Hi, my name is Tracy and I use expensive face creams.
There, Iâ€™ve said it. I feel better for the admission and know that none of you are judging me. Right?
Oh. Well, okay, perhaps you are looking at me a little askance with a skeptical glint in your eye. And I donâ€™t blame you; after all, the price of a moisturizer bears no relation to its effectiveness. Pricey lotions and potions are over-perfumed, over-packaged, and often sold with a mouthful of lies and bogus science.
So why do I buy them?
It begins with a second admission: I have lousy skin. And a third: Iâ€™m lazy when it comes to skincare. Yes, there is a causal relationship between those two things, and now youâ€™re looking at me with a glint more akin to disgust, I can tell. But Iâ€™m not alone in this. Plenty of women get to the end of a long and tiring day and donâ€™t carry out a proper skincare routine. If itâ€™s 4am on a weekend, sometimes we donâ€™t do one at all, our tired, danced-out stupor telling us â€œIâ€™ll wash my face twice in the morningâ€.
For my skin type, dermatologists recommend removing dirt and/or makeup twice a day with a cream cleanser (foaming washes are too drying), followed by a moisturiser, and thrice-weekly exfoliation, followed by more moisturiser. Iâ€™ve always bought cheap, supermarket-brand moisturiser (around Â£2, or $4 per 50ml) because I know that chemically theyâ€™re all the damn same. For me, a good moisturiser was one that didnâ€™t give me spots. But I am really lousy at the actual routine, not bothering with half of it. And it shows, frankly.
Or rather, it used to. I now have glorious, silky skin that Iâ€™m proud of and that my friends comment on. How did this miracle occur?
A few months ago, I had a free facial at a makeup counter in a department store, and afterwards the assistant gave me some free samples of moisturiser and eye cream. They smelled really, really good, and had a nice consistency, so I found myself looking forward to using them every morning and night. After a week when the samples were gone, I went to the store and spent Â£30 ($60) on 50ml of moisturiser. Thatâ€™s 15x more expensive than my old cream.
And this is where the psychology comes in: I spent a disproportionate amount of money on bottle of goo. Therefore, Iâ€™m going to use it. With my old cheap cream, I could take or leave it, because it wasnâ€™t a luxury, so invariably Iâ€™d leave it. But now, Iâ€™ll be damned if Iâ€™m wasting Â£30 of moisturiser. And I need to put the pricey goo on a perfectly clean face, so Iâ€™ve stepped up my whole routine like the most dedicated supermodel. My skin has never been better. Itâ€™s not due to any special ingredient in the bottle, and itâ€™s certainly not down to moisturiser alone. Iâ€™m cleansing, toning and exfoliating regularly, just to prep my face for the lovely goo. Itâ€™s simply down to value. I spent more, so I want to get the most out of my investment. I suspect this is the real reason expensive face products are popular, whether the users know it or not. If they didnâ€™t work, they wouldnâ€™t sell, so (as with homeopathy, for example), some sort of psych effect must be kicking in.
Whether Iâ€™m right or not, it doesnâ€™t matter. I have amazing skin. Iâ€™m going back next month to buy the eye cream.