Should You Spend Big or Small on Body Cream?

Does the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ apply to beauty? Each week our beauty director Rhea Cartwright compares two products at vastly different prices.

By Rhea Cartwright

3 March 2021

e it internal or external, being bereft of moisture is something most of us dread. Even if your water consumption has no bounds, the amount of H20 you chug has no correlation to the potential for ashy skin. In truth, combatting dryness by slathering on various lotions and potions is less about adding hydration and more a case of not letting it out. On the most basic level, moisturisers act as a sealant.

Having a white mother and Black father, I grew up acutely aware of the cultural nuances within personal grooming. Whereas the English side of my family moisturises intermittently, for my Black relatives – and every other Black person I know – creaming our skin is a non-negotiable daily act.

To the undiscerning eye, the vessels in which beauty products are contained hold little importance. For those in the know, the choice of jar, bottle or tube reveals much about the texture and viscosity of what’s inside. A post-shave shower, for example, calls for silky body oils often dangerously housed in glass bottles that might shatter. Irrespective of society’s scalding eye on female body hair and the opposing narrative that removing one’s hair caves into patriarchal beauty standards, sometimes I dabble with a bush and see how long my leg hairs can grow, and at other times, I want to be as smooth as a dolphin. It’s called range.

While oils are great, on days when your skin has reached peak dryness, give me a body cream in a tub. Something so thick and unctuous that a squeezable tube or pump dispenser would be no match for it. In this week's Highbrow/Lowbrow I put two of my trusted favourites from opposite ends of the price spectrum head-to-head, to see which one was the most worth it.


Augustinus Bader The Body Cream

Sitting pretty at £130, the Augustinus Bader body cream is a luxury basic on steroids that makes you feel as though all of your loungewear should now be 100 per cent cashmere. Creams of this thickness often sit on the surface, taking an age to sink in, but this melts effortlessly into the skin – no wafting or waving required. I enjoy that the fragrance-free formula doesn’t clash with any other scents you may be wearing.

With a cult-like legion of fans, it would be very easy to dismiss the brand as pure hype. The ingredients reveal familiar skin soothers we’ve come to expect such as shea butter, glycerin and sunflower seed oil, but the magic really happens thanks to Augustinus Bader’s patented Trigger Factor Complex, which they claim can minimise the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks as well as deeply hydrating the skin. A potent blend of vitamins, amino acids and nutrients, the complex deserves a standing ovation. After only three weeks of use, I saw a visible reduction of my scars and stretch marks – from biscuits rather than babies – and my skin is radiant.


CeraVe Moisturising Cream

This cream, priced at £16 and easily found in a three-for-two offer somewhere online, instils the type of happiness you get from going into Marks & Spencer for a specific food item and finding it has been adorned with a yellow “reduced” sticker. Weighing in at 454g (more than double the amount of Augustinus Bader), it’s housed in a practical plastic tub.

Also fragrance-free like it’s bougie older sister, CeraVe is built on ceramides – oils naturally found within our skin that nourish and strengthen our protective skin barrier, but which also deplete with age. Using them topically helps to hydrate the skin and remedies any parched patches. CeraVe is a beauty cupboard staple and one to have on hand for everyday use. It is no-frills, no-fuss, but unashamedly brilliant, although I would be very hesitant to recommend it for use on the face, as it is thick.


While the textures are undeniably similar, your skin will determine which suits you better. If you’re purely battling dryness, CeraVe is a solid skin saviour at a price that suits most, and won’t leave you feeling the need to ration. It’s the cream I would recommend to anyone for a daily staple. However, if you’re concerned by scarring and relish the experience of luxury beauty, Augustinus Bader is a worthy choice. It’s not magic and seeing results will take patience, but it works, is more economical than laser and your skin will feel delicious in the process.

The Short Stack

When skin is seriously dry, you need the love of a big tub – but you might not need to splash out.

By Rhea Cartwright

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