Why Are Face Serums So Expensive?

There are many new expensive face serums. Why are they so expensive? Are skin care products in general worth the price?

Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is one of the most expensive serums for the face. Are vitamin C serums worth the price?

What about HA serums? Do they work and are they worth the money?

No skin care product is worth the cost, even if it is an affordable product, if it is not the right skin care product for your Baumann Skin Type®. Make sure you know your skin type so we can give you custom advice and recommendations so you do not waste your money on expensive face serums that are not even right for your skin.

80 percent chance your expensive serum is not good

Expensive Face Serums

Why are Vitamin C Serums Expensive?

Vitamin C serums were some of the first expensive serums. Now there are many affordable ones on the market and many are good.

They were originally expensive because they were difficult to formulate and only one company held the formulation patent. Now they patent has expired and there are many affordable choices. However, not all Vitamin C serums are worth the money.

Avoid Vitamin C serums that:

  • Are in a jar
  • Are in a clear bottle (look for dark bottles such as cobalt blue and amber)
  • Have a pH higher than 3.5 (You have to measure this to know)
  • Are sold on Ebay or sites where you do not know if they are stored in air conditioned warehouses

All of those factors reduce the potency of this very unstable serum.

Here are some of our dermatologist recommended Vitamin C serums.

Why is Skinceuticals Serum So Expensive?

Lets talk about why Skinceuticals Vitamin C Serums cost so much.

Skinceuticals was the first ascorbic acid serum and is one of the most expensive. Actually the first brand to sell Vitamin C serum was Cellex-C but the founders split and Dr. Sheldon Pinnell got the formulation and patent and the other founder took the brand name Cellex-C. Dr. Sheldon Pinnell started the company Skinceuticals which he later sold to Loreal. The formulation patent was important because it had right to using the low pH serum that increases absorption of vitamin C into the skin. Now the patent has expired and there are many Vitamin C serums on the market that are the important pH of 2- 2.5. Skinceuticals, because of the brand name, multiple clinical trials and Loreal's backing, remains the most popular. However, there are many less expensive Vitamin C serums that are also good if you do not want to splurge on a Vitamin C serum and are looking for a cheaper option. Many Vitamin C dupes work well, but avoid any Vitamin C dupes in a jar or with clear glass bottles because air and light inactivate the ascorbic acid. Vitamin C in a jar is a waste of money!

You can find other more affordable Vitamin C serums here:

Read more about how to find the best serums here.

So are expensive serums worth the price? Maybe…. It depends upon your Baumann Skin Type.

Is ferulic acid worth it in Vitamin C serums?

Ferulic acid is a potent ingredient that is often added to expensive face serums and increases their cost.

It has many benefits, but the reason it is added to ascorbic acid serums is to help stabilize them. When you open your Vitamin C serum it goes bad quickly from light and air exposure. Keeping it in a dark skin care refrigerator can help.

If you do not use up your Vitamin C serum within one month of opening it, then it is worth buying a serum containing ferulic acid. 

Are Exosome Serums Worth The Price?

Exosomes are the new trend in expensive face serums. They are used to get rid of wrinkles and are the hottest new anti-aging ingredient in 2023.

Exosomes contain RNA, growth factors, and other cell signals that help get rid of aging senescent cells.

Whether or not expensive exosome serums are worth the money depends upon:

Exosomes often come from platelets derived from donated blood, umbilical chord blood, or fat cells which makes them very expensive.. Where the exosomes come from affects how well they work. The serums with the best data come from donated blood. They work similarly to PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma).

Is Plated Skin Science Serum Worth The Cost?

The Plated Skin Science serums are one of the best new serums in 2023.  Are they worth the $250 price tag? My patients have seen a big difference with the serum. I interviewed the cardiologist who developed it and you can find the interview on You Tube.

The early studies on this show a decrease in senescent cells, improved skin texture and increased collagen. I use this myself and believe it is worth the cost (but of course I try to buy it when discounted).

Is Barbara Strum Serum worth the price?

Barbara Strum is an orthopedic doctor from Germany who now has a luxury skin care brand with exosome-based expensive face serums.

There are no published studies on her website and it is unclear to me where the exosomes come from but the reference to PRP makes me think they are platelet derived. 

Without data, I do not have an opinion on if the Barbara Strum products really work, but it is a bad sign that they have not sent me any to test on patients. Most companies with good technologies send me samples because they are so proud of their efficacy and want me to see that they work.

There are more affordable exosome products out there, so I would hold off on spending the money until we have some good published data. 

How do I know if an exosome serum is worth the money

It is hard for you to know on your own.  I independently test skin care products from many brands, so check back here because our skin care product blogs and skin care ingredient blogs are all written by dermatologists (me!) and are updated frequently so you get the most current information.

What we look for when we evaluate exosome products:

  1. How were the exosomes centrifuged?  The speed and diameter of the centrifuge determine how many exosomes stay intact.  If they break open they are useless. This one of the trickiest parts in working with exosomes.  They are very delicate.
  2. Where did the exosomes come from? This is what determines which growth factors, RNA molecules, and other cell signals are in the exosome serum.

Are Growth Factor Serums Worth the Money?

There are many types of growth factors in expensive face serums. One of the best growth factors is TGF-beta.

Some growth factors are good and some are dangerous. I discuss these at length in Chapter 37 (Anti-Aging Ingredients) in the 3rd edition of my textbook Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology (McGraw Hill 2022). It is too much information to describe here.

Basically- if a growth factor serum is worth the money depends upon which kinds of growth factors it contains. 

expensive face serums

Expensive Hyaluronic Acid Serums

Are stem cell serums worth the money?

In my opinion stem cell serums are a waste of money. They are often made from plant stem cells such as apples that do not make the same components such as collagen that human skin needs. The stem cells die on the shelf.  Even if they could live long enough to be active, these expensive face serums cannot penetrate down deep enough into the skin to have any effect.

The stem cell skin care product trend is over and now it is all about exosomes.

Follow us on You Tube and Social media @SkinTypeSolutions to learn about new expensive face serums and other skin care products in 2023.

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