I actually started writing this as an Insta post until I realised I had written so much that I couldn’t continue unless I did so in the comments. That’s when I thought, this needs to become a blog post so I can get all my thoughts down in one place.
I was recently tagged by Tamara of Rainbow Feet to show my daily skincare routine and consequently how much it would cost me if I were to go out and buy all the products I am currently using right this minute. It was definitely thought-provoking and after a few comments back and forth I realised I’d like to do mine but from a different angle. I didn’t quite agree with ringing up the total of my current products because there are a number that I wouldn’t buy myself. As a blogger I don’t think it comes as a surprise that we get sent PR products and/or gifts every once in a while. But to do the topic justice I felt it was important to focus on items that I would actually purchase with my own money regardless of being a blogger, to make the comparison fair with those who don’t blog. And yes, I do buy many products myself and happily so.
As a blogger, I am very lucky to try products that sometimes are outside of my own set skincare budget and this is not something I take for granted (I very rarely, if ever, step over the $100 threshold for a single product, mainly because I feel it’s a high price point and there are so many beautiful products with high quality ingredients that retail for much less). If you were to count the total value of everything in my bathroom cabinet it would probably amount to a silly number but this is where I’d like to put a different spin on things and not just focus on The Number. But before that, you’re probably curious what the total of the products pictured above would come to – well, it’s $504 (not pictured but included in the total as a product category used in my daily skincare routine is Kahina Giving Beauty’s Eye Serum. It’s not the eye product I’m currently using however). Now that’s a lot of money. The products are ones that I do in fact use, if not every day, then several times a week and those that I would repurchase if they all suddenly disappeared into a black hole. However I have omitted some others because they are either ones I am currently testing or over my budget at full price (the Bottega Organica Illuminate is one such product, super lovely but I’m not spending $145 on it. Beauty Heroes members were lucky to receive it in a box last year). Mists will usually finish before balms and oils so that’s a product I really appreciate finding at a reasonable price, but all in all I feel that many products I own last for a good many months. Maya Chia’s The Super Couple is still going strong from January for example.
I’m aware there has been some discussion in the green beauty community regarding the price of products recently, perhaps more so with the increase brought on by May Lindstrom not too long ago and the opinions are many and varied. My take on the subject is the following:
- It’s up to brands to set their price points. I personally don’t feel they owe us consumers anything. Not only does this take into account the cost of actual ingredients but also their market positioning. Do they classify themselves as luxe? Accessible to everyone? And just as a price spike may always lose some customers depending on their personal budget, others love something that is considered luxe, decadent and slightly ‘out of reach’ for everyone else. In those cases, you’re not only buying a product but also status, a notion of luxury. Whether this is right or wrong is besides the point but I’m under no illusion that it doesn’t exist in every industry under the sun, and green beauty is no exception. Also, when a brand increases an existing product exponentially, it’s up to you to decide whether you find it justifiable for your budget. The brand will have their own reasoning but at the end of the day, it’s their call to up the price and your call in deciding to go along with it. There’s certainly no lack of brands and products to suit everyone’s budgets these days and how great is that! The same could not be said even 5 years ago.
- Paying ca $80 per brand is something I’m quite happy to do. Why? Because oftentimes I know the person behind it, have had a dialogue about their line and products and thus I know my money is going to a person who needs to pay for the ingredients, the packaging and design, their staff, their suppliers, rent for space and investment for R&D amongst many other things. Not to mention their time. Time is one of the most valuable commodities we have (ask any lawyer 😉 ). Factor in GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) which is necessary to produce safe and effective products – do all formulators do this? How about those who create in their kitchens? It begs considering. And of course GMP courses take substantial time and money, something Leah Klasovsky of Leahlani Skincare knows all too well. And when I think of Leah, I think of deep knowledge and expertise. We are paying for that as well even though it would seem that “anybody” can start making products in their kitchen. My pet peeve is high priced brands where the formulators may not even have sufficient knowledge and background for what they’re doing, but that is another post in itself.
Would I not gulp and cry a little inside if my favourite brands hiked their prices up considerably? Of course I would and I’ll readily admit that I may have to reconsider my spending habit (should a beloved item suddenly shoot up into the stratosphere, well then I’ll have to look around for other options), but my point is that it isn’t something that the brand should take into account or be held accountable for. Oh yes, I want you to make more and better products with high quality ingredients and grow your team to meet increasing demand but please don’t ever augment your prices in order to do so. Say what? All of this is a choice. I choose to indulge in skincare (in the past it was designer items and bags) because that is my treat, what I place value on. But then also consider that many of the products pictured last a long time. I don’t see myself using up Lavish until the end of the year! I’d say that’s a great $48 spent. This also means that I never actually end up spending $500+ in one fell swoop, and let’s not forget that great companies like Beauty Heroes give their members a 15% discount whenever you shop in their store. How’s that for making beauty more accessible to everyone? Not to mention how many subscription boxes these days give us the opportunity to try products for much less than their RRP. On top of this, the discounts that various brands and online stores give throughout the year is another way to keep the cost down.
- I truly believe you get what you pay for. None of the products (apart from Mermaid) retail for less than $40 (which I still think is super reasonable). Quality = higher cost. We all have our personal pain thresholds when it comes to how much we are willing to spend on a product. I will admit that a part of me has become somewhat price blind when it comes to green beauty but I also know that you don’t get an effective product with nutrient dense ingredients at high street prices. I’m extremely happy when green beauty reaches more and more people, especially at an affordable cost, but I won’t fool myself by thinking that a certain plant oil used in a cheaper product is just as good as one used in a more expensive one (though as with most things, there are always exceptions to every rule). There’s also something to be said for products made in small batches by hand by artisanal brands. Again, you get what you pay for.
- Personal budget – what are you willing to pay for a good cleanser, face oil, mist etc? How much are you willing to put down on skincare in general? Had you told me 5 years ago that I would be spending what I do on potions and lotions today I would have scoffed, but priorities change. Interests change. Who knows where I’ll be in 4 years and of course much of this depends on one’s own finances. There are times when you have to sacrifice something in order to pay for other things, but again this is not something a company should or needs to take into consideration. We are not owed. As a professional buyer you would think I’m damaged by always going after the lowest price (savings, savings, savings!) but we also know that it’s not about the cheapest, but the best price based on current budget. Privately I can be a bit more frivolous of course but I’m always asking myself if it’s the right price for the right product at the right quantity for the right conditions.
This subject is much bigger and multifaceted than anything I could ever pin down in a blog post and just as I have shared my thoughts on the topic, I’m sure there are those who would readily disagree with me. Which is completely fine and to be expected. My main point with this post is that there is a lot more to product pricing than what regular consumers may see and understand and also – profit. Who doesn’t want to earn money doing what they do? I can think of many people and companies making huge profits off not so great products, some even harmful to us. Isn’t that a whole lot worse? The beauty industry is a big lucrative pie and with the wave of green beauty gaining momentum and making its way into mainstream, it will only become a bigger beast. For me, the focus is on continuing to support authentic brands I love and respect and part of that is by voting with my dollar. I’d like to thank Tammy for giving me food for thought and consequently, giving birth to this post.
*Side note about Mermaid: I don’t use this every day, but it’s in my regular skincare routine and thus it’s a product I repurchase fairly frequently.