Category Archives: skincare

Ask Ellen – Do I need… very expensive face cream?


I love a nice face cream. I love the nice jar and the feel and how it makes me glow and how it looks on my shelf and how my makeup looks nice over it PLUS want it to work and give me a whole new head and smell amazing and preferably bring me a coffee in the morning and bring world peace and the whole shebang. Consequently, my face cream costs enough to feed a small village for a year. #sorrynotsorry . I don’t have an expensive car or lots of shoes or diamonds or avocado on toast any of those things, but gosh darn I use a great face cream. ( That’s a lie. I do like a bit of smashed avo from time to time .)

I would prefer to eat 79c tuna from the discount bin at Woolworths than downgrade my key beauty products, but that’s just me. For many of us, we just want it to work and not require taking out a second mortgage.

The world of skincare is ridiculously complicated. Every skincare company on the market wants to convince you to buy their brand, and will make confusingly worded claims to get you to do so. For today, we’re going to stick to the topic of moisturiser, specifically.

Firstly, what is moisturiser anyway and why do we want/need it?

Here’s the dealio. The external layer of our skin turns over every 28 days or so. The new cells travel up from underneath and flatten out on the top, forming a nice protective layer. These cells travel through a little soup of natural moisturising factors called glycosaminoglycans ( GAGs) ( essentially, moisture with nutrients ) to get to the surface. When we don’t have enough GAGs, our skin’s ability to function effectively is compromised. This results in the outer layer looking flat, dull, and less bouncy.

Think of it this way- your skin is like a car, it needs oil and water to run its best.

The function of moisturiser is to ‘top up’ these moisture levels and keep your skin bouncy and smooth.

You can get moisturiser for $4 or $400+ – so what’s the difference?

The factors that affect price are as follows:

  1. Superficial – smells good, pleasant texture / smell / packaging / brand image / marketing ( this is the most expensive element )
  2. Active ingredients / quality of ingredients / scientific research and data backing up the efficacy – does something in addition to basic hydration ( this costs a medium amount of money ) . Actives really need a whole article of their own but essentially, you’re looking at ingredients like niacinamide, peptides, retinol, vitamin c, hyaluronic acid etc.
  3. Quality of basic ingredients that hydrate – this does not need to be super expensive.

This means, if you just want moisture and are not fussed about any additional features i.e. effective anti ageing, pretty packaging etc you can buy a nice, inexpensive moisturiser suited to your skin type and call it a day.

If you want great hydration AND anti ageing / pigment reducing/ face lifting / scar reduction you probably need to drop a few more $$ on something with active ingredients.

If you want hydration AND pretty packaging AND active ingredients, prepare to take out a second mortgage on your house coz it’s gonna cost you.

A word of caution: JUST because a cream is expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it is super effective for anti ageing and so forth – for that it needs to have great actives as well as a nice smell and a sexy jar.

Here’s my pick of some of the best in show,

Basic moisture with no frills $ ( may contain a small amount of actives but mostly just hydration ):

Normal skin

‘The Ordinary’ Natural Moisturising Factors + HA RRP $9.80 ( great hydration, great price. Don’t let the price tag put you off- this is a great product and well worth your time.)

natural moist ha

Dry Skin

‘Nivea’ The Original ‘Creme’ RRP $8.00 (  The mainstay of grandmothers with mysteriously perfect skin everywhere. Super thick, healing, and a cult favourite. Can be used on dry feet and elbows, too.)

nivea creme

Mature / Anti Ageing

Olay ‘Total Effects 7 in 1’ cream RRP $33.50 ( Moisture with some anti inflammatory/ anti pigment properties in the form of vitamin B3.  Does it do 7 things? ……no. It is decent? Yes.)



Oily Skin / Young

Neutrogena ‘Hydro Boost’ Water Gel RRP $24.99 ( hyaluronic acid and a bit of glycerin- should leave your skin bouncy )



Active ingredients /  mid range $$

Normal Skin

Malin and Goetz ‘Vitamin E’ cream RRP $73 ( gorgeous smelling and super kind to sensitive skins, plus carrot extract to brighten. It’s also more than double the size of most moisturisers so great value.)


Anti Ageing

Philosophy ‘Renewed Hope in A Jar’ RRP $68 ( Made famous by Oprah – hydration with some resurfacing, entry level anti ageing . Cult fave.)


Dr. Dennis Gross ‘Ferulic and Retinol Fibroblast Anti Ageing Moisturiser’ RRP $105 ( ferric = anti pigmentation, retinol = faster skin turnover. Result? Smoother brighter skin.)


O Cosmedics ‘Immortal Cream’ RRP $102 ( Top notch cosmeceutical for a decent price. Anti ageing . Actually works. )

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Schnazzy pants gorgeous looking expensive moisturisers that actually do something $$$

Dry skin with sensitivity / scarring

La Mer, Creme de la Mer RRP $242- $665 ( Insanely expensive cream-of-joy . Originally a burns cream- works best on dry, red, or thinning skin. Not big on actives, but it works anyway.)


Anti Ageing

Chantecaille ‘Nano Gold Firming treatment’ RRP $433 ( AKA ‘new head in a jar’. Stem cells + peptides + smells great + lifting )


Perricone MD Neuropeptide Firming Moisturiser RRP $398 ( This is for my girls who want a facelift. not super hydrating per se – more heavy lifting and tightening. )