Free shipping on all domestic orders over $39

Chanel Sublimage Essential Regenerating Cream Review

Chanel Sublimage essential regenerating cream
June 23, 2012 Reviewed by admin 5 Comments
TRU Rating
A big fat waste of money


Some decent emollients and botanicals


Lackluster and questionable ingredients

It was clear early on that I had expensive taste. While all my friends were painting Wet n' Wild on their nails and LipSmackers on their faces, I was tagging along with my mom to Sak's and sampling the wares at the cosmetics counter. In high school, I developed a passion for Chanel cosmetics, staying abreast of every new lip gloss and eye palette launch. Interestingly enough, I'm not much of a makeup enthusiast (it was more a snobby appreciation of designer goods than a true love for the products). When I recently received a small pot of Chanel Sublimage Essential Regenerating Cream (.21 oz) as a gift, memories of my long-forgotten love affair with the brand came flooding back to me. I wondered, would my childhood sweetheart satisfy a more mature (and discerning) me?

Having ruled the luxury fashion and fragrance markets for years, Chanel has always seemed markedly absent from the skincare category. Then in 2006, Chanel unveiled its answer to an aging customer base with Sublimage. The Sublimage Essential Regenerating Cream allegedly took more than six years to make it from Chanel's CE.R.I.E.S. research laboratory to store shelves. My drum of Sublimage is the Texture Supreme, the original and heavier version, as compared to the Texture Universelle (probably better for oily skin). Though I expected the product to evoke indulgence, nothing could prepare me for the sticker shock I encountered on my internet search.

$350...for 1.7 oz? Really? Granted, my first impression of the cream was, as anticipated, above average. But a price point requiring several Ben Franklins must automatically elevate any product to a whole new echelon of results-oriented skincare. I realized that I could not simply commend the cream for a luxurious texture, "soft as cashmere" to the touch, and thank it for a dewy complexion. Yes, it sufficiently hydrates and reflects light, but so do many other reasonably priced moisturizers. I had to demand more from Sublimage: More in the form of superior performance, clear science, and effective ingredients.

Would you be surprised if I told you it fell short on all three points? As is often the case with uber high-end cosmetics lines whose primary sales channel is the cosmetics counter of your nearest high-end department store, the cream's ingredients are rather elusive, immaterial even. (Unable to find a list online, I had to type out the full list from the packaging). Those keen department store sales associates working on commission have their pitch polished to a tee. All they have to do to win a sale is massage the lavishly comforting cream into your face while prattling about "polyfractioning" whoseewhatsits.

It is this mumbo jumbo that went into developing Sublimage's secret sauce, christened Planifolia PFA. Chanel's patent-pending blend is created by polyfractioning the fresh fruit of the vanilla planifolia plant, which was selected by Chanel's scientists for its rich supply of polyketones. According to Chanel, polyketones are anti-aging molecules that encourage cell renewal. According to Wikipedia, polyketones are thermoplastic polymers (translation: plastic). I could not find any literature linking polyketones derived from botanical sources to skin rejuvenation (or any other skincare product), except of course, in articles about Chanel.

Besides basing its formula on a shaky anti-aging foundation, where else does Sublimage cream go wrong? It doesn't take a trained nose to sniff out a pungent artificial fragrance (made to mimic notes of cylamen and linden flowers). Beyond some adequate natural emollients (squalane, jojoba seed oil, glycerin, shea butter) and a less desirable silicone, the next moisturizing agent is canola oil. Yes, you read that right- the commonplace oil that you cook with is one of the top entries in a $350 cream. None of these ingredients will do much more than make skin feel hydrated and supple, and superior emollients like Hyaluronic Acid are conspicuously absent.

The real anti-agers, including Chanel's darling vanilla planifolia, surface far down the list. It is hard to believe that beneficial components such as glucosamine HCL, algae extract, yeast extract, licorice root extract, and vitamins C and E, will do much good when buried at the bottom in negligible concentrations. But far more disturbing than their meager quantities is the company they keep. The good is not only surrounded by, but also preceded by the bad, led by the bully preservatives phenoxyethanol and two parabens. Though the cream isn't marketed as containing sunscreen, it contains a fair amount of oxybenzone a chemical photocarcinogen that may attack DNA cells and produce free radicals after penetrating the skin.

Chanel's jar of lackluster and questionable ingredients adds up to a big fat waste of money. Essentially, you are paying for exquisite packaging and years of research, which may or may not have been successful. Without independent clinical studies on the Madagascar vanilla plantifola plant to corroborate Chanel's claims, who knows whether it deserves to have top billing in an anti-aging line? Where's the proof that this "rare" botanical makes any significant difference to the skin and actually stimulates cell renewal? You never hear a dermatologist recommend this product line. Wonder why?

It's hard to believe that consumers regularly rack up about $400 in credit card charges online without first getting a glimpse at Sublimage's ingredients, or at the very least a smattering of clinical evidence. Worse still is the poor soul who gets sucked into a deferred payment plan, which is supposedly now being offered at certain stores. For the price Chanel is charging, one should expect near-miraculous results equivalent to a face lift.

  • June 2, 2016

    by D

    Thank you for reviewing this product. I wandered into the Chanel section at Neiman and got the same schpiel about the vanilla flowers, etc.etc.etc. Having been an Eminence and Estee Lauder user for many years, I was suspect of the story and hence, landed upon your review. Thank you. You saved me money. I had decided if I was going to shell out that kind of money, perhaps it was time to see a plastic surgeon.

  • September 11, 2012

    by carol

    Hi Bob

    I would love to try Line D eye gel for myself and compare, but I must admit I have struggled to find this product on the internet. Could you please provide me with the link to line D eye Gel...

    Thanks Carol

  • December 5, 2010

    by Geraldine H

    I absolutely agree with you on the "lacklustre" ingredients in this shockingly expensive cream! Okay, squalane and jojoba are good and expensive materials, but let's face it, with a light cream, the oil content won't be more than, at the most 20-25%, so they can't add much to the price ... I agree with you that the anti-ageing extracts are way too far down the list to be of much use and why the heck put artificial colours in such an expensive face cream?

    I make "mostly natural" skincare and I'm not advertising myself when I say that I could make a cream with similar ingredients for, well, approximately $20 ... so could any half-competent cosmetic chemist.

    Like you, I am shocked at the hype and I hope your blog gets widely circulated with this excellent information. I do hope you will send it to some of the magazine beauty editors who coo over anything their advertisers give them to publicise!

  • July 16, 2010

    by copley

    Bob- I'm probably as much of a sucker for brand names as much as your girlfriend. But when it comes to skincare, I figure, who's going to know what label you're using unless they take a peek in your medicine cabinet? I put my money where I find quality ingredients, not so much fancy packaging.

    I'd be interested to check out the off-brand eye product you mentioned. Could you point me toward a link where it is sold? A quick Google search isn't pulling up useful results for "Line D Eye Gel." Thanks for sharing!

  • July 16, 2010

    by Bob

    Hmmm, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride is comedogenic and vanilla planifolia is an irritant. Then the smoothness is due to the Dimethicone. I agree, why is this product so expensive? Nice glass jar with the Chanel logo is impressive.

    There is a product that is difficult to find. Line D Eye Gel, that uses CoQ10 in Olive Oil, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Sodium Hyaluronate and herbal extracts. DOES NOT have any "poly" (plasitc) ingredients, dimethicone (artificial smoothness) and DOES contain a hyaluronic acid source (sodium hyaluronate). However, it also contains parabens. My friend uses it and gave me some to use. No extreme miracle, but it definitely hydrates and fine wrinkles disappear (but not so much help for the deep heavy "smile" ones). The $75 to $80 is much less than the Chanel eye product, but I must admit, even my girlfriend loves anything that has the Chanel logo on it (especially handbags).

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below.

My Comment

Add a comment...

-or- Cancel Comment
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More