Beauty products that are actually worth spending more money on
Beauty products that are worth spending a bit more on should be far more effective than their cheaper cousins or have ingredients that justify the higher cost. If you’ve figured out where to spend a little less on makeup and skincare products where you can, now read up on which items we think it’s worth buying the best quality you can afford.
There are certainly great exceptions to the rule in both the spend and save categories, so if you’re on a tight budget don't feel you’re out of luck, these tips are intended as a general guide only.
Items worth spending more on
L-R: Skinsmiths Daily Defence Sunscreen SPF50+, Bobbi Brown Skin Long-Wear Foundation SPF15, Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, Jo Malone Peony & Blush Suede Cologne, Redken All Soft Mega Shampoo.
The superhero of skincare, a serum should be a concentrated problem-solver, dealing to the specific requirements of your skin. “Serums will always be the product with the most active ingredients,” says Taryn Johnstone, National Beauty Therapist Trainer at Caci.
“ These are your game-changers, as they’re the products that will really achieve the results you are after.“
Made with a higher level of active ingredients and meant to penetrate more deeply than moisturisers to do the work from the ground up, the science required to engineer these miniscule molecules is one reason these treatment products are so pricey, but they do the real work of effecting change in your skin. Cheaper serums can be made with lots of filler ingredients and may not contain a concentration high enough to be effective. Some brands have been known to include a tiny ‘dusting’ of an ingredient, just so they can list it on the label. Check online reviews to see what others say about a product and speak to skincare specialists to learn which ones will work best for your skin type.
Bh loves: Dermatologist’s own brands have been created by skin doctors and contain high-tech ingredients that can have a powerful effect on skin. Two of the top brands we’ve had great results from are Murad - its anti-aging Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum, $189, is a star player - and Aspect Dr, which is recommended by many of NZ’s best skin experts. We love Aspect Dr Hyaluronic Serum, $132.
Seeking your holy grail foundation can be a work in progress. We feel for cosmetic companies, we really do. It must be an endless task fine tuning foundations because almost everyone has different requirements when it comes to shade matching, dewiness versus shine control, sheer or full coverage and so on. Lately the innovation in this area has turned out clever products that mimic the radiant, dimensional texture of skin, cover what requires camouflage, blend flawlessly and adapt to our needs throughout the day, meaning you’re less likely to look in the mirror at 3pm and see your base has somehow all but disappeared or worse, turning into a mirror ball of shine. We’re so enamoured with some of these updates that we’ve got to say it’s one area where the premium players (and their high-tech R&D facilities) have the upper hand. However we’ve all experienced the frustration of ending up with the wrong shade so if you’re going to spend, visit a cosmetic counter and at the very least ask to be colour matched but even better, don’t be shy in requesting a sample you can try for a day or two at home before any further financial commitment to a colour.
bh loves: For great all-day coverage, Bobbi Brown’s Skin Long Wear Weightless Foundation, $88, could be the new release of the year, and for a dewy finish try Shiseido Synchro Skin Glow Luminizing Foundation, $70. If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin we can’t recommend a pure mineral-based brand like Jane Iredale highly enough.
When you find a signature scent it can become an extension of your personality, something uniquely ‘you’ that others will come to recognise. Fragrance can also play a part in enhancing your mood, so a cheap body spray or heady scent that makes others wince and gives you a headache is a waste and while they may smell strong to begin with, they often fade quickly.
One thing to know about fragrance pricing is the difference between Eau De Toilette (EDT) and Eau De Parfum, the later being a more concentrated version (and more expensive) that has better staying power and silage (the projection, or wake, your scent provides) than the aforementioned.
Niche, new-gen fragrance houses using all-natural ingredients may be appealing, but don't think the green route is cheaper - The finest pure plant extracts and essential oils can be far pricier than the synthetic elements and alcohol in many big brand scents. In general higher end fragrance brands tend to use a mix of natural and man-made elements - a good way to get unique scents with good staying power.
bh loves: The intensity and longevity of Jo Malone’s colognes, like Peony & Blush Suede 30ml, $118, make them a favourite - even if we need to purchase a smaller bottle saved only for special occasions. New brand Abel is one to note if you’re looking for an option with naturally derived ingredients. We love Abel Red Santal 50ml EDP, $185.
You could be forgiven for thinking buying shampoos and conditioners in-salon are money down the drain - literally. It’s because we’ve become so used to acquiring these easily accessible items without thought in our weekly supermarket shop. But again superiority comes down to ingredients. According to Ruth Irwin, Head of education and creative at Oscar & Co salon in Auckland, better products will have a knock on effect.
“If your hair is in good condition your styling holds longer, color holds better and hair shines brighter. If the condition is poor no amount of styling products will give you the hair of your dreams, so invest in a good quality shampoo and conditioner.
Both salon shampoos and supermarket brands can contain silicone which moisturises and makes the hair feel silky smooth. But quality brands contain a secondary ingredient that makes the silicone water soluble. Meaning it washes away and leaves clean healthy hair. Non water-soluble silicone feels great at first but over time just builds up forming a greasy coating on the hair which doesn’t allow anything else to enter or leave the hair, rendering color less effective and condition deteriorating.”
Irwin suggests getting ahead of any problem by having the occasional in-salon treatment (from $25) rather than trying to remedy issues like dryness or damage and using protective products before heat tools. “If you couple that with well-looked-after hair you can opt for cheaper alternatives for things like mousse, hairspray and texture products.
bh loves: Redken make a host of targeted hair care that’s fine tuned to your hair type, but we’ve had great results on bringing dry, highlighted hair back to life with the brand’s All Soft Shampoo, $35 & Conditioner $35. A little goes a long way.
It is the truth that there are effective sunscreens at every price level and if you ask us, an item so essential with such a direct health benefit should be available to all at a far cheaper price point across the board. But the reason we’ll vouch for paying a bit more comes down to the simple fact that they’re more bearable to wear - key if you’re to stick to wearing one every single day (yes, even in winter!)
Slippery, shiny and chalky screens are now a thing of the past. Ones with Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide (known as physical sunscreens as they block the sun’s rays) are considered best for sensitive skin while chemical compounds have been taken to the next level in terms of comfort and appearance, staying in place under foundation without causing ‘pilling’ of your foundation after an hour or so.
bh loves: Skinsmiths Daily Defence Sunscreen SPF50, $49, goes on smoothly and sits well under makeup but still has exceptional sun protection. For your body Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Lotion for Body SPF30, $52, offers a good option for sensitive skin types.