You’re not alone if you feel like your skin routine just keeps getting longer and more complicated–but your skin isn’t any better off. It feels like we just finally got the hang of double cleansing and essences, but now La Prairie wants us to add one more step to our everyday routine: pre-serum lotion. That is, a milky essence you apply before your serums, moisturizers, oils, and creams.
I’ll admit I was largely skeptical of pre-serum lotions as a concept. After falling victim to the allure of a 12-step nightly skin routine a few years back, I’ve since cut my products down to less than five a night. I’ll use prescription retinol and a serum chased by a hefty dose of moisturizer. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll add eye cream. That was the extent of the products stuffed into my TSA-approved plastic bag when I traveled to Grand Cayman with La Prairie last month. I was there to learn about the Platinum Rare Cellular Life-Lotion, the latest extension of the brand’s ultra-luxe, platinum-infused anti-aging collection, at the top-rated Ritz-Carlton spa.
First, the question of everyone’s mind, including my own: what does a pre-serum lotion even do? “A pre-serum lotion serves a similar role to an essence. This light lotion is designed to complement your serum and help deliver an additional layer of active ingredients,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “It may also prime the skin to soften the outer skin layer and enhance penetration of active ingredients applied over it.”
Essentially, pre-serum lotions are a watery product that help your actual serums penetrate—and therefore work—better. But the La Prairie Life-Lotion goes one step further, thanks to a new technology that helps your skin’s natural cellular detoxification system. This is where things get a little science-y—and explains why the Cellular Life-Lotion costs the same amount as a pair of Jimmy Choos.
The Life-Lotion, which took two years to develop, doesn’t just hydrate—it also supports the health of the proteosome in your skin’s cells. “The proteosome is a complex of enzymes in the skin that eliminate abnormal or damaged proteins. The proteosome is also involved in normal cell growth and turnover,” notes Zeichner. Your body’s ability to eliminate this cellular junk slows down as you age (just like your body’s ability to stay out past 9 p.m.). “If the proteosome is not running optimally, then the cell will not function in as healthy a manner as it should. This ultimately contributes to dull skin, lines, and many other signs of aging,” he says.
With your skin-detoxing proteosomes firing on all cylinders, and the added protection of a an antioxidant and peptide blend, the Life-Lotion makes the rest of your skincare routine you apply on top work harder. All that skin-boosting technology comes at a price of $655.
I first experienced the pre-serum lotion during the brand’s new 90-minute face party called the Ultimate Purifying Platinum Facial, available exclusively at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman resort. As a skincare minimalist, the 14-step treatment was overwhelming to anticipate—but anxiety doesn’t exist in the spa’s universe. From the futuristic decor of the waiting area, to the fact that your feet are suspended in a warm Epson salt bath during the duration of the facial, the whole experience is so decadent that it’s worth pulling money from your savings to book a flight and an appointment. I looked decidedly less puffy when I left thanks to all the lymphatic drainage, and even though I had extractions, I wasn’t my typical shade of beet-red or inflamed. I also fell asleep on the table for an undetermined period of time.
Unlike most essences I’ve tried, which are nothing more than water, the Life-Lotion feels milky and gel-like. The bottle is gorgeous but if we had one complaint, it’s this: it’s downright awkward to pour in into your palm (we wish there was an eyedropper applicator). At $655 a bottle, you don’t want to risk spilling a single proteosome-sized drop—so tread lightly. But once you pat it on, the gel melts away, revealing skin that looks instantly a little more luminous (that’s the platinum).
I’ve been using it for a few weeks without any irritation—even when coupled with my hardcore retinol. Is my skin better off for it? Honestly, it does look a little more plump and dewy than it normally would after a brutal winter. And I just like knowing that it’s making all my other hard-earned skincare products work harder, too.
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