Is Lancer’s $1,000 Moisturizer Worth the Price Tag?

Four W editors tested the storied product to find out.

by Ivana Cruz, Sandra Ballentine, Maryam Lieberman and Katie Connor

Photo by Kosmos Press Bureau/ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Here at W, we are always looking for (and skeptical of) so-called “miracle” beauty products—those touted as “Botox in a bottle” or a substitute for filler tend to prompt a show-me attitude. The same goes for Lancer’s Legacy Youth Treatment: a nighttime moisturizing cream released in 2017 that has become something of a skincare legend. Using 31 active ingredients including hyaluronic acids, ceramides, and macro-algae, this cream, developed by Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Harold Lancer over the course of 24 months, promotes rejuvenated skin, recaptured vitality, and provides a moisture barrier, water saturation, and antioxidant defense. But are these promises worth the hefty price tag (each 1.7 bottle goes for $1000)? Four W editors gave it a whirl to find out.

Katie Connor, Executive Digital Director

Describe your experience using the Legacy Youth Treatment.

I applied Lancer day and night for a week. The texture is extra thick and smooth; it felt very rich and buttery going on but when it dried my face felt like it had a soft porcelain finish—not at all greasy or shiny. I liked that there is very little to no scent whatsoever. Moisturizers with a heavy fragrance are always a hard pass for me. I was never quite sure if I was applying too much or too little, though. I typically apply luxury products conservatively in order to make them last longer. But I think I could have been more liberal and laid it on thicker. The biggest change I noticed was a new taut feeling to my skin whenever I would make a facial expression. It definitely felt like my skin was tighter. Whether or not it looked that way leads me to the next question…

Did it work?

I have yet to notice a difference in my skin’s appearance; however, I think that one week isn’t enough time to see the full benefits. Part of me was hoping that friends and family would notice I had a new youthful glow over the holidays and that’s how I would determine it was working, but no such luck. This moisturizer is playing the long game.

This product carries a pretty hefty price tag at $1000 a pop. Do you think it's worth the money?

I’ll have to give it another few weeks to determine whether or not it’s worth its price tag in the long run. At the moment, it’s out of my beauty budget, but if it’ll stave off the need for fillers and/or a future face lift, then it just might be worth the investment.

Maryam Lieberman, Contributing Beauty Editor

Are you familiar with the Lancer brand?

He is quite reputable and I like his products for the most part. He has a great sunscreen that people really love. I’ve gone to him about four or five times but it’s been a few years since I saw him last. Aside from giving great Botox and filler (his work not heavy-handed, is symmetrical, and makes you look like you) he’s a solid dermatologist, wise in his medical field. If you live in L.A. and you’re privy to who the talented dermatologists are, he’s always at the top of the list. When I interview other dermatologists and aestheticians in New York and Europe, I often selfishly ask which dermatologists they like in L.A. (so I know who to try next,) and he’s always mentioned. That said, I assumed this product would not be a dud.

When I heard about the Lancer moisturizer, I was cynical because of the price, but it didn’t scare me off in terms of wanting to give it a try. I think women nowadays will donate a kidney if it’s going to take off lines (I mean, we have two kidneys anyway). When I first got the moisturizer I thought it was rather tiny and had a faint coconut scent. The consistency felt like a whipped up Nivea or Ponds that I used to dab on my face when sneaking into my grandmother’s medicine cabinet way back when. Nothing wowed me initially.

What was using this product like for you?

I used it morning and night for two weeks and did nothing too crazy on my skin. I washed my face with a light foam cleanser, only exfoliated twice a week and masked once a week like usual. I only applied sunscreen during the day two hours after I initially put the Lancer cream on because I wanted my skin to absorb this new moisturizer as much as possible and did not want any interference.

I don’t want to admit it—because I take great pride finding unique, magical creams that you can find at the drugstore for much less—but this truly made my skin look, as Larry David says, “pretty, pretty goooood.” My skin was smooth, soft, and vibrant.

Did you experience results using the Lancer cream?

Yes, it really worked. It was effective and did make my skin look visibly lifted. I had the “aha!” moment the third or fourth day. The week before trying Lancer’s moisturizer, my skin was super dull and a tad congested. As a favor to a publicist I foolishly tested out some vegan, organic, bogus skincare line made out of something I would normally eat for breakfast rather than apply on my face. However chic the packaging, that line did nothing for my skin. Upon trying Lancer’s cream after a few days, I woke up and did a double take in the mirror.

Would you purchase the Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment again?

I think it’s worth the money if you can budget it. Otherwise, pay your rent. That said, in L.A., people are constantly obsessed with how they look. Women spend more money on beauty products than they do handbags and shoes (it’s no joke that some laser treatments are just as expensive as exotic skin Birkins). How great would it be if this cream worked on the body the same way it does on the face so we didn’t have to put in so much time on the Pilates box?

Sandra Ballentine, Beauty and Wellness Editor at Large

Had you heard of the Lancer moisturizer before?

I hadn’t heard of this particular potion, but have long known about Dr. Lancer’s solid reputation as one of L.A.’s most prominent celebrity derms. He got into the product game in 1985, and since then has continued to hone and expand his eponymous line, which is gender-neutral and offers solutions for all skin types and concerns. When I received Legacy, I had no idea it costs $1000, but should have been clued in by the fact that unlike Dr. Lancer’s other products, this one bears no name or description on the jar—making it the beauty equivalent of a trendy, unmarked club or restaurant: if you don’t know exactly where/what it is, you probably don’t belong.

Describe your experience using the cream.

I’ve been using Legacy (and only Legacy) a few times a day for nine days, so not really enough time to give it a completely fair assessment. But if ever a supercream could come in handy, it’s been this past week. My painstakingly planned holiday party was cancelled, but I mulishly went ahead with my holiday-party cocktail plan. So on Christmas Eve, I made a vat of eggnog from scratch. Who knew nog could be so strong? Two small servings was all it took (well, that and wine with dinner) for me to awaken the next morning looking like a puffin with a mouth full of fish.

Dr. Lancer’s Legacy Youth Treatment came to the rescue. A few liberal lacings made my skin glow like the lights on my tree, and feel as soft as my new Khaite cashmere cardigan. The cream itself is thick and rich, so thick that I dabbed it all over my face and décolleté, letting it warm before pressing it in. It has a faintly yeasty (and not unpleasant) smell, perhaps because it contains sake. (In the interest of truth in journalism, I must disclose that I did pay a visit to the amazing Dr. Melissa Doft on New York’s Upper East Side for an elf-sized amount of Botox literally the day before the OmiGrinch stole Christmas.)

Did the Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment work?

Possibly because I’ve slathered on so many high-quality products over the years, I have pretty good skin for my age. But I did find that Legacy softened my fine lines a bit and as I mentioned above, had me glowing instead of glowering post-indulgence.

As for the price tag thing—that’s not really a fair question to ask a beauty editor who regularly has the privilege of trying products above her pay grade. For me to spend $1000 on a moisturizer, it would have to cook dinner, drive, and do the laundry in addition to making me look like I’m 24 again. I think Legacy will appeal to people who can afford to augment their procedure regimen with uber-expensive skincare, because after all, the concept of youth in a bottle never gets old.

Ivana Cruz, Senior Designer

What were you expecting when you received the Lancer Legacy Youth Treatment?

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened the package—would there be music, like a specialty birthday card? Would there be gold foil? A glitter bomb? There was none of that. It looked like cream, felt like cream, smelled like cream, and tasted like cream (that might have been a step too far, but I was curious).

Describe your experience using this cream.

My skin does not like winters in the Northeast. I get these red, dry areas that I have learned to accept as part of the New York experience; especially since the blotchy rashes disappear after a few days back in the tropical temperatures of my origin. So when I applied the Lancer Moisturizer one December night after washing my face, I wasn’t expecting too much. Having been underwhelmed by the packaging, I was feeling a bit cynical.

That cynical part of me wanted to confirm this luxurious product wasn’t going to do anything—that it was just as good as any other cream and people need to be wary of these ultra-expensive products, which societal pressures have convinced us we need. Well, that part of me had to admit a partial loss, because when I woke up the next morning, my skin looked J.Lo-good. The red and dry spots were almost gone. My skin looked hydrated and smooth, even glowy. I was, and still am, impressed. It inspired me to do some research on why this miracle cream costs so much, and it seems to have to do with its long list of effective ingredients. I can get behind that reasoning.

Would you buy this product?

I have used the cream now for 10 days straight, applying it every evening before going to bed. And each morning, I have woken up admiring how nice my skin looks. A tiny bit of anxiety has started to develop: what will happen when that little pot of white cream runs out? Will my skin become addicted to a luxury cream I can’t afford (does skin even work that way)? Because honestly, I will not purchase this product I can’t afford. But for those who can, and have the disposable income to do so, it is definitely worth the try. For now, I’m just going to enjoy this little luxury and hope I can stretch what is left until spring comes.