If you’re going to spend the equivalent of rent on a single luxury skin care product, it better be skin- and even life-changing. We’ve all heard the buzz around brands like La Mer and La Prairie, but few of us have been able to justify plunking down hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of dollars on products when there are more budget-friendly alternatives from Glossier, Mario Badescu and more. So how do you know what’s worth splurging on? Simple, we turned to some top dermatologists to find out which skin care staples we should be spending (most of) our money on.
Which types of products are worth spending big bucks on?
If you only have enough savings to invest in one skin care product, serums are your best bet. They usually pack a punch thanks to their higher concentration of potent ingredients, which allows them to penetrate your skin better. But don’t be afraid to indulge in a pricey mask. Since you don’t use them on the daily, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
What makes these luxury skin care products so special?
In one word: science. A lot of these formulas not only feature high-quality ingredients, they offer innovative methods to deliver those powerhouse ingredients. And they tend to have tons of research to back up their claims.
La Prairie – Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer
“The protein-rich caviar extract helps nourish the skin. With its rare ingredients, such as gold, platinum and white caviar, as well as algae extracts, this product does a wonderful job hydrating the skin and improves elasticity and tone resulting in silky smooth skin.” -Dr. Peterson Pierre, founder of Pierre Skin Care Institute
Chantecaille – Nano Gold Energizing Face Cream
“I love it because it’s creamy and hydrating without being too heavy or leaving residue on the skin’s surface. It has great penetration and is great to wear under makeup. I find it leaves the skin supple and silky without any sense of oiliness.” -Dr. Channing Barnett, founder of Barnett Dermatology
La Mer – Crème de la Mer
“This is my Rolls-Royce of creams. It’s both deeply hydrating and nourishing while also calming and soothing. It sometimes even gives a sensation of plumpness and fullness. If used over long periods of time, I have found that it can improve textural irregularities and soften fine lines.” -Dr. Channing Barnett
Natura Bissé – Diamond Extreme Eye
“I find the entire Diamond line excellent, but in particular Extreme Eye is worth the expense. Its ingredients include calendula and licorice, which are supposed to reduce puffiness and congestion thereby improving fine lines and elasticity. It has a creamy, hydrating feel while lacking in heaviness so you can apply it in the morning and evening. With consistent and long-term application, I’ve seen a convincing rejuvenation of the lower eyelid area.” -Dr. Channing Barnett
SkinCeuticals – C E Ferulic
“This serum has 15 percent pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid). It also has ferulic acid, which enhances the benefits of the L-ascorbic acid and the vitamin E in this product to even out your skin tone and brighten.” -Dr. Debra Jaliman, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets From a Top New York Dermatologist
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
“This retinol-free product is great. Bakuchiol is a plant-derived alternative to retinol and helps with fading spots and your skin’s elasticity. Squalane is extremely moisturizing and keeps skin hydrated. Its molecular makeup is very similar to our own skin’s cell membrane and this allows it to absorb rapidly.” -Dr. Debra Jaliman
Sunday Riley – Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment
“This product has great ingredients that work well for fine lines and wrinkles. The 5 percent lactic acid plumps the skin. Licorice extract may also help diminish the appearance of dark spots and age spots. It’s great for brightening the skin and diminishing hyperpigmentation. Aloe is anti-inflammatory so it gets rid of redness and soothes the skin. The lemongrass in this product has healing properties.” -Dr. Debra Jaliman
SkinMedica – TNS Essential Serum
“This serum contains two parts that are mixed together at the time of application. They are actually housed separately in the container and mixed on your finger as it is pumped out. The serum combines growth factors with an antioxidant complex. Growth factors are messengers that tell our skin cells to behave in a young, healthy manner. Antioxidants help neutralize free radical damage and even skin tone.” -Dr. Joshua Zeichner, founder of Zeichner Dermatology
Sisley Paris – Black Rose Cream Mask
“This intensive mask is designed to hydrate and brighten your skin. It contains rose oil, which has been shown to improve hyperpigmentation, provide antioxidant benefits and soothe the skin.” -Dr. Joshua Zeichner
Dior Super – Potent Serum From Capture Totale
“This serum contains a blend of stem cell extracts derived from four different flowers. Stem cells are specialized cells that promote growth and renewal. By stimulating skin stem cells, the extract can enhance cell turnover, strengthen the foundation of the skin and improve the appearance of wrinkles.” -Dr. Joshua Zeichner
Valmont Energy – Prime Renewing Pack-Mask
“This product is great because everyone can use it! It gives you a quick makeover while improving wrinkles. I love to use this as a weekly mask to perk up my skin for a quick, radiant glow. This product can be used all year and is especially great after traveling when you need that ‘good night’s sleep’ look.” -Dr. Marie Hayag, founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics
Environ – Vita-Peptide C-Quence Serum
“This product is made with vitamin A, peptides and antioxidants, which help to prevent and treat wrinkles while giving skin a smoother, healthier look.” -Dr. Marie Hayag
Forlle’d – Hyalogy P-Effect Essence
“This Nobel Prize-winning, nanotech, low-molecular weight, hyaluronic acid actually penetrates deeper layers of skin so you’ll experience intense hydration without a needle. Formulated with pearl proteins and ionized minerals, you can expect an improvement in sagging, dull, wrinkled and dehydrated skin.” -Dr. Marie Hayag
3LAB – M Cream
“This is a hydrating, antioxidant-rich formulation well suited for mature skin. The critical science behind the price tag? Apple-derived stem cells, which have been shown to upregulate the activity of our own skin’s stem cells, which approach senescence as we age. By keeping this layer of cells active, this cream’s regenerative potential may suitably reverse aging, UV-induced damage and even speed up healing for damaged skin. A human study even showed fairly rapid (two week) reductions in wrinkle scores using apple stem cells.” -Dr. Nikhil Dhingra of Spring Street Dermatology