretty much nails it though. Those products will last you a while too. I still have a ton of Masque Vivant and purchased it months ago. If you factor in the cost of primers, foundations, setting products, powders etc, it’s way cheaper to invest in quality skincare. And there’s nothing better than a legit #Iwokeuplikethis

  • Heather Brisson

    I love this article so much. I’m a newbie to expensive skincare products but purchased the Lait U and P50 from Biologique and I am very enthusiastic about it. You mentioned how much you love Retin-A but said that that is a whole other topic. Can you please expand on it in another article. I’m interested on what you have to say about it and how its changed your skincare routine. I just purchased a Retin-A cream from a vitamin shop and user reviews say to stick with it because the product can be harsh at first but then builds to being a revolutionary product that creates flawless skin. Thanks again for the article!

  • Michaela Whitney

    Eve Lom’s face cleanser, Zelen’s Z Recovery (Literally saved my irritated skin), Ren’s Ultra Moisture Day Cream. I’m a fan of drug store Roc’s Night Cream that’s why I still look a decade younger than I am it’s keeping the wrinkles in stasis (that and sun screen, SPF 50 forever), I never really settled on an eye cream I’ve been using Sunday Riley’s Eye cream. I heavily rely on the girls at Space NK for samples (they let me try anything and everything, but If I love, it I’ll buy it and they know it, haha.) I’m falling for Lancer it’s expensive but I see it working (thanks giant samples.)

  • Brittany Rivers

    For me it all started with La Roche-Posay. I like the body wash, but the facial products didn’t cut it for me. It was an avalanche from there……. 500 products later and I’ve finally found my zen with a combination of Thayer’s, Jurlique (!!!!!), Ole Henrikson, and Herbivore products. Jurlique’s balancing facial oil and water essence are liquid GOLD.

    Although these products are amazing, my skincare routine went to the next level with the addition of Aqua Reveal’s Satin Bright soft water peel. Holy grail of exfoliation, zero scrubbing agents. Trust me on this one!

  • Lucy Moss
  • Sarah

    Try the Chantecaille Rose de Mai Face Oil if you get a chance. It is unbelievable and anyone can use it!

  • Rachel DeLeon Morris

    I am 37 years old and just recently started taking care of my skin. In previous years, I had only used drugstore cleansers and never any treatments or moisturizer even. I still had acne, acne scarring, oiliness and my complexion was blotchy and dull. I hated not wearing makeup. Then I learned about Biologique Recherche and bought P50. I haven’t looked back since. My skin has not looked this amazing since I was 9 years old. No kidding. Its unreal. – I recently bought Dermopurifiante to go with it as my moisturizer. I was going to get Crème Placenta but believe it or not, that has mineral oil in it! – But perhaps if you’ve found luck with it, I may try it next time since its $30 less and with BR, every penny counts.

    • Warriah

      or you know maybe because you didn’t use to use any type of exfoliation before, and not necesarily the p50

  • Emma

    Paula’s choice is a miracle worker and a less pricy, but still pricy brand. I use a series of their products, and their bha lotion is one of their genius products I can’t be without. They have an amazing line that my sensitive skin actually not only tolerate but love. I also use Neil’s yard remedies rose facial mask once a week that gives such a lovely glow. I went from horrible dry and oily super sensitive skin with break outs and blackheads, to a smooth vibrant and bright skin.

  • Jacinta

    Question: I love Skinceuticals Phloretin CF and just bought Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 for pigment. Which do I use first? I would think the BR lotion since it’s lighter in consistency?

  • Kimberly

    Try the Masque Vernix from Biologique Recherche – it will make your skin glow for 2 days – can’t rave enough about it. And while the Lait U is ok try using the Lait VIP O2, just a little bit better. I also love the Creme Countour De Yeux VIP O2 for eyes. Not that expensive but extraordinary. I also love the Creme Grand Millesime – again makes your skin bright and beautiful.