In Defense of $900 Moisturizer

Why La Prairie's Skin Caviar Luxe Cream is worth it.

Confession: I’m not in my 20s anymore. The evidence is on my face, where new colors and valleys are moving in, threatening to steal the spotlight from my freckles. I find myself admiring other women’s skin on the subway—and envying men’s ability to grow a beard. Suddenly, my medicine cabinet contains three shelves’ worth of anti-aging weapons: serums, masks, SPF spray, moisturizers. One of them, La Prairie’s Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, costs a small fortune. Any dermatologist (including mine) will tell you that no moisturizer can prevent wrinkles, or permanently smooth them away. So at $880 for 3.4 ounces, what’s the point?

The answer lies somewhere inside La Prairie’s rich, weightless cream, which smells like a luxurious grandma. Its hefty cerulean jar opens with a gratifying pop, and there’s a silver spatula to swipe the flaxen elixir onto your fingertips and glide it onto the skin. The key ingredient is caviar extract, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which the 40-year-old Swiss company hails for its tightening and toning qualities. Once on, it has a sheer, matte finish. I can’t feel it hydrating or plumping. But I hope it is.

La Prairie introduced its first caviar product in 1987, in the unthinkable form of tiny globes that you’d pop and massage onto your face. It contained certain aspects of caviar, but this newest version contains “caviar premier,” a new ingredient that, combined with the original formula, brings the extract—sourced from sustainably farmed Siberian sturgeon—to its full potential. La Prairie says five years of research and development went into this line of updated caviar products. Being a skeptical New Yorker, I’m not swayed by any of this. I still use the cream.

Of course, I’m intrigued by the results it promises, but I also love the ritual of putting it on. Whenever I think about wrinkles, Noa Zilberman’s jewelry series of the same name comes to mind. In it, she uses the lines on her face as a map for gilded metal thread, which traces these patterns and transforms them into accessories. The pieces toe the line between allure and repulsion; on their own, they’re sinuous and striking, even beautiful. Unlike her, I’m not ready to embrace face creases. So, at least for now, Skin Caviar is my armor of choice.

(Opening image, from top:  Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Lift Cream, $350;  Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, $485;  Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask,  $375; all remastered with Caviar Skin Premier. Skin Caviar  Essence-in-Foundation, $195.)

All Stories