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20 Dec 2019

Are supermarkets cheaper for toiletries than Boots or Superdrug?

We reveal the cheapest shops for popular toiletry items, from Colgate toothpaste to Sure deodorant
Little brothers brushing teeth

New Which? research has shown that high street pharmacies may not be the best place to pick up cheap toiletries. 

When we compared the prices of everyday toiletries from painkillers to plasters, we found that shopping at Asda could save you more than £10 compared with the priciest retailer, Boots.

Here, we explain our findings in more detail and reveal how much toiletry prices have changed in the past year.

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Supermarkets cheaper than high street pharmacies

The average cost of a basket of 17 of the most popular branded toiletries in October 2019 was £59.76 from Asda.

Buying the exact same items at Boots would have cost £68.97, according to research by MySupermarket for Which?. And fellow high street pharmacy Superdrug wasn't much cheaper, at £65.92.

Asda was also the cheapest place to buy toiletries when we did a similar piece of research in summer 2019.

Morrisons, the second-cheapest retailer in this new research (£61.06), has risen from fourth place when we did our previous price comparison.

You can see the full breakdown below:

Cheapest retailer by item

Asda may have been the cheapest overall retailer, but it didn't offer the lowest price for every item on our list. In fact, it only offered the cheapest price for five of the 17 items we looked at.

While we haven't been able to include Amazon, Lidl or Poundstretcher in our analysis of the overall cheapest toiletries retailer, as they didn't stock all of the items we were comparing prices for, we did find some examples where they offered the lowest price for an individual item.

For example, Amazon was cheapest for Veet hair removal cream, Lidl for Herbal Essences conditioner and Poundstretcher for Sure men's deodorant.

We also found some examples of items costing

See the full list of items below:

The shops charging more than double

We found three instances of shops charging more than double the cheapest-available price:

  • Gillette Satin Care Shaving Gel Sensitive (200ml) - £1.69 at Asda, £3.55 at Superdrug
  • Sure Men Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Invisible Ice (250ml) - £1.49 at Poundstretcher, £3.29 at Boots
  • Sure Women MotionSense Anti-Perspirant Deodorant Bright Bouquet (250ml) - £1.60 at Ocado, £3.61 at Waitrose

This shows that you can save significant amounts of money by shopping around.

And when it comes to medicines, it's often worth switching to own-brand products, which have to contain the same active ingredients and could save you a hefty sum.

Are prices going up?

The average combined cost of the toiletries we looked at has only gone up by 23p since October last year.

Looking at individual retailers, the biggest increase was actually at Asda, where the price of the basket has gone up by more than £3 - but this didn't stop it from being the cheapest place to shop in 2019.

Some supermarkets have cut prices since last year, with the Waitrose basket dropping by almost £2.

Here's how prices have changed at each shop over the past year:

Price isn't everything

Of course, when you're deciding where to buy your toiletries from price won't always be the only factor.

As well as practical factors such as proximity to your home, things such as product range, returns process and customer service could all influence your choice of retailer.

To find out the best stores to go to based on these factors, visit our review of the best online and high street stores for beauty and personal care products.

A note on our research

Which? used data from trade title The Grocer to identify the most popular branded toiletry items.

Then, throughout October, we tracked the price of the prices at the following shops - links take you to supermarket reviewsand our review of the best and worst beauty and personal care shops:

Using data from independent price comparison site MySupermarket.co.uk, we calculated the average price (including special offers, but not multibuys) for each item in October.

We then added up the averages to create an identical basket for each store.

We also looked at historical pricing data for the same items in October 2018 to see how prices had changed.