What Outrageously Expensive Skincare Products Are REALLY Worth Their Price Tags?

by Gio
best luxury skincare products

Usually, I get asked what are the best cheapest skincare products you can find at the drugstore.


Because, sometimes, someone actually wants to know what high-end products are worth splurging on. And, why not?

These days, you can find plenty of awesome, effective products at the drugstore. But, often, there’s a trade-off. They cost less but their textures don’t feel as luxurious. Or the packaging ain’t as pretty.

Sometimes, you just want the whole package. When you feel like that, where do you turn? What makes an outrageously expensive product worth the splurge?

My Criteria

1. Essential Staples

This list only contains serums, moisturizers, leave-in exfoliants and oils. There’s a reason for that.

If you’re gonna splurge, splurge on the workhorses of skincare. The stuff that really makes a difference.

Toners and masks are nice to have, but your skin can live without them.

Cleansers and scrubs end up down the drain. No point splurging on something that stays on your face for less than a minute.

2. Price

Everyone has their definition of what’s outrageously expensive (if you ask my mum, she’ll say anything over $10.00).

But, I had to pick a pricing point most people would agree on. So, everything in here is between $100 and $250.

I refused to pick anything over $250 because, even if they worked, that really is asking too much. There’s charging a premium and there’s being a thief. Just saying…

So, what expensive skincare products are really worth their price tags? Here are my picks (in no particular order):

1. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($166.00)

Skinceuticals CE Ferulic is one of the most duped skincare products ever. For a reason.

It was the first to come up with CEF (vitamin C + vitamin E + ferulic acid), one of the best antioxidant combos ever.

What does CEF do?

  • Fights the free radicals that cause premature aging
  • Increases collagen production, keeping your skin firm
  • Boosts sun protection (but, it’s not a sunscreen, so don’t use it that way!)

Basically, it helps your skin stay young and healthy for as long as possible.

And, it’s fragrance-free, so may be suitable even for sensitive skin (as long as it can tolerate the 15% concentration of vitamin C).

Where to buy: Blue Mercury and Dermstore

Related: Are They Dupes?: Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Vs Timeless 20% Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid Serum

2. Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment ($105.00)

If you have sensitive skin, lactic acid is probably one of the few exfoliants you can tolerate well. But, where to find it? So few products have it.

Sunday Riley Good Genes Treatment comes to the rescue. That’s why I recommend it even though it costs an arm and a leg. Sometimes, you just gotta suck it up and give your skin what it wants.

Or, you can use a washcloth instead. That’ll do the exfoliating trick, too. But I prefer lactic acid because it goes the extra mile and hydrates skin, too.

Your choice.

Where to buy: Sephora and SpaceNK

Related: 3 Ways To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

3. Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules ($110.00)

The ampoules in Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules is a fancy way of calling a facial oil in capsule form.

Here’s how it works: you twist the top of each capsule (ampoule) and squeeze the oil onto the palm of your hand. Then, you slather it all over your face.

The oil contains kukui and sweet almond oils to moisturize skin and bisabobol to soothe it. If you have dry skin, this will nurse it back to health quickly and keep it soft all winter long.

If you have oily skin, skip this. The last thing your skin needs is even more oil.

By the way, the packaging is translucent. Light may compromise the goodies inside so store it somewhere dark when you’re not using it.

Where to buy: Sephora and Harrods

Related: Fave Five: The Best Estee Lauder Skincare Products

4. 111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil ($230.00)

I totally put 111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil in the list because of the diamonds. I mean, at this price point, shouldn’t they ALL contain diamonds?!

I don’t think the diamond powder does anything. Well, it makes you look cool. Tell your friends you’re using diamonds on your face and they’ll die with envy.

Luckily, there’s a more serious reason to use this oil. Retinol. It’s the gold standard of anti-aging. It boosts collagen production, fights free radicals, accelerates cellular turnover… All things that keep wrinkles away from your face.

It’s also chockfull of oils, such as coconut oil and sweet almond oil. So, it’s only for dry skin, ladies. If you’re oily, you’ll have to find another way to make your friends die with envy, sorry!

Where to buy: Bloomingdale’s and SpaceNK

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol: What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It

The Bottom Line

You can totally find cheaper dupes for these, but if you decide to go ahead and splurge, they won’t disappoint. And we all deserve a treat every now and then, don’t we?

Do you use high-end products or do you prefer to hunt down their dupes?

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

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Barbara January 25, 2017 - 1:37 pm

Hi Gio! Great to meet you!!! 🙂

So are there any expensive brands good for oily skin. The above looks like it´s more for dry skin. Thanks!

Gio January 27, 2017 - 8:47 pm

Barbara, hi! Great to meet you too!! 🙂

I hadn’t noticed that! lol But I noticed that most of the really expensive products focus more on anti-aging than oil control or pore reduction, so that may be why the list is skewed towards dry skin. I honestly haven’t found one specifically aimed at targeting the concerns of oily skin that’s more than $100. Interesting, isn’ it?

Barbara January 30, 2017 - 1:53 pm

Wow! that IS interesting! But then again, it makes sense. People generally produce less oil as thei get older and have dryer skin. So… as long as my skin is still oily I´m still young!!! YAY! 😀

Gio February 12, 2017 - 8:13 pm

Oily skin has its perks too, hasn’t it? And you’re still very very young. 🙂

Shiela January 29, 2017 - 6:31 am

This is awesome. Thank you 🙂

Gio February 12, 2017 - 9:11 pm

Shiela, my pleasure!

Shiela February 4, 2017 - 8:27 pm

Hi Gio! I have a question. I already use the skincuetcals CE Ferulic. Does this mean I can’t add the skinmedica skin brightening to my daily routine? I am wondering if that would be vitamin c overload? I am missing niacinamide from my daily routine and I would love to invest in a good product for that. Could I use both daily? Or is there a different product I could use without vitamin c?

Gio March 17, 2017 - 7:43 pm

Shiela, that depends. If your skin can take it, you can use both. The best thing, though, would be to alternate them. As for niacinamide,you can use it in the morning so it won’t interfere with the rest of your skincare routine.

Shiela March 17, 2017 - 7:51 pm

Hey Gio, I am really dying to know… does this product actually have any useful ingredients in it? The price is outrageous. Do the ingredients actually do anything special?


Gio March 19, 2017 - 8:27 pm

Shiela, do you have the ingredient list? I can’t find it anywhere. But nope, even if it contained the best ingredients (retinol, vitamin C etc), it still wouldn’t be worth that much.

Zaeobi October 6, 2017 - 3:25 am

Lol just to let you know that you wrote the Skinceuticals cost $1632.00 (in the paragraph below the title). I almost keeled over when I read that, considering you mentioned you wouldn’t go over $250 just in the paragraph before, lol!

Gio October 6, 2017 - 9:05 pm

Zaeobi, thanks for letting me know. Oops! It obviously doesn’t cost that much. I’ve just fixed it.

Apple August 18, 2018 - 8:24 am

Can I still use skinmedica if im using a .1% retinol cream? Will it be a good combination to skinceutical serum of vitamin c,e and ferulic? or only choose one? I’m not using any niacinamide

Sanjana December 12, 2018 - 10:20 pm

I honestly don’t know what would I do without your blog. Thank you so much ?

Gio December 13, 2018 - 4:47 pm

Sanjana, that’s so sweet! Thank you for your support.

Dawn August 28, 2019 - 4:44 pm

I’ve been using Good Genes for awhile and love it. I recently added in the C E Ferulic. Can you recommend any other retinols that aren’t so expensive and aren’t terribly irritating?

Gio September 14, 2019 - 5:41 pm

Dawn, try The Ordinary 0.2% retinol in squalane.


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