Bargain vs. high priced skin creams

HOUSTON It's not what a lot of us want to hear, but when we buy a moisturizer, we're often spending a lot of our money for the fragrance and the packaging, not for results. So we put three inexpensive skin creams to the test to see if they could stand up against a $130 product, and the results may surprise you.

American women spend an average of $12,000 a year on beauty products, much of it on face creams. The packages make big promises -- to erase wrinkles, shrink pores, and turn back the clock. But is what's written on the package what you get in the bottle? Is pricier really better?

"I'd like to think that there's quality products that aren't as expensive but at the end of the day, I don't really know," said consumer Haley Webster. "I don't know the difference between all the chemicals they're putting in there."

We all know department stores have skin care products for $200, $100, even $50, but we wondered if you can get that same quality skin care for a lot less, so we took a bunch of products to a dermatologist to find out.

Creme De La Mer is a best-seller in high end stores like Niemen Marcus. It is a favorite of Hollywood celebs who swear by the sea-kelp formula. The manufacturer even calls it a "miracle" against wrinkles. But the cost is $130.00 per ounce!

We purchased La Mer, along with three drugstore moisturizers -- Cetaphil for $13, Eucerin for $10, and Dove for $8. Dr. Paul Friedman is a Houston dermatologist and author of the skin care book "Beautiful Skin Revealed." "These products here that contain a sunscreen and a moisturizer are good products," Dr. Friedman said.

Dr. Friedman liked all three of our bargains, including our $8 Dove product, better than the expensive Creme De La Mer because these all have a UVA/UVB sunscreen -- something you should always look for. La Mer sells a separate SPF product that you have to add for sun protection. Of our three bargains the Cetaphil product was the doctor's favorite because of the high SPF, and at $13 it's a skin care steal.

But what about the miracle in our $130 cream? Doesn't this make your skin younger? Dr. Friedman says it's a good moisturizer, but it's no miracle.

"It's popular among a lot of people based on how it feels and the fragrance, but I think you can get a nice moisturizer for a lot less money," he said.

If you really want younger skin, the doctor says protect it from the sun and use a prescription retinoid product like Retin-A, Tazorac or Renova.

Dr. Friedman said, "A dermatologist can write a prescription for retinoids and those are really the best anti-aging products out there."

A large tube will cost you just $40-50. Combine that with one of our bargain moisturizers and you'll save your money and your skin.

Just to be clear, there is nothing wrong with La Mer. It's a great moisturizer. You just need to add a sunscreen for daytime and don't expect it to magically erase wrinkles.
Price: $130.00 1 oz jar
Purchased at: Nieman Marcus
Skin Type: Dry. This is very hydrating. La Mer SPF 18 sold separately

Price: $12.99 1.7 Ounce bottle
Purchased at: Target
Skin Type: All, but best for dry skin. Very emollient.

Price: $9.99 4 ounce bottle
Purchased at: Kroger
Skin Type: Normal to Dry. Medium consistency.

Price: $7.99 4.05 Ounce bottle
Purchased at: Kroger
Skin Type: All—this lotion is very light.

Dr. Paul Friedman's Book: "BEAUTIFUL SKIN REVEALED"
Available for pre-order at and
Cost: $37.77 - 44.96 (online)
In store cost: $59.95

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