The world of luxury skincare is an overwhelming, confusing place. Big claims and bigger price tags come drenched in pseudoscience (and, less frequently, actual science) to convince you that each and every one of the thousands of products appearing every season is a must-have. If you, like me, have scratched your head as you try to work out how you must have 30 different products that seem to do the same thing, then you’re missing the point of luxury beauty — an industry that’s thriving in this time of political and economic uncertainty.

With political unrest, natural disasters, and precarious employment making daily headlines, it’s hard to imagine that the solution to these larger-than-life woes would fit in the palm of your hand. And of course, it doesn’t. But that’s what consumers are reaching for. Even as pennies are pinched and pockets are empty, luxury skincare, an unfathomably expensive market, is gaining a huge amount of popularity. No longer are people looking for a cheap lipstick or a new haircut as a pick-me-up, they’re investing hundreds and hundreds of pounds in products that promise miracles. “2018 was the year of expensive skincare for Big Beauty,” Quartz explains. “Per recent earnings reports from beauty industry giants, and analyses from several research firms, skincare has overtaken makeup and is showing no sign of slowing down.”

luxury skincare

How has luxury skincare skyrocketed as other spending drops? Let’s call it a perfect storm. As we become more health-conscious and more globally aware, it’s harder to believe that red lipstick can cure a multitude of woes. Skincare, rather than makeup, presents itself as a savvy investment — often one that touts scientific backing and big promises — and increasingly appeals to men and women. It feels like a safer, smarter move in uncertain times. But of course, that’s only if you believe the hype.

While some skincare ingredients are expensive and drive up the cost of the final product, many skincare lines use the same base — leaving you paying hundreds of pounds for a certain name or brand, rather than the result. That’s why brands like Beauty Pie have taken to the stage, aiming to offer customers the same efficiency without a ridiculous price tag. And yet, luxury skincare grows and grows.

Though it seems ludicrous, it also makes a round-about kind of sense. When buying a property feels out of reach, when your job isn’t stable, when no one knows what the hell is going on with Brexit, it’s comforting to look for something that you can control. You want something that you can improve, something that feels like an educated informed decision. But skincare companies are just as aware of this phenomenon as you are. So by all means, seek out something that is going to make you feel good — but don’t be fooled by claims that seem larger-that-life, especially when they have price tags to match. The same ingredients can often be found in less expensive choices and, ultimately, your well-being will probably be higher with that money in your bank account rather than with luxury brands.