10 Skincare Products Worth The Splurge, According To Dermatologists

Illustrated by Olivia Santner
Dear Daniela,

Skincare shopping confuses me sometimes because the prices can really be all over the place. I love how many affordable options are starting to come onto the market but I’m never sure if I’m getting the same quality that a pricier product would have. Plus, sometimes you want to treat yourself and get something a bit fancier. So I guess my question is: what luxury skincare products are actually worth it?

Antonia, 29
My dad has given me a lot of money advice over the years, from helping me make my student loan last the whole semester to explaining the finer points of a tax return. But perhaps the most memorable thing he’s ever told me about finance is that people don’t argue about money – they argue about value. You’re never angry that your partner, sibling or friend has spent £200; you’re angry that they spent £200 on computer parts/fancy candles/a bottle of champagne – basically something you don’t value at £200.
This is a roundabout way of saying that I can’t tell you what’s 'worth it' and what’s not, because the worth of anything is calculated based on a lot of individual, personal factors including (but not limited to) how much disposable income you have, how much skincare matters to you, how much you’ll use the product and crucially, what your expected results from using the product are. I feel that if you have really high expectations of a product – which you may do if you’ve dropped a lot of cash on it – then you set yourself up for disappointment in some way. The gulf between what you need it to do versus what it can really do widens and widens.
Philosophy aside, let me try and answer your question a little more neatly. Personally I’m happy to spend more money on products with vitamin C, SPF or retinoids, simply because those are the three things in my routine that are doing the really heavy lifting. If you’re into skincare, you've probably heard something about vitamin C being unstable and hard to formulate. Historically, this has been true. It’s not so much of a challenge for formulators anymore but the need to get it at the right strength and in a formula that’s not irritating for the skin, not chalky and not a funky colour can still drive up the price somewhat.
As for SPF, happily, I find La Roche-Posay's Anthelios range works perfectly well for me without being prohibitively expensive but I really love using Supergoop! Glow Screen, £32, before makeup, which is twice the price. I’m okay with that differential because I wear it every day, I know it’s good for skin and it doesn’t mess with my makeup. Those are some values for me and they might not be true for everyone. My choices don’t make me smarter, better, hotter or more moral than anyone else. These are simply the things I put on my face.
Consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto told me her favourite skincare splurge is Omorovicza. "I keep the products in my clinic and use them at home. I love the Cleansing Foam, £59, and Gentle Buffing Gelée Cleanser, £62, and I’m using both at the moment. I just love the scents, the packaging and the spa experience of it," she said. Dr Mary Sommerlad, also a consultant dermatologist, said Sisley products are her ultimate treat. "If I had some money to burn, it would have to go on Sisley's All Day All Year, £285. It’s a very moisturising sunscreen with lots of antioxidants to tackle free radicals from pollution. Although there are now similar products on the market, when it first came out (and for years afterwards) it was a first of its kind. It tackles premature ageing by having UVA and UVB filters. It can also shield against free radicals which can exacerbate breakouts and promote pigmentation issues. It smells incredible, has great texture and a lovely, user-friendly pump dispenser. It is a pleasure to use but definitely a luxury item," she explained.
Dermatology registrar Dr Zena Willsmore is willing to open her purse for SkinCeuticals. "I love them for their science-driven skincare and commitment to formulations based around powerful active ingredients. The CE Ferulic Serum, £140, is a staple in my routine but it’s definitely a splurge! I also love the Triple Lipid Restore Cream, £135, in the winter. It’s so luxurious and rich," she said. Dr Willsmore also added that she rates Medik8 for their over-the-counter retinoids, even with the high price points.
I’m in good company then, because I also love these products for total indulgence: Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist, £59, Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask, £119, and the exact same two products from SkinCeuticals. I also love, love, love La Mer. It’s the Hermès Birkin of skincare but it never fails to calm any reactions my skin may have and makes it so impossibly supple and smooth.
But I always get a cheap cleanser, and my daily eye cream and moisturiser is good old drugstore La Roche-Posay and CeraVe. My ultimate goal with this column has always been to help people make more informed personal care choices. And I think an informed choice can absolutely be: "I’m buying this because I like it."
So it’s your call. That CE Ferulic is really good, though...
Got a question for our resident beauty columnist Daniela Morosini? No problem, qualm or dilemma is too big, small or niche. Email, including your name and age for a chance to have your question answered. All letters to 'Dear Daniela' become the property of Refinery29 and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.
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