When it comes to skincare, ESPECIALLY in the Asian Beauty world, you don’t get many opportunities to save on products since everything generally retails for higher than what you would typically find in your local drugstore. When I worked in skincare retail, I learnt the habits of people shopping for their skin, and ultimately it came down to two questions that provoked your choice of purchase. Here today in this blog post, I really want to have this answered so that no more do we need to worry over something so trivial, if it means getting our shopping done a little bit faster.
So which is actually better? High end or low end Asian Beauty?
Throwing bias aside, we have to look at the pricing points and the label name of different products. If you follow Japanese beauty, then you’ll know that brands such as (but not limited to) Shiseido, SKII and POLA are going to retail higher than brands like Mandom or Kracie. Same goes for Korean beauty, where Whoo and Sulwhasoo are going to go for a steeper price than roadshop brands like Skinfood or Etude House. This is because of the ideal market these particular named brands are trying to target, and their success over the years.
With brands in the higher end spectrum, I’m not speaking for all of us, but having a product from a luxurious brand tends to become an item of display and bragging, don’t you think? I mean, why not show off your $150 clay mask from Whoo, or your $1088 serum from POLA? If you’re discussing HE (high end) VS LE (low end) in regards to presence and stature, then of course the high end will win.
But, what about functionality? This is where it ultimately gets difficult and unable to be answered. Please remember that all our skin types and skin conditions vary amongst ALL of us and therefore what works for some will backfire on others; vice versa. For me to pick one brand over another as the ultimate winner is severely biased, since it works for me and will most probably won’t work it’s full potential on you. When it comes to shopping however, please keep in mind that all skincare is made with a certain mixture of ingredients that are sourced or produced differently, but scraping only the surface of this unfamiliar region, skincare ingredients are more than likely going to be similar between HE and LE.
As far as functionality goes, there isn’t a clear cut winner. For shopping as far as ingredients go however, I would probably hand the ball over to the LE market, since you’re more than likely going to find the same, if not, extremely similar ingredients in either spectrum.
BY THE WAY, don’t be fooled by fancy named ingredients. Norwegian spring water tapped from within the deep mountains flowing into a pristine stream where fish blow rainbow bubbles and fart glitter particles is something you might find on a HE skincare product. Reality is, the water probably comes from a regular distillation process, if not, from a filtered tap. Whether it actually comes from Norway, who knows. The question is, are you going to RISK a few hundred dollars for a fancy named ingredient with ultimate claims, for the sake of your skin, if the ingredient is actually incredibly common and most probably found in LE products that utilize the same ingredient?
How about products going for your specific skin type? If your skin is easy, then by all means go and buy whatever the hell you want. Your skin will readjust and rebalance anyway, with your normal skin type that is virtually at the brink of perfection. For us oily skin types, it comes down to the brand and mass appeal they’re going for; and same goes for dryer skin types or those suffering from lines and wrinkles.
Quite frankly, you’re more likely to have to spend more on your skincare if lines are your biggest concern, or if your skin is dry compared to people who have oilier skin types. Take Shiseido for example. All their lines, regardless of their ultimate claims, are specifically ideal for people who have that bit of dryness where a regular product may fail, and their ingredients also help to “treat” unwanted lines along the skin texture. You won’t necessarily find anything to help you in the LE market that can handle what a luxury brand can offer.
Who wins then?
Does the luxury brand take home the medal, or does the cheaper market sneak up and steal the prize away for the taking?
Anthony, what is the answer?
My humble thoughts are screw whatever people think. You’re probably reading this blog post thinking that I’m an advocate for luxury brands, given my stash of skincare is virtually POLA cosmetics, Sulwhasoo, Whoo and La Mer. Don’t get what I use on my face wrong, because there are plenty of good brands retailing for a fraction of the price of the products I CHOOSE to use. The real answer is, whatever you can afford at the time of your spending, the winner goes to that brand. Sure, luxury brands all have amazing advertising and always win in the product placement game, but what about the lower tiers that rely only on their products to sell without the influence of celebrity endorsement, or cover girls washing their makeup covered faces with nothing, only to reveal perfect skin that has makeup still intact? Does that mean that their products are shit because their names aren’t as strong as other brands who are considered above them as far as ranking goes?
Take HERA cosmetics for example. The brand was deemed “The best in Korea” for a long time, probably still is. Judging by that title alone, you’d automatically think that HERA is the best for everyone, or that if people are using HERA and claim it to be what it is, then it must be good. I’ve used HERA and I personally think their products are the worst I’ve tried, are expensive considering what you have accessible in today’s age, and would happily save all my money to shop at COSRX instead, where five COSRX products equals ONE HERA product in terms of pricing.
I was actually asked to do this post by many people, to finally put the question to rest, but unfortunately as an individual who has had a taste of both tiers of skincare, there really isn’t a definite answer. All I can say, is to decide what you buy with your own money and hope that it works for your skin. That’s what skincare is to a lot of us, and reviews like mine, or other people out there who are FAR MORE successful than I am, can only say so much since we’re all biased in our own little ways. My advice? Never trust a review online 100% unless your skin is literally identical to theirs. What you may consider expensive, may be cheap to another. Does high end always result in better skin? Of course not. Same goes for cheaper brands.
If you were wondering, yes, this post was also inspired by a personal experience of mine. I knew this girl (and I refer to her as a girl, knowing damn well she is a grown ass woman who acts so childish I refuse to see her other than a little girl) who literally looked down on me because I did have my moments where I went and bought LE products from time to time. She always looked at me with such distaste and it bothered me, because who was she to judge what I chose to use on my skin, or own what I own. Life isn’t about the luxury brands and wealth, if you aren’t entitled to your own opinions, happiness and tastes. If you’re so bothered by what another person does with their money, then you should have a seat and reflect on why it makes you feel this way. It goes to you as well; if you have someone like that in your life. They’re the kind of person that makes you feel bad for walking into a particular store, or for owning something that might be the cheaper alternative to something deemed luxurious. Who needs such negativity in their lives?
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