Confession: I generally gravitate towards high-end makeup and drugstore skincare - the opposite of what people generally recommend. But truthfully, I've found the more active or even expensive the skincare - the more I am prone to breakouts and sensitivity. I’ve spent thousands on expensive department store brands and cosmeceutical lines - but I was often left bitterly disappointed So when I was tasked with trialling luxury products, I bit the bullet and prepared for the worse. Whilst there were quite a few misses — I found some luxury products gems that actually delivered results. Read on to discover the ones that made the cut.
During my undergraduate university days, I worked for a number of luxury beauty brands in department stores. I remember my colleagues always waxing lyrical about the wonders of La Prairie Skin Caviar Eye Cream – it was the most in-demand staff purchase on the beauty floor. But beyond that – it was also the #1 best-seller amongst customers across all beauty counters. Curious about the eye cream’s legendary popularity, I asked a colleague why she was willing to spend over $500 for an eye cream. She responded: “It just… works. My eye area looks so smooth and radiant.” The slew of rave reviews sparked my curiosity – so I finally decided to splurge on this “holy grail” eye cream to see if it was truly worth the hype!
The claims: La Prairie claims the natural caviar extract, combined with their “Exclusive Cellular Complex” helps increase skin cell renewal (this is vital for luminous skin). The rich concoction supposedly strengthens the skin barrier, helps firm and tighten the eye area “dramatically” and minimise fine lines.
The texture: The eye cream certainly feels quite rich and fluffy – you can definitely tell it’s not a lightweight fluid! However, it’s not difficult to blend and absorbs quite beautifully. It leaves a dewy glow under the eyes, but it never looks greasy! Tip: When you heat it up between your fingers it softens into a more fluid texture.
Results: Efficacy wise, the eye cream is deeply nourishing – I found a lot of dehydrated patches faded only after 2 applications. After two weeks, I noticed my eye area was tighter, more plumped up and fine lines were visibly softened. As for dark circles and eye bags, I can see a slight brightening effect and the puffiness under my eyes appears less prominent. However, the eye cream’s strengths come from its hydrating and line-fighting abilities. Bonus: it doesn’t cause any milia or bumpiness – which is the biggest problem I have with hydrating eye creams.
Cons: The eye cream is very nourishing and only pea sized amount is needed. If you slather on too much, you might see some milia forming (yup happened to me!) – but when I reduced the amount applied, the problem dissipated! I would also advice oily skinned girls to apply a bit of powder over this, if they’re using it as an under-eye base. Personally, I love the sheen- but I know others may not be as fond.
Final verdict: This is certainly a heavy lifter when it comes to eradicating dry patches and nourishing the skin. I could see fine lines and wrinkles visibly reduced and my under-eye area just looked tighter and smoother – like a light blurring effect. However, if you are solely looking for a cream to target dark circles and eye bags (it certainly helps, but that’s not the creams main strengths).
I have perpetually been on the hunt for a nourishing lip treatment that works well underneath lipstick, and the search has now officially ended. Most lip treatments that do effectively eradicate dry flakes are very emollient and make my lipstick glide off exponentially faster, bleed outside of my lip line and reduce the pigmentation of the lipstick.
The claims: Chanel Le Lift anti wrinkle lip and contour cream contains nourishing and anti-aging ingredients such as shea butter, hyaluronic acid and Botanical alfalfa concentrate, which the company claims helps stimulate cell regeneration and plumps the skin.
The texture: Although the concoction is packed with emollient ingredients, the product feels like a lightweight lotion/emulsion. It surprisingly melts into my lips – never leaving the dreaded sticky residue. When applied underneath lipstick it gives a subtle satin sheen.
Results: I noticed my lips felt smoother , more moisturised and the fine lines certainly appeared more blurred. After two weeks of consistent I noticed something exciting: my lips appeared a little plumper and more lifted – like I had subtly enhanced my pout in the most natural manner. The product was also excellent at reducing flakiness and lightly hydrating dry patches – without causing any irritation or pilling, even when I slathered it on!
Cons: Whilst this product certainly does moisturise the lips beautifully, I find that it isn’t hydrating or healing enough to get your lips through brutally cold winters or revive severely chapped lips. When I had more severe dryness and irritation (resulting from accidentally putting retinol on my lips) – this did not do much to sooth my skin.
Final verdict: The product lightly plumps your pout, looks lovely under makeup, nourishes the lips and softens fine lines. However, this product is not heavy-hitting enough for people with real dehydration.
When I first trialled this product, I was initially worried the product would cause serious breakouts because Creme de la Mer has a reputation for being intensely nourishing. I had dabbled with the brand briefly in my late teens/early 20’s without much success: back then I had highly reactive skin and the original Creme de La Mer caused some minor irritation and clogged pores. But being several years older now, my skin is no longer as prone to acne and rashes, so I decided to give it another go!
Texture: The Creme de la Mer hydrating infused emulsion has a lightweight texture that almost feels like a cross between a gel and a watery toner. It’s very fluid and easy to smooth across the face.
The claims: The emulsion is predominantly composed of La Mer’s patented Miracle Broth™, kelp, soy and lime tea extract – which the company claims supports cell renewal, healing, hydrating and strengthening the skin barrier. So did these lofty claims come to fruition?
Results: The day after I applied the emulsion, my skin had a lovely radiant glow; it was noticeably more luminous and the texture of my skin appeared smoother. I loved the effects so much, I slathered it on liberally (I’m talking mask-like heavy) and learnt my lesson the next day: some angry spots emerged and even an irritation patch. Afterwards, I took a break from La Mer for a few days to let my skin heal and decided to try the product again with a a more sensible approach! This time, I reverted to using a pea sized amount for the whole face and the results were impressive. My skin appeared more hydrated, my pores were more refined and my skin emanated a post-beach glow.
I also noticed a subtle softening of fine lines – but wrinkle reduction is probably not this product’s greatest strength. One aspect where I saw a dramatic change was in the redness of my skin – generally after showering, my skin would feel incredibly raw and look tomato-red for at least 15 minutes. After using this lotion, my skin was more even, and right after showering I was only slightly flushed – a far cry from the days when my mum thought I was sunburnt!
Cons: For my sensitive skin, I cannot use this product for more than three days in a row, otherwise breakouts do emerge. To get the best results for this, I use a pea sized amount and only apply it twice a week for dumpling-worthy skin.
Final verdict: This product is excellent for achieving the glass skin sheen – it lightly hydrates without causing greasiness. On the flip side, for people with dry skin, the moisturising factor may not be strong enough.
Story by Kristina Zhou. Holding shot by @chanel.beauty