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Yes, maybe the economy is down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t splurge now and again. It does suggest, however, that you may want to be a bit more, um, selective when buying luxury beauty products. With that said, here are five of the best luxury beauty products to invest in (and yes, they do yield great dividends):
1. Eve Lom Cleanser ($100, FutureDerm.com/Shop).
This cult favorite really works. Formulation-wise, it is predominantly mineral oil, which many customers are alarmed by, but should not be. In fact, according to Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun, “Cosmetics-grade mineral oil is [among those] considered the safest, most non-irritating, and effective moisturizing ingredients ever found.” In addition, this 1989 study in the journal Dermatitis found that mineral oil was more effective in preventing water loss from the skin than a solution with 15% linoleic acid, a fatty acid.
High-grade mineral oil also does not clog the pores, as many are lead to believe. According to Rebecca James Gadberry, chairman and co-CEO of YG Laboratories, tests of the cosmetic grade of mineral oil usually warrant only a 1 or 2 rating on a scale from 1-5, with 1 being the least pore-clogging, and 5 being highly pore-clogging. Gadberry notes that it is actually the ingredients used in conjunction with mineral oil that clog the pores: “Caution should be used when mineral oil [an occlusive agent] is included in leave-on products containing pore-clogging ingredients.” A list of comedogenic ingredients it may be wise to avoid using with mineral oil may be found here.
Eve Lom Cleanser also contains a mix of cetearyl alcohol (a non-drying alcohol), lanolin, and cocoa butter, all of which have been demonstrated in dermatological studies to hydrate the skin. Smaller concentrations of four essential oils (chamomile, clove, eucalyptus, and hops) also claim to soften and soothe the skin, though the published scientific research on essential oils is more limited at this time.
One caveat: This cleanser is usually recommended for those with dry or normal skin, as many dermatologists do not recommend such hydrating cleansers for those with oily skin. Talk to your dermatologist if you have any concerns. Product Rating: 8/9 = 8.9/10.0. (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 3/3. Value for the money: 2/3 – quite expensive, despite good performance. New technology or unique formulation: 3/3. Sunscreen: N/A).
Ingredients: Paraffinum Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Cetearyl Alcohol, PEG 30 Lanolin, Bis Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate 2, Aluminum Stearate, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Butter, PEG 75 Lanolin, Chamomilla Recutita (Chamomile Oil), Eugenia Caryophyllus (Clove) Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Oil, Humulus Lupulas (Hops Oil), Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, P Chloro M Cresol, Eugenol, Isoeugenol
2. Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue ($100, Beauty.com).
Um, so yes, at $100 for 0.5 ounces, one would assume that a practical girl like myself would give this one the boot. Unfortunately, I can’t. This cream contains a fairly high concentration of soothing antioxidant green tea and chamomile, cosmetically-brightening mica, skin-lightening vitamin C and arnica montana (though studies are limited on the latter), and vitamin K (phytonadione), which has been shown to be effective against certain kinds of dark circles.
What I mean by “certain types of dark circles” is that dark circles are most likely either caused by excessive melanin production or blood pooling under the eyes as a result of inflammation or vasodilation, according to Dr. Leslie Baumann’s textbook, Cosmetic Dermatology. If the source of your dark circles is excessive melanin production, Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue used in conjunction with a retinol (vitamin A) cream may help you, as a 2004 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a combination of vitamin K, vitamin C, and retinol provided moderate alleviation of dark circles. To find the source of your dark circles, do the following test, from Dr. Heidi Waldorf in the April 2008 Oprah magazine: If you apply light pressure to the circle or shadow and it disappears, your problem is due to blood pooling under the eyes. If the color doesn’t disappear, the darkness is caused by excess pigment (time for vitamin K and retinol!). And if the shadow forms at the inside corner of your eye, where a tear would flow, it’s probably due to a deep tear trough.
At any rate, I hate to say it, but I have not personally found any eye cream that matches the performance of this one – yet. But I will keep looking. In the meantime, you will catch me crying at Sephora every 2-3 months as I shell out the dough for yet another jar… Product Rating: 8/10. (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 3/3. Value for the money: 2/3- pretty expensive, but it works. Unique formulation or new technology: 3/3. Sunscreen: 0/1).
Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Cyclomethicone, Polyacrylamide, Mica (CI 77019), Glycosaminoglycans, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Aesculus Hippocastanum Seed Extract (Horse Chestnut), Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract (Matricaria), Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Canola Oil, Phytonadione (Vitamin K), Beta Glucan, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (Vitamin C), Sodium PCA, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Bioflavonoids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Kojic Acid, C13 14 Isoparaffin, Laureth 7, Atelocollagen, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Ubiquinone, Carbomer, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77491, CI 77499)
3. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($93.78, Amazon.com. Also available in sample sizes from Skinmedix.com).
I know that I write about this product more than any other, but I can’t help it – I absolutely love it! I have been using it everyday since I was 19 years old, and not only have I never gotten another sunspot, but I also got rid of the three I already had developed. Research supports it too: The product is actually backed by an independent 2003 study by Lin et. al. which affirmed that a solution of 15% L-ascorbic acid and 1% alpha-tocopherol (such as that found in Skinceuticals CE Ferulic) increases photoprotection against damaging UV rays and free radical formation. The product has also been reported in independent studies to reduce the existence of up to 96% of sunburned cells. To be honest, using this product under a broad-spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen during the day, and a retinoid-rich moisturizer at night (like one of my other favorites, Green Cream) are the never-changing parts of my skin care routine.
4. Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat ($39.50, Amazon.com).
Very rarely on this blog will you find a product I love exclusively for its cosmetic value (I like a product like my man – one with substance too)! So even though the ingredients list of Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat isn’t really anything to write home about, it is the substance of this product’s micronized particles that makes it special, which simultaneously cover (like a concealer) and reflect (like a highlighter). This product truly has me – and many other beauty bloggers – hooked. One note: Be sure that you match the shade to your skin tone; if you go too light, this thick-based, reflective formula will leave you with light half-moons under your eyes.
Ingredients: AQUA (WATER) . CYCLOMETHICONE . GLYCERIN . TALC . PARAFFINUM LIQUIDUM (MINERAL OIL) . PEG/ PPG-18/18 DIMETHICONE . MAGNESIUM SULFATE . TRIDECETH-3 . METHICONE . METHYLPARABEN . SQUALANE . [+/- MAY CONTAIN : CI 77891 (TITANIUM DIOXIDE) . CI 77019 (MICA) . CI 77492 (IRON OXIDE) . CI 77491 (IRON OXIDE) . CI 77499 (IRON OXIDE) . CI 77007 (ULTRAMARINES) . CI 77510 (FERRIC FERROCYANIDE) . CI 77742 (MANGANESE VIOLET) . CI 75470 (CARMINE) . “NF8897” . ]
5. Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($58.00, Amazon.com).
There’s nothing base about this silicone-based foundation, which goes on light, builds easily, and looks and feels surprisingly natural. I’m honestly not a fan of most foundations, but if I’m going to an event, you better believe this is the make-up I want against my skin. Fantastic results, every time!
Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, aqua/water, glycerin, isododecane, alcohol, polyglyceryl-4, isostearate, aluminium starch, octenylsuccinate,cetyl dimethicone,copolyol, hexyl laurate, disteardimonium hectorite, phenoxyethanol, acetylated glycol, stearate magnesium sulfate, tristearin, cellulose gum, nylon-12, diphenyl dimethicone, acrylates copolymer, parfum/fragrance, disodium stearoyl glutamate, octyl methoxycinnamate, mehtylparaben, butylparaben, aluminium hydroxide
Of course, as I have pointed out before, luxury (i.e., traditionally more expensive or department store-grade) products are not always better than those found in a drugstore. However, as any woman who has ever experienced Sephoria (“a state of euphoria in or immediately following a Sephora experience”) knows, sometimes you just want to splurge. These five products are definitely a smart way to get your fix! Let me know your opinions – and favorite splurges – in Comments below!