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Making the Case for Inexpensive Skincare Products: Real Life Experiences

inexpensive skincare products

by Fayne Frey, Board Certified Dermatologist

Skincare Products: Expensive Does Not Mean Better

On a daily basis, my female patients talk to me about the enormous amounts of money they spend on “essential” skincare products. They clearly believe these “magic potions” reverse the signs of aging on their faces. After almost 30 years studying skincare product ingredients and the research behind these formulations, two things are clear to me:

  1. There is absolutely no need to purchase expensive skincare products as no correlation exists between cost and results.
  2. The “fountain of youth” cannot be found in a bottle;  the effectiveness of over-the-counter (OTC) “anti-aging” creams depends solely on its ability to hydrate the skin, temporarily decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. (Note: More pronounced facial wrinkles and folds have not been shown to be corrected by the use of moisturizers.)

Once I explain the science behind over-the-counter moisturizers, many stop spending a fortune on “hope in a jar” creams. At my recommendation, these women instead turn to effective, affordable moisturizers available at local pharmacies. I love saving people money.

The Skincare Industry Has Gone Mad

Cosmetic companies are very good at convincing people their expensive skincare products are absolutely necessary to keep them looking young.  In an effort to help educate the public, I developed an educational website called  This online resource provides detailed information about skin and skincare products, sun facts and aging. It also gives access to a full database of affordable quality OTC skincare products from which they can select products based on their personal preferences and skin conditions. My goal is to enlighten consumers by sharing accurate and unbiased information; I therefore have no financial interest or connection with any specific product or company.

Below are skincare related anecdotes shared by several of my patients.

#1: For the last thirty years I’ve used:
  • Elizabeth Arden
  • Perricone Mario
  • Badescu
  • Peter Thomas Roth
  • Kinerase
  • La Roche
  • La Mer
  • Channel
  • La Prairie
  • Oil of Olay

Two mortgages on the home later… PHEW! And now…. Cerave night and day cream drug store brand $12.99 EACH. Vacation to Hawaii every year looking better than ever!!!! Dr. Frey, Love ya!!!!!!
Patient chose to stay anonymous

#2: I feel so stupid wasting so much money over the years on moisturizers and anti-aging creams for my face –

the Estée Lauder Resilience Eye Cream and Elastin Refirming Lotion, Clinique’s “Dramatically Different” moisturizing lotion, and most recently spending $106 for an ounce of Nerium AD. When I casually asked my dermatologist (Dr. Frey) what she recommended, I was stunned to learn that all I need is a moisturizer with sunscreen that I can buy at CVS. She recommended a few big name products (Neutrogena, Aveeno, Olay, Eucerin) that are as good or better than the expensive products that I had been using. Sure enough, months after simplifying my skin care regimen and spending far less, my skin looks just as good. Incredibly, even though I know better, I am still tempted by anti-aging ads in stores and in magazines!!!!! I have to stop myself from reaching for these products on the shelves!! 

Sharon C.  – Ridgewood, NJ

#3: When I hit 30 and was finally able to afford it, I took myself to a well known upscale department store and bought myself the entire Erno Laslo skincare line.

Back then, it was the pinnacle of skincare and the packaging was gorgeous black and white, clinical, European. The soap was black too, very chic! I had to have it! It had been developed, as the white coated saleswomen explained, at the world renowned Laslo institute. I used Laslo until they stopped carrying it. My skin was always good, so I never thought about it. After that, I used Kiehls, strictly based on reputation. I used the whole line from moisturizer to sunscreen. Then, onto Estée Lauder, I read their ads, liked what I read and switched. I really wouldn’t have changed again if it had not been for a mini- breakout and my rosacea. I went to see Dr. Frey, told her about my skin and she asked what I used. Dr. Frey told me I could do just as well or better with drugstore products, I went to the drugstore bought Eucerin and Dove and as they say, the rest is history! Same good skin, a whole lot less money, lesson learned!

Elyse H. New City, NY


Please share your experiences with skincare products in the comment section below!


fayne frey

Fayne Frey, M.D.

Fayne Frey, M.D., is a board-certified clinical and surgical dermatologist practicing in West Nyack, New York, where she specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. She is a nationally recognized expert in the effectiveness and formulation of over-the-counter skincare products, and, as a speaker, has captivated audiences with her wry observations regarding the skincare industry. She has consulted for numerous media outlets, including NBC, USA Today, and, the Huffington Post, and has shared her expertise on both cable and major TV outlets. Dr. Frey is the Founder of, an educational skincare information and product selection service website that clarifies and simplifies the overwhelming choice of effective, safe and affordable products encountered in the skincare aisles. Dr. Frey is a fellow of both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.



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