If there's one thing people ask me the most as a beauty journalist, it's whether the luxury skincare brands are really worth the money. After all, it's so easy to be drawn in by the allure of a £200 pot of moisturiser for the thrill of owning a cult product. There's nothing like an eye-watering price tag to build hype and intrigue.
Sure, those luxury skincare brands that you see dotted on the vanity tables of Instagram do look enticing, but do they actually cut the mustard when it comes to results? When you're looking to invest in beauty products, you want to ensure that your hard-earned money is going to give you a good return on investment. Whether it's glowing skin or the promise of targeting troublesome acne or pigmentation, when you're making a skincare investment, you want it to work.
We're big believers that you don't have to spend a fortune to get great skincare. (These cheap moisturisers feel so much more expensive than their price tags.) But sometimes, it's fun to splash the cash on luxurious skincare. So I spoke to some of my beauty-journalist pals who have tried all the best brands during their careers. These are the best skincare investments they recommend.
Keeks Reid, Freelance Beauty Editor and Who What Wear Contributor
"The KateCeuticals range by Kate Somerville is expensive but so, so worth it. I'm honestly obsessed with the Total Repair Cream and do a little cry each time I get to the end of the tub, as it costs a whopping £110. Kate describes it as her facial in a bottle, and I get it. My skin looks and feels instantly plumper and hydrated after use."
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Georgia Seago, Editor of The Tweakments Guide
"Exuviance is probably my favourite skincare brand. It’s all I’d use if I had to choose just one brand. It’s clinical-grade, professional skincare that I’d be confident recommending to anyone because it just works. The level of skin science that goes into research and development is truly impressive. Plus, the formulas and textures are really enjoyable to use. The Skin Rise Bionic Tonic pads literally change people’s skin, and I also love the brand’s 20% vitamin C capsules—the best vitamin C I’ve used."
Anita Bhagwandas, Beauty Journalist and Author of Ugly (out 2023)
"One premium skincare brand that's really impressed me is Ranavat, which is based on traditional Indian and Ayurvedic ingredients. Not only are the textures one-of-a-kind and packaging incredibly chic, but I notice a huge difference to my skin when using them. Because the smells—like jasmine and saffron—feel so familiar to me, and I know the care that's gone into creating them, I feel more connected to myself and my Indian heritage each time I use them. I can't stop raving about it—definitely worth every penny."
Amanda Pauley, Deputy Editor at Professional Beauty
"111Skin is known for its super-hydrating sheet masks, but this serum from the brand should be in everyone’s beauty cabinet too. Yes, it is on the spenny side, but it really is worth it. If, like me, you struggle with hormonal breakouts every month, then this serum is going to be a game changer. I’ve been using it for the past three months, and my complexion is now glowy and spot-free on the regular, and that’s thanks to its powerful blend of salicylic acid, colloidal silver, colloidal sulphur and kojic acid, which targets blemish-causing bacteria, reduces inflammation and helps minimise pigmentation marks after a breakout. The serum is super lightweight—perfect for oiler complexions—and it doesn’t dry the skin out like other spot-fighting products do, so you won’t experience any annoying flakiness during the day."
Sarah Barnes, Beauty Editor at PIBE Magazine
"Is it just me? Upon entering my late 20s, I have found that my dark acne spots tend to outstay their welcome long after the spot itself has gone! Shiseido's White Lucent Illuminating Micro-Spot Serum is a pricey bottle but worth every single pump. Silky in texture, it's like a big drink of water for my skin and contains Shiseido’s advanced 4MSK skin-brightening technology. This star ingredient has helped even out my skin tone, work on pesky hyperpigmentation and brighten up my whole complexion. It has honestly become my most-reached-for serum and choice of weapon against those stubborn dark spots."
Lollie Hancock, Editorial Assistant at Professional Beauty
"If you told me a year ago I'd be considering spending £280 on a 30-millilitre serum, I would have called you crazy. But Augustinus Bader made me realise some products may actually be worth the price tag. Whilst I definitely try not to use this every day for the sake of my bank account, the serum is now essential in colder months when my skin needs a bit of extra TLC. I like to use it as the last step after giving myself a full at-home facial to really lock in those products and give my skin one last hydration boost."
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Shawna Hudson, Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear U.S.
"I've recently become obsessed with this brand after I got a Luzern facial with organic aesthetician Katie Sobelman. The brand's products are rich in Swiss Alpine botanicals and blend both organic elements and advanced cosmeceuticals together so perfectly. To me, it's better than other iconic brands out there, and I couldn't recommend the brand's L'Essentials Hydrating Essence, Serum Absolut Radiance Brightening Booster Complex, and Force de Vie Crème Luxe enough!"
Erin Jahns, Senior Beauty Editor at Who What Wear U.S.
"U Beauty makes some of the most expensive products in my medicine cabinet, but I find them worth every single penny due to how transformative they've been for my skin—smoothing out my bumps, evening out discolouration, curbing breakouts, the full monty! If you don't believe me, celebrities are equally smitten, and most recently, Paris Hilton waxed poetic to me about her love for the brand's Barrier Bioactive Treatment. It contains the brand's signature technology, the Immortal Siren Capsule delivery system, and is the closest thing to bottled magic I've tried in a long, long time. I'm also obsessed with the new Plasma Lip Compound, which is the next best thing to filler."
Shop U Beauty
Katie Berohn, Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear U.S.
"SkinCeuticals is a brand founded on skin health, so you can be confident that every product you use is scientifically backed. SkinCeuticals' philosophy is 'prevent, protect, correct,' and every product I've tried from the brand has lived up to these pillars. With SkinCeuticals products, I actually have seen my skin change for the better, particularly after religiously incorporating its cult-favourite CE Ferulic."
Shannon Lawlor, Freelance Beauty Editor and Who What Wear Contributor
"I fundamentally believe that luxury skincare is only worth the money if you can actually afford it. Never, ever put topical skincare on a credit card—it's not worth it, and it won't change your life. Having said that, if you do have the money to spend, Dr. Barbara Sturm products would be my go-to. Celebrities swear by these products, and I love them every bit as much. While the cleanser is adored by the likes of EmRata and the Clarifying Mask is Hailey Bieber's go-to, my favourite products are without a doubt the Sun Drops (they come Rosie HW approved, FYI) and Enzyme Cleanser. Sun Drops is easily the most glow-boosting, non-greasy, easy-to-wear SPF product I have ever come across and genuinely makes the chore of daily sun cream application feel luxurious and joyful, while Enzyme Cleanser is one of the hardest-working blackhead-busting treatments that my skin has experienced."
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Zeynab Mohamed, Freelance Beauty Journalist
"There is nothing that compares to finding skincare that actually works for your skin. One brand I always find I can rely on to deliver the goods is Allies of Skin. Everything that I’ve tried from the brand I’ve been seriously impressed with. My skin has a complicated history with vitamin C, but the Allies of Skin 20% Vitamin C Brighten + Firm Serum is seriously impressive stuff. Expect glowing, radiant skin within days. And of course, I have to mention the almost always sold-out Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Facial. This is what skincare dreams are made up of. As someone with pesky breakouts, I can say this product has helped to keep them at bay, and trust me—I’ve tried heap-loads of breakout products. It works to nourish problematic skin, unclog pores, tackle old blemishes, refine skin texture and brighten the complexion. I mean, what more could you want from a product?"
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Eleanor Vousden is the beauty editor of Who What Wear UK. She was previously deputy editor at Hairdressers Journal, health writer at Woman & Home and junior beauty editor at beauty website Powder. She has also contributed to Wallpaper and Elle Collections with written and styling work.
Working as a beauty journalist since 2015 after graduating in fashion journalism at the London College of Fashion, she has been highly commended at the BSME Talent Awards and also contributed to Powder, winning Website of the Year at the PPA Awards for her work in beauty journalism.
Eleanor’s journalistic focus is to provide readers with honest and helpful beauty content. Through words, video and live broadcast, she has interviewed several celebrity makeup artists, hairstylists and top dermatologists throughout her career. She has a particular interest in finding solutions for acne and eczema, which she has experienced firsthand. She has also amassed a large collection of fragrances and can never say no to a new candle.
When she’s not writing or testing the latest beauty product or treatments, she’s on the seafront in her hometown of Brighton and Hove, where she lives with her partner.
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