The more I thought of it, the more I realized that it really depends on what your values are. There are so many good, affordable products on the market, many which contain very effective ingredients.
In the end, it depends on which type of product you will use correctly. If the product is too expensive, I will be more likely to skimp on it. For example, I could buy a $200 serum, but if I don't use the correct amount, it will not work.
Having said that, I do have a personal guideline: If the product costs more than $50, I need to see results before I use up the product. I find it hard to be convinced to repurchase a product if I can't see the results.
Here are my favorite low end and high end skin care products.
(in Asia, toners are used to hydrate the skin. Most of them do not contain alcohol. They are also referred to as lotions)
I go through a bottle of toner every 2 weeks, because I use it as a face mask every morning and night. Buy what you can afford to use, and use generously!
Low end: Rohto Hada Labo series (the retail price is around 1000 yen, but I regularly find them at my local drugstore for around 700 yen. Imomoko sells them for $17.50)
This is my favorite toner because it's cheap and it hydrates well!
High end: SK-II Facial Treatment Essence ($100 for 75ml/2.5 oz, buy here)
Yes, this a super expensive toner. I love how it makes my skin feel after I've used it for 2-3 days, but it is too expensive for me to use regularly.
- Fair & Lovely Skin Clarity Anti-Marks Fairness Cream (Amazon sells them for $10, some Indian online shops sell them for less)
This was in my favorites for (gasp) 2009! I still love it. It is light but leaves my skin moisturized, and contains whitening ingredients.
I don't have a high end favorite, unfortunately!
- RoC Multi Correxion Skin Renewing Serum (Walmart says they are $25, Amazon has them for $9)
Again, no high end favorite. This is typically the most expensive in any line of products.
Low End: Silk Whitia ($16.60/5 pieces on Sasa)
I feel that Silk Whitia has the best products for the price. My Beauty Diary masks are $12.70/10 pieces, so Silk Whitia is twice the price. Still, I find that they are much more hydrating and they leave my skin smooth. I need to stock up next time I go to Hong Kong!
High End: SK-II Whitening Source Derm Revival Mask ($160/10 pieces online)
This did AMAZING things for my skin. I can buy a single piece for around $20 in Hong Kong, but it's still too expensive for me!
Low End: Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel and Lush Mask of Magnaminty
Soap & Glory The Fab Pore Facial Peel (7.15 GBP at Boots)I've written a blog post about this product, and I really did love it. It left my skin very smooth, thanks to the salicylic acid.
Lush Mask of Magnaminty ($11.95/4.4oz on Lushusa.com)
This mask contains adzuki beans to exofoliate your skin, unlike the Soap & Glory mask which chemically exfoliates. I've written a blog post about this product as well.
High end: Cellnique Advanced Bio Renewal Masque ($51 on cellnique.com)I've reviewed this product before as well. This product also chemically exfoliates. It leaves my skin feeling very soft and smooth.
Low end:Biore Sarasara UV daily care gel (750 yen in Japan, $15.50 on Amazon)
This is the VERY FIRST review I ever wrote, in March of 2009! I still love this product. It gives me the sun protection I need and is very light on my skin.
High end: Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen SPF 50+ (3150 yen in Japan, around $50 online)
Anessa is a brand of sun protection from Shiseido. This is the best sunscreen in Japan, hands down. I do not get any kind of tanning with this sunscreen. It stays on even when I go diving. However, it is expensive, and I have to keep reminding myself to use the correct amount. Did you know that you need to use an entire shot glass worth (1 oz, 30 ml, or 2 tablespoons worth) for the amount of skin that is normally exposed?
Anessa has several products, so I always remember this as "the gold one".