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Hilary Says: Are Expensive Beauty Products Always Better?



dreamstime Cream Bleaching

When it comes to cosmetics, expensive doesn’t always mean better. The truth is that there are good and bad products in all price categories. It’s all about the formulation not price. It’s quite interesting to find out which companies really own your favourite brands. It can also help you save money. For example,

L’Oreal owns:

  1. Lancome
  2. YSL Beauty
  3. Body Shop
  4. Giorgio Armani Beauty
  5. Kiehls
  6. Urban Decay
  7. Garnier
  8. Maybelline
  9. NYX

Estee Lauder owns:

  1. Bobbi Brown
  2. Clinique
  3. GlamGlow
  4. Jo Malone
  5. Crème De La Mer
  6. MAC
  7. Smash Box
  8. Tom Ford Beauty

There are other global cosmetic companies that have so many cosmetics brands under their wings like Coty, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble etc. If you look at the ingredients list on products made by the same company, you’ll find that some cheaper brands use the same ingredients as the more expensive ones. Let’s have a look at Lancôme Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Serum and L’oreal Youth Code Serum Intense. It is quite common for L’Oreal and Lancôme to offer similar products whose only significant differences are price (L’Oreal owns Lancôme).

Lancôme Advanced Genifique Youth Activating Serum 1.0 Oz/30ml – $78

lancome bellanaija

“A powerful youth activating serum that reveals youthful radiance and smoother skin in just 7 days. Drop by drop, this potent serum boosts youthful radiance, restoring smoother, more radiant skin you can see and feel in just 7 days”


Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Adenosine, Faex Extract/Yeast Extract/Extrait De Levure, Peg-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Peg-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Limonene, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium Edta, Octyldodecanol, Citronellol, Fragrance.

L’Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense 1.0 Oz/30ml – $25

loreal bellanaija

“Restore fresh glow. Boost Hydration. Rapidly diminish first lines…..Skin looks rested, smoother and youthfully luminous”


Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Salicyloyl Phytosphingosine, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Adenosine, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide / Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Disodium Edta, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, N-Hydroxysuccinimide, Chrysin, Octyldodecanol, Sodium Benzoate, Phenoxyethanol, Limonene, Fragrance

Both serums have these ingredients in common:

Water, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Adenosine, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Limonene, Xanthan Gum, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium Edta, Citric Acid, Octyldodecanol, Fragrance.

The most important ingredients in both serums are exactly the same. So both serums will do pretty much the same thing. The important ingredients are: Bifida Ferment Lysate, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate and Dimethicone. The rest of the formula is mostly preservatives, stabilizers, and fragrance.

Let’s talk about these ingredients.

Bifida Ferment Lysate

It is a type of gram-positive bacteria found in the digestive system. According to L’Oreal, it can repair DNA, improve the skin’s barrier function and hydration but there is no research to prove that it has any anti-aging or gene-stimulating effect when applied on the skin.

Glycerin & Sodium Hyaluronate

They are both humectants. Humectants draw water from the environment into the skin to keep it hydrated.


This is a silicone emollient, which can make fine lines, and wrinkles look smaller by filling them in. These results are only temporary, once the serum comes off, the wrinkles will still be there. Most anti-aging serums have dimethicone in them.

dreamstime_beauty products cosmetics cream

In Conclusion

Lancome Genifique costs three times as much as L’Oreal Youth Code but they will do exactly the same thing. Both serums can temporarily reduce the appearance of fine lines/wrinkles but they will not eliminate them. It’s quite odd that they have alcohol in both serums at high percentages, as alcohol is known to be drying, irritating and cause free-radical damage. If you have dry and sensitive skin, I wont advice you to use any of these products.

The truth is that cosmetics companies want you to believe that they have the answer to fine lines and wrinkles. “Just put this cream on and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will be visibly reduced!”

Technically – that statement is true. However, the message that consumers get from this claim is different than the words that are written and marketers know this. If you moisturize your skin, the fine lines and wrinkles will plump up and they will appear to fill in.

Also, thanks to brightening pigments or silicones that smooth out the surface of the skin so that it reflects light better, these products can really reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Appearance is the key word here. The claim simply means that the product makes wrinkles look less obvious, not that it gets rid of them. It also means if you use this product (and continue to use it) your wrinkles will look better.  Unfortunately there is no lotion, serum, cream, or oil that can reverse the effects of age and gravity on our bodies.

Photo Credits: Lancome, L’Oreal, Dreamstime

I am a Cosmetic Scientist and I’m extremely passionate about anything that involves cosmetics. I have a BSc in Cosmetic Science from London College of Fashion (University of the Arts), which is basically the chemistry behind cosmetics, which includes colour cosmetics (makeup), skin care, hair care and perfumery. I have worked as a product formulator in Procter and Gamble under Maxfactor, Cover Girl and Dolce & Gabbana Cosmetics; I have also worked as a beauty consultant with brands like Lancôme, YSL Beauty, Nars, Chanel Beauty, L’Occitane, Aesop, Eve Lom (to name a few). Instagram: @hilary.saysTwitter: @hilarysays__


  1. The Real Oma

    September 1, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    I can tell you for a fact that expensive is not always better. I have used some pricey products on my brown skin and i have also used very cheap ones, and what i have learnt is that only 4 things matter most to my skin – exfoliation (a firm sponge/loofah is enough), a moisturizer with enough oil (i add a bit of bio oil and olive oil, just recently started adding coconut oil, so soon to ditch the bio oil), drinking a lot of water, and eating healthy.
    My current moisturizer is St Ives Mineral Therapy and i bought it last for 2100, before the recession it was 1,300, and it even retailed for 950 when i started with it. And i have really good skin, in fact, just this morning i got two compliments on its radiance.
    So, no, expensive does not mean better – genes, nutrition and general skin care, are the more important points.

    Signed, Oma with the good skin :))

  2. Anon

    September 1, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Buying expensive beauty products is like buying designer apparel. You are really buying the name.

    Expensive beauty products contain the most carcinogenic substances and are not good for sensitive skin. Even the ones that state they are good for sensitive skin are not good for spot prone skin. Quite a few of them contain micro beads and there’s a recent ban on micro beads. Some of them contain egg shells, ostrich shells and some other shells which some people find irritable (they cause break outs.).

    It’s best not to trip over them.

  3. Dr Ebele Ugochukwu

    September 1, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    very interesting article; a topic I had been considering doing myself. when I was formulating my skin care range, I was on a tour of factories in Taiwan; I noticed that the production lines were the same for most companies and it is only twds the end that they diverge into different lines for the final packaging and sealing. I was shocked to learn that most of products of these cosmetic companies we patronize all come from the same factory and sometimes with the same formulations only different packaging. when I thought about it, I realized it actually made sense, two different companies with products containing shear butter will use the same shear butter only possibly in different quantities.
    most formulations are similar so its just a matter of finding one that suits you and it will not necessarily be the expensive one; you are always paying for the brand name when buying expensive things; as a consummate shopaholic, I long since realized this.
    @the real Oma, I was proud to read your post, you really know what you are talking about. exfoliation is very key for good skin so also is drinking a lot of water. Check out my skin care line S.Studio skin care. its very well formulated and very affordable; wont cost more than what your are paying now, I promise you it will take your skin game to the next level.

    • Sarah

      September 2, 2016 at 6:22 am

      Wow. You own Sleek Studio. Awesome.

  4. seyi

    September 1, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you for this informative and depressing article. Loolz

    • cynthia

      June 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm


  5. Heav

    September 8, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Nice and informative article. Can you recommend a good anti wrinkle preventive cream for me? I live in the uk. I know I can’t stop the inevitable but I will like to slow or control it. Am just 30 but age is telling on my face.

    • Hilary Rodriguez-Taiwo

      September 10, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Hi Heav, one thing i always tell people is that your skin grows from the inside out. There’s not alot you can do from the outside in. Drink loads of water, eat foods with antioxidants (there are so many, check online), cut down your sugar intake, exercise too. Free radicals are one of the things that damage and wrinkle our skin, they are everywhere so antioxidants will help fight them. Keeping the skin hydrated is very important, it helps the skin function the way it should and makes it look plump so wrinkles are less visible. You can get a serum with retinol or a good humectant like Hyaluronic Acid. The serum i use is the Radha Beauty Vitamin C serum, it also has Vitamin E and Hyaluronic Acid, i combine it with the Radha Beauty Retinol Moisturizer; it works for me.

    • Heav

      September 26, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Tnanks. Apologies for the late reply.

  6. cynthia

    June 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm


  7. Stephanie

    October 10, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Hi Hilary … I have a very bad skin problem and I don’t know what to do… I have tried different products… but the more I use them the more I get darker.. And I was born naturally fair .. I really don’t know what to do.. I can’t wear good clothes except sleeves and t-shirts. pls Hilary I need ur help

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