Today we are responding to Irene (https://whatsinmyjar.com/posts/973/more-affordable-alternatives-to-skinceuticals):
"I've been gifted a full Skinceuticals anti-aging regimen for my birthday about 4 months ago (I know, a super generous gift!). I've noticed a difference in my skin for sure. The products are running low now, and I wanted to re-purchase, and then I saw the price tag 🤯. I am wondering if there are alternatives that are as effective but are in the mid price range? I do not mind investing into my skin, but $160 for a bottle blows my mind. I live in California. I have normal, slightly oily skin, and an olive skin tone with some darker marks I guess from sun."
Irene's current routine costs about $400 USD. It is a best-in-class routine for preventing signs of aging and improving skin tone. It makes use of the best anti-oxidants, a retinoid and actives targeting hyperpigmentation. But does this efficacy have to come with this high price tag? Great news: nope! We've put together a skincare regimen that matches and even surpasses the effectiveness - but costs only half of it, $190 USD.
How we did it? Let's go product by product.
1. SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF Serum. This is one of the golden standard anti-oxidant serums on the market retailing at $169 USD. The main anti-oxidant weapon in it is 15% Ascorbic acid in combination with Ferulic acid. It also contains another antioxidant, Phloretin. From the studies we've read, we are not convinced that it has a strong extra benefit in addition to Ascorbic acid. So we looked for a "dupe" to the Skinceauticals' product focusing on the combo Ascorbic + Ferulic acid. Paula Choice offers a great formulation with 15% Ascorbic acid, Ferulic acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and Peptides for $52 USD.
2. SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense Serum, retails at $98 USD. It is effective for evening out the skin tone because of 5% Niacinamide, Tranexamic 3% and Kojic Acid 1%. It also includes 5% of an exfoliating ingredient called HEPES. There is a actually a controversy around it because it could it theory produce free radicals that are damaging to the skin. We are not sure if it actually happens when used in skincare (there is not enough research about it), but we'd definitely not go out of our way to include this exfoliator in a routine. SKIN 1004 Madagascar Centella Tone Brightening Capsule Ampoule is the alternative we went for. It contains about 5% of Niacinamide, about 4% of Trenaxamic acid, and a few skin-barrier support actives including anti-oxidant Madecassoside. The SKIN 1004 serum costs $24 USD.
We kept Irene's original sunscreen from Skinceuticals. It costs $34 USD, and it is not easy to find something significantly cheaper with an equally elegant texture. With sunscreens, once you found the one you love and that provides good broad spectrum protection, it makes sense to stick to it. After all, the most important "feature" of a sunscreen is that you use it daily.
We swapped Irene's cleanser for a similarly-priced product without risky irritants. We have also upgraded her retinoid product since her skin has been already tolerating the retinol "micro-dose" in the Kiehl's serum well. We also "upgraded" the moisturizer to include peptides and ceramides (we "lost" them when we switched the retinoid serum).