1. Kanebo Sensai Collection, The Lipstick: $55
“They make the most beautiful red lipstick on the market,” says Alexis Wolfer, founder of TheBeautyBean.com. The formula is based on the feel Japan’s Koishimaru silk and includes many of the same ingredients found in their astronomically priced skincare. “If you’re somebody who really loves rocking a red lip with a rich gorgeous pigment, this is a phenomenal product,” says Wolfer. “But it’s not for the woman who just wants to try it out, or loses it in the bottom of her purse—this is really for the woman for whom red lipstick is a part of her identity.”
2. Creme de la Mer: $150 per ounce
The original jaw-dropping face cream (a 16.5 oz. jar is $1,900), La Mer contains a trademarked (and secret) “Miracle Broth” that celebs and beauty junkies swear by. “With La Mer, the price point is heightened, regardless of what they put in their products,” says Cassandra Celestin, a certified cosmetic chemist and founder of TheBeautyChemist.com. “They [position the cream as] really high end, and it is about branding and marketing.” But there is something to be said for the mentality that comes along with a super-expensive pot of face cream: “If you know that the face cream cost $400, you’re gonna spend more time making sure it ends up on your face. You’re not pulling and tugging on your skin putting it on in a rush — it becomes an experience,” says Wolfer.
3. La Prairie Skin Caviar Concealer Foundation: $195
Nearly $200 for foundation seems absolutely insane — even if the word “caviar” is right there on the bottle. But Wolfer insists it’s worth the hefty sticker. “I am usually of the belief that skincare companies should stick with skincare and makeup companies should stick with makeup, but I think they do a phenomenal job taking their anti-aging formulas to makeup,” she says. While the product may improve your skin, and it does have caviar in it, maybe don’t splurge because of the delicacy alone: experts have been skeptical about caviar’s effectiveness.
4. Azature Black Diamond Nail Polish: $250,000
Azature is a fine jewelry company that produced the world’s most expensive bottle of polish, made of black diamonds. “A few months ago I went into a store and the salesgirl tried to convince me that all these diamond powders in their products really help,” said Celestin. “It’s just the idea of it” — meaning, luxury — “people buy. It doesn’t do anything for you.” Azature also sells a version of their diamond lacquer for $25: each bottle has a single black diamond in it. Even that is hard to justify. “I love nail art and everything about it, but you’re still going to use nail polish remover to remove it. It feels ludicrous,” said Wolfer.
5. Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Treatment: $1500
This four-week treatment (one tube per week) is supposed to deliver serious anti-aging results. Guerlain recommends using this product twice a year to the tune of $3,000. “I think that when you’re going to spend this amount of money on a product, my gut instinct is I’d rather get a laser treatment at the dermatologist’s office,” said Wolfer. In other words, probably no “molecular extract” from “the imperial orchid” can do what a doctor can.
6. Josie Maran Argan Oil: $96 for 4 oz.
Celeb make up artist Josie Maran’s argan oil won’t bankrupt you, but it actually earns its price when compared with many other argan oils on the market. “When you look at the ingredient listing [on less expensive oils], the first thing you see is silicone. Oil and silicone don’t really mix together, so you’ll find products that are 90 to 95% silicone and the rest argan oil or 90 to 95% argan oil and the rest silicone,” says Celestin. Maran’s, a rare 100% find, is worth the investment if the trendy ingredient is one you like.
7. Cle de Peau Beaute Synactif Intensive Cream: $1,000
Another crazy-pricey face cream, Cle de Peau’s includes Retinol ACE, green tea and Vitamin E — also ingredients found in many drugstore brands. “Oil of Olay, L’Oreal Regenerist — these are some of the best drugstore products are out there,” says celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes. “If you can’t afford the luxury item, this is the next best thing.” So why spend a grand? “Sometimes you’re paying for the name,” says Barnes. “It’s an important factor.”
8. Jean Patou Joy Baccarat Pure Parfum: $1500
This Jean Patou fragrance is made from a flower that only grows for two weeks every year in Jean Patou’s proprietary fields, and more than 10,000 blooms go into every bottle. “The other perfume houses — you notice they all smell very alike. They know what notes to put in and the kinks have been worked out. But when you’re using specialized ingredients, it’s tricky,” says Celestin. “I can understand why it’s so expensive.”