Just because it’s pricey and comes in a pretty jar, it doesn’t necessarily mean a product has more effective skin care ingredients, according to Arthur W. Perry, M.D., author of “Straight Talk About Cosmetic Surgery.” Often, “lower-priced products may work better than their more expensive counterparts,” said Dr. Perry. Whether a product costs $9 or $99, according to the doctor, there are three key ingredients to consider: vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid), alpha-hydroxy acids (also known as AHAs, fruit acids and glycolic acid), and retinoids or retinol-like compounds (tretinoin, retinol).
That doesn’t mean other ingredients won’t benefit your skin, it’s just that the scientific proof isn’t as solid for them, said Dr. Perry. The main reason some skin care ingredients fail to deliver? Their molecules are too big to penetrate your skin when applied topically, he said.
Other useful ingredients include: polyhydroxy acids, beta hydroxyl acids, hydroquinones and certain antioxidants, according to Dr. Perry.