Expensive Skincare: How I Got Hooked


Some people splurge on shoes. Some people splurge on a daily coffee. I splurge on skincare. When I stopped wearing foundation about four months ago, I realized there was no turning back on my expensive routine.

Let’s back up for a sec.

At its worst last year, my face was flaky, sensitive and oily, with one of those monthly pimples that would not go away no matter what. Thinking I’d make my skin look better, I bought four new foundations in the span of a few months. Surely, it was the foundation, right?

Of course not. Even a nice foundation will look like shit if you don’t have good skin. So, unbeknownst to me at the time, I headed down a skincare rabbit hole that would lead me to spend a big chunk of change.

Last fall, I was using Trader Joe’s moisturizer with SPF and sweet almond oil as a cleanser. This wasn’t helping my occasional milia, dehydrated skin and hormonal acne.


Slowly, I started buying more skincare products. I tried Glossier’s moisturizing primer. At my local Ulta, I bought a handful of Mario Badescu. I tried Kiehl’s and Origins.

The more things I tried, the more products that failed me or simply didn’t impress me, the more I learned about my skin and what might work better. I decided to avoid mineral oil, fragrance and alcohol. I began to try quality products, even though the prices were higher than anything I was used to.

I turned to Sunday Riley and fell hard for its facial oils, particularly the anti-aging retinoid Luna; Artemis, for troubled skin; and the one without any essential oils, Juno. Pricey as they may be ($75-$105), my skin likes them a lot. I started feeling less oily and less dehydrated. I also dove into Missha, the Korean skincare brand best known for its Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence (and one of the most affordable lines I now use).

Over the course of my year-long experiment, there were some hits (Foreo Luna) and misses (a few La Roche-Posay products). Finally, I landed at Biologique Recherche — the holy grail of French skincare. Anyone that’s ever read beauty blogs knows about its cult product, P50 ($95 for 8.4 ounces). Let me tell you right now that it is the best thing that ever happened to my skin. Aside from helping brighten, it also single-handedly minimized my acne and oil. Since hopping on the BR bandwagon, I’ve found a few other products from the line that I love.


My current daily routine is paired down to what I find the most essential. In the mornings, that’s Biologique Recherche Lait U cream cleanser ($36) — gentle but effective. I follow with P50, and the BR Placenta moisturizer ($61), which soaks right in and helps reduce oil production around my T-zone. A couple of drops of the Juno oil or the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil ($57) and I’m ready for sunscreen. I use the Dr. Jart Every Day Sunscreen ($34) or La Roche-Posay Anthelios AOX serum ($42.50).

At night, I use the Lait U cleanser with my Foreo Luna, followed by a Retin-A once or twice a week. Retin-A is a new thing I’m trying that is not only effective but also relatively inexpensive. On nights I’m not using Retin-A, I use a retinol product from Makeup Artist’s Choice ($34). I’m only 27, but I can already tell I love Retin-A. (But that’s a whole ‘nother topic.)


If I’m being honest, the one step that I feel like I could lose is serum. Currently, I use the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, a dupe of the Estée Advanced Night Repair, which I used until it ran out.

On Retin-A nights, I use the Ultra Facial Cream, then the Artemis oil. Or I use the Luna or Artemis right after the retinol. Once a week, I’ll use BR Masque Vivant ($65) and Exfolikate ($85).

There is no more need for foundation, and no more worrying about flaky, uneven or blotchy skin. I haven’t even had a pimple in like two or three months! My skin is better today than it ever has been. Maybe it is a coincidence that almost everything I’ve loved is a bit pricey. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for good marketing and YouTube hype.

Do you splurge on skincare? What are your miracle products?

Collages by Maria Jia Ling Pitt. 

Julissa Treviño

Julissa Treviño is a writer and journalist who has been published in Columbia Journalism Review, The Dallas Morning News, Racked, CityLab and The Development Set. Follow her @JulissaTrevino.

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