Aldi is known for its bargain special buys and high-end beauty dupes; last year, their take on the famous Jo Malone lime, basil and mandarin scented candle (£47) met rave reviews and, at just £3.99, shoppers saved just over £43.
Yet this year, Aldi has stimulated another buzz on social media by announcing the release of their Healthy Glow Toner, a product with striking similarities to cult beauty favourite Pixie’s Glow Tonic. With almost identical packaging, both products contain 5% glycolic acid, aloe vera and ginseng. Yet while the iconic Pixie Glow Tonic retails at £18, Aldi’s own version comes in at just £3.99. At first glance, the main similarity is glycolic acid but what does this actually mean? Glycolic acid is a great exfoliating agent that encourages skin-cell turnover and is praised for its use in anti-aging and anti-blemish products so don’t be afraid of the word “acid”. Personally, glycolic acid didn’t work for me and my sensitive skin and my bottle of Pixie Glow Tonic now resides in my boyfriend’s bathroom cupboard. Instead I gave salicylic acid a try; it’s a gentle enough exfoliant to use every day and can be found in both high-street and high-end skin and hair care products.
Alongside the Pixie “knock-off”, the budget supermarket has also announced the release of a detoxifying and brightening pink clay mask with a retail price of £5.99. With a hard-to-miss resemblance to the iconic Sand&Sky Brilliant Skin Purifying Pink Clay Mask (£39.90), Aldi’s product retails at £33.91 less. Both products include the skin cleansing ingredient Kaolin and both come with an application brush. But, despite price and packaging, if you really want good skin care you must turn to the ingredient list. Look for nourishing, gentle ingredients that won’t irritate or strip your skin of its natural oils. I always try to get cruelty free and recyclable packaging too! While Pixie’s alcohol-free Glow Tonic formula is certified cruelty free and suitable for vegans and vegetarians, Aldi’s Healthy Glow Toner does not make this same claim. Yet, both products do contain the key ingredients of 5% glycolic acid, aloe vera and ginseng – both also contain parfum/fragrance which can irritate skin.
Despite the price, I would still choose Pixie’s product over the Aldi alternative as it contains a higher potency of skin loving ingredients, such as witch hazel leaf extract and horse chestnut seed extract. And, while Aldi’s Lacura range may cause you to debate the ethical implications of high-end product dupes – namely, how far can (and should) a company go when launching a product with similar packaging and ingredients to another – there’s no denying that their price range provides accessibility to those of us who want good value for money (and to hang on to the last remnant of our rapidly dwindling student loan).
Finally, we must ask ourselves: do we simply buy for branding and company reputation, or do we buy a product because its worthy of good reviews and its ingredients? Most importantly, treat yourself and your skin with respect: in my opinion, the best skin care you can buy is plenty of water, healthy food and a good night’s sleep! But it’s OK to treat yourself to good skin care once in a while. So, if you are a sucker for luxury like me maybe stay loyal to your high-end loves, but if you’re looking to bag a bargain and reap the benefits of glycolic acid at the same time why not drop into your nearest Aldi and give their Lacura range a try? That way, if it doesn’t work for you, at least you’ll only be £3.99 out of pocket.