Facial lotions are designed to be worn on the face for hours, but facial cleansers are in contact with our skin for less than a minute. So doesn't it strike you odd that some of the high end brands still set a high price for their facial cleansers? In some cases, they are selling for 2-3 times (sometimes more) the price of drugstore brands. Are expensive facial cleansers worth the hefty price tag?
Some people really do feel that high end facial cleansers "work better" than their drugstore counterparts. However, both products do the same thing- clean your face. Many times, drugstore brands are actually owned by, or are subsidiaries of, high end luxury brands. The difference is that "high end" ingredients go into the luxury cleansers while the more common, generic ingredients go into the drugstore brands. The thought is that if it took longer to develop in the lab, then the price should be higher. But what you really have are two ingredients that perform the same tasks- they both clean your face!
Don't assume that the ingredients in drugstore brands harsher or of lower quality than ingredients in luxury brands. If someone tells you drugstore brands are "more dangerous" or "more drying," don't believe them! Nearly every type of facial wash on market today- drugstore or luxury- is already soap-free and free of harsh detergents. Synthetic detergents (syndets) were invented back in 1917 which means companies have been studying syndets for over 90 years- that's nearly a century. Thus, there are some syndets that have been around for quite some time, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS development has been streamlined so it is easy to produce and can be made at low cost. Therefore, it is commonly used in facial cleansers.
To separate themselves from the "commoners," high end brands try to find an alternative to SLS. When they do, they slap the registered trademark on their ingredient and then heavily advertise it as an "advanced" ingredient. But what the high end brands don't want you to know is that their new ingredient is just another derivative of SLS.
SLS is actually a special example since there are people who are allergic to SLS and therefore require an alternate. However, you can develop an allergic reaction or sensitivity to any ingredient, even those contained in the expensive brands. Moreover, luxury brands may add in extra fragrances (as the "signature scent" of the luxury brand) and lots of people are allergic to or do not like fragrances in their facial cleansers.
Another trick to jack up the price of high end facial cleansers is the "add in" effect. Anti-aging skin care products are in high demand, so a luxury brand might call their cleanser an "anti-aging cleanser" since it contains alpha hydroxyl acids. However, lots of drugstore brands also include alpha hydroxyl acids! So all high end brands are doing is changing the name and asking you to pay a price for it.
Lastly, high end facial cleansers raise prices because their facial cleansers claim to include rare or exotic ingredients. While caviar extract or truffle oil might sound pricey, consider this: first, how much quantity is actually being added? Even if they make up less than 1% of the whole cleanser, companies will still slap the name on the packaging and make it sound like your cleanser is chock-full of caviar. Second, are these "exotic ingredients" really going to make much difference? This is a facial cleanser; you're going to basically wash all those goodies down the drain after a few seconds. Finally, are the added ingredients potentially harmful? If luxury brands are claiming to contain exfoliating "diamond particles" per se, wouldn't you be more scared of thought of jagged edges against your skin?
Facial cleansers are great products but who needs to pay exorbitant prices for a product that is only in contact with skin for less than a minute? Save and buy a cleanser at a reasonable price (up to $40) that cleans away dirt, oil and makeup without drying your face. Spend your hard earned money on a product that is more likely to stay on your face, such as a lotion.