La Prairie

White Caviar Illuminating Cream

1.70 fl. oz. for $ 485.00
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Brand Overview

For what this moisturizer costs, it should be brimming with state-of-the-art ingredients and have the type of packaging that keeps those ingredients stable during use. This product strikes out on both counts. First, the core ingredients in this hyper-expensive moisturizer are present in numerous other moisturizers that cost a lot less, and second, many of the less expensive products are not packaged in jars (see More Info for details).

White Caviar Illuminating Cream has a texture that is both light and emollient, in part because of the silicones it contains plus petrolatum (think Vaseline). It also contains some very good antioxidants, in particular resveratrol and vitamins C and E, as well as interesting plant extracts such as grape vine and licorice. However, it also contains several plant extracts with the potential for irritation, including ginseng and horsetail, along with fragrance, both synthetic and natural. Irritation is always a problem for skin (see More Info for details), but somehow it feels even more damaging when you’re spending this much money.

There is nothing illuminating about this product, and needless to say caviar is better on a cracker than it is on your skin. La Prairie has been touting this ingredient for years, and there still isn’t a shred of published research anywhere about its claimed benefit for skin. The claims of lightening brown spots are passable given the antioxidants and licorice extracts, but those are not unique to this product and they certainly don’t replace the need for sunscreen during the day.

In summing up, the positives definitely don’t outweigh the negatives for this moisturizer, and the price just makes it all rather ridiculous—don’t you agree?


  • Contains some very good antioxidants, anti-irritants, and cell-communicating ingredients.


  • Terribly overpriced.
  • Jar packaging won’t keep the critical ingredients stable during use, so you’re losing the benefits you’re paying (a lot) extra for.
  • Caviar protein doesn’t offer special antiwrinkle benefits for skin.

More Info:

Jar Packaging

The fact that this moisturizer is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients it contains won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you’re dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

Why Irritation is a Problem for All Skin Types

Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation, and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For this reason, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).

Jar Packaging: Yes
Tested on animals: Yes

This blissfully light and luxurious cream drenches the skin with moisture as it lightens, brightens, and lifts, giving you a more even skin tone, with improved firmness. Continued use gives you brighter, younger-looking skin as dark spots are prevented, and your skin is firmed, moisturized, and protected from environmental damage.

Water, Glycerin, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Tridecyl Stearate, Cyclopentasiloxane, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Isododecane, Petrolatum, Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone, Sorbitan Tristearate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Dimethicone, Caviar Glycoproteins, Panax Ginseng, Equisetum Arvense, Octadecanoic Acid, Palmitoyl Heptapeptide-5, Larix Sibirica, Glycyrrhiza Glabra, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Lepidium Sativum Sprout Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera, Jasminum Officinale, Boswellia Serrata Gum Extract, Proline, Hydroxyproline, Glycine, Octanoyl Tetrapeptide, Resveratrol, Polygonum Cuspidatum, Centella Asiatica, Thalassiosira Pseudonana Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Honey, Tuber Magnatum, Tremella Fuciformis, Vitis Vinifera Vine Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Acrylates Copolymer, PEG-7 trimethylolpropane Coconut Ether, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Olivate, Lecithin, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Hydrogenated Coco-Glycerides, Tricaprylin, Sodium Chloride, Caprylyl Glycol, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetyl Alcohol, Sorbitan Stearate, Tocopherol, PEG-40 Stearate, Polysilicone-11, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone/Divinyldimethicone/Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Hexylene Glycol, Isohexadecane, Polysorbate 80, Sorbitan Palmitate, Cetyl Palmitate, Disodium EDTA, Glyceryl Caprylate, Polysorbate 20, Glyceryl Stearate, Palmitic Acid, Behenyl Alcohol, Dextran, Stearic Acid, Polyisobutene, Stearoxymethicone/Dimethicone Copolymer, Carbomer, Sorbitol, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Eugenol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Palmitoyl Heptapeptide-5, Octanoyl Tetrapeptide, Thalassiosira Pseudonana Extract, Vitis Vinifera Vine Extract, PEG-7 Trimethylolpropane

La Prairie At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the makeup categories present at least one good, though needlessly expensive, option.

Weaknesses: Very expensive; overreliance on jar packaging; many products contain a potentially irritating amount of astringent horsetail extract; no effective skin-lightening options; poor options for anyone dealing with blemishes (though La Prairie is concerned primarily with selling wrinkle creams anyway).

La Prairie has been at the forefront in the introduction of expensive anti-aging products for more than three decades. Many of the products in this originally Swiss skin-care line are called "cellular treatment." After a while, it all starts sounding silly. The attempt to align these products with the concept of being able to affect skin at the cellular level is over the top, although when it comes to making the ordinary sound extraordinary, La Prairie excels.

Assuming your skin could improve with these products, the prices alone might cause premature aging! So what do the women who can safely afford these products get for their money? The prestige of knowing they can afford them, period. High-priced skin-care lines attract women who think that the dollars they spend will buy them something special that most other women can't afford. To some extent, they're right: most women can't afford these products. Yet anyone who reads and understands the ingredient lists would find that price doesn't reliably translate into having better skin. What you're really getting from this line is a barrage of look-younger-now claims not backed up by one shred of substantiated scientific evidence, and a group of unimpressive formulations.

A particularly egregious error appears in the number of La Prairie moisturizers (and my goodness, does this company love moisturizers!) that arrive in jar packaging. La Prairie is in-the-know about the importance of antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients for skin, yet almost all of their products that contain such ingredients ignore their vulnerability to oxidation. Containers like these ensure that these products will deteriorate shortly after you begin using them. Considering the premium prices, that is an almost unforgivable offense. At least the company gets their facial sunscreen right by including sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients. However, it's interesting to find that a visit to the La Prairie counter involves a lot more discussion about their moisturizers, ampoules, and other "treatment" products, while all the time you know that the only reliable antiwrinkle product everyone needs to use is sunscreen.

For more information about La Prairie, owned by Beiersdorf, call (800) 821-5718 or visit www.laprairie.com.

La Prairie Makeup

The brief makeup section in La Prairie's catalog poses the question "Consider the number of hours a day you wear makeup. Shouldn't the foundation you wear be an extension of your treatment program?" Well, calling most of La Prairie's skin-care products a "treatment" is a bit of a joke as what they seem to mean by "treatment benefit" has to do with the company's Cellular Complex, but that isn't complex in the least. This complex is primarily glycoproteins. Although it's true that glycoproteins are an integral part of the skin's intercellular matrix, they are far from the only element skin needs to look and feel its best. Functioning primarily as water-binding agents, glycoproteins won't firm, lift, or rejuvenate skin cells in the manner La Prairie would like you to believe. Further, of the makeup products below, only the ultra-pricey foundations contain a significant amount of this complex, and they have drawbacks of their own.Overall, La Prairie's makeup leaves much to be desired, especially given the high to ludicrous prices for what amount to ordinary cosmetics. A few of the products have supple, silky textures, but the expense is hard to justify when similar items are available for substantially less from so many other lines. Many of the products below earned happy face ratings, but keep in mind that you do not have to acquiesce to La Prairie's prices to beautify your face.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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