If you were around for Y2K, surely you recall the breaking Us Weekly special report on how J Lo smothered her entire glowing, plunging silk Versace gown-swathed bod in La Mer’s Miracle Broth. Legend has it (read: I’m supposing) that the print of this dress was inspired by that magical fermented sea kelp, and was cut so as to accentuate that glorious La Mer glow. As an IYT (impressionable young thing) during those years, this bit of beauty gossip always stuck with me, and I’ve forever dreamt of the day when I’d be sitting at my vanity, layering on smears of luxury skincare potions, the glints and glistens from my Piaget diamonds magnified in the makeup mirror, the gold used in their settings sourced from the same exclusive mines as the golden flecks in my nighttime serums.
Now I see that I had been wanting to be a divorcée. Post-settlement, of course, sitting in my Southern California beach-front estate, which was a honeymoon gift from my ex-husband (former HBO exec), marinating in heavily fragranced moisturizers that come in at least four layers of packaging. Honestly, who else can afford to reserve four decimal points a month for skincare-routine costs? Nevertheless, I want that life. For experiment’s sake, I tried it out for a few weeks—in my Brooklyn-Queens Expressway-front apartment, a gift from Craigslist. And it looked a little something like this (photos being a dramatic reenactment)…
The Cleanser: Natura Bissē Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse . Alas, this does not contain actual diamonds. However, the thick, lavender-scented jelly does make for a plush—and effective—washing experience, removing even the most effective of waterproof mascaras and lip stains.
The Serum: Valmont Time Master Intensive Program . A 28-day, twice-daily treatment serum filled with hyaluronic acids and peptides and DNA juices to hydrate, de-wrinkle, and otherwise rejuvenate your skin. And the soldier-side ranks of tiny white vials make for the perfect jewelry catchall, because no matter how opulent your life, you probably don’t want to get cream in the nooks and crevices of your multi-layered Rose Ring.
The Moisturizer: Guerlain Orchidée Impériale Cream [4-5]. The purple, gold-trimmed jar oozes imagined royal excess. “Gold Orchid technology” is the secret ingredient, but even if the jar were filled with off-brand petroleum jelly, I’d be convinced of its superior efficacy. (But it’s pretty amazing.)
The Eye Cream: La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Lift Cream . I think this one’s all in the name: caviar eye cream. The decadent ingredient really makes sense here, because personally speaking, the only kind of omega-3s coming near my eyes are the ones from delicate, baby fish. It’s cuter that way. And the counter display, complete with special tiny-spoon compartment, felt like a fun Polly Pocket toy for a full-grown, fully functioning adult.
The Primer: La Prairie Cellular Treatment Gold Illusion Line Filler . Gold shimmer for adults—with real mother-effing gold. The wrinkle-masking primer leaves a subtle sun-touched glow, while moisturizing and plumping skin to a silky finish (it contains silk, too), ready for makeup application.
The Body Lotion: La Mer The Body Crème, of course . The scent is a delicious, light floral, and the cream, though thick, absorbs quickly, leaving skin comfortably moisturized without feeling caked in greasy emollients. But what you’re really paying for is that delightful gaiety that comes with having just smothered yourself in La Mer. I get you, Jenny.
The Hand Cream: RéVive Youth Recruit Intensive Four Week Hand Treatment . Maybe not a cream, per se, but the ultimate in luxury products pour les mains. The four-week nighttime treatment improves the skin’s elasticity, plumping the skin on your hands to a more youthful appearance, and is packaged with the care of antique hand-carved chess pieces.
Yes, the products were exceptional. The jars have that expensive heft, come perfectly boxed and portioned—some with intricately designed spatulas (which I may or may not have used), and looked very pretty on my cheap composite bathroom countertop. The creams were thick, moisturizing, smelled amazing (but strongly), and absorbed quickly (leaving no gross film), and layered beautifully. Really, I found that mixing these luxury products was essentially foolproof—no pilling, not even any irritation to my sensitive skin despite the generous helpings of smell-good ingredients. And my skin? Well. It looks like $3,125, which, if we account for colloquial inflation, is a million bucks. Plus, I discovered an exciting new type of anxiety for when you fear a roommate might think your prized tube of Créme de La Mer is for communal use.
So, maybe the regime is a bit unrealistic for my current situation, but a girl can dream. And come birthday season, she can probably spring for some nice body cream and a pair of rose gold studs.
Jemma Baines photographed by Corey Olsen. Feature in collaboration with Piaget. See their latest collection here.