La Prairie
If you can choke past the prices there are some excellent moisturizers in this line brimming with noteworthy antioxidants, water-binding agents, and anti-irritants, and there are some well-formulated sunscreens with UVA-protecting ingredients?although selling sunscreens at $125 an ounce should be illegal. Given that a generous application is the cornerstone for getting correct sunscreen coverage, this price almost guarantees that you will not be using enough to get the essential protection from sun damage that the skin really needs and that the label indicates.

Cellular Eye Make-Up Remover ($45.00 for 4.2 ounces) is a standard, silicone-based, wipe-off cleanser that contains some plant extracts (some that can be irritants and others that can be anti-irritants). That's nice, but I wonder if the executives in these companies laugh about the women who believe they're getting something special when they spend this kind of money for such an ordinary product.

Cellular Refining Lotion ($65.00 for 8.2 ounces) would be a good toner for most skin types, with a decent amount of antioxidants and water-binding agents, though for the money it should be overflowing with those types of ingredients. The plant extracts are a mixture of anti-irritants and irritants, but they are present in such tiny amounts that they probably have no effect on skin. The tiny amount of urea works as a water-binding agent, not as an exfoliant.

C Energy Cellular Serum ($150.00 for 1 ounce) lists alcohol as its second ingredient, and that makes it too drying and irritating for all skin types. The third ingredient is ascorbic acid, an effective form of vitamin C for its antioxidant properties, but it can also be a skin irritant. If you are going for vitamin C, there are better products to choose from than this one.

Age Management Eye Repair ($100.00 for 0.5 ounce) has a huge ingredient list that is like throwing in everything in the refrigerator and the kitchen sink. What you end up with is a very good moisturizer with impressive water-binding agents, antioxidants, and anti-irritants. It would work great for normal to dry skin. The 3% concentration of AHAs is not enough to have exfoliating properties, plus the pH is too high for the AHAs to work even if the concentration were high enough.

Skin Caviar Luxe Cream ($315.00 for 1.7 ounces) . If you were going to spend an unseemly amount of money to get a great skin-care product, choosing this incredibly mundane formulation would not be the way to do it. The plant extracts are a waste, with some being incredibly irritating (such as horsetail, arnica, and sage), and there's not enough of the mulberry root to have any skin-lightening effect. The water-binding agents are nice, but are so far toward the end of the ingredient list that there's only a trace of them. The vitamins are good antioxidants, but not unique, as they show up in an endless array of other products, and there is only a very small amount of them, too. And, for the minuscule amount of caviar, you're better off picking up some at the grocery store and having it on toast rather than on your skin.

Paula Begoun