5 Drugstore Swaps You HAVE to Make (Save $150!)

Cosmetics, Skin Care

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m not a cheap person. I have no problem shelling out the extra dough for higher quality, better craftsmanship, and, occasionally, even the convenience of having something earlier.

But there are also times when I acknowledge there are times when it’s not like comparing apples and oranges, and products are so alike, throwing money around is not only wasteful, it’s foolish. For instance, it doesn’t make much sense to pay more when the following swaps are almost the same:

1. If You Love: Lancome Hypnose Mascara ($24.50)
Try: L’Oreal Voluminous One Million Lashes Mascara ($8.95)

Trade secret: Both Lancome and L’Oreal are owned by L’Oreal. While not all of their formulations are equivalent, there are some similarities, including these two mascaras. For a full-impact, layerable (i.e., wax-containing), high-volume mascara, I see absolutely no difference between Lancome Hypnose and L’Oreal One Million Lashes except, well, price. Probably the only mascara I have ever used better than these two is the original Dior Show, for which I have not yet found a lower-price equivalent.

2. If You Love: Amore Pacific Cleansing System ($114.00 for both pieces)
Try: The Oil Cleansing Method (Free, if you have olive and castor oils at home)

I love the Amore Pacific Cleansing System: It’s been a best-seller in South Korea for years, and now it is finally available in the states. Unfortunately, at $57.00 for each of the two steps necessary for the system, it’s a little pricey for most people.

Fortunately, for those who are tired of applying drying sulfates to their skin, The Oil Cleansing Method has been receiving rave reviews from dermatologists and aestheticians alike. The method consists of 75% castor oil to 25% olive oil for oily skin, and the converse for dry skin. Normal skin benefits from a 50%-50% balance. I wrote a complete review on The Oil Cleansing Method as well.

Unfortunately, The Oil Cleansing Method may not be for everyone, as it has been associated with a contact dermatitis and allergic reactions in some individuals (Archives of Dermatology, 1961; Contact Dermatitis, 2000). Still, if your dermatologist approves it, trying The Oil Cleansing Method is certainly a lot cheaper than the other oil cleansing methods out there right now!

3. If You Love: Clinique Long Last Glosswear SPF 15 ($14.00)
Try: Neutrogena Moisture Shine Lip Soother SPF 20 ($5.99)

Most lip glosses actually cause UV damage, as UV light reflects off the shine. As Dr. Christine Brown, M.D., a dermatologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, laments, “Lip glosses can make more of the light rays penetrate directly through the skin instead of getting reflected off of the skin’s surface.” However, these two lip glosses provide the shine and the SPF, so you’re well-protected. While I love the variety of tones in the Clinique brand – ranging from frosty to sheer – the all-sheer Neutrogena line provides a unique “cooling” sensation when you apply it to your lips (without drying menthol, by the way). And for the difference in price, you can get two Neutrogena Moisture Shine Lip Soothers for the price of one Clinique Long Last Glosswear – not a bad trade indeed!

4. If You Love: Clinique QuickLiner ($16.00)
Try: Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner ($7.39)

Wind-up tube? Check. Long-lasting (4-6 hours) formula? Check. Thin-to-medium line without a sharpener? Check. Probably the only difference in these eyeliners is the price, and the fact that you have to carry around a little brush to smudge Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner. But for $8.61 in savings, I think you can afford it.

5. If You Love: Philosophy Hope in a Jar ($38.00)
Try: Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($15.18)

I’m admittedly not a big fan of the best-selling Philosophy Hope in a Jar; while it claims to give skin a glow, it contains a relatively low concentration of a weak form of vitamin A – retinyl palmitate – and similarly low levels of vitamin E. The only thing I do like about Philosophy Hope in a Jar is its high concentration of oat beta glucan oil, which provides numerous benefits to the skin, including 60-64% polysaccharides, lipids, enzymes, saponins, prostaglandin synthetic inhibitors, vitamins, and flavonoids (Cosmetic Dermatology, 2008).

However, colloidal oatmeal is also an excellent source of the benefits of oats, and it is available in the Aveeno Cleansing Bar for just $3.99, and the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion for just $15.18. Note that while the packaging for Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion makes it look more like a body-only product, there is nothing in the ingredients that doesn’t make it equivalent to many facial products out there. While some may have reservations because it contains petrolatum, the product is overseen by Johnson & Johnson, and so the petrolatum is almost definitely high-grade and well-processed. I personally have used Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion on my face many times in the past, and have had no adverse reactions – only calmed, soothed sensitive skin.

Get set for the all-new FutureDerm.com on September 15, 2011! Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!



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  • Sarah

    Thanks for this post, Nikki. These are my favorites of all your posts–the ones that tell us about the best ingredients across price ranges so that we can make our own, informed calls about when to splurge and when to save. I love Hypnose but will try the drugstore brand!

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