Between the fancy packaging, bold pigments and confusing terminology (peptides, retinols and antioxidants, oh my!), it's easy to get sucked into the vortex of $40 lipsticks and $400 moisturisers. But which beauty products are actually worth the hefty price tag, and which, well, aren't? (For instance, you should NEVER spend more than $10 on these items.)

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"While cost and quality aren't always directly related with skincare, ingredient quality correlates with results, so the better the ingredients, the better your results will be," says dermatologist Dr Noelle Sherber. Here are six kinds of beauty products that are worth the extra coin, and five you can feel good about skimping on:

Splurge: Serums

"Serums are made with the smallest molecules, helping them to enter the skin on a deeper level and penetrate your cells to create change," says aesthetician Lindsey Blondin. "It takes a lot of science to create these tiny molecules, hence why serums (even the lower quality ones) are so pricey." Cheaper serums are usually made with lots of filler ingredients and molecules that are too big to penetrate your skin on a cellular level. Look for serums that are "chirally correct," which means they contain only the molecules with the skills to achieve the desired results. 

Splurge: Retinol

When it comes to anti-ageing topical treatments, retinol still reigns supreme. "With continued use, retinol helps strengthen the skin foundation and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," says dermatologist Dr Joshua Zeichner. Not all retinol-containing products are created equal, however. Some companies use only "sprinkle levels" of the active ingredient, so you won't get enough retinol to achieve a meaningful result, says Sherber. "It is a highly unstable molecule, and must be properly formulated so that it remains active and penetrates sufficiently into the skin," says Zeichner, who recommends seeking out products that have been proven effective in clinical studies.

Splurge: Sunscreen

Since you have to wear sunscreen every day, higher quality ingredients that are better for the skin (such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide) are where it's at, says aesthetician and skincare expert Kim Kelder, especially if you have concerns about ingredient safety and chemical exposure with sunscreens. You'll shell out a bit more dough, but peace of mind (and protected skin) is priceless.

Splurge: Exfoliator

You may save money buying a cheap exfoliator, but you won't be doing your skin any favors. "Exfoliating is one of the most important steps for anti-ageing to regenerate cell turnover," says Blondin. Scrubs that are too harsh can actually cause microscopic cuts, scrapes, and tears to the skin that can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, scarring and broken capillaries. To prevent skin damage, look for an exfoliant that contains light granules, such as jojoba beads.

Splurge: Foundation

Complexion products, such as foundation or concealer, are an area in which formulation often makes the most difference, says Sherber, because a flawless finish depends not only on matching the shade exactly, but having high quality ingredients that don't irritate your skin. 

Splurge: Cleansing brush

Aren't pricey sonic cleansing brushes and budget-friendly spinning varieties basically the same thing? Turns out, not really. "Sonic skin cleansing brushes harness a unique sweeping motion of the brush bristles that's designed to dip just below the skin surface, into the pores and deep-set wrinkles," says aesthetician Erica Parker. "This gentle side-to-side action stays within the skin's safe range of elasticity—there's no pulling or tugging of the skin with sonic technology." Spinning brushes, on the other hand, don't have the ability to dip into pores and wrinkles, and have the potential to snag and pull at the skin, which may cause loss of skin firmness. Translation: What you save on a cleansing brush now may be spent on repairing your skin later.

Save: Cleanser

If you've ever come across a face cleanser from a big-name beauty brand that costs as much as your car (kidding, sort of), it wouldn't be out of the question to clap back with an Anderson Cooper eye roll. "None of the ingredients in a skincare cleanser would ever justify a sky-high price point," says Parker. A cleanser is only on your face for two minutes, tops, so even if a company were putting pricey ingredients in their cleanser that take time to work (think: peptides), they won't be on your face long enough to be effective. Unless you have acne prone skin that requires an active cleanser with bacteria-fighting ingredients, a simple, pH balanced formula should do the trick, says Blondin. 

Save: Moisturiser

"You don't have to spend a fortune to get a high quality moisturiser," says Zeichner. "Many drugstore brands are easily spread, don't leave the skin sticky, and provide high quality skin hydration." Plus, if you've already splurged on a serum, your moisturiser just needs to act as a sealer, protecting the active ingredients underneath so they can do their thing sans interruption. 

Save: Eye shadow

Considering beauty products, like eye shadows and lipsticks, come in a bajillion different colors (and we want to try them all!), being thrifty about these purchases is just plain practical, says Kelder. If you have a few signature colors you turn to regularly, consider splurging on those—lux brands typically have a higher pigment concentration, which translates to bolder colors.

Save: Lip balm

Fortunately, your lips don't need a bunch of complicated ingredients to stay soft—Kelder recommends sticking with balms that contain natural ingredients, since we inevitably absorb them when we lick our lips. Vitamin E, for example, is an excellent antioxidant that moisturises and protects your lips against sun damage and pollutants. (Coconut oil and beeswax can also do wonders.)

Save: Makeup remover

There's no reason to pay extra for a fancypants makeup remover when there are plenty of drugstore brands that gently remove makeup without stripping the skin's natural moisture, says dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi. Mic drop.

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