WHAT IS IT?
Not long ago, I was making beauty small talk with a fellow fanatic when our chat segued into a little parlour game I like to play – pairing beauty brands with their sartorial equivalent. For my money, La Prairie is sort of like the Smythson of skincare: Stealth splendor at its most sumptuous and sublime.
If you're new to the lovely pleasures of La Prairie, a good gateway product is its Anti-Aging Eye And Lip Perfection à Porter. Just about the poshest "prêt-à-porter" on the beauty aisles today, what you're getting is an anti-aging eye treatment and lip balm duo ensconced in one chic cream-coloured compact.
Both eye and lip components are chockfull of skin-soothing botanicals like bidens pilosa extract and La Prairie's ginseng-infused Cellular Complex, said to work over time to boost the suppleness and density of the delicate orbital and mouth area. As La Prairie's poetic press copy would have it, this is "portable perfection" in a purse.
WHAT WE THINK ABOUT ...
I singled out Smythson earlier on, but this particular La Prairie product also recalls The Row in its exquisitely quiet sense of opulence. The Anti-Aging Eye and Lip Perfection à Porter pushes all the polished buttons of the La Prairie patron: Thoughtfully designed, beautifully executed, elegant all around with nary a trace of "old money" matronliness.
Let's start with the cream leatherette pouch. Shaped like a coin purse, the travel-friendly accessory buffers your compact case from hard knocks and tumbles; you can also use it separately to stash your small change and knick-knacks, of course. Utterly darling and useful to boot!
The compact itself is a silver aluminium clamshell that opens to reveal duo decks with a mirror in each section; the upper deck holding an eye cream and the lower a lip balm. I love that both sections have separate mirrors, making touch-ups so much easier – click, dab and go. Speaking of clicks, this compact is one smooth operator: Both sections swing open like a dream, even after a month of use, and the soft whoosh when you press on the levers is pure sonic pleasure, like the purr of a Porsche.
Weight-wise, this product has a reassuring heft but is light enough that you won't notice any additional bulk in your bag; indeed, the whole kit and kaboodle rivals your average single-deck powder compact in terms of well, compactness.
I'm deducting points for the lack of a spatula for the eye compartment – your hands really do have to be clean before digging into the pot – but all things considered, this compact is a beautiful bauble that'll earn you envious side-eyes from the other ladies when you whip it out in the powder-room.
Of the two components, the eye cream on the upper deck was the one I was hoping would deliver on the La Prairie promise. I'm happy to report it ranks as one of the most pleasurable products I've tried. For starters, its soufflé-like softness makes it such a treat to apply. The formula includes cutting-edge stuff like silica, dehydrated hyaluronic acid microspheres and what La Prairie calls elastomer silicone, all of which must contribute to the buttery glide of the product.
I applied a pea-sized pinch of product using my ring finger under my eye and over my lids, after my usual eye routine. (Aside: Whenever instructions call for a vague "pea-sized" amount, just dole out a dollop that's enough to cover the tip of your ring finger and you're set.) The subtly illuminating champagne hue and finely milled light diffusers did a pretty decent job in deflecting shadows, with none of the garish, glittery flecks in lesser formulations. Like me, you'll probably have to layer this under a heavier-duty cream concealer, but that's par for the course.
La Prairie says you can apply the eye cream over foundation, and indeed you may – it didn't cause my makeup to "pill" and flake when I patted it in during the course of a day. Useful tip: As a final flourish, try smoothing a smidgen over your cupid's bow, cheekbones and brow bone. I find it works exceptionally well as a hydrating highlighter for areas you want the light to hit.
Your bearing towards the balm on the bottom deck depends largely on your personal predilection for thickly-textured lip products. This is a seriously protective salve that's also somewhat sticky – which I really like, because I find I don't have to reapply as often as I would with a more fluid formulation.
For those who don't like the smothering sensation of heavily slicked lips, I suggest leaving this on as an intensive night treatment, or using it as a lip mask and wiping it off after a couple of minutes. As for me, the richer the better. I love how noticeably plump my puckers are with this balm, especially when layered under my usual drugstore brand petroleum jelly. Another trick I discovered through sheer serendipity: This balm is amazing for alleviating painful "hangnails", so feel free to massage any excess product into your cuticles as a luxurious nail nourisher.
Confession time: Part of my nightly ritual involves eyeballing myself in a magnifying mirror for new lines and other facial imperfections. A month into my new regime with La Prairie's Anti-Aging Eye And Lip Perfection à Porter, I can honestly say that a pesky undereye wrinkle I've had since my mid-twenties appears shallower and less noticeable. Oh, joy!
Thankfully, my lips are still relatively unlined – lots of water and no smoking, please – so the balm is more of a preventative measure than anything. I'm also a compulsive lip balm user (beauty addicts jokingly refer to chapsticks as "crack-sticks"), so the luxuriously lubricating quality of this particular balm has reduced the frequency of my near-pathological application.
All in all, this is a nifty jewel of a product designed to appeal to a very specific La Prairie patron. Would I repurchase? To be sure, it's an expensive little gadget, but once you go Swiss, you probably won't go back. Earmark this as a year-end bonus treat!
Total score: 22/25
La Prairie Anti-Aging Eye and Lip Perfection à Porter, $230 for 15ml, is available at all La Prairie counters. For more information, visit www.laprairie.com. You can follow the brand on Facebook and Twitter.