Health & Wellbeing

Student Priced Skincare

Claire Ince talks skincare that even your student budget can buy, and your face will thank you for.

Skincare. It’s complicated.

I’m sure many of you can relate to me when I say that I have gone through many ups and downs with my skin over the years; cystic acne, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and now, dryness, sensitivity. Also probably some premature ageing from all the late nights spent studying for the last couple of years. I have tried A LOT of products and read A LOT of articles in my time, and it’s taken a load of trial and error to have finally gotten it to a place that I’m happy with.

But here’s the thing.

Skincare that actually works makes my wallet cry.

Don’t get me wrong; Priceline and Big W have some excellent cleansers, toners, moisturisers and sunscreens, all of which I use daily.

But when it comes to serums and treatments (the things that do all the work), it’s (fairly) undeniable that you really do get what you pay for. Luxury skincare tends to contain ingredients and advanced technologies (extremely effective ones at that) that are nowhere to be found in products that sit in a low price range.

Until now.

As of last year, Priceline has been stocking products from a house of brands known as ‘DECIEM’. Dubbed ‘The Abnormal Beauty Company’, across three different price points, DECIEM’s three brands aim to bring those magical ingredients to consumers at a price that is (in many cases) lower than your average Priceline brand.

I decided to put three of their products to the test, and compare the results to those that their bank-breaking alternatives provide.

NOTE: I am not a dermatologist, and frankly, I don’t really know what I’m talking about so take this advice with a grain of salt, and be sure to conduct your own research before trying any of these.


Round One: Acid Treatments

Exfoliation is absolutely KEY if you want your skin to be in tip-top shape, as it helps to keep your acid mantle happy (Google this, it’s VERY important) and allows your other products to do their jobs properly. Think of it this way; dead skin cells are like an army of little buggers that build a wall across your skin’s surface and don’t let any of your products reach the healthy ones. Exfoliation annihilates them.

Physical exfoliation (scrubs) can be effective, but acids get the job done quicker (and arguably, more effectively). There are bajillions of different types of acid treatments on the market, but a personal favourite for me is lactic acid, as it’s not as harsh on my dry skin and helps to deliver extra moisture.


Sunday Riley vs The Ordinary

 lactic acid

  Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-one Lactic Acid Treatment The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA
Price $154 $12.70
Cruelty Free/Vegan? Both Both
Brand Claims –       Anti-ageing

–       Exfoliating

–       Plumping

–       Brightening

–       Smoothing

–       Refining

–       Firmness

–       Elasticity

–       Even Skin Tone

–       Exfoliation

–       Reduced Inflammation

–       Quick visible benefits

‘Selling Point’ Provides both immediate and long-term results. Strength of the acid provides quick results.
Formulation White gel/cream serum Basically water
Complexity Fairly complex Simple
Rating 9/10 8/10

The Ordinary’s lactic acid treatment is pretty fantastic. It’s simple, strong, and very effective. Had I not tried Sunday Riley’s cult classic beforehand, I would have been a lot more in love with this, but Good Genes just does things that The Ordinary cannot do on its own. However, for less than a tenth of the price, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.


Round Two: Hydration Support Serums

The vast majority of serums on the market aim to deliver deep hydration to the skin. They basically grasp the ankles of your moisturiser and pull it deeper than it could go on its own. In the long run, serums help to prevent ageing, and in some cases, mildly reverse it.

When it comes to price, think of them like modes of transportation; luxury serums are the Ferraris, and affordable serums are the buses. Taking the bus may not be as enjoyable and will take a lot longer, but in the end, you’ll still reach the same destination.


Estee Lauder vs Hylamide


  Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II* Hylamide Low-Molecular HA Multi-Depth Rehydration Booster
Price $150 $29.99
Cruelty Free/Vegan? No Both
Brand Claims –       Fights/prevents multiple signs of ageing

–       Hydration

–       Radiance boosting

–       Extreme hydration

–       Plumping

–       Youth boosting

‘Selling Point’ Increases skin’s capacity to renew itself at night. Contains five hyaluronic acid complexes of different molecular weights to reach different skin layers- and hydration means less wrinkles.
Formulation Peach coloured syrup-like texture Clear syrup-like texture
Complexity Very complex Average serum complexity
Rating 8/10 9/10

Hylamide is DECIEM’s mid-tier brand, and because of this, I expected great things- and I was not disappointed. Even though the two serums contain completely different ingredients, I found that the results delivered by each were pretty comparable. Hylamide scored an extra point for being cruelty free and vegan, and for its ability to be used during the day.



These are the serums that anyone without a degree in chemistry and/or medicine cannot explain. They contain a whole bunch of seemingly magical ingredients that somehow just work (and in many cases, attract a pretty hefty price tag).


La Prairie vs The Ordinary

 magic serums

  La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Serum* The Ordinary “Buffet” Multi-Technology Peptide Serum
Price $435 $24.90
Cruelty Free/Vegan? Cruelty Free and seemingly vegan Both
Brand Claims –       Anti-ageing

–       Delivers nutrients and removes toxins

–       Reduces lines and pores

–       Locks in hydration

–       Anti-ageing

–       Nutritious formula

‘Selling Point’ Apparently, this serum is also a Tardis, because the brand claims that it can ‘defy time’ (*cough* lol *cough*). Contains ‘studied technologies’ proven to target multiple signs of ageing, suspended in multiple hyaluronic complexes and amino acids.
Formulation It’s like a totally non-sticky syrup, which is also iridescent and filled with purple micro glitter. Watered down clear syrup.
Complexity VERY Complex Complex
Rating 8/10 10/10

 Let’s face it: no matter how much money you have, a serum that could buy you approximately 674.4 Chicken McNuggets is probably not worth the splurge, even if it is filled with glitter and can ‘defy time’.

Yes, La Prairie’s products are incredible, but it’s very difficult to justify them when things like The Ordinary’s ‘Buffet’ exist. Speaking of which, Buffet exceeded my expectations and then some. I was blown away by how healthy my skin felt after using this for only one night, and it’s definitely something I will be keeping in my routine for as long as possible.


To Sum Up

Whether you’re on a student budget or not, DECIEM has some excellent products that give pretty comparable results to the world’s favourite high-end brands.

Are they as sophisticated as the luxury products? No. Do they deliver results as quickly as the luxury products? No.

But they are well formulated, effective, and cheap as chips (not exactly dollar menu chips, but I digress). Not to mention, they’re all cruelty free and most are vegan, so there’s really no harm in giving them a go.


Disclaimer: Two of the items mentioned in this post (marked with a *) were gifted.

Feature image: Claire Ince.

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