10 products you should always buy generic—not name brand

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In the world of fake reviews and shady online retailers, you may feel safer sticking to name-brand products. However, there are certain categories where you’re just paying for the name–and the advertising costs associated with it.

We rounded up 10 name-brand product categories we think you should skip because the generics are just as good—while often being much cheaper.

1. Table salt

Salt
Paying a lot more for salt isn’t worth it.

Morton’s salt contains: Salt, Calcium Silicate (an anti-caking agent), Dextrose, and Potassium Iodide. You’ll more or less find the exact same ingredients in every table salt brand. What you’re really paying for is packaging, which becomes a moot point if you transfer your salt into a shaker or separate container.

2. Aluminum foil

Foil
The only difference between foils is whether or not they are heavy duty.

The main difference in foils is whether or not they are heavy duty. Once you take that away, aluminum foils only differ in name only.

3. Batteries

Batteries
You don’t need to go bananas on expensive batteries.

Tests done by WPI have shown that more expensive batteries rarely ever give more bang for your buck. That doesn’t mean they all last the same length of time, but cheaper batteries are just fine for most things.

4. Bottled water

Water bottle
If it’s drinkable, then drink it!

Water is water, and most bottled water comes from natural sources that are basically just tap water. As long as the water’s clean, you’re good to go with generic water brands.

5. Cereal

Cereal
Hey, the cereal in a bag is just as good.

For every name-brand cereal, there’s a bagged version that’s just as good. Argue all you want—you’ll never convince me otherwise. There’s no accounting for taste, but there is for all the money you’ll save buying Oat Rounds over pricier name-brand versions.

6. Lipstick and other makeup

Liquid lipstick
There is a lot of value to be had in lesser-known brands in the world of cosmetics

We’ve actually done scientific and extensive testing of liquid lipsticks, and found Giorgio Armani’s Lip Maestro to be a dud. Get Wet n Wild Megalast instead. And that’s true for many makeup brands in our experience: higher costs usually come from the advertising campaigns, not higher quality ingredients.

7. Pricey HDMI cables

HDMI Cables
All HDMI cables are basically the same.

According to our TV expert Lee Neikirk–who did all the testing for our roundup of the best HDMI cables—all HDMI cables provide the same performance. So it’s better to get a good deal, even if you’re putting the cable into the wall.

8. Spices

Spices
The flavor of spice depends on how fresh they are, not the brand.

The quality of a spice is almost always based on its freshness, not the company that packages it. So it’s better to check sell-by dates rather than who it’s sold by, generic or not.

9. Baking soda

Baking Soda
Talk to any professional chef and they will tell you that all baking soda is the same.

Like salt, there’s really no difference between baking sodas, as any professional chef will tell you. The French discovered baking soda in 1791, and the formula hasn’t changed much since then. Save your money and buy the cheap version.

10. Toothpaste

Toothpaste
As long as a toothpaste carries an ADA seal, it’s safe.

If a toothpaste has the ADA seal of acceptance, you’re good to go in terms protecting your teeth. Things like mouthfeel and taste matter, of course, but if you just need to keep your teeth clean, they’ll all get the job done.

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