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Today I'm sharing some affordable products I've tried recently that are pretty similar to my more expensive favourites. I'm not going to call it a 'dupe' post; these are products where I've looked at the ingredients, thought they seemed similar so tried them and found they gave me comparable results and had similar textures. Let's jump into the comparison...
Dr. Dennis Gross B3Adaptive SuperFoods Stress Rescue Serum* | £75 | vs. InstaNatural Niacinamide Serum | £14.95
Funny story, I actually picked up the InstaNatural product as a potential alternative to another product entirely! However, as I used it over a period of time, I noticed its similarities with the Dr. Dennis Gross formula. Dr. Dennis Gross is one of my favourite results-driven skincare brands but their products are admittedly not cheap; this serum comes in at £75 and I'm already a good way through it. The InstaNatural formula isn't the cheapest niacinamide on the market, but it is a more complex and well-rounded formula that has a similar texture and application to the DDG product. Niacinamide is a fantastic ingredient that can help regulate oil production in the skin, reduce redness and inflammation and strengthen the skin barrier. Particularly during the winter months; formulas like these two are gentle options that will also moisturise and hydrate your skin. Both formulas pair the niacinamide with hyaluronic acid to act as a magnet, drawing water into the skin, and both contain nourishing avocado oil.
The DDG formula contains lots of non-fragrant fruit and plant oils and extracts with antioxidant and moisturising benefits and does contain some more interesting ingredients like licorice (for brightening), goji berry, turmeric and mushroom extracts, but the InstaNatural formula contains an ingredient I love that the DDG formula does not; centella asiatica to calm and soothe the skin. What I really like about the Stress Rescue serum is its light, milky, non-sticky texture, and the InstaNatural formula also has this feel and application, which makes it much nicer than some of the other niacinamide gel-serums on the market. It also doesn't have the annoying 'foaming' issue that can happen with niacinamide serums. My only real negative for the InstaNatural formula is that it does contain a little lavender oil, which is a fragrant essential oil. This causes me no issues, but I do have to point it out because these sorts of ingredients can be problematic in a product directed towards compromised skin.
Like I said; I love Dr. Dennis Gross and the serum in their Alpha Beta serum is one of the most transformative product in my arsenal. This serum contains all of the exfoliating acids! This means you reap benefits at every layer of your skin; you have acids that brighten the surface of the skin and even out its tone, but you also have acids that can penetrate into the pores and really clear out debris to help with breakouts. In the AHA corner we have lactic, glycolic, phytic and mandelic, in the BHA corner we have salicylic and willow bark extract (which acts like a precursor). We also have some other fantastic ingredients in here like retinol, to provide skin-smoothing benefits, hyaluronic acid to pull in water and malic acid for more exfoliation. This is an absolute powerhouse and I use it whenever I'm getting towards 'that time of the month' to clear out my congestion and breakouts. It also gives that instant brightening boost and will stop hyperpigmentation in its tracks.
I know £26 isn't the cheapest serum on the market, but Pixi's blend is comparable to Dr. Dennis Gross's and it's barely more than 1/4 of the price. What Pixi do really well is create more entry-level products that give you great ingredients with gentle formulas and that's what this product really is. It isn't as strong as Alpha Beta, it doesn't give as dramatic results, but it works and I did see results over time. You're getting the glycolic, the lactic, the salicylic, the willow balk and the hyaluronic in here, just like with the Alpha Beta product. Though there aren't quite as many different acids in the mix, there are some other really nice ingredients in here like licorice extract, to gently brighten, and our favourite; niacinamide. I wouldn't recommend the DDG serum for beginners and I'd still say to proceed with caution when it comes to the Pixi serum if you've never used an acid before, but if you like Glow Tonic and want to dial things up again then give Clarity Concentrate a go.
As someone suffering with dry winter skin at the moment; I need a good face oil to give that extra nourishment and to lock in the rest of my skincare routine. Throughout last year the Sunday Riley Juno oil was my go-to; it's non-greasy, it absorbs into my skin instead of sitting on top of it and it feels luxurious but isn't full of fragrance. It contains a blend of fatty-acid and antioxidant-rich plant and fruit oils like blackberry, cranberry, broccoli, cumin, meadowfoam and more. I recently tried out the Q + A oil and couldn't help but note the similarities in texture, feel and application. There are some similar oils in here like blackcurrant, raspberry and cranberry, alongside some other great additions like jojoba, apricot kernel, sea buckthorn and prickly pear. It's still very nourishing and, whilst not quite as light and elegant, it's also free from fragrant essential oils and is a fraction of the price!
I'm a big fan of using an intense exfoliation treatment once or twice a week, it just works best for me alongside my retinoids, because otherwise there'd be a lot more alternating; this way I can take one night out and do my acid alongside some soothing ingredients. One of my favourite products is the Herbivore facial, which comes in this interesting jelly texture, shared by the Versed acid mask, which Cult Beauty (the exclusive UK stockist for Versed) were kind enough to send over towards the end of last year for me to try. If you know your acids, you might know that salicylic acid can only be sold in cosmetics at a 2% concentration (at least here in the UK) but Herbivore's product is actually formulated with willow bark extract, which is a precursor for salicylic acid and a little gentler, so that's why you see the 5% in this product (this is also often used by K-beauty brands to avoid regulation around salicylic acid, and effective formulas can still be made with willow bark). There's also a 20% AHA blend including glycolic and lactic in there. The formula contains some nice buffering ingredients too like aloe, glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which will take some of the edge off the strength of these acids so they're less potentially irritating. This doesn't cause me any redness or irritation but I'd still put it in the 'not for beginners' category and would advise strongly against using this more than once or twice a week, even if you're a seasoned exfoliator. The results are amazing, though; this mask gives me my smoothest skin ever, improves clarity and gives that immediate glow boost.
Unfortunately Versed do not disclose the percentage of the active ingredients in their formula but they're high up enough on the INCI list for me to be confident that they're in a good concentration. From how this feels on the skin, I do get the impression it's a little less intense that the Herbivore product (though that obviously doesn't preclude it from being an effective formula), but at the same time it's only a 2-3 minute treatment vs. a 10-15 minute treatment, so it's kind of hard to call. What I can compare are the ingredients and the results. The Versed formula contains glycerin, as a buffer, glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid, making it comparable to Herbivore's formula. Additionally, it contains pineapple and papaya enzymes, to gently break through dead skin cells. Overall, whilst the results are not quite as dramatic as with the Herbivore version, this is still a very effective formula, making my skin feel smoother, look clearer and appear more radiant.
Have you tried any of these products?