Archive for the ‘skin care’ Category

For $1000 it better be better than a face lift!

March 21, 2012

Is it worth $1000?

Estee Lauder has just launched their luxury skincare line ‘Re-Nutriv Re-Creation’. The face cream and night serum will set you back a hefty $1000 while the eye balm and night serum for eyes is about half that amount. The active ingredient in all products is ‘Glacial BioExtract’, a concentrated essence which is purported to boost the skin’s collagen network, restore skin’s strength and resilience, improve skin’s clarity and inner radiance, optimize hydration, reduce lines and fade discolorations. In short, they seem to be promising a miracle. According to the April issue of Flare magazine, the Glacial BioExtract is actually a glycoprotein that “switches on dermal fibroblasts, which are cells that crank out the proteins needed to keep skin youthful.” It was first discovered in the Antarctic in bacteria which were able to withstand the treacherous conditions as a result of this protective glycoprotein. It is now produced in a lab, and the process is very costly. The cream also contains other high end ingredients: ancient algae, micro-minerals, colloidal gold, South Sea pearls. Much thought and money was also invested in the aesthetic appeal of the product. The packaging is streamlined and elegant, but not gaudy or showy. The bottles are grey and gold, and come on ‘pedestals’ for display.  It is lightly scented with water lotus, hyacinth and orchid, and feels silky to the touch. It is designed to make you covet it. But the question is-who will buy a $1000 face cream?


Estee Lauder is certainly not alone in the luxury skin care market, although this new skincare line is one of the pricier ones, especially from one of the more recognized department store brands. Other exorbitantly priced products include Revive Peau Magnifique ($1500 for a 4 week supply), Revive Intensite Volumizing Serum ($600), N.V. Perricone M.D. Neuropeptide Facial Conformer ($570), Kanebo Sensai Ex La Crème ($500), and Cle de Peau Beaute La Crème ($475) just to name a small handful. If sales of these and other luxury brands are any indication, it seems there are a lot of people willing to fork over a thousand dollars for a face cream. According to CNN, in 2010 prestige skincare sales in US department stores was 2.7 billion, an 8% increase from 2009. So if people are buying, these creams must be delivering on all of their promises, right?


This is a hard question to answer. It seems that every cream claims to be able to turn back the hands of time, offering ‘clinical evidence’ of anti-aging and damage reversing effects. In addition to being physically appealing, the most costly creams also contain the most lavish and valuable ingredients. These include things like caviar, crushed pearls, gold, and extracts from plants found only in exotic locales. Other ingredients which drive up the price are proteins and other cellular components that are involved in cell renewal and other processes which make them useful against aging skin cells. The problem is research and development as well as production can be very expensive. Is all of this money well spent? states that “In the cosmetic industry, the term “clinically proven” is often more marketing than science. Typically, the phrase means that at least one component of the cosmetic product has been shown, in one study or another, to have had some biological action, such as helping wounds heal faster by stimulating cell division. That the product has been demonstrated by a well-controlled, independent clinical study to have significant effects in skin, however, is not necessarily true”. Unlike drugs, cosmetic products do not have to undergo rigorous, double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies to prove their efficacy. Claims made are often subjective rather than measurable. “80% of women saw a reduction in wrinkles”. Even when outcomes are measurable, they are rarely measured against outcomes from similar products. Tools called corneometers can measure skin’s hydration level before and after application of a face cream to prove it is increased by said cream. So while all of the ingredients in a $500 cream sound luxurious and are ‘clinically proven’, how do we know a $10 face cream would not increase skin’s hydration just as well? The drug store brand creams, while costing significantly less, make similar claims of efficacy to the much more expensive department store creams.

Being 31, I’ve started to look at products that use words like ‘reduce’ and ‘minimize’ rather than ‘prevent’ when referring to lines and wrinkles. I have noticed a line on my forehead that seems to be there even when I’m not furrowing my brow in thought. There are a couple of ‘laugh lines’ under my eyes which I would like to prevent from becoming ‘crow’s feet’  although I’m not sure of the distinction other than I prefer the sound of the former. I’m not alone. Women spend billions of dollars annually on skin care in order to reverse the signs of aging and reclaim their youth. I recently had to buy a new eye cream. I was at a “beauty mart” where several brands were displayed side by side. I felt overwhelmed by the seemingly endless choices in front of me. I was not looking at couture brands, but mid-priced department store brands ranging from $20-$50. All made essentially the same claims, to reduce wrinkles, firm skin, reduce circles etc. I must admit, I felt more drawn to the more expensive creams. Part of it was that the packaging of the more expensive lines was more appealing. However, I think the main reason is that on some subconscious level I believe that the more expensive something is, the better it must be. I have heard similar comments from others, and not just about skincare products. If there are 2 brands of olive oil, the more expensive one is better quality, brand name must be better than generic, the most expensive car is the best.  I ended up buying a $46 cream. I still have wrinkles under my eyes, but I’m certain I will be one of the 80% who will notice an improvement in 4-6 weeks. Another reason women may be shelling out cash for youth in a bottle is to increase their happiness. A study on PsychCentral led by Cornell University researchers showed that people were more likely to make more expensive purchases when they were feeling low, and they were most likely to pay with their credit card, perhaps to offset some of the guilt about the purchase. It seems that purchasing a luxury item, like an overpriced face cream, can temporarily lift a woman’s mood.

Many women swear to the effectiveness of these very expensive luxury creams, to the extent that some of them even have a cult-like following. Crème de la Mer is revered by so many Hollywood celebrities you would think it was Botox in a bottle. So, if you have $1000 to burn, go ahead and try Estee Lauder’s Re-Nutriv Re-Creation Collection. Just don’t expect a miracle. Me, I think I’ll just work on embracing my wrinkles. (While continuing to use my antiwrinkle serum, day cream, night cream, dark circle minimizer, eye cream and blemish fighter).