When Oscar winner Catherine Zeta-Jones recently posted a snap of her skincare staples on Instagram, eagle-eyed beauty junkies busted out our magnifying glasses to figure out what the eternally youthful actress is using. (Besides, of course, ample in-office cosmetic procedures from doctors.) The answer: Lots of overpriced European and spa brands, some solid products, and one worthwhile prescription-only solution.
Skyn Iceland Pure Cloud Cleanser ($22.40): A creamy clay that calms disturbed skin on contact while building its moisture barrier, this cleanser seems to be disappearing from retailers’ shelves. Get yours while you can—it might be discontinued.
Korres Golden Krocus Ageless Saffron Elixir Serum ($98): Fans of this 94.6 percent natural product swear it shrinks pores, reduces oiliness and erases sun damage to plump, smooth and brighten skin. Packed with antioxidants, beta-glucans, peptides and amino acids, this Greek serum also softens fine lines and increases firmness and elasticity.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($60): British spa brand Elemis is known for reliable, well-made skincare, and this slick cleanser is no different. You could use it to remove makeup, but that would be a waste of its superb ingredients. Make it your second cleanse and feel both purified and pampered by the formula’s blend of sweet almond, elderberry, starflower and Optimega oils, with a bonus kick of anti-aging algae.
Latisse (price varies, around $150/month): This prescription lash amplifier inspired a flurry of knock-offs, many of them relying on doctored before and after pictures to convince consumers that you don’t need a prescription to get lengthy, voluminous natural lashes. (Spoiler alert: You do.) Like all pharmaceutical products, Latisse is not without risk of side effects, but most people don’t experience anything but thicker, unbelievably longer eyelashes within a few weeks of nightly use.
Sunday Riley Flora Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil ($90): A dry oil that penetrates deeply rather than hanging around as an oil slick on your face, this hydrating combination of Russian, Turkish and Bulgarian red rose oils is a multitasker. It reduces dullness, brightens, and boosts the water content of skin—which is literally what hydrating is—while also reducing the appearance of fine lines and creating radiance. It suits a more “mature” skin.
Rhonda Allison: Zeta-Jones stocks a number of products from this clinical spa range with a sterling reputation as a science-based, cruelty-free skincare brand. They’re among the most reasonably priced in the actress’s arsenal, too.
Natura Bissé: This range has some nice products, but none of the insanely expensive prices can be justified by what they’re selling, and Zeta-Jones has quite a few of their potions. If you want to spend $355 on a shrimp-infused moisturizer, you’re not the only one: John Mayer is another celebrity who thinks obscenely priced products must be good for you, and has even done Snapchat tutorials on how he uses Natura Bissé skincare. Do you really want to have anything in common with John Mayer?
Clé de Peau Beauté: A Swiss brand with some products exceeding $700, this is one line it’s safe to avoid. After trying some of their output and remaining baffled by the range’s appeal, I went to an informed source. “Do you think these products can possibly be a good investment?” I asked the manager of an upscale Manhattan beauty boutique that stocks Clé de Peau. “No,” she replied. “Definitely not. But people seem to like the brand experience.” Feel free to pay for a brand experience—I’ll be over here paying for decent products.
Chanel Le Lift Firming Anti-Wrinkle Crème Riche: No moisturizer—or any other topical skincare product—is going to lift your face. Ever. That is not how physics or gravity work. Save the $165 this costs and put it toward an actual face lift if you’re that concerned about sagging.
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream: The mythology around this tube of overpriced Vaseline has been debunked time after time, yet women still buy that smearing petrochemicals on their face is a good idea. It’s not. Even putting it on my body is something I’d have to be paid to do.
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Cream: Calling something “magic” is cuter (and thus not as egregiously misleading) as labeling it a “miracle” product. That said, this $100 jar is one of the most hyped releases of recent years. It simply can’t deliver on the brand’s unrealistic promises. Which is a shame, because Charlotte Tilbury is a legend, and her line delivers gorgeous makeup, superb packaging, great customer service, and some very nice products for the skin, like luminous primer Wonderglow ($55). But the marketing often goes too far, such as Charlotte claiming that she spent 20 years mixing up this moisturizer herself for use on models at fashion shows. Oh, really now? Here’s what the makeup artist says she was throwing together backstage for two decades:
Water (Aqua), Homosalate , Glyceryl Stearate SE, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Octocrylene, Cetyl Alcohol, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Steareth-21, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Carbomer, Dimethiconol, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Hydrolyzed Viola Tricolor Extract, Allantoin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Disodium Edta, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Michelia Alba Leaf Oil, Sodium Lactate, Coco-Glucoside, PEG-8, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Plumeria Rubra Flower Extract, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid, Nicotiana Sylvestris Leaf Cell Culture, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, plus a little bit of top secret magic…
Magic doesn’t exist, and neither do the benefits the brand swears await all who use this cream. It’s not a bad product, but save your $100 unless you’re over the age of 55 and have very dry skin.
Overall, Mrs. Michael Douglas at least displays a healthy interest in skincare and seems to be consistent in her use, with multiple back-ups of her favorite products in stock. For the sake of freshness, it might be best to get a little closer to running out before buying the next bottle, and it’s definitely a bad idea to store skincare in the bathroom. Put everything but your cleansers in a cool, dry place so—like Catherine Zeta-Jones—it won’t spoil prematurely.
Jackie Danicki created one of the first and most popular beauty blogs in 2004, and has consulted some of the world’s most iconic brands on digital content strategy and innovation. Jackie blogs at http://burnedoutbeauty.com, and you can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat as @burnedoutbeauty.