Looking back, it has been a good seven years since I started having a proper skincare routine. While I have experimented a lot and leapt onto more fads than my wallet would appreciate, I have constantly meandered around the gilded category of designer skincare. Price was always a huge disincentive; I also couldn’t fathom how skincare might be worth hundreds and be sustainable in the long-run. Or, was I simply speculating?

I guess, I needed to find out if I was being the wet blanket, or if my apprehension held true.

So, I put together a luxury/designer skincare routine and embarked on a three-week test. The total damage? A staggering $841. Perhaps my reality was going to be forever altered, maybe this was the key to celebrity skin and completely, utterly worth it. In short, this better work. 

1. La Mer The Cleansing Micellar Water, S$95 (100ML)

La MerIts Claims 

A rinseless makeup remover, infused with La Mer’s Marine Micelle Waters that deeply cleanses while restoring, rehydrating and re-mineralising skin. The Cleansing Micellar Water is also imbued with the brand’s elixir, Miracle Broth, which promises superior smoothing, soothing and revitalising properties. 

How It Fared 

(*Disclaimer: I personally don’t  use micellar water to remove eye makeup. I always use an eye and lip makeup remover beforehand.Since discovering the wonders of micellar water, I have been on a roll. Today I am unabashedly, a total micellar water convert. Right off the bat, I noticed La Mer’s micellar water had a noticeable fragrance — slightly floral, powdery (like the dry down of a fancy perfume), but not an assault on the senses. I needed two soaked cotton pads to remove all my makeup, as I usually would. My skin felt superbly clean and quite refreshed; there was no stinging or any signs of irritation. As per its claims, it left my skin pristine but not tight and if I must say, a tad brighter. However, when I decided to use La Mer’s micellar water on half my face and my usual brand on the other, the difference in post-cleansing radiance turned out to be indiscernible. 

After committing to La Mer’s micellar water for three weeks and emptying a travel-sized bottle, I say it does a fantastic job at being an efficient, refreshing and comfortable makeup remover. But did it actually leave my skin exceptionally soothed and reinvigorated? Not quite. 

The Verdict

Great, but not extraordinary. The La Mer micellar water delivers beautifully as a makeup remover. If price was not an issue, I would agree that the micellar water’s performance and efficacy alone makes it an excellent cleanser. Unfortunately, aside from its makeup removing abilities, I did not notice outstanding soothing or reinvigorating properties that could set it apart from more affordable alternatives. If you are looking for a great micellar water that also looks and feels luxurious, I’d say go for it. But if $95 is a hard pinch and beyond your budget (as it is mine), then there definitely are less expensive (albeit less posh) alternatives that can offer a comparable cleanse. 

2. Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist, S$114 (50ML)

Chanel 1Its Claims

An intense but lightweight mist, infused with Camellia Alba and antioxidant Blue Ginger that restores hydration, calms, as well as deeply enriches your skin.   

How It Fared

$114?! Not mincing words here, but that’s an absurd amount of money to spend on a face mist because we all know how long they last. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting to be underwhelmed. Things took a different turn, though.   

I started off using the Hydra Beauty Essence Mist to tone my face (as the first step of my skincare routine) in the morning and evening. Then, I started using it after removing makeup to soothe my sensitive skin. Soon, I also began using it as the final step of my skincare routine to lock everything in. Before long, I was using it all the time, every time — whenever I needed a perk-me-up, on my foundation sponge, in-between steps of my skincare routine etc. It was incredible. 

For starters, the Hydra Beauty Essence Mist is lightweight to a fault. It is so fine that the first time I used it, I thought the can was already empty. The sheerness of the mist belies its potency — my skin felt instantly calmed, rehydrated, but never tacky. When used immediately after washing my face in the morning, the delicate shower left my skin looking especially bright and re-energised. Oh and it also smells divine

The Verdict

Perhaps I was expecting to be disappointed, but I enjoyed using the Hydra Beauty Essence Mist a lot more than I thought I would. Truth is, I haven’t used many facial mists that delivered as much as they claimed, or significantly value-added my routine. This magical can of goodness made me reevaluate my skepticism. Unfortunately, its steep price also knocks the wind out of me and I can’t imagine constantly repurchasing this in the long-run. Nonetheless, a true luxury in both price and performance, it’s worth a try if you can afford it.  

3. Kenzoki Ginger Wake-Up Serum-Lotion, S$51 (100ML)

Kenzo 1Its Claims

A remarkable 2-in-1 morning solution for fatigued skin that combines the tonic effect of a lotion and vitalising action of a serum. Powered by radiance-boosting ginger plant water encapsulated in microbeads, this serum-lotion promises to recharge and protect skin for lasting brilliance. 

How It Fared

There was something strangely attractive about this serum-lotion. Perhaps it was the sunny packaging, or the universe of microbeads suspended within it. Either way, as someone who runs late 80% of the time, the Wake-Up Serum-Lotion seemed like a perfect way to kickstart my morning skincare routine. 

I used this innovative 2-in-1 as the second step of my morning skincare ritual, right after toner. Despite its watery texture, the serum-lotion was surprisingly (but not excessively) moisturising and left my skin feeling supple. Although it did leave a slightly tacky film, this worked just fine under makeup. The subtle fresh, sparkling scent was rather therapeutic on hectic mornings too. Just like that, the serum-lotion appeared to be performing fair for a while — it did not break me out, did not improve/worsen my skin’s oil control, was adequately hydrating and never interfered with makeup. In short, it kept everything status quo to the point where it worked nicely…but hardly at all. 

Then, something interesting happened. After a particularly late night, I fell asleep with my makeup on (oh, horrors) and woke up at 7 a.m. with skin more worn out than ever. The Wake-Up Serum-Lotion became an unexpected save for my fatigued complexion; my skin looked more enlivened and revitalised than I had ever seen it on 2-hours of sleep. Wow. 

The Verdict

For the most part, I would say the Kenzoki Wake-Up Serum-Lotion worked just right. It didn’t reinvent my beauty routine, but it did deliver as promised and became a pretty efficient addition to my morning prep. While the serum-lotion is (comparatively) the lowest priced item of the lot, $51 arguably cuts short of being generally affordable. However, I can actually see myself repurchasing this because if I dare say, it’s worth the splurge. If you’re looking to try designer skincare that works and wouldn’t burn too huge a hole in your wallet, then I can’t recommend this enough. 

4. Tom Ford Research Serum Concentrate, S$503 (20ML)

Tom Ford 1Its Claims

A highly luxurious, extraordinarily potent serum concentrate that sinks in tracelessly to visibly transform and renew your skin. Refines the appearance of pores, wrinkles and fine lines, while revealing a healthy, smooth luminosity. 

How It Fared

I couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted to use this or just frame it up somewhere in my house for viewing-only purposes. There are many things I can think of that could cost $500, but a serum doesn’t even come close. The price felt surreal — so much so that I didn’t know how to place my expectations. Was I going to wake up looking like a 100/10? Was this going to change my life? 

I incorporated the Tom Ford Research Serum Concentrate into my night time routine, using it immediately after toner. The concentrate has a highly viscous, gel-like consistency that as it claims, sank in instantaneously and invisibly into my skin. Its efficacy Is immediately visible — my skin felt smooth and velvety to touch, like I had just used a pore-erasing primer. 

Except that this was one hell of an ultra-long wear primer, because I woke up with pretty much one of the best skin days I can remember having. My skin felt and looked considerably softer, polished and even. I found that the serum-concentrate’s tracelessness and instant smoothing properties was excellent under makeup. Which felt like a huge win, knowing that this powerful concentrate could continue working on my skin throughout the day. After 3 weeks with Tom Ford’s Research Serum Concentrate, I am quite certain that my skin’s overall texture has improved noticeably. Although, can I say it was as remarkable as its price point? Again, not exactly. 

The Verdict

All things aside, this does work. That said, I can’t deny that I am still on the fence for this Tom Ford concoction. The biggest reservation is clearly, the exceedingly high price point. Maybe I set my expectations too high, but with this insane price tag, could I not? I am not sure if I would fork out $503 for this serum-concentrate if I could get a year’s supply of something more affordable — but still adequately effective — in its place. Nonetheless, I concur that this is a superior indulgence, even among designer skincare.  

5. Marc Jacobs Youthquake Hydra-Full Retexturizing Gel Crème Moisturiser, S$78 (50ML)

Marc Jacobs 2Its Claims

A multi-tasking moisturiser for achieving that coveted Marc Jacobs Beauty glow, which takes moisturising and retexturising to new levels. Formulated with powerful pineapple enzymes and encapsulated sodium hyaluronate, the revolutionary gel crème moisturiser promises instantly lucent, well-hydrated and impeccable skin around the clock. 

How It Fared

First things first, this smells ridiculously good. Somewhat like vanilla and coconut ice-cream by the beach with tropical fruits on top, but better. I wanted it in candles, a room spray, a home spray, perfume, my laundry detergent…everything. Anyway. 

I used the gel crème moisturiser as the last step of my skincare routine in the morning and evening. The lightweight balm-like texture was strangely satisfying to scoop (I used a spatula) and melted into my skin like a dream. I was pretty blown away by the finish — it left my skin feeling silky, with a touch of that good-skin-day glow but without a hint of stickiness. I also found that I could layer the gel crème quite generously without having it turn into a heavy, greasy mess. 

Over the course of 3-weeks, I was far more impressed by the immediate wear and effect of this moisturiser. It did a decent job at hydrating my skin, wore splendidly under makeup and delivered a sheer, dewy sheen. Admittedly, while the gel crème moisturiser claims both moisturising and retexturising abilities, I can’t be certain if my skin’s texture improved from this or the Tom Ford Research Serum Concentrate (I suspect the latter performed better in this aspect).  

The Verdict 

As someone who prefers modest moisturisers that don’t set out to overachieve, but do what they need to do best, I revelled in this one. While $78 is considerably expensive, I do think it’s relatively reasonable for a designer moisturiser — especially one that performs. A huge bonus is the clean formula devoid of Parabens, Sulfates, and Formaldehydes (to name a few). All in, I’d say the Marc Jacobs Youthquake Hydra-Full Retexturizing Gel Crème Moisturiser is probably the one I’d repurchase in a heartbeat.

Oddly enough, after three-weeks of using nothing but designer skincare, I didn’t feel entirely dismayed returning to my usual routine. While it was a pleasure indulging in luxury/designer skincare both literally and symbolically, was it truly worth $850? Highly debatable! If you were expecting some marvellous results, I guess this experience ultimately fell short of lofty expectations.

From a practical perspective, you really don’t need to switch up your skincare routine with a full designer line-up for great skin. Nonetheless, I can see how investing in one or two designer products (if you like) may boost your skincare ritual and if anything, feel like a well-deserved treat. Although, if you can’t/won’t make that splurge, don’t worry about it!

Take care,

Melisa Goh

Melisa Goh

up up and away


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