Crema Nera Extrema Obsidian Mineral High Recovery Elixir

$155 - 1 fl. oz.
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Armani wants you to believe this serum is worth its extraordinary price because it contains a “survival ingredient” found in the seabed of volcanoes. Unbelievable! Substances found in or near volcanoes have nothing to do with skin care, and whatever survival mechanisms a plant has doesn’t automatically transfer to human skin.

Think of it this way: certain plants can survive in harsh, hot desert climates and yet without shelter, food, and water, we’d die under the same conditions the plant is exposed to, even if we slathered ourselves in said plant.

This serum ends up being a complete waste of time and money not only for its hokey claims but because the second ingredient is alcohol—the kind that causes dryness, free-radical damage, and hurts skin’s ability to produce healthy, skin-firming collagen. It’s nice that this product contains some vitamin C (ascorbyl glucoside is the form used) but it contains precious little else of value to skin, and it’s all for naught anyway with the amount of alcohol on board. Armani also included fragrance ingredients known to cause irritation, making this overpriced serum even more troublesome. For effective, irritant-free serums we recommend (in all price ranges!) our Best Serums list is the best place to start.

If Armani is the line you’ve set your sights on, stick with what they do best: fragrance and makeup.

Lying within this anti-aging serum: Extrema, a 'survival ingredient' born on seabed volcanoes, powerful anti free-radical¹ protection designed to neutralize damage linked to external aggressions and help protect skin cells' DNA. Enriched with brightening Crystal Complex and renewing OMC3.

Water, Alcohol Denat., Butylene Glycol, PEG-20, Methyl Gluceth-20, Glycerin, Ascorbyl Glucoside, PEG-60, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Methylsilanol Mannuronate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hydroxide, Perlite, Palmaria Palmate Extract, Adenosine, Hydrolyzed Lupine Protein, Thermos Thermophillus Ferment, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, Ferrous Gluconate, Tetrasodium EDTA, Citric Acid, Pentasodium Pentetate, Xanthan Gum, Lentinus Edodes Extract, Polystyrene, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool, Geranoil, Limonene, Citronellol, Fragrance

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani is credited with giving tailored elegance, power, and sex appeal to standbys like men's suits, and turning Hollywood's A-list stars into fashion icons as they parade through countless award ceremonies adorned in his simple yet elegant creations. According to Armani, "Elegance doesn't mean being noticed, it means being remembered." That statement has been parlayed into the designer's makeup collection, where the products are replete with the textures, colors, and flawless application that assure your natural beauty will be memorable rather than masked.

Because Armani has always been passionate about textures, it's no surprise that his makeup (which is the main reason to check out this line) presents an impressive collection that features some of the smoothest, lightest textures you're likely to find. From foundations to powders, eyeshadows, and mascaras—even pencils—the makeup selection includes some truly stellar products. According to the brochure for Armani's makeup, the supreme textures and silky application are the result of Micro-fil technology. This supposedly allows for a precise blending and layering of select ingredients, offering a heightened sense of color that fits like a second skin.

Regardless of how that technology is labeled, almost all of the makeup contains standard silicone polymers along with ordinary ingredients like nylon-12. Of course, many cosmetics companies have their equivalent version of Micro-fil, but Armani seems to have taken it one step further, though not always toward desired results. For example, the eyeshadows, while very smooth and easy to blend, aren't much for intensity, a point the counter personnel made clear.

There are a few other instances where the pricey products aren't all they're made out to be, but this is the world of cosmetics, and although the fantasy is for every product to be perfect, that's hardly ever the reality. Still, there are many compelling reasons to explore this collection. Although not fully distributed across the United States, it has a presence in most major cities and the products may be purchased on Armani's Web site. Makeup is where it's at for Giorgio Armani's cosmetics line. The skin care was a blatant, exceedingly overpriced afterthought and is not worth considering.

For more information about Giorgio Armani, owned by L'Oreal, call (877) ARMANI-3 or visit

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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