Chemical peel or $875 skin cream?

November 21, 2012

Snail serum and bee venom are now found in skin creams
Snail serum and bee venom are now found in skin creams

The high price of high-end skin creams has soared to new heights. This October, “3LAB” launched their new Super Cream at Barney’s department stores in LA and NY. Within three weeks, the stores sold 30 jars for $875 each. This was no fluke. There’s a current demand for a $560 Bee Venom Mask from a British company and Carita’s $600 Diamond Cream was relaunched this year due to popular demand. Bettina O’Neill, VP of cosmetics and fragrances at Barneys, says there’s no price resistance and that she’s seeing the greatest industry growth in all high-end luxury skin care brands.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Consumer research firm NPD Group says that prestigious skin-care products, priced at $150 or more, generated $418 million in department store sales in the U.S. during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2012. That represents an 18 percent increase over the preceding year. The average selling price was $236.54.”

One associate clinical professor of dermatology at USC will probably not gift his wife with a luxury cream for Christmas. “The new round of pricey skin-care products often pitches an exotic ingredient that promises to work miracles on the complexion without necessarily offering any clinical evidence that it actually does so.” He stands by the old standbys – retinoids and glycolic and alpha hydroxyl acids. He says that these are still the ingredients that do the trick – and you can find them in products that sell for $29.95. Further, he recommends that you spend your money on a chemical peel because everything else is just expensive moisturizing.

One beauty cream manufacturer disagrees. Lewis Handler says the secret of his new $150 Knu anti-aging cream, which has no preservatives or filler and provides almost instantaneous plumping and lifting, is its Helix Aspersa Muller, snail serum combined with alpha hydroxyl acids and organic fruit stem cells.

It’s hard to resist the luxury of a personalized consultation at the beauty counter but Ron Robison, research exec for some of the world’s best-known brands, advises that what it should boil down to is, “What benefits is this providing to my skin?” Do your research before plunking down your dollars. A chemical peel could cost the same as an expensive cream, but the results could be longer lasting, more dramatic and help your skin absorb the beneficial ingredients in your skin creams. If you’re curious about the benefits of a chemical peel, talk to an experienced skin professional like a board-certified plastic surgeon. 


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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