Why yes, I am crazy. Crazy for dewy, moist skin.
Before I get into why I love Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream ($95 for 1.7 fl. oz.) and why I think you can pass on it, let me show you the gorgeous packaging and attention to detail. The outer box and the wraparound insert unfold like a blooming flower. Finally, when you get past all of that, the jar–with the CT logo right side up–reveals itself in all its rose gold and heavy glass splendor.
Charlotte’s Magic Cream is quite legendary as a backstage staple at runway shows. I recall reading insider articles referring to her “magic cream.” From the advertising and Charlotte’s own remarks, the cream is intended as a glowy moisturizer for day and night that also works as a face primer.
The texture is dense but not too heavy. Although it’s a heavyweight in the moisture department, one swipe across the slick top of the cream will pick up just a thin layer–and that’s all you need for moisturized skin.
I tend to scoop up more than that because my skin is on the dry side and I want the SPF protection. However, I’d never rely on solely this for sun protection: the SPF is only 15, and you’re unlikely to get anywhere close to that because you’d probably never apply that much cream. So I always top this with a separate sunscreen.
Dry and normal skin types who like a dewy finish will like Magic Cream, which doesn’t ever completely dry down. Oily skin will hate that, but I personally love that a layer of moisture remains to protect and hydrate rather than feeling like it’s evaporated.
It is so moisturizing that I often use this under my eyes and sometimes at night.
The residual moisture is also what makes it a wonderful makeup primer. I don’t mean primer in the sense of a silicone primer–there’s no silicone feel at all–but rather in the sense of creating a smooth, slippery base over which liquid and cream makeup (BB cushions in my case) can glide. No more makeup dragging across your skin! Even if you don’t like a dewy finish, it becomes irrelevant if you wear makeup often because the shine disappears with an application of powder.
Magic Cream also layers beautifully with other skincare. I often wear this after applying toner and two serums and before applying a physical sunscreen. Yet it doesn’t cause pilling or add any thickness the way that some silicone/gel/cushiony skincare does.
I have to admit, even for a high-end brand, the cream would probably be better priced at $50-70 rather than $95. Overall, putting aside the price, the only thing that makes me hesitate about repurchasing is the low SPF.
Update: I tried Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre and can confirm that it is not a dupe of Magic Cream. Like Magic Cream, it purports to moisturize and create a smooth, emollient base for makeup and is a backstage staple. However, just from applying it to the back of my hand, it doesn’t leave a sheen, absorbs quickly and fully, and doesn’t leave as smooth or emollient a surface as Magic Cream. The Embryolisse ingredients are also very different (water and mineral oil are the first two ingredients). As someone with dry skin, I strongly prefer Magic Cream.
Update 2 (June 2015): I tried out a deluxe sample of Embryolisse and posted a more detailed comparison here. Bottom line: Embryolisse is definitely not a dupe, but if you’re just seeking a good moisturizer that creates a smooth canvas with good slip for makeup application, Embryolisse works well and about as well as Magic Cream (and any other good moisturizer for that matter). Embryolisse probably also works for more skin types and preferences than Magic Cream does. I personally still prefer Magic Cream.
Worth It If
- You have dry or normal skin and
- You like a dewy finish or, if you don’t, you’d usually be wearing makeup over this anyway and
- You’re tired of trial-and-error (and mostly error) when it comes to a moisturizer that works well with makeup and other skincare
Not Worth It If
- You already have a moisturizer you love or
- You have oily skin or
- You want a matte finish or
- You want a moisturizer and decent SPF all in one or
- You expect literal magic or
- You’re accustomed to inexpensive skincare. There’s no way you will (or should) think that this is 10x better than the $10 moisturizer you’re using now
P.S. The packaging comes with face massage directions (also check out the product page linked at the top to see Charlotte’s video demonstration).