For many of us, skincare isn't just about results. Yes, a radiant complexion, healthy barrier, and glassy skin are the end goal, but I've always looked to my nighttime routine as more than just a means to an end. It's a self-care bookend to my day, a moment to reflect and relax (which, to be honest, doesn't come naturally to me). In short, a time to truly luxuriate. I've always prioritized feel, scent, and products that immediately make my skin happy, making actives like retinol a more challenging holy grail product to find.
I've got a skincare confession to make: I've always been a little afraid of retinol. And I don't think I'm alone. The do-it-all ingredient helps with fine lines, acne, and discoloration—but also has a well-documented initial side effect: irritation. My skin is highly sensitive and prone to purging. And, being an impatient person, I've never been able to get over that two-month retinol hump. Plus, I love a good acid (and generally, the two actives don't mix), so finding the proper formulation has been one of my life-long beauty quests.
So, when we at Byrdie heard the iconic La Prairie was debuting a new Caviar-derived retinol face oil, we knew we had to try it. Read on to learn more about the brand's latest product, the formula, and honest reviews from two retinol skeptics.
La Prairie's Skin Caviar Nighttime Oil ($530) is part of the brand's indulgent Skin Caviar collection. Along with a face serum, eye serum, and eye cream, the Nighttime Oil seeks to lift and firm skin with its namesake Swiss caviar incarnation, caviar retinol. Housed in a gorgeous cobalt blue jar (fun fact: this signature color was inspired by legendary artist and sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle), the silky, oil formula glides onto the skin via dropper, so you won't waste a single trickle.
With the brand's latest launch, the scientists at La Prairie harnassed the naturally-occurring retinol in, you guessed it, caviar. The brand's caviar extraction process maintains both retinol and lipids found in caviar, creating an ideal combination of hydrating and active ingredients. The result? A nighttime oil designed to work with the skin's natural circadian rhythms, moisturizing and firming your skin through the night.
Like all retinol, it counteracts fine lines, boosts your skin's natural regeneration process, increases cell turnover, and regulates oil production. But, the magic of La Prairie's caviar formulation is the addition of caviar lipids. The oily composition creates an outer barrier to minimize water loss. And, here's the kicker, this unique blend also helps prevent irritation.
How To Use It
As with all skincare routines, your nighttime ritual should start with a clean, dry face. The brand recommends you apply all your other nighttime products before finishing your day with the Skin Caviar Face Oil. Simply dispense two to four drops to the palm of your hand and warm the formula between your fingers.
Then, apply the oil between your eyebrows, up to the forehead, towards the temples, across the cheekbones and the tip of the nose, and continue down to the jawline. Finish with the corners of the mouth, jawline, and chin. Repeat this pattern until the formula has fully absorbed.
Madeline Hirsch, Sr. News Editor
Finally, after years of never quite falling in love with retinol, I think I've found my soulmate in La Prairie's Skin Caviar Nighttime Oil. The formula, made with caviar-derived retinol and lipids, is highly effective. But, more importantly, it's gentle, indulgent, and works like a dream. Each night, the oil cushions my skin in its silky texture, and I wake up with a happy, moisturized face. Plus, I haven't experienced any irritation after a month of use, which is a surprise considering my previous experiences with retinol. In short, the luxe formula, feel, scent, and packaging make this oil well worth the price point.
Hallie Gould, Associate Editorial Director
There's something about a nighttime oil that feels like luxury—and when you add a La Prairie formulation to the mix it's downright sensual. I've been a long-time fan of the brand, that's no secret, but I feel a special something for this specific product. Using the brand's signature ingredient—caviar, darling—the silky-soft oil blends together caviar-derived retinol with caviar lipids for firming, moisture-sealing results. I've been using it for a few months, applying nightly before bed, and each morning I wake up to decidedly smoother, more cushion-y looking skin. Like Madeline, I haven't ever been able to commit to a retinol product, but this one is more flexible than a serum (as in, I can still use my beloved acids on opposite nights). It's a ritual for me at this point and a pricy one at that (I'm not going to lie to you, this is a really expensive product). But, you're likely here to investigate if this is prestige that works—and it is. Use it as the last step in your routine and warm it between your fingertips (after cleansing, serums, etc) and give yourself a nice facial massage as you apply it. You won't regret it.
Yin S, Luo J, Qian A, et al. Retinoids activate the irritant receptor TRPV1 and produce sensory hypersensitivity. J Clin Invest. 2013;123(9):3941-3951. doi:10.1172/JCI66413