How Much More Bang for Your Buck? Unpacking Premium vs. Budget Hyaluronic Acid Serums

Published on August 06, 2023

By Terry

Are pricier products hyaluronic serums truly better?

In our corner of the comparable beauty skincare world, the never-ending debate rages on: are pricier products truly better, or are we just paying for pretty packaging and brand hype? When it comes to the beloved hydrating powerhouse—hyaluronic acid—the range in product prices can be astonishing. Let's dive deep and see what extra benefits (if any) come with a heftier price tag. Is it worth the splurge, or can we get the same dewy glow for less?

A great example of this debate can be found in a comparison between Glow Recipe's Plum Plump Hydrating Serum and Dr. Brenner's Hyaluronic Acid Serum. In fact, someone posted about this exact thing in our exclusive Facebook group the other day. On one hand, we have the premium Glow Recipe serum, a concoction of several ingredients that promises a bevy of skin benefits beyond just hydration, and on the other, the minimalist approach of budget Dr. Brenner which zeroes in on the pure, hydrating essence of hyaluronic acid. Both claim to offer the skin-quenching benefits of hyaluronic acid, but the ingredient lists and price points tell two very different stories. Let's unpack what's really going on inside these products.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hydrating Serum

Key Ingredients and Their Purposes:

  1. Fruit Extracts: Pleiogynium Timorense, Podocarpus Elatus, Terminalia Ferdinandiana: Known for their antioxidant and hydrating properties.
  2. Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate & Sodium Hyaluronate: Different forms of hyaluronic acid that offer deep hydration and retain moisture in the skin.
  3. Tremella Fuciformis Polysaccharide: Often dubbed as "snow mushroom", it has hydration properties similar to hyaluronic acid.
  4. sr-Spider Polypeptide-1: A lab-created ingredient inspired by spider silk. Provides film-forming properties which can create a subtle lifting effect.
  5. Spirulina Platensis Extract: Offers skin-nourishing benefits, thanks to its vitamins and minerals.
  6. Raphanus Sativus Root Extract: Also known as radish extract, it can have soothing properties.
  7. Acacia Seyal Gum Extract: Helps provide texture and can have moisturizing properties.
  8. Other Ingredients: This serum also contains a blend of preservatives, stabilizers, and a fragrance to maintain its efficacy and sensory qualities.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Serum has a premium trendy positioning of $45 for 30mL.

Dr. Brenner Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Key Ingredients and Their Purposes:

  1. Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5): Known for its skin-soothing and hydrating properties.
  2. Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid): A powerful hydrating ingredient that retains moisture in the
  3. Phenoxyethanol: Acts as a preservative.

Dr. Brenner Hyaluronic Acid Serum is budget friendly at approximately $10 for 30mL.

Differences Between the Products

  1. Complexity of Formula: Glow Recipe's serum boasts a more complex formula with a wide range of ingredients targeting multiple skin needs, while Dr. Brenner’s is minimalistic, focusing solely on hydration and soothing.
  2. Antioxidants: Glow Recipe includes a range of fruit extracts known for their antioxidant properties, while Dr. Brenner's does not.
  3. Texture Enhancers: Glow Recipe utilizes ingredients like Tremella Fuciformis Polysaccharide and Acacia Seyal Gum Extract which can provide a smoother, gel-like texture. Dr. Brenner's formula is simpler and might have a more watery consistency.
  4. Additional Benefits: Glow Recipe's formula includes ingredients that offer potential lifting effects (like sr-Spider Polypeptide-1) and nourishment (like Spirulina Platensis Extract), in addition to hydration.
  5. Preservatives & Additives: Glow Recipe's longer ingredient list includes a variety of stabilizers, preservatives, and fragrance. Dr. Brenner's formula is more pared-down with just one preservative listed.

Similarities Between the Products

  1. Hyaluronic Acid: Both serums prioritize hyaluronic acid (or its variants) as a primary hydrating agent.
  2. Hydration and Moisture Retention: Both products aim to deeply hydrate the skin and lock in moisture.
  3. Vitamin B5: Both serums contain this ingredient, which is known for its skin-soothing and hydrating properties, though it is explicitly called out in Dr. Brenner's formula.

We Should Note...

It's essential to note that while we've delved into the ingredient lists of these products, the quality and concentrations of ingredients are not explicitly detailed by brands. Ingredients can vary greatly in terms of source, purity, and effectiveness. Moreover, the specific formulation processes, which can significantly influence a product's performance, remain proprietary to each brand. So, while we provide a comparison based on available ingredient information, it doesn't necessarily translate to a direct reflection of efficacy, quality, or overall performance.


In summary, while both products aim to hydrate the skin using hyaluronic acid as the primary ingredient, there does appear to be ample rationale for the premium vs budget positioning of these two products. Glow Recipe’s serum claims to offer a broader range of benefits with its more diverse ingredient list, targeting hydration, nourishment, and potential lifting effects. On the other hand, Dr. Brenner’s serum offers a straightforward, no-frills hydration solution, focusing solely on moisture retention and skin-soothing.

While ingredient lists give us a snapshot of what's inside a product, the actual impact of a formula on your skin can vary based on numerous factors. Truly, it often comes down to personal experience and how your skin uniquely interacts with the product. Choices abound, whether you're on the hunt for the purest form of a skincare hero ingredient or seeking an elaborate formulation. Remember to factor in your own skin's needs, your budget, and of course, what feels right for you.

Curious about how your favourite product stacks up? Let our ingredient list similarity tracker be your guide. Unearth affordable alternatives and make informed, budget-friendly skincare decisions today!

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Co-Founder of SKINSKOOL, the world’s first & only IP-protected, tech-driven beauty marketplace dedicated to empowering consumer discovery, comparison and purchasing based on objective ingredient and pricing information.