I Love Expensive Skincare, But Only When It Works—These 18 Brands Are Worth It


(Image credit: @piabaroncini)

The world of skincare can be confusing enough to navigate, but luxury skincare feels like a whole new ballgame. It's easy to come across a high-end product and feel sticker shock. How is it possible that a serum can cost hundreds of pounds? We definitely felt that way before we began using luxury skincare. 

While it's true that not all expensive brands are worth the hefty price tag, some of them are truly worth every penny. Many luxury brands are powered by scientific research and use top-of-the-line ingredients that really work to penetrate your skin. 

Luckily, you don't have to go in blind and spend a chunk of your paycheck on an eye cream you're not sure will work. We've tried tons of different luxury brands, and know exactly which ones are worth spending money on. Keep scrolling to find 18 of our favorite luxury skincare brands (listed in no particular order) and which products you should try from each of them.

#1: La Prairie

Before La Prairie became a skincare brand, it was La Clinique La Prairie, a rejuvenation clinic nestled in the Swiss Alps. A pioneer in cellular therapy, the clinic blended together lavish ingredients like caviar, gold, and platinum. La Prairie's products are just as much rooted in art as they are science—making this brand's iconic cobalt blue bottles the perfect addition to your vanity. 

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#2: Augustinus Bader

Professor Augustinus Bader is a biomedical scientist and physician, and an expert in stem cell research. In 2008, he created a wound gel that makes it possible for skin to heal from trauma without skin grafts or surgery, and it was also the inspiration for his beloved skincare line. Every Augustinus Bader product is powered by a technology called TFC8, which blends together vitamins, amino acids, and minerals naturally found in your skin.

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#3: Tata Harper

Tata Harper is one of, if not the best luxury skincare brand in the organic, ultra-green lane of traffic. Inside the brand's signature green and gold glass bottles, you'll find high-quality ingredients that are meticulously sourced from 68 countries all over the globe. It also prioritizes intense concentrations, so unlike lots of other labels on the market, each elixir contains potent doses of organic actives instead of watered-down ratios of ingredients. The products come straight from Harper's Vermont-based farm, and the brand even etches a batch number—which you can trace—into the bottle when it’s ready to ship to you. 

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#4: Dr. Lara Devgan

If you haven't heard of plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Lara Devgan, or her eponymous line of medical-grade skincare, you—and your skin— are in for a real treat. After years of experience and training at Yale, Johns Hopkins, and Columbia—Dr. Devgan's carefully curated line of luxury skincare offers targeted formulas that yield results inspired by her lauded in-office treatments.

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#5: Tatcha

Tatcha is guided by ancient Japanese beauty wisdom. Each product is based on three main ingredients: green tea, rice, and algae. These Japanese superfoods have a rich history—they’re also the building blocks of geisha beauty rituals.

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#6: IS Clinical

Here's a secret: If I could only use one luxury skincare brand for the rest of my life, I would stock up on every last item from IS Clinical (the IS standing for Innovative Skincare) and call it a damn day. I've tried the majority of the brand's formulations, and I don't think there's been one thing I haven't immediately re-stocked the second I hit empty. The brand has been around since 2002 and was founded by biochemist Bryan Johns (we have almost the same last name, maybe that has something to do with my obsession?!) and each formulation is backed by comprehensive studies executed by a world-class team of renowned pharmacologists, geneticists, biologists, and physicians. Sold yet?

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#7: Sisley-Paris

Sisley-Paris may very well be one of the most luxurious and, ahem, gobsmackingly expensive skincare brands out there, but if your budget allows for the splurge, we can't say enough could things. At the zenith of French beauty, the indulgent brand combines the rarest (and most beautiful) botanical ingredients from all over the world to create the most delicious skincare elixirs. Think fares like rare Black Baccara rose and delicate saffron flower—just to whet your appetite. The d'Ornano family only prioritizes the highest, crème de la crème extracts doled out in the highest concentrations.

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#8: 111Skin

If you're curious as to the significance of "111," it all goes back to 2001 when one of the most respected plastic surgeons in the industry, Dr. Yannis Alexandrides, opened his London-based skincare clinic located at 111 Harley Street. In an effort to expedite his patients' recovery post-surgery, and after discovering that skin ages faster in outer space due to environmental extremes, he sought out a team of scientists responsible for the wellbeing of astronauts (casual, right?) and ultimately collaborated to produce his now patented NAC Y² formula, a cutting-edge trio of peptides and antioxidants you'll find in a few of the brand's signature (and most expensive) products. If you're after results, albeit at a hefty price, this luxury brand doesn't disappoint.

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#9: Dior

You may be familiar with the iconic fashion house, but Dior’s skincare is just as luxurious. Christian Dior’s deep love of flowers characterized his fashion designs, and it’s the driving force behind Dior skincare, too. Dior’s skincare line is blooming with tons of different flowers (all cultivated in Dior gardens) that benefit your skin, like rose and hibiscus. 

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#10: La Mer

Even if you have never used La Mer, you’ve definitely heard of it. The brand has such a cult following that it’s almost ubiquitous among skincare lovers at this point. Rumor has it that the cult-famous cream was created by a scientist trying to heal burns sustained in a lab.

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#11: Vintner's Daughter

For years, Vintner’s Daughter only had one product: its iconic Active Botanical Serum. Now the brand has a grand total of two products to choose from, but the small number is purposeful. Each product is packed with a myriad of active botanicals that pack a major punch when it comes to noticeable skin benefits. Founder April Garguilo built the brand to address skin issues she suffered from, like hormonal acne and discoloration.

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#12: Mutha

From its stunning, incredibly glossy blue packaging to the liquid-gold contents of said bottles, everything about Mutha (appearance-wise) screams luxury. Luckily, as soon as you actually start applying the beautiful products, that luxury becomes even more pronounced. Mutha was originally dreamed up by mother and brand founder Hope Smith while she was pregnant with her first son. Unable to find something she could trust ingredients-wise to prevent stretch marks and nourish her skin, she began to concoct her own all-natural formulas boasting the purest ingredients she could find in her kitchen. The result: ultra-luxe formulas free of fillers, parabens, petroleum, phthalates, and sulfates. If you haven't tried the brand's body elixirs, you most definitely need to—especially with the dry months of winter ahead—but Mutha's facial offerings are just as delicious. 

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#13: Susanne Kaufmann

Brand founder Susanne Kaufmann grew up in a mountainous region of Austria, and has always known about the benefits of the regional plants. Her sustainable skincare line is filled with these natural ingredients, and many of her products are also refillable.

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#14: U Beauty

Tina Chen Craig, often remembered by her online moniker Bag Snob might be a legendary figure in the fashion world, but ever since she launched and became the co-founder of luxury skincare brand, U Beauty, she's found herself in the epicenter of the beauty industry, with the brand's tight collection of products garnering high-praise and even higher buzz amongst anyone seeking healthier, ultra-youthful looking skin. The fever all started with the U Beauty's "damage-erasing" Resurfacing Compound, but anything you decide to splurge for is a surefire bet toward 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

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#15: Chantecaille

Pure, botanical ingredients are at the heart of every Chantecaille product. Chantecaille uses rose water made from Rose de Mai, a rare rose that’s naturally chock full of vitamin C, in most of its skincare products.

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#16: SkinCeuticals

SkinCeuticals plays parent to some of the most iconic and beloved skincare formulas in the biz. (Ever heard of that little serum called C E Ferulic?) Backed by science and supported and recommended by countless dermatologists and skin experts, the brand is a surefire bet if you're looking for performance-driven products that are worth every penny of their expensive price points. 

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#17: Dr. Barbara Sturm

Driven by science, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s skincare line is beloved by beauty enthusiasts all over. Known for her pioneering in cellular regeneration, Dr. Sturm is one of the most well-known doctors in the beauty field.

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#18: Shani Darden Skincare

Shani Darden is one of the most sought-after celebrity estheticians in Hollywood, catering to the glowing likes of Jessica Alba, Shay Mitchell, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and many more. If you can't make it in for a visit to her gorgeous, state-of-the-art spa in Los Angeles, her eponymous, results-driven skincare line is the next best thing and will turn your vanity into a spa-like experience of its own.

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Next: I Asked Beauty Editors Which Skincare Brands Are Really Worth the Money

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Beauty Director

Erin has been writing a mix of beauty and wellness content for Who What Wear for over four years. Prior to that, she spent two and half years writing for Byrdie. She now calls Santa Monica home but grew up in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and studied writing, rhetoric, and communication at University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. She studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, and spent a summer in L.A. interning with the Byrdie and Who What Wear family. After graduating from UW, she spent one year in San Francisco, where she worked as a writer for Pottery Barn Kids and PBteen before moving down to L.A. to begin her career as a beauty editor. She considers her day-to-day beauty aesthetic very low-maintenance and relies on staples like clear brow serum (from Kimiko!), Lawless's Lip Plumping Mask in Cherry Vanilla, and an eyelash curler. For special occasions or days when she's taking more meetings or has an event, she'll wear anything and everything from Charlotte Tilbury (the foundations are game-changing), some shimmer on her lids (Stila and Róen do it best), and a few coats of the best mascara-type product on earth, Surratt's Noir Lash Tint.

With contributions from