Economies of scale... a concept they teach you in economics. So true. Works so well. For some things. For some things, it works to a point. Here is a point to which it works in beauty industry:
There is a trade off (a huge one) between mass producing and quality. Period. You CANNOT make a lot of unique things fast. You cannot make a lot of exquisite products by millions.
When you want something made well, you have to wait. It will not be made or delivered overnight. It takes time to make a good thing. Those who are in business of making high-end, quality products know it too well. Just think of expensive hand-made watches. Hundreds of hours of labor goes into each.
I used to just shrug my shoulders and disregard remarks I occasionally received from my friends telling me they saw jojoba oil or something else much cheaper than I sell it for elsewhere. Or that one of the chain stores now carries rose water toner. It used to slightly upset me, to tell you the truth, because you cannot compare sliced Cheddar with farmer's market aged Cheddar from some artisanal shop that specializes in Cheddar and Cheddar only.
But now I am at the point when I feel that some intervention is needed to explain why quality matters and price is a deceiving point of comparison.
Let's take for example a very simple rose toner and break it apart from the standpoint on ingredients and pricing.
Real and best rose water toner is produced only a few weeks in a year. The labor intensive process of vapor distillation is used, where only pure water and rose petals are used. The result is naturally stable rose water, fragrant without addition of oils, alcohol, preservatives of any nature or anything else to keep it shelf-stable.
Most commercially produced rose toners cannot afford the seasonality, the cost and the labor it takes to make REAL rose water. So, what I see a lot is that rose oil, alcohol and water get mixed together to create a rose toner. Now you have alcohol on your skin to dry it without doing anything good for you. It does a lot of good for shelf-life though. However, if you happen to forego products that contain alcohol as ingredient for a little bit, you will feel it and it does not feel good. Try it.
And really, I need to go on a national tour of explaining how water cannot be organic by definition because it does not contain carbon. :) And that is another story I really want to talk about. ORGANICS.... I will. Soon.
Anyways, it does not mean big box stores are selling the same products cheaper. Just do the math and look at per ounce cost. And often times you will see no real difference in price. If I package rose water toner, Roseau in an 8 oz bottle and a big retailer has a less than 2 oz bottle and sells it for more per ounce, you can see my point.
Packaging products in cheap non-recyclable plastic or small bottles to make you buy more often is easy, but there are other makers who want to make a difference by using materials that ARE more expensive, non-reactive, truly recyclable and who would prefer if you buy their rose water twice a year for many years and tell your friends and not every two weeks once...
Ask yourself a question: does quality matter to you? If it does, please support the little 'guys and gals' who chose to go small-batch, small quantity and make it by hand, by being responsible every step of the way to create products from their heart and soul. It is very hard to produce just a little. Products like this come with a price and will not be found at a discount retailer.
There can be only one grade in quality - the BEST.