I’m Hooked on a $185 Sunscreen—But Is It Actually Worth It?

Rachel Krause
Timur Emek/Getty Images

Timur Emek/Getty Images

Real talk, not a scare tactic: Failing to wear sunscreen on a daily basis is essentially like sending the unholy trinity of skin cancer, discoloration, and premature aging a save the date to a house party on your flesh.

As someone who both a) instantly burns to a crisp upon exposure to the sun and b) cultivates neurosis and hypochondria as personality traits, I know this better than anyone. I am militant about SPF, despite it being kind of a lame thing to feel so passionately about—I get excited about trying new sunscreen formulas the way most normal people get excited about, like, going to sports games or getting a new car. (Is that what normal people get excited about? I don’t even know.)

My favorite sunscreen for the body is any sunscreen for the body. They’re pretty much all the same, so I always opt for whatever’s cheap and has the least amount of “shimmer”—as long as I’m covered, I’m good. But on the opposite side of the spectrum, I’m very discerning when it comes to sunscreen for my face. There are lots of boxes to be checked off here: It has to be non-comedogenic, because I’m acne-prone and don’t want nor need breakouts, it can’t have too shiny of a finish, because that’s a nightmare for my oily skin, and it can’t leave any white residue behind, because of course. It has to be something I can comfortably layer underneath my makeup for everyday wear, not something that feels like a chore.

La Prairie Cellular Swiss UV Protection Veil Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 meets all of those standards and then some. Honestly, I’ve never been happier with a sunscreen—it leaves skin as soft and smooth as the best moisturizer, wears so well under foundation that I’m able to skip primer, doesn’t break me out at all, and has a lightweight, semi-matte finish that makes skin look gorgeous without makeup, too. It is also $185.

la prairie cellular swiss uv protection veil Im Hooked on a $185 Sunscreen—But Is It Actually Worth It?

There is simply no way around the fact that paying $185 for a face sunscreen is obscene. I like nice stuff, but I’m not insane [needs source] and/or living in a billion-dollar dream world, so even I have trouble justifying that kind of price. But here’s what you want to know: Is it worth it? If so, how is that even possible? How can a $185 sunscreen be worth it?

Well, it isn’t. Not as a sunscreen, at least. “This particular product as a sunscreen—stressing the role as sunscreen— is absolutely not worth it,” says dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group. “The active ingredients are no different than any other broad-spectrum chemical and physical blocker.” It’s simple; most sunscreens are made alike. But there’s more to it to that, says Dr. Nazarian: “Once you check out the inactive ingredients, you understand why it’s so pricy.”

Beyond offering sun protection, this formula features a series of ingredients that are well worth your time… and money. “It’s filled with several antioxidants, extracts, and anti-inflammatory ingredients, including licorice extract and cucumber extract, which help decrease pigment formation in the skin, preventing the development of sunspots, and work as anti-inflammatory and calming ingredients,” Dr. Nazarian explains. “It also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps enhance hydration and moisture retention in skin.”

So technically, this so-called sunscreen is way more than just a sunscreen—it’s also a calming and anti-aging cream that works double duty and then some, protecting skin from the sun while brightening, hydrating, preventing fine lines and wrinkles, and repairing sun damage you’ve incurred in the past. Paying nearly $200 for this product isn’t all that much different from paying the same price for a high-end anti-aging moisturizer—if anything, this one is more “worth it” than your regular daily serum or cream, because it’s giving you those benefits while also packing in major sun protection. A convincing argument, in any case.

In what basically amounts to the medical professional equivalent of a ¯_(ツ)_/¯, Dr. Nazarian says, “Maybe you can’t put a price on protecting your skin and your health.” I’m gonna go with that for now… until I run out and have to repurchase, at least.