So can Creme de Superdrug beat Creme de la Mer?

We test bargain basement beauty creams

With the recession in full swing and baby No 2 on the way, something had to give.

I’d downgraded the supermarket shopping and streamlined family holidays, but my husband pointed out I’d done nothing to rein in my high-maintenance beauty regime.

On totting up the cost of the products in the bathroom ­cabinet, I was shocked to find the total came to £900.

And then I read that a cream from Waitrose that is just £2.54, and which was made to be put on baby’s bottoms, is the big thing in anti-ageing skincare. 

The price of beauty: Naomi Reilly has had to downgrade her beauty routine

The price of beauty: Naomi Reilly has had to downgrade her beauty routine

I thought: ‘What if all I’m spending on high-end beauty products is money down the drain?’

So, I decided that for a month I would use only beauty products that cost less than £21.
After that I would take a ­judgment on which expensive products I could junk permanently — and which ones I couldn’t live without.

To be honest, I had also started worrying that splurging on ­cosmetics had become something of an addiction — no ­matter how terrible I felt after spending £100 on an eye cream, you could bet that a few days later I’d be looking for my next beauty fix.

I was also concerned about the impact my skincare regime was having on my sex life.

By the time I had finished my half-hour bedtime ritual of cleansing, ­toning and moisturising, my husband was usually asleep.

I didn’t dare cuddle up to him due to the lashings of body oil and overnight hand treatments I plastered all over myself.

But even on the day I started tackling my compulsion for luxe beauty treatments, I had the niggling worry that at 32, it should be the time to start investing in skincare, not saving on it.

Some of the cheaper products are dire. Bad experiences included the ­make-up remover that made my eyes sting  and the depilatory cream that didn’t remove any hair

Was I really about to discover all foundations are created equal and that a £10 pot of cream works just as well as a £95 ­version? I doubted it.

So, how did it turn out? Four weeks without luxe products has been an eye-opener.

As I expected, some of the cheaper products are dire. Bad experiences included the ­Rimmel make-up remover that made my eyes sting and inflate to twice their normal size and the Superdrug depilatory cream that didn’t remove any hair.

But I also discovered there are some low-priced gems on the beauty counters.
Having used the same face cream for years (Estee Lauder Time Zone Line & Wrinkle Reducing Cream SPF 15, £49, John Lewis), I’d resigned myself to the fact I was unlikely to find anything that would come close. Not true.

And the same goes for eye creams. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not writing off all high-end buys. It’s just that I no longer believe cheaper ­products can’t be ­effective.

Good budget nail ­polishes, body washes and face creams exist. It’s just a matter of ­knowing where to find them.

I’ve broken the cycle of dropping into Space NK, the beauty emporium, every Friday after work. I’ve proved to myself that I won’t suddenly age 20 years if I use a budget serum.

And without religiously applying those darn body oils every night, I’ll let you into a secret — my sex life has taken a definite turn for the better.


  • Soap & Glory’s Mini Clean On Me body wash, £2.30, Boots: As much as I love expensive body washes, I can’t deny this does the job just as well.
  • Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion, £3.49, Superdrug: This cream I used back in my teenage years sinks in without a trace and smells delicious.
  • L’Oreal Paris Color Appeal Mono Eyeshadow, £5.19, Boots: Applied with a flat brush, there was ­little difference between this and my expensive equivalents.
  • Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti Chip Top Coat, £5.95, Boots: A slick of this makes even the cheapest nail polish hold up.
  • No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Day Cream, £21, Boots: It’s won awards, but until now, I hadn’t given this budget cream a ­second glance. I love that it has the science without the hefty price tag.
  • L’Oreal Wrinkle Decrease ­Collagen Filler Eye Cream, £10, Superdrug: I’ve spent five years believing that a £100 eye cream is an essential, yet my month of using this cheaper alternative suggests it isn’t. 
  • Yes To Carrots Eye and Face Make-up Remover, £8.99, ­Superdrug: Spending a fortune on eye make-up remover is unnecessary — this bargain buy got rid of all traces of my party eyes in just a ­couple of easy sweeps.


  • Chanel Lift Lumiere Fluid ­foundation, £35, Debenhams: Yes, it’s pricey, but doing the maths, it works out at 8.5p a day. An expense I’ll be sticking with.
  • Diabolo Rose Eau De Parfum Spray 50ml, £56, Les Parfums De Rosine, Liberty: Cheap perfumes suck. Fact. This, on the other hand, has a beautiful scent that lasts all day and isn’t too pungent.
  • Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Extreme, £25, John Lewis: I can get away with budget ­shampoos, but I can’t get away with the equivalent cheap ­conditioners. This is the best conditioner on the market — it detangles my hair and makes it bounce.
  • Creme De La Mer Refining Facial, £63, House of Fraser: This resurfacing treatment needs to be used only once a week, meaning it’s cost per application is not unreasonable. My skin always looks dramatically brighter and more radiant after I use this.
  • Becca Polishing Brushes, £38, As any make-up artist will tell you, a set of good brushes can make even the poorest make-up appear passable.
  • Circle Block by Du Wop, £23, I have a small child who doesn’t sleep. Therefore, I don’t sleep. ­Nothing covers up my under-eye circles like this.

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