5 Luxury Skin Care Products Worth the Splurge – Even Now

Skin Care

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):

2009.07.16--Eve Lom Cleanser

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

2009.07.16--Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue

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)

2009.07.16--Skinceuticals CE Ferulic

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.

2009.07.16--Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat Radiant Touch Highlighter

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.


2009.07.16--Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

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

In Summary

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!  🙂

Image source (Flickr): Wi$e-Guy Money Roll, Originally uploaded by Gnerk

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  • Nicki Zevola

    @KO – I always say that everyone should use a sunscreen from the time they’re born. (Especially if it’s zinc or titanium oxide). Next, a retinoid and antioxidant serum from the time they are 21. At that time, you’ve basically reached physical maturity (on average), and are going to just see your skin aging after that.

    Aside from that, specialized cleansers, toners, and other ingredients like skin lighteners, peptides and growth factors can be used on a case-by-case basis as you notice changes in your skin.

    Does this help?

    All the best,

  • Nicki Zevola

    @Tres —

    Despite popular belief, parabens are OK in the concentrations they are used in the vast majority of beauty products. For more, please check out this full post: https://www.futurederm.com/2008/02/15/spotlight-on-parabens/

    All the best,

  • Ko

    Hi there, I love your blog! Very useful information. I have one question and its to do with age and using anti-aging creams. I am myself a 3rd year medical student, 28 years old.. When is a good time to start using these ingredients? I am always apprehensive to put things on my face other than my moisturizer, but i think it might be time to start thinking of anti aging creams and such. I was thinking of purchasing an eye cream – i have darkness near the inner corner of my eyes … and i want to prevent fine lines from appearing :(.. What products would you suggest? please advise. – Ko 🙂

  • tres

    are the parabens in the eve lom cleanser OK for the skin?

  • Lisa

    Your blog is very helpful and informative. Please, recommend a facial cleanser for combination skin (after 40). Thank you!

  • Chris T

    thanks for the cool information. one question, What is your opinion of products in jars-ie ptr eye cream-i read that potency is lost once exposed to air, and that putting your fingers in cream can contaminate it with bacteria etc. Thanks!

  • Hi Patty,

    You’re right – I switched back to Skinceuticals CE Ferulic. It’s pretty much one of the staples in my skin care =)

    Hope this helps

  • Patty

    Are you still using Cellbone c15ie or have you gone back on skinceuticals only?

    Have a lovely day.

  • aj

    Hey Nicki i haven’t tryed Peter Thomas Roth power k rescue before but Medik8 dark circle cream produced some good results for me (i have thin skin like what Robin described) have you tryed it yourself ? great blog by the way !


  • Yet another notch in the “try it” column for the GA Luminous Silk- just wish someone near Cincinnati carried it so I could see the shades!

    Just wondering, it seems the Eve Lom is comprised of pretty basic, inexpensive ingredients to justify such a high price tag. What is it that makes it worth it to you?

  • Dear Sarah,

    I think that the Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue is honestly better for dark circles (with vitamin K and vitamin C) than for puffiness. To get rid of puffy eyes, here is a post:

    I also read recently in a magazine from one of my favorite dermatologists, Dr. Leslie Baumann, that doing jumping jacks first thing in the morning can help deplete undereye puffiness, as it stimulates circulation. An interesting tip for sure!

    Hope that this helps!


  • Dear Robin,

    To plump up the area under the eyes, the best option of all is to see a dermatologist, who can administer collagen-stimulating laser treatments or filling (and as luck would have it collagen-stimulating) injectable fillers. S/he can also give you a full assessment as to what could be causing the thinness of your skin in that area, and how to treat it/prevent it from furthering.

    As far as over-the-counter options, a cosmetic solution is to use an eye cream with a silicone base like cyclopentasiloxane, which fills up creases to a small extent (not that you have any, just in general). Olay makes great eye creams with this ingredient!

    Over time, using the “big 5” ingredients consistently (retinoids or AHAs at night, antioxidants all the time, sunscreen during the day, niacinamide) can also help increase collagen production over time and effectively fill the area.

    Hope that this helps! Be sure that you ask a derm too. =)

  • Robin

    I have dark circles, but a make up artist once told me it was because I didn’t have much fat under my eyes and that the darkness was my veins and arteries showing through my skin. (Gross, I know! Sorry!) If that is the case, is there anything out there to fatten up the area??
    P.S. I love your blog!

  • sarah

    Thanks for the great post, Nicki! One question–should the Thomas Roth eye cream also work on puffiness in your judgment, or is it really mainly for dark circles?

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