Supermarket sweep

ANSWERS on a postcard: what’s the one thing Irish women want right now when it comes to their skincare?

The correct response is, of course, value for money. Gone are the days when we threw our credit cards at an expensive pot of gloop from a high-end brand and didn’t worry too much when a quick trial proved its complete unsuitability for our particular skin concerns. Back in the bathroom cabinet it went to fester and off we went and bought another.

But with levies, taxation increases and wage cuts on the rise, that just won’t cut it any more. We want products that perform, and we want them to be purse-friendly to boot. Increasingly, Irish women are turning away from pricey department store offerings and embracing the supermarket saviours they eschewed before.

Nivea, one of the nation’s most stalwart skincare brands — it’s held the number one position in general skincare for many years — has quietly undergone a bit of a revolution while we were off flirting with Crème de la Mer. But don’t worry ladies: it’ll have us back, no questions asked. And if you haven’t checked it out for a while, you’re in for a bit of a prudently-priced treat too.

For starters, pop sensation Rihanna’s on board, fronting the brand as it celebrates 100 years in business. Secondly, prices are better than they’ve ever been. “In recessionary times, it’s a very good option,” says Brenda Thoms, marketing manager for Beiersdorf Ireland, Nivea’s parent company, who reveals that prices on key products have dropped by an average of 20% since 2010. Expect to now pay a fifth less for Nivea Visage 2in1 Cleanser Toner, Visage Cleansing Lotion, Visage Anti-Wrinkle Q10 Night, Visage Daily Essential Moisturisers and Nivea Soft. “The revised pricing strategy reinforces Nivea’s core values of trust and value for money,” Thoms says.

And it doesn’t end with cost. Listening to what customers want, the brand is developing products accordingly, says Prof Dr Klaus-Peter Wittern, manager of research and development. The shift towards naturals has represented a sea change in the beauty industry in recent years, but a bugbear has been that products with eco-friendly credentials have often been poor performers — and expensive to boot.

The sector appears to be finally coming of age: Nivea’s new Pure and Natural range uses ingredients which are 95% of natural origin, including argan oil sourced in Morocco from a Berber women’s co-operative. “Sustainability is an issue,” Dr Wittern agrees.

“It has become important for us to live in harmony with nature. We’re looking at all aspects and doing what we can, like using sustainable ingredients.”

Pure and Natural delivers. While they’re not organically-certified, products are paraben-, silicone-, colourant- and mineral oil-free, and the range is pitched as a first-step anti-ageing line which contains products for body and face.

Anti-wrinkle night and day creams are just €8.99 each, with cleanser costing €4.99.

The best bit? With a host of other affordable products available for under a tenner, like Nivea Sun Pocket Size SPF 30, €5.79, you might just have found your entire daily facial skincare routine for around the price you used to pay for one pot of cream.

Don’t break the bank

Who else produces great skincare at decent prices? More brands than you might think

Products formulated with a decent SPF for sensitive skins are hard to find. French brand Uriage has come up with the goods with Aqua Precis Fluid Protector, €21.90.

This dual-phase eye makeup remover from Johnson’s Daily Essentials costs just €5 and is just as good as offerings several times the price.

New from budget faves Essence is the My Skin line. Aimed at teenagers, check out the Refreshing Toner for just €2.49.

So hot right now, gel to oil cleansers tend to be pricey, but not this performance product from the Body Shop. Nutriganics Softening Cleansing Gel, €13.60, removes all makeup in one fell swoop.

Vichy Essentielles Face Emulsion, €8.90, is paraben-free and designed for normal to combo skintypes. It’s perfect as a first skincare step.

Stockists

Body Shop at branches nationwide; Essence at Dunnes and Penneys; Johnson’s at supermarkets; Nivea at supermarkets; Uriage at selected pharmacies and Vichy at pharmacies.

Check out Kirstie's blog at beaut.ie/blog/


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