Strengths: Lavish packaging (if that appeals to you); some great foundations with sunscreen; worthwhile Terracotta bronzing powders; some good lipsticks and blush; impressive eyeshadow singles.
Weaknesses: Very expensive; over-reliance on jar packaging; pervasive fragrance; lack of products to deal with acne or skin discolorations (Guerlain does sell a "whitening" line outside the United States and Canada); irritating toners; several products laced with irritating plant extracts; limited shade ranges.
Guerlain's Paris pedigree, having evolved from a centuries-old fragrance house to a "lifestyle" line that prides itself on luxurious indulgences that promise to beautify (and perfume) almost every inch of you, still manages to hook plenty of unsuspecting women. Yet behind all of the enticing names and extraordinary claims lie some of the most unremarkable, overpriced skin-care products available. It may sound luxurious to find that gold is included in some of their formulations, unless you happen to know that when it's applied topically, gold is simply a potent allergen; there is no research showing it to have any effect on wrinkles or aging.
Guerlain's skin-care products contain a preponderance of ordinary cosmetic ingredients, with only a smattering of antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, and anti-irritants, and most of these elegant ingredients are hindered by jar packaging. It's one thing to spend more than you need to on a skin-care routine, but at least if you decide to do so you should shop the overpriced lines that will reward you with far better formulations than what Guerlain offers. Guerlain is the very definition of style usurping substance. For example, there are dozens and dozens of moisturizers in this line that are at best described as mediocre and out of date, while the sunscreens have issues of their own, including low SPF ratings and potentially insufficient UVA protection due to smaller-than-usual amounts of avobenzone. And despite the specialty claims they make for each product grouping, repetitive formulations are the hallmark of the Guerlain line—too bad not a single moisturizer or serum formula comes close to beating the competition; more often than not they fail miserably.
Guerlain has been under the ownership of Sephora parent company Louis Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy since 1994, and is available in many Sephora boutiques.
For more information about Guerlain, visit www.guerlain.com.