By Mandi Norwood | April 18, 2016 | Style & Beauty
New high-tech anti-aging regimes can’t promise a return to the skin you had in your 20s. But more-personalized product ranges can make us look extremely good for our age. Five testers went in search of lost youth…
According to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, if you haven’t struck it rich by the age of 35, it’s probably never going to happen. Not so with skin. For, regardless of good genes, UVA avoidance, and copious consumption of water, the vast majority of us will have a wealth of wrinkles by 35.
No wonder the beauty industry reports an explosion of activity in anti-aging products among consumers 35 and up. Offering salvation from the finest lines to the deepest crevices, “The age-specialist category,” says retail analyst Karen Grant of the NPD Group, “showed a 20 percent increase in 2015, the main growth coming from women over 35 who are buying and replenishing their products online.”
And by all accounts, they’re buying in bulk. The US skincare market is worth $5.2 billion. Almost half of that—$2.3 billion—is spent on prestige anti-aging facial skincare, high-end products that offer high-tech hope of younger-looking skin for longer.
“It has become almost like the cell phone industry, where each year there’s new technology and advancements,” says Grant. “It used to be that products were all-in-one—they were trying to do everything. Today, leading brands in anti-aging offer products that are targeted to specific areas, whether it’s plumping and hydrating or focusing on fine lines and wrinkles.”
Dr. Alexa Kimball, a professor of dermatology at Harvard, says, “It can be challenging for consumers to find the best products for their skin. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get results, but concentrations of ingredients matter, and formulations matter.” She lists retinoids, alpha hydroxy acid, and salicylic acid as important for cell turnover, and moisturizers to boost the skin’s moisture barrier, which is depleted as we age, especially after menopause, causing dryness and dullness.
Whichever products we choose, Kimball urges us to manage our expectations. “It is not realistic to expect to look 20 years younger.” However, she says, “you can start to see a real effect on fine wrinkles in a week, and by 12 weeks, detectable changes are valid.”
Key products: L’Essence ($425 for 1 oz.) L’Extrait ($650 for 0.5 oz.) La Crème Yeux ($225 for 0.5 oz.) La Crème ($400 for 1.7 oz.)
Claims: Infinite regeneration, thanks to the key ingredient, vanilla planifolia, a botanical from Madagascar. The fruit and flowers are handpicked between April and May, then shipped to the Chanel Research and Technology Center, just outside of Paris, for a purification process known as Chrono-Extraction. This produces the most potent of active molecules, known as Éphémères de Planifolia, which are responsible for boosting the enzymes proven to help skin regenerate and look younger.
Our tester reports: “I tend not to associate Chanel with high-tech skincare. Fragrances, cosmetics, body creams, absolutely. But rigorous research and development, unique purification technology, and rare and potent natural botanicals (sustainably cultivated, too)?
“Chanel’s commitment to being a top player in the anti-aging category is manifested in Sublimage. It’s a fantastic range of products. As well as the luxury of the delicious fragrance, the rich bronze packaging, and the custard-thick indulgent textures, it actually works.
“Yes, after four weeks of religiously using the products, I noticed my skin had a smoother, plumper, bouncier texture, which meant wrinkles and fine lines were less obvious, my makeup looked and felt better… heck, I didn’t even need as much makeup.
“Sublimage is a beautiful skincare experience. And to celebrate its 10th anniversary, Chanel has launched three new densities of the cornerstone product, La Crème. For my dry skin, I preferred the medium texture, but Texture Fine and Texture Suprême all deliver the same replenishing properties.
“My favorite product: the genius L’Essence, which gives an added moisture boost to La Crème and made my skin look visibly more alive!”
The Renewal Oil ($240 for 1 oz.) Genaissance de la Mer ($620 for 1 oz.) The Lifting Eye Serum ($240 for .5 oz.) Crème de la Mer ($170 for 1 oz.)
Claims: Profound powers of skin transformation, derived from potent, highly active ingredients like nutrient-rich algae, protective antioxidant extracts, and semiprecious stones through a unique three- to four-month bio-fermentation process. La Mer was created by Dr. Max Huber, an aerospace scientist, following an accident that left him with severe chemical burns for which he could find no relief.
Our tester reports: “In the first week of the testing, the Renewal Oil (which goes on first) and brand-new Genaissance de la Mer created a noticeable texture difference to my skin. The Renewal Oil immediately absorbed, and the Genaissance was simply magnificent, making my face feel fresh and energized. After the second week of using them together, I saw small lines disappear and the whole of my face felt a bit fuller and livelier. Then, with every week, I noticed more softness, brightness, and an alert appearance.
“One of the most refreshing aspects of the regime was the Lifting Eye Serum, which was gentle yet packed a punch. After only one week, the skin around my eyes was noticeably firmer and brighter, and more youthful, especially in the areas where I was collecting crow’s-feet. After three weeks, the evening’s application of serum came to feel like a minifacial for my eyes.
“After day-and-night usage over six weeks, my face carried a natural suppleness, smoothness, even tone, and brightness that did not exist prior. My makeup also began to look so much better, more natural. And the fine lines that always seemed to peer through my foundation? Gone. Overall, my skin is much more alive. And happier!”
Essential Skincare Lotion ($185 for 5.1 oz.) Daily Line Reducer ($525 for 1.8 oz.) Eye & Lip Contour Cream ($210 for 0.53 oz.) L’Integral Anti-Age ($525 for 1.6 oz.)
Claims: This iconic product range aims to tackle behavioral aging (also called epigenetic) as well as genetic aging. Stress, sun, pollution, too much partying… all of these external factors cause a “jamming” of the skin cells’ life cycle and reduce the skin’s ability to repair and renew itself. New, powerful active ingredients, such as Lindera extract, Persian acacia extract, and yeast and soya protein complex, are said to help restore the cellular cycle’s functioning mechanisms.
Our tester reports: “With its roots in the country that coined the phrase ‘femme fatale’ and its three-generations-deep reputation as the go-to skincare provider for some of the most beautiful women in the world, it’s no surprise that my Sisley Paris anti-aging regime delivered results that can only be described as très bien!
“Following a simple four-part plan, these new high-tech products were easily integrated into my daily routine. I began to look forward to the nostalgic fragrance each morning when applying the Sisleÿa Essential Skincare Lotion.With the lotion quickly absorbed into the skin, my face immediately felt more nourished. Despite the ultramodern plant-based formulations, the serum happily felt decidedly natural. Soon it was a favorite must-have, one I began to pack in my handbag for quick midday or in-flight hydration.
“The Daily Line Reducer, while its scent was reminiscent of a self-tanner, packed the biggest and most surprising wallop of the four products. Used liberally on my décolletage, fine lines and wrinkles were visibly minimized in just three days—even without my glasses! It’s as close to a miracle product as I’ve ever experienced.
“The Eye & Lip Contour Cream and brand-new L’Integral Anti-Age moisturizer delivered a hydrated, firmer skin texture, with results peaking at about three weeks. While a bit heavy for daytime use, generous evening applications of the duo-moisturizers on my notoriously dry skin delivered a déjà vu of sorts from 10 years earlier.”
le Sérum ($165 for 1 oz.) la Crème Multi-perfection ($165 for 2 oz.) le Sérum Yeux ($110 for 0.5 oz.) Dream Skin ($115 for 1 oz.)
Claims: Intense correction of all visible signs of aging, acting upon stem cells at the heart of the skin. Discovered in Madagascar 20 years ago by Dior ethnobotanists, Longoza is the anti-aging “jewel” in Capture Totale’s ingredients. The brand’s scientists claim it has exceptional regenerative powers on skin cells.
Our tester reports: “If you have dry skin, fine lines, and volume loss, I would highly recommend Dior Capture Totale. And I don’t say this lightly. Relying until now on good genes—and being lazy to boot—I wasn’t looking forward to using a regimen of products, but I grew to love the structure of the routine. And the products are gorgeous.
“Within just two to three weeks, I saw a huge improvement in my skin. I had never used a morning routine, mistakenly believing skin needed a few hours to absorb moisturizers. But the lightness of the Multi-Perfection Crème Universal hydrated my skin without greasiness, allowing me to use less concealer and foundation and rendering my lines—especially those annoying ones around the mouth—less noticeable. I realized I was now repairing my skin rather than having to apply more makeup to conceal its shortcomings. I was floored by the lightness of the products, and yet as soon as I applied them, I could feel them starting to work. I did not lose dark spots, but by week five, my skin definitely felt firmer and far less dry.
“These days, makeup is less essential for me, as my skin is well hydrated and my tone is more even. I especially love Dream Skin, which I began to use as an around-the-eye brightener but now use all over. It’s neither a tint nor a moisturizer, and yet the dreamy lotion gives my face a radiant glow.”
Liquid Lift ($525 for 1 oz.) Luxe Eye Lift Cream ($325 for 0.68 oz.) Luxe Sheer Cream ($430 for 1.7 oz.) Skin Caviar Foundation ($215 for 1 oz.)
Claims: Pure caviar extract is packed with amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals and tested to profoundly improve the skin’s appearance of firmness, elasticity, and tone. Formerly the caviar extract was sourced from wild sturgeon, long believed to offer the highest quality available. Now La Prairie has discovered an alternative high-quality source in the Baerli sturgeon, grown sustainably on aqua-farms.
Our tester reports: “The La Prairie experience is a 10 out of 10. The first step, the Liquid Caviar Lift, goes on easily and only requires a small amount—one to two short pumps—to cover your face and neck. It’s a nice light layer, preparing skin for the next step, the Luxe Cream and Eye Lift, which provides a really luxurious layer of moisture and which absorbs nicely. While these are among the priciest of products I have tried, I use far less, so they will last much longer.
“After four weeks of using the products, someone in my office asked me if I had work done! My fine lines are reduced, and the overall look of my skin is great. I am going to be 50 this year and have never had any kind of fillers or Botox, so the fact is, someone noticed the positive effects of La Prairie enough to ask me if I did anything!
“Finally, the Skin Caviar Foundation is exceptional. One or two small dabs gives just the right coverage to reduce redness and age spots and leave my skin looking smooth, radiant, and even-toned. It’s the best I have ever used—hands down. “My husband, who now knows that I have been in a trial, says he notices a change and says I look refreshed and youthful. He said I should keep doing the routine! Those were his words, not mine.”
Still life photography by Jeff Crawford