5 Overrated Luxury Skincare Products (& Better Cruelty-Free Alternatives)

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen so many skincare products recently hyped on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram and while some qualify as decent products, there are some that are just plain bad. Although not all overrated skincare products made it onto this list (trust me, there are MANY more), here are a few that I just don’t believe deserve all of the social media hype.

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La Mer Crème de la Mer

If there is one product that is the most overhyped, most expensive, and contains the most unimpressive ingredient’s list for the price, there is no question that La Mer’s Crème de la Mer is that product. Not only does it cost a whopping $545 for 3.4 oz, but let me just say this: the ingredient’s list is nothing short of basic.

Out of 42 total ingredients, only one ingredient in this $545 face cream actually stands out—algae. Studies have shown that algae present in cosmetics has the potential to enhance protection from UV rays (although this is not a reason to forgo your daily SPF), act as an anti-fungal, and improve inflammatory skin conditions.

While algae is a wonderful ingredient when added to skincare, there are plenty of better-priced, better formulated, and cruelty-free options that contain algae. Plus, if we take a further look at La Mer’s Crème de la Mer ingredient’s list, we see mineral oil and petrolatum as second and third ingredients. These ingredients are cheap derivatives of petroleum and are the main components of skincare products such as Aquaphor and Vaseline (FYI Aquaphor and Vaseline are not cruelty-free).

Glycerin, listed as the fourth ingredient, functions as a wonderful humectant, but is also present in many affordable moisturizers and certainly does not warrant such a hefty price tag. Furthermore, the rest of the ingredients in this moisturizer are primarily present for texture purposes, so they really don’t do much for improving your skin.


OSEA Advanced Protection Cream ($108 for 2 oz)

The OSEA Advanced protection cream not only contains red marine algae, but also an oil-soluble amino acid known as dipalmitoyl hydroxyproline. Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline is the primary amino acid present in the skin’s collagen. This amino acid stimulates fibroblast collagen production and, in turn, decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This rich moisturizer also contains hydrating ingredients like squalene and glycerin along with sunflower, macadamia, avocado, and jojoba seed oils.

The Seaweed Bath Co Hydrating Soothing Body Cream ($12.99 for 6 oz)

The Seaweed Bath Co Hydrating Soothing Body Cream is the best “bang for your buck” alternative to La Mer’s Crème de la Mer. Despite the low price tag, this product still contains an array of amazing skin-benefiting ingredients like bladderwrack seaweed, chlorella vulgaris, shea butter, cocoa seed butter, and sodium hyaluronate, among others. Last but not least, while the website calls it a body cream, this luscious cream would be perfectly fine to use on your face as well.

The Seaweed Co Marine Algae Overnight Mask ($12.99 for 1.7 oz)

Another great option from The Seaweed Co is their Marine Algae Overnight Mask. Boy does this ingredient’s list put La Mer to shame! Not only does it contain bladderwrack seaweed as the second ingredient, but it also contains snow algae, green seaweed extract, red seaweed, and brown seaweed! That’s not all, though. This cream also chlorella vulgaris, glycerin, niacinamide and turmeric extract to boot! The consistency is more of a gel and it’s great of dry or oily skin. Many people with inflammatory skin conditions have also seen successful improvement after using this product thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of seaweed!

Fresh Kombucha Antioxidant Facial Treatment Essence

First of all, Fresh is not a cruelty-free brand. We are in the twenty-first century and animals should not have to suffer for the sake of skincare! There exist methods of testing that do not require animals such as in vitro systems where human cells and tissues are used as well as advanced computer-modeling techniques known as in silico. Second, the price does not justify the ingredients list and you should not have to pay $70 for a fermented essence with humectants when there are similar, more affordable options.


Haruharu Wonder Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner for Sensitive Skin ($22 for 5.1 fl oz)

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Fermented skincare products began as a trend in South Korea, but have now found their way into the routines of thousands in the west, and for good reason. Just as fermented foods are praised for their ability to aid in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, the fermentation of skincare can be thought of in a similar manner.  “As it relates to skincare, fermentation breaks down natural molecules and makes them smaller, so it’s easier for them to absorb deeper into your skin’s surface. In skincare, these smaller molecules become more potent and precise for optimal bioavailability, which allows ingredients to penetrate the skin deeper and absorb readily,” says board-certified dermatologist Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, FAAD.

The Haruharu Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner for Sensitive Skin not only contains aspergillus ferment, which has been shown to have antimicrobial and anti-aging properties, but also bamboo extract in the form of phyllostachys pubescens. Bamboo extract has been popular in Korean skincare for years now thanks to its amazing anti-inflammatory and sun protecting (always remember to still apply daily spf) properties. In addition, this multi-tasking ingredient has also been studied and shown to possess moisturizing and melanin-reducing properties that can help fade hyperpigmentation. All of these great ingredients for under $30? Yes, please!

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

This list would not be complete without a Glow Recipe product and, low and behold, one of the most overhyped skincare products on social media—the Glow Recipe Niacinamide Dew Drops. At $34 for 1.35 oz, it’s definitely marketed as a more luxury skincare product. The first alternative by far outranks Glow Recipe not only price-wise, but the most effective ingredients are present in higher concentrations as well! So yes, you can have your niacinamide watermelon-ness, save money, and have great skin too!


Yes to Watermelon Daily Gel Moisturizer ($12.99 for 1.7 oz)

Not only are all Yes to products Leaping Bunny certified, but many of their products are formulated without parabens, sulfates, or silicones and this product is no different. Yes to’s Watermelon Daily Gel Moisturizer contains sodium hyaluronate as the second ingredient after water while it sits at number ten on Glow Recipe’s ingredients list. Plus, this product doesn’t just smell like watermelon, it actually contains watermelon fruit extract as the fourth ingredient (listed at number eight for Glow Recipe)! This extract provides hydration, antioxidants, and even anti-aging benefits.

Also on the ingredients list is aminopropyl ascorbyl phosphate, which is a stable form of vitamin C to help with hyperpigmentation and skin brightening. Lastly, a few other star ingredients in this moisturizer are glycerin, retinol, melia azadirachta flower extract (antibacterial), and corallina officinalis extract (anti-aging).

Bliss Glow and Hydrate Day Serum ($22 for 1.0 oz)

Another great cruelty-free option is the Bliss Glow and Hydrate Day Serum, which contains key ingredients like niacinamide, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and aloe leaf juice. Along with these star ingredients, this serum also features licorice root extract for anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Furthermore, Bliss partners with recycling company, Terracycle, which allows you to ship your finished Bliss products free of charge—Terracycle handles the rest!

Acure Radically Rejuvinating Niacinamide Serum ($19.99 for 1.0 oz)

If you’re searching for a simple niacinamide serum that works without the added fragrance, look no further than Acure’s Radically Rejuvenating Niacinamide Serum. This serum features niacinamide as the second ingredient followed by aloe leaf juice to help soothe skin. It’s a simple, yet effective formula without the added frills. Last but not least, Acure is also partnered with Terracyle! Terracycle makes it easy to recycle your used beauty products. All you have to do is create a free account, print the label, and use any box or shipping folder you already have to send it off! It’s that easy!

Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser

The Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser has been touted as a revolutionary cleanser that’s basically a green smoothie for your skin. Considering the price is $36 for 8 oz let me just say this: it’s a cleanser, and all of those “superfood” ingredients will not have enough time to penetrate deep enough to create a noticeable difference in your skin.

In addition, if you have acne-prone skin this cleanser may be way too stripping due to the mixture of various surfactants high on the ingredients list. The stripping qualities can not only exacerbate acne, but also increase the look of pores.

Last but not least, the Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant cleanser is heavily fragranced and fragrance (whether or not from essential oils) in skincare has been shown to cause contact dermatitis and aggravate existing inflammatory skin conditions.


Paula’s Choice Earth Sourced Perfectly Natural Cleansing Gel ($19 for 6.7 oz)

Not only is the packaging 100% recyclable, but the Paula’s Choice Earth Sourced Perfectly natural Cleansing Gel is also made from non-fragrant ingredients for those with sensitive skin. If you previously loved the Youth to the People Superfood Antioxidant Cleanser for it’s natural ingredients, you’ll be pleased to know that the Paula’s Choice Earth Sourced Perfectly Natural Cleansing Gel is made from 98% natural ingredients that won’t leave your skin stripped or give you that “tight” feeling after cleansing. It’s a win for the planet and a win for your skin!

Derma E Sensitive Skin Cleanser ($15.50 for 6 oz)

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Derma E’s Sensitive Skin cleanser is fragrance-free and sulfate-free, which means that it won’t irritate sensitive or acne-prone skin. The second ingredient is also glycerin, which is a great moisturizing ingredient for those who struggle with dry skin. Furthermore, this cleanser also contains green tea extract and chamomile extract, which have been proven to help soothe inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea.

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Firming Moisturizer

This product has almost 6,000 reviews on Sephora’s website, but is it worthy of being added to your skincare routine? The short answer is no. At $68 for 1.69 oz, it’s not the most wallet-friendly either. While peptides have proven to be a beneficial addition to any skincare routine, the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Firming Moisturizer, in particular, is overhyped and overpriced in comparison to the pretty much spot-on alternative I’ve listed below.


Acure Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream ($19.99 for 1.7 oz)

If peptides are what you’re after, look no further than Acure’s Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream. In a study published in 2019, it was shown that peptides reduced the appearance of wrinkles within a two-week time period. The study confirmed that the usage of peptides as an anti-wrinkle cosmetic ingredient does indeed yield positive results.

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that Acure’s Radically Rejuvenating Whipped Night Cream contains nine different peptides to help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles at $20 for 1.7 oz! Talk about more bounce for the ounce!

One Comment

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