Lancome Absolue Precious Oil - ‘precious’ as in pretentious and exorbitant.
The other day I saw Lancome Absolue Precious Oil on sale from a major retail store for $364. That’s a lot of money for 30ml! A quick check showed that I could get it elsewhere on the internet for $177. Clearly it pays to shop around, but it also raises the question of the product’s real worth. Let’s have a look at the ingredient list and see what you actually get for your money.
Interestingly the websites I found selling Lancome Absolue Precious Oil did not provide an ingredient list. How can you decide to buy something or not if you don’t know what it is? Presumably people buy these products based simply on the superficial marketing hype.
Here are the ingredients:
OLEA EUROPAEA OIL / OLIVE FRUIT OIL
SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS SEED OIL / JOJOBA SEED OIL
CAMELINA SATIVA SEED OIL
CI75130 / BETA CAROTENE
ZEA MAYS OIL / CORN OIL
ORIGANUM MAJORANA LEAF OIL
PELARGONIUM GRAVEOLENS FLOWER OIL
HELIANTHUS ANNUS SEED OIL /SUNFLOWER SEED OIL
ROSA CANINA FRUIT OIL
PASSIFLORA EDULIS OIL
PASSIFLORA EDULIS SEED OIL
ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS LEAF OIL / ROSEMARY LEAF OIL,
ROSA DAMASCENA FLOWER OIL
CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS (ORANGE) PEEL OIL
CITRUS LIMON PEEL OIL / LEMON PEEL OIL
ANTHEMIS NOBILIS FLOWER OIL
PRUNUS ARMENIACA KERNEL OIL / APRICOT KERNEL OIL
LAVANDULA ANGUSTIFOLIA OIL / LAVENDER OIL
ORYZA SATIVA BRAN OIL / RICE BRAN OIL
PARFUM / FRAGRANCE
The first listed ingredient, and therefore the main component, is caprylic/capric triglyceride. A relatively cheap synthetic oil. The next three most common ingredients (olive oil, jojoba oil and camelina oil) are all good natural oils, but they hardly justify a $364/30ml price tag.
The 6th listed ingredient is corn oil. Seriously, corn oil in an expensive high-end cosmetic! Other listed plant oils are rice bran oil and sunflower oil. All these solvent-extracted budget oils you expect to find on a supermarket shelf, not in a supposedly superior cosmetic product.
A little further down the ingredient list we find limonene, linalool and geraniol. As these fragrances are also potential allergens they are typically used at concentrations of less than 0.3%. That represents about 0.1ml in a 30ml product. It is here we also find the ingredient propyl gallate, which has a recommended concentration limit of 0.1% in cosmetics.
We can therefore expect that everything listed below these ingredients are at even lower concentrations. So the most precious ingredient (the rose oil) listed later is probably less than 0.1ml – about one or two drops at most. And who can say how little there may be as you cannot tell from the smell because the product contains parfum (synthetic fragrance) and also cheaper ingredients that smell like rose, such as geraniol.
Lancome describe their product as “an alchemy of Rose Essential Oil and seven precious botanical oils”. The seven precious botanical oils are the seven essential oils of orange, lemon, marjoram, geranium, rosemary, lavender, and roman chamomile. All good essential oils, but not what you would call precious. And, again, you are probably getting less than 0.1ml of each in the bottle.
No mention of any of the ingredients being organic, sustainable or based on socially ethical production principles. Clearly not a priority for Lancome, nor a contributor to the cost of the product.
Based on the likely ingredient quantities and their current global commodity prices I would say the total ingredient cost is about $2.20 for the 30ml bottle. If I am substantively out in my estimate I would be happy for L’Oréal to supply me with their ingredient percentages so I can give a more precise costing.
I am not saying that there aren’t some good ingredients in the product (though there are a large number of very mediocre ones too). What I am saying is the retail price is grossly exorbitant for the ingredients and their quantities.
However, the cost of a product is not only in the raw ingredients, it can also be in the R&D and the cost of manufacture. But here we simply have commonly used ingredients that are found in hundreds of other much less expensive products, and they are all simply mixed together in a tank. No R&D, no revolutionary breakthroughs in formulating and no complex manufacturing required.
Lancome claim that on application a “golden glow is immediately revealed”. Perhaps they would like to clarify exactly what magic ingredient is supposed to be doing this? When you don’t get that golden glow you should ask for your money back.
Shame on Lancome and the retail stores that sell this "precious oil" for $364 when the ingredients only cost a couple of dollars. Is that fraudulent misrepresentation? Are the shop staff aware of the exorbitant markup? Do they care? But, at the end of the day, Caveat emptor, quia ignorare non debuit quod jus alienum emit (Let the buyer beware, because they should not be ignorant of the product they are buying).
Please read and understand ingredient lists.
Dr Steve Humphries
Hebe Botanicals Ltd