The Story Behind La Prairie's Iconic Caviar Moisturizer

·3 min read
Photo credit: La Prairie
Photo credit: La Prairie


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What makes a product iconic? That was the question we asked as we edited this year's list of the 100 most iconic beauty products of all time. Though every lipstick, mascara, hair spray, and cleanser on the list deserves its moment in the sun, there are a few key beauty icons who have earned to have their stories (legends?) expanded on in greater detail. Ahead, the story behind La Prairie's caviar-infused moisturizer.

For as long as modern skincare has existed, there have been formulas that have broken convention with rare ingredients. We've tried them all: flowers plucked from the base of Mount Everest, olive extract from an ancient tree, a plant so rare it can only be harvested for five minutes a year. But there's one such formula that has not only stood the test of time, but has reimagined what luxury skincare looks and feels like. That's La Prairie's Skin Caviar.

"Caviar is an outstanding natural product that is able to support life, and its richness in nutrients inspired us to explore its potential as a skincare ingredient," Dr. Jacqueline Hill, La Prairie's director of strategic innovation and science, says. "We discovered that it nourishes the skin and offers a range of exciting benefits. This triggered the audacious idea to include a caviar extract in a skincare treatment." The first iteration of Skin Caviar launched in 1987 using a technology that allowed skin-repairing actives to be encapsulated in the form of a caviar bead—hence the name. "Over the years, we have studied the composition of caviar and the actions on skin cells of a series of caviar-derived active ingredients developed by La Prairie," Hill continues. "We have found actions on epidermal, dermal, and hypodermal cells, and this has encouraged us to continue exploring this fascinating source of skin care benefits."

Though there's an entire range of products containing the caviar extract—including a new Nighttime Oil—the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream is perhaps the most iconic of them all. The decadent cream wraps skin in coddling moisture, while the formula lifts, tightens, and tones over time. The result is nothing short of transformative, so you can bet that it comes at a cost: $530 for 50 milliliters, to be exact.

Photo credit: Sebian Lautenbach / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sebian Lautenbach / EyeEm - Getty Images

Of course, it isn't just the formula that makes a product iconic; it's the packaging too. In this case, the jar's Bauhaus influence and signature shade of cobalt blue. "The work of Niki de Saint Phalle has a particular resonance for La Prairie, as it was her striking use of cobalt blue that was the inspiration behind La Prairie's iconic Skin Caviar Collection color," Greg Prodromides, La Prairie's chief marketing officer, tells BAZAAR.com. "In 1982, Niki was developing her eponymous fragrance from her atelier in a shared design studio on Fifth Avenue in New York City, where La Prairie's team would often engage in creative exchanges. When La Prairie encountered Niki de Saint Phalle's cobalt blue—her favorite color, which she describes 'as the color of joy and luck'—the link became clear: Only cobalt blue would do. It was a fortunate encounter that would spark a bond with the House of La Prairie and seal it forever."

Icons are often masters of reinvention—it's how they guarantee longevity. In the case of La Prairie, the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, Skin Caviar Luxe Cream Sheer, and Skin Caviar Sleep Mask were reformulated with "Caviar Premier" extract in 2018 for achieving "new heights of performance," Hill adds. This was followed by the remastering of Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Cream in 2019. "Caviar Premier is an advanced new caviar complex, where we have enriched our natural Caviar Extract with a blend of biomolecules (lipids, proteins, peptides, DNA, carbohydrates), their building blocks (amino acids, nucleotides, sugars), and minerals," Hill says. "Caviar Premier allows us to fully capture the lifting and firming potential of natural caviar."

The result is the perfect blend of art and science: rich, indulgent, effective products that make your nighttime routine feel like an act of luxury.

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