This skin-care line is saving me hundreds of bucks on some of the priciest ingredients


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Photo: Getty Images/ svetikd

It seems like every time you open Instagram, there’s a new skin-care company trying to get your attention, and unfortunately, a whole lot of ’em are nothing more than pretty packaging and a solid marketing plan. So when we discover a new line of products that actually does what it says it will—with a dermatologist’s approval, nonetheless—we run to restock our beauty cabinets faster than you can say “sheet mask.”

The latest brand to fit the bill? Ghost Democracy, which launched last week and offers dermatologically savvy formulas, none of which will cost you over $38. According to Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City dermatologist, the demand for these types of products is on the rise.

“Consumers are much more educated now than ever about what they’re putting into their bodies and onto their skin, and clean beauty is one of the fastest-growing skin-care trends right now—but not all products are created equally,” he says. “Clean ingredients and clean formulation unfortunately often come at a higher price tag.”

Enter: Ghost Democracy, a brand that has figured out how to give customers quality ingredients without those higher price tags. “Making these dermatological ingredients accessible at a low price point is so important to me, because I feel like consumers deserve more transparency,” says Rex Chou, the brand’s founder. “There are products that cost $300-plus, but have less than one percent active ingredients. Consumers deserve better for skin care that actually works.” Ghost Democracy plans to do this with direct-to-consumer business model, coupled with a focus on spending on formulas, and not marketing. “I want all my investment to go into the formulas and cost savings passed on to my consumers,” he says.

With those principles in mind, Ghost Democracy launched with six core products: a cleanser, a hyaluronic acid serum, a vitamin C serum, a moisturizer, an eye cream, and a face oil. While all of the products are clean and cosmetically elegant, it’s really the vitamin C that stands out as the hero of the line. “The antioxidant serum combines high concentrations of vitamin C and E, along with skin-calming chamomile and collagen-stimulating bakuchiol oil,” says Dr. Zeichner, adding that this sort of technology isn’t usually found at this price point. “This full complement of ingredients at the same time protects and repairs for skin.”

The serum is made with 18 percent of a vitamin C derivative called tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, which Chou believes is more stable than the usual L-ascorbic acid that most brands use in their C serums, and doesn’t oxidize in light or air. “This waterless formula is also lipid-friendly, so it penetrates deeper into skin to help even and enhance skin tone and texture, reducing appearance of dark spots, and giving you this beautiful glow,” says Chou, who also calls out the serum’s 1.9 percent vitamin E as another point of its power.

For what it’s worth, I swapped my pricey bottle of vitamin C serum with Ghost Democracy’s $34 dupe a month ago, and haven’t looked back. I love the lightweight texture, which falls somewhere in-between a serum and an essence. It absorbs super quickly to make my skin look brighter, and saves me more than one hundred bucks in the process.

Speaking of vitamin C, these are the most potent sources worth knowing about. Plus, a cosmetic chemist weighs in on which skin-care products are worth splurging for… and which ones you can totally pinch pennies on. 

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