Is there an alternative to skinceuticals products?

D asks…As part of an anti-acne regimen, both my dermatologist and aesthetician recommended I start using the SkinCeuticals spray toner and Hydratin B5 Gel. I’m getting great results, but am not thrilled with the price of the moisturizer. Yes, it is concentrated and lasts a long time, but at $45/oz on eBay, it’s an awful lot of money. Is there a cheaper alternative with the same active ingredients?

Right Brain is ruffled:

We get concerned when dermatologists start recommending products. It is not because they don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to skin care, they do. It’s just that saving you money is rarely their concern. They would happily recommend an expensive toner when a less expensive one will work just as well. Add to this that many dermatologists get commissions off the products they recommend and it’s hard not to be cynical.

But you can’t blame dermatologists. They may know what ingredients are good for skin, but they can’t know all the products containing said ingredient. Thankfully, you have the Beauty Brains.

SkinCeuticals Toner

SkinCeuticals Toner is a great example of the inadequacy of the dermatologist’s knowledge on products.

Here are the ingredients.

Water, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Billberry) Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Extract, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Calendula Officinalis (Calendula Extract), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Glycerin, Allantoin, Panthenol, Isoceteth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Benzoic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil

If you ignore all the “fluff” ingredients which don’t do anything, you’re left with

Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Isoceteth-20, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Methylparaben, Benzoic Acid, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil

And if you toss out the ingredients that are just preservatives, odor modifiers and solubilizers, you’re left with

Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, and Witch Hazel

You certainly don’t need to spend >$25 for SkinCeuticals Toner. You can get a much more reasonable and equivalent product like this Nivea Visage Alcohol-Free Moisturizing Toner .

Neither product is crucial for your skin routine if you’re using a good cleanser and a moisturizer. But if you like toners, you will probably be happy with the Nivea or some other store brand product. Just look for the ingredients Water and Glycerin.

SkinCeuticals Moisturizer

Oh my! $62 for 30 mL of product. Sigh…

Here are the ingredients

Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pantothenic Acid, Phenoxyethanol

This is truly a ridiculous waste of money. There is no evidence that topical use of Sodium Hyaluronate or Hyaluronic Acid will have any amazing moisturizing effect on your skin. No doubt it’s a good moisturizing ingredient. But there are much better products you could be using (and less expensive)!

We could be mistaken, but could find no peer reviewed study that demonstrates topical treatment of skin with Sodium Hyaluronate has any incredible benefit. (Ask your dermatologist if she could direct you to any).

But if you want to get an alternative, consider this Hydrating B5 Serum. It’s only $20 for the same amount.

We should point out that no big name skin care brand including Olay, Aveeno, or Neutrogena contain products like these. Since these companies employ the best skin scientists in the world, it’s likely that formulas like this don’t provide the best benefits.

Beauty Brains bottom line:

You don’t have to pay a lot for your non-prescription skin care products, even if it is your dermatologist telling you to do it. Just look at the first few ingredients and find a product that uses some of the same things. We would steer you towards big brands like Olay, Aveeno & Neutrogena since these are created by the highest paid, best cosmetic chemists in the industry. They also have the most rigorous testing to prove their products work.