What Happens When You Pamper Your Skin Like a Fancy Parisian

We tried the fanciest face creams on the market.

French girls: They have it all figured out! Here, we road test three fancy French face creams to see if spending a little extra cash on moisturizer is part of their winning formula.

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Caitlin Smith, writer

Product: Lancôme's Absolue L'Extrait Ultimate Rejuvenating Elixir

Price: $365 (for 1.7 oz.)

I'm not one for super fancy face creams. But I am a devout believer in the power of moisturizing and do so religiously morning and night, with the help of some low-key go-tos. That said, when I was presented with Lancôme's Absolue L'Extrait Ultimate Rejuvenating Elixir (which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and retails at $365) I was more than keen to slather the miracle formula all over my face and wait for magic to unfold.

Lancôme spent a decade (!) working on this cream, which is made with two million native cells extracted from a specific strain of rose, which aid in the regeneration of skin cells. I have a serious thing for rose-scented beauty products (see my body wash, toner, perfume), so this piqued my interest even more. So did the fun little gilded spoon that's supposed to be used to massage the elixir into your skin.

I spent every night for a few weeks working the lavish, rosy potion into my skin. It melted right in, leaving no greasy residue and rendering my skin silky-smooth. In the morning, my skin looks glowing and supple. As for the long-term benefits? Only time will tell. In the meantime, at least I can be happy about the fact that my face smells like a lovely big bouquet.

Required Budget Cuts: Dog ($50 or more/month), Netflix ($11.99/month), Spotify Premium ($10/month), Amazon Prime ($99/year), Seamless (~$50/month), and clothing purchases (~$200/month).

Chantal Strasburger, editorial coordinator

Product: Chantecaille's Nano Gold Energizing Cream

Price: $420 (1.7 oz.)

When expensive beauty products coincide with my minor obsession with all things gold, dangerous things happen—such as me twisting open this speckled elixir of youth.

This face cream is $420. Four hundred and twenty dollars. Now, I'm not saying I wouldn't spend $420 on a face cream, I'm just saying I don't have $420 to spend on a face cream.

At 25, I'm still patiently awaiting the majority of my wrinkles, but the best offense is a good defense, as the sports people say, so I decided that the anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and detoxifying properties of this non-alloyed metal could only help my complexion—or at least increase the overall value and vibes of my medicine cabinet.

Have I noticed my skin to be subtly tighter, smoother, and slightly more radiant since I started using it? I have. Would I recommend that you invest in the unprecedented antioxidant and anti-aging powers of pure gold? If you got past the price tag (I made sure to mention it five times, numerically and alphabetically) and are still consider it as a feasible option, then yes, go for the gold—just be sure tell siblings/roommates/significant others: hands off!

Required Budget Cuts: Ceramics studio payment ($100/month), lunch in the Hearst cafeteria ($200/month), avocados ($30/month), Greenpeace ($20/month) (sorry), Topshop impulse buys ($70/month).

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Mallory Rice, deputy editor

Product: Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream

Price: $310 (2 oz.)

Amusingly, at $310 for 2 ounces, the cream I have been testing out is the "budget" option in comparison to the products my two friends above have been sampling. While it's the first time I've used it, this is a product that I'm very familiar with, as I have multiple friends who have sworn by it for years. But those friends are the ones who seem to have no skin problems at all, so I've always kind of figured that they could wash their faces with Elmer's Glue every night and still beam the next day.

Not me, though! I have very sensitive skin that turns red for all kinds of interesting reasons (too-warm water, any product with fragrance, etc.), so if there are any ingredients that my face deems controversial it will let me know very quickly. At the core of this particular product is what La Mer calls "The Miracle Broth," which is composed of a secret combination of sea kelp and some other natural ingredients.

Turns out: they're super gentle. Less than a week after I began using the cream, my skin feels more balanced, calmer, and softer. I also think that the ritual of taking time to gently apply it, morning and night, like a kind of skincare prayer, has its own benefits—anytime you do something like this consistently you're bound to see much greater results, even more quickly. The cost, in my case, is just further motivation to make sure I do my part to ensure that it keeps working.

Required Budget Cuts: Student loan payment ($120/month), superfluous cab rides ($60/month), Final drink of the night I probably could have done without anyway ($30/month), Shoes that look like other shoes I already own ($100/month yearly average).

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