4 personal care products to always buy store brand


In 2017, the average American spent more than $63 per month a month on personal care products and services, according to data from the Bureau of Labor statistics. This averaged $762 a year on things like lotions, soap, and hair products. If you're looking to curb some of that spending, it may be helpful to consider buying store brand.

"Price does not always correlate with performance," says Birnur Aral, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences Lab.

We consulted several skin care and beauty experts to find out which personal care products you should always buy store brand. Here are four they recommend:

1. Body Lotion

"In our studies, we often find that mass-market skin care brands do as well as prestige products," says Aral. "As for generic brands, we recommend consumers to only purchase those with simpler formulas such as a body lotion. Lotions—specifically, ones that promise to moisturize and don't claim to have anti-aging effects—are usually easy to duplicate, so it's less of a gamble to go generic vs. brand name."

At Walmart, a 12-ounce bottle of Aveeno is $6.58 ($0.55 per ounce), but a 35-ounce bottle of body lotion from Walmart's store brand Equate, which claims it "compares to Aveeno," is $6.98 ($0.22 per ounce).

In our studies, we often find that mass-market skin care brands do as well as prestige products.
Birnur Aral
director of the Health, Beauty & Environmental Sciences lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute

2. Sunscreen

The FDA allows so few ingredients to be in sunscreen that most commercially available sunscreen will contain the same ingredients regardless of price, says Business of Fashion beauty writer Cheryl Wischhover.

"If you spend money [on a brand name] you'll get maybe a nicer formula, but exactly the same protection," Wischhover says.

She suggests Target's store brand, Up&Up. "It compares to Banana Boat," says Wischhover, who uses the spray on her own family. "I trust it on my children." A 10.4-ounce bottle of Up&Up is $6.59 ($0.63 per ounce) but an 8-ounce bottle of Banana Boat is $6.49 ($0.81 per ounce).

3. Face wash

Like sunscreen, Wischhover says that all basic face wash, regardless of price, is generally made with the same set of ingredients. "A lot of times the way that the industry works is everyone uses the same labs," she says. "So there's a good chance you'll find similar—if not the same formulas—in store brands as name brands."

To save a few bucks, she recommends the Walgreens version of Cetaphil. At $10.49 for a 16-ounce bottle, it is $2 cheaper than Cetaphil, but frequent sales make it an even better deal. Right now on Walgreens.com, you can buy one and get one 50% off.

4. Shaving gel

"Anything that gets immediately washed down the sink or shower is a great thing to not spend too much money on," Wischhover says. Instead of getting the 11-ounce Gillette foam shaving cream for $1.82, you can get Walmart's Equate version, which is only $0.98. Equate also sells a gel formula with aloe that is $0.29 per ounce and comparable to Nivea's shaving gel at $0.45 per ounce.

The personal care product industry is a $93.5 billion U.S. market, which is constantly introducing more products. By purchasing some store-brand items, you can save some money without compromising your complexion.

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