I Tried Two Skincare Routines Worth £125 & £30. Here’s The Clear Winner

One of my goals in life is to have a dewy, glowing complexion all year round but my skin doesn't always play ball. I have what experts call 'combination skin' and experience sensitivity, dryness and occasionally spots. Achieving the radiant appearance I so crave can be a challenge, especially during hormonal shifts or when I'm stressed out. Adding too many steps into my skincare routine irritates my skin; too few, and I'm left with a flaky forehead and chin acne. Around four or five products is perfect for me: two cleansers (I always double cleanse), a toner and a moisturiser. They do the job just right.
There are a few products that my skin trusts wholeheartedly so I always come back to them. It helps that this routine is super affordable, coming in at approximately £30. I start with Beauty Pie Japanfusion Pure Transforming Cleanser, £6.91, to remove the bulk of my makeup, as it is effective but doesn't strip my skin. I'm a fan of Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water, 99p, as a gentle second cleanse, then I follow with a spritz of Glossier Soothing Face Mist, £13, to tone before applying my bathroom cabinet hero product: Cetaphil Rich Cream, £7.99.
When I'm feeling lazy (which is more often than not these days), even those few steps feel like too much effort. So when I saw the opportunity for a shortcut, namely Lisa Franklin Skin Ritual/Glow Set, I took it. But it came at a price. The set, which consists of a gel cleanser, a micellar water and a serum, costs £125. Used together, these three products are designed to boost hydration and give skin an all-day glow and for nearly five times the price of my usual routine, I was hopeful that it would be everything I wanted. After all, it was designed by skincare expert and facialist, Lisa Franklin, who has a skin clinic in London's Chelsea and lots of wealthy clients.
I was sceptical that just three products could provide my skin with everything it needed to look radiant but the voice in my head was overridden by the idea that expensive products equal better results. Right? The short answer is: not necessarily. The longer answer is that it depends on multiple factors. More often than not, when you spend more on skincare, you're paying for more than just the formula itself. It could be the branding, marketing or packaging. It could also be how said product invokes all of your senses, as consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto wrote on Instagram recently. She takes into consideration a product's scent, how it feels against your skin and how attractive it looks on your shelfie, too.
Of course, this isn't always the case. Generally you're better off learning which ingredients your skin does and doesn't like through trial and error, rather than opting for the most expensive product available. For example, I know that my skin loves glycerin (one of the main ingredients in the Glossier Soothing Face Mist) as it locks in moisture. As skincare ingredients go, glycerin is pretty cheap.
But back to the expensive regime. The products certainly felt more luxurious to use than my normal routine, particularly sensorially. The Micellar Water provided a slight cooling sensation while the Phyto Gel Wash foamed up very gently, and I enjoyed the scent of the Clinic Privé No3 Serum. My routine did feel like more of a treat when I practised it every day. For the first couple of weeks, my skin was glowing and there were no flakes in sight. But after a while it felt as though the products didn't quite get the job done in the same way as my usual routine.
After six weeks I began to transition back to my old routine, with just one exception: the Clinic Privé No3 Serum (£75 when purchased on its own), as my skin drinks this up. Not only does the smell of this serum make me feel fancy AF but it also contains lots of nourishing oils, as well as vitamin A (which retinol is derived from) and vitamin E (which shields against pollution and moisturises deeply). It also claims to help treat acne, reduce redness and limit the appearance of sun spots. Another star ingredient is the very luxe diamond powder, which acts as a light-reflecting agent to give me my much-desired gleam.
I'm happy to welcome this serum into my normal routine (even if it does cost more than double my usual products combined). The main takeaway here is that comparing expensive and affordable skincare doesn't always work. Skincare is personal and it's all down to preference rather than price.
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