Does More Expensive Mean Better Quality? Top Tips For Spending Wisely

If you were to google ‘face cream’ you’d be presented with about 5,000 different options that ranged from a £2.99 budget buy, right up to a £200 pot of luxury ointment that claims to change the world. It was always previously assumed that spending a little more meant getting a better quality product, but as the beauty industry has progressed and ingredients have become cheaper (with technology developing simultaneously,) that’s not necessarily the case. Earlier in the year I appeared on a Channel 4 show discussing this very thing, myself and three other bloggers blind testing face creams that ranged from a bargain pot of Astral to an eye-wateringly expensive jar of Creme de la Mer; unsurprisngly it was the mid-range products (Nivea and Dr Haushka) that performed most effectively – providing a luxurious experience without overloading the skin. However, how easy is it to understand where you should be spending your money and when you’re being duped? How can you ensure your decision making process is balanced and considered? Here are some of my top tips for keeping it realz and spending wisely.

1. Are You Paying For A Brand Name?
A lot of time when we buy a premium or expensive product, we’re buying into a brand and paying for that privilege. Look at Chanel: they may be making fabulous leather bags, but there’s no way their leather bags cost thousands more to produce than other leather bags. Yes, you pay for the expertise that goes into producing it, but essentially you’re paying to be able to walk around with their double C’s attached to your arm. The same goes for a lot of beauty products. Although it’s sometimes lovely to pay a premium to feel like you’re getting a luxurious experience and a treat, it’s wise to identify the difference between that and paying through the teeth for a fancy name. A great example is the Diptyque candles that cost £40 a pop; Neom produce just as beautiful scents in just as beautiful containers, but they’re half the price because they can’t command such a high price. Similarly, paying £36 for a Christian Louboutin nail varnish isn’t just about the quality of the polish – you’re buying into a brand and the experience that goes with it.

2. Look At The Ingredients
It’s safe to assume that a lot of expensive products are priced to reflect the cost of their ingredients. All natural products are incredibly expensive to produce, as are face emulsions that contain a high level of active ingredient that really will make a difference. Brands that are featured within stores such as Space NK, Cult Beauty and Beauty Mart have normally passed the test of being truly great, but you should still be looking at the label before you part with serious cash. If the highest concentration of ingredients are things such as water, mineral oil, talc, surfactants and so on, then you’re being duped. (Have a read of my post which outlines how to read ingredients lists!) They’re super cheap and not that great for the skin, meaning you’re probably paying for the name and fancy packaging rather than what’s inside.

3. It’s All About The Fancy Pot
Beauty lovers are like magpies: we’re attracted to pretty, sparkling, beautiful things that are wrapped up with a rather lovely bow. Sometimes I’m convinced into something purely because it looks fabulous, but that’s all part of the marketing strategy… Dupe someone into believing this is the best thing since sliced bread because it’s in an awesome pack. Packaging can be expensive, especially if it’s glass, heavy, personalised or bespoke for a brand, so take that into consideration when making your purchases. Are you paying for the pack that you’ll throw away, or are you paying for what’s inside? Aesop are a brand that adopted a great philosophy; they wanted to channel all their budget into the products and formulas, buying the cheapest glass containers they could find. Although those glass containers have now become a style icon and a symbol of the brand, you’re definitely paying for the product inside rather than the fancy bottle that holds it.

4. There’s A Limit
Like with everything in life, there’s a limit to how much you should pay without it getting ludicrous. You can now pick up really great products at much more affordable price points, thanks to the advances in technology that allow formulas to be concocted within lower budgets. It would’ve never have been possible to buy a palette of eyeshadow worth using under a tenner a few years ago, but now Makeup Revolution have launched a huge selection of great quality ones for only £6.00. Similarly, brands such as Creme de la Mer (that claim to hand-feed dragons and rear their spawn to lick the jars to give them magic powers – I jest) pray on the ignorance of consumers with too much money, when realistically it’s a pretty basic formula that shouldn’t cost more than £20.00. Always question the price point and make wise decisions, regardless of what the sales assistant tells you. (They’re normally on commission!)

5. Do Your Research
With the growth in blogs and online media, it’s now super easy to find out what real people think of a product and what they would recommend. If you’re thinking of parting with a serious amount of cash, speak to people who’ve done the same and find out if they would do so again. Have a look at reviews, forums and customer feedback, finding out if it’s a wise way to spend a significant amount of money – whether or it makes a big difference, lasts a long time, makes you feel great or even proudly sits on your dressing table. There’s no harm in asking for a little sample to try at home in your own time either, just to ensure you’re really getting what you think you are. Don’t be pressured into buying things just because you feel you should.

Do you have any top tips for spending wisely?



  1. Kat Clark
    July 31, 2014 / 3:34 pm

    Great post Hayley. I think it's easy to forget that very often you're paying for a luxury brand name, not necessarily a better formula. While that's not necessarily an issue for me, it's good to understand the ingredients to know exactly what you're getting on the inside of that fancy pot and make an informed decision about if you still want to pay the price.

  2. Philippa
    July 31, 2014 / 4:33 pm

    Great post and really good points!Philippa // Time For Teal

  3. kelly lynn
    July 31, 2014 / 7:13 pm

    This was so informative for me, I literally had a pen and paper taking notes. I've always wonder what I'm buying into, so for me I thank you for this great post!

  4. Belle B
    July 31, 2014 / 10:21 pm

    Great post, and I always get annoyed when I know I am paying more for a glass bottle rather than a plastic one!Belle ‚ô•Mascara & Maltesers

  5. Bea Camba
    August 1, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    I used to be a sucker for fancy packaging. (Especially those vintage designs?) No matter how obscure the brand is, I'd usually end up buying the item on the spot, and then find myself not even using that item. Now I try to at least google the item before buying.And woah, £36 for a nail polish?? Holy cow am I poor. :))Bea's Temple

  6. Anonymous
    August 2, 2014 / 12:02 am

    What a load of crap! Total crap. Companies should STOP sending you freebies. Do you know the law of supply and demand? And consumers of course are buying a piece of history, brand, etc etc. I personally don't think anything's wrong with spending extra for good stuff. And don't lie, don't say you never want a Diptyque candle! Chanel handbag! CRAP!

    • Hayley Carr
      August 2, 2014 / 11:23 am

      This has got nothing to do with desires or making a choice to spend more for something luxurious – you totally and utterly have not read this post properly, nor do you know me at all. It's no secret that I have a huge collection of designer handbags, shoes, sunglasses (and Diptique candles if you must) that I worked hard to pay for – but that has NOTHING to do with whether or not it's worth twice as much as something else. It's about being wise with your purchasing decisions and understanding what you're paying for. You clearly have anger you need to direct somewhere, and taking it out on me is completely unnecessary. (And FYI… I've got three Chanel bags.)

  7. Lynn
    August 2, 2014 / 10:02 pm

    Great post Hayley… my main reason for buying products is the ingredients as I like to use as many all natural products as I can but my choices are also influenced by the price. I think we are becoming more aware these days that many ingredients used in beauty products are no good for the skin. I like using aloe based products on my sensitive skin.

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