Some skin woes — hyperpigmentation, dullness, fine lines — call for more than your everyday moisturizer. And finding that right cream for your skin can be daunting: there are thousands of products on the market, each more miraculous-sounding than the next. Not to mention the price — with luxe products like Guerlain’s Orchid Imperiale and Chantecaille’s Nano Gold Energizing Cream retailing for over $400, La Mer seems like a relative bargain.
Is there such thing as a miracle cream?
No. But it’s not all smoke and mirrors: skincare companies have poured both dollars and time into researching, formulating, and testing new formulas. Ingredients are increasingly advanced, ranging from Skin Growth Factors, which stimulate cell production, to peptides that pump up collagen stores. Delivery systems have become more complex as well, ranging from time-lapse to micro-sponges.
Making smart choices
Annet King, Director of Global Education at Dermalogica and the International Dermal Institute, has over twenty years of experience in the skincare industry. She says the key to deciphering the world of super-engineered skincare is doing your homework. “Don't succumb to hype, advertising, and promises.” Instead, she says you should dissect ingredient lists. The price difference should be due to the ingredients, especially the percentage of actives like peptides, retinoids, ceramides, sodium hyaluronate, and niacinamide. If you don’t understand something, consult a dermatologist or licensed skincare specialist and ask them to break down the science behind creams.
Try before you buy
King suggests using any cream for a week to see if you’re happy with the results. Forget what the product is supposed to do and pay attention to what it actually does: is your skin smoother? More elastic? Brighter? And, above all, be realistic. No matter how many amazing ingredients, no product can completely remove wrinkles or eliminate sagging skin; same goes for banishing all hyper-pigmentation. See "Birchbox Picks" for some of our latest favorites.