Healing Nectar


December 29, 2015 | BY Grace Tay

Distilled to a pure concentrate of active ingredients from the fruit, leaf and flower of an exotic vanilla orchid, Chanel Sublimage L’Extrait comes to the rescue of stressed, damaged skin. Grace Tay puts it to the test.

Honey-hued, with the consistency of thick syrup—inside this small, heavy glass bottle is a golden elixir that promises speedy healing to damaged, stressed or fatigued skin. Chanel Sublimage L’Extrait is tipped as an Intense Recovery Treatment, packed with an ultra-high concentration of active ingredients derived from its Madagascan superfood for skin, Vanilla Planifolia. At its heart is Chanel’s proprietary active ingredient, Enriched Planifolia PFA, derived from the green pods and flowers of a specific vanilla species selected from among 117 varieties. This active is said to boost regeneration of the epidermis and strengthen the skin’s barrier, thus protecting it from damage. 

Two new ingredients from the same plant pack a power dose in L’Extrait: stem cells from the leaves to activate the skin’s natural repair process, and an oil infused with the essence of the vanilla flowers, that supposedly protects skin from environmental stress. Formulated as a precious oil with a concentrate of these exceedingly pure actives, L’Extrait glissades languidly within its glass phial. 

This is the priciest product in Chanel’s premium anti-ageing Sublimage collection, at an eye-watering $719 for 15ml. The good news is that a little goes a long way—a single drop is all that’s needed for the whole face. And it’s not for long-term daily use, but meant to be used curatively following any direful episode your skin endured—a month of “treatment” is recommended—to get it ship-shape again. Analogous to the hyperbaric oxygen therapy and glucosamine-and-chondroitin top athletes might take for sports injuries. 

As skin is optimised for repair, regeneration and protection, there are further promises of youthfulness: wrinkles smoothed, suppleness, better hydration. Well, there’s nothing like airplane air to seriously test one’s skin’s mettle, so this came along on my last long-haul flight. Practically travel-sized, the L’Extrait bottle takes up less space in a microbag than the average smartphone. I liked that a single dose is precisely dispensed with one pump—you can even do this in a darkened cabin or with your eyes (half) closed. 

As I rubbed the viscous driblet between my fingertips then over my forehead, I wondered how that tiny amount was supposed to suffice for my whole face. I caught a soft waft of vanilla as I smeared what scanty product that remained on my fingertips over my cheeks, from the centre outwards. 
Then the magic happened. About 15sec in, my fingers that had been dragging stickily over my skin were suddenly gliding smoothly as the thick serum suddenly melted into a silky lightweight oil that spread fluidly to cover my face.

It kept my skin comfortably moisturised 40,000ft up in the air and throughout my trip in chilly Europe. I discovered that double dosing enhanced the melting sensation, and the added slickness made it easier to do the recommended massage ritual. While a single drop leaves a hint of sheen, two drops breach the oily-shine zone, so it’s best done only at night.

Unfortunately, L’Extrait could not prevent the skin around my nose from flaking after I caught an annoying cold, but as I continued using it for a week after my return, I enjoyed a suppleness in my skin where normally it’d feel papery after travelling. 

Before I knew it, a third of my bottle was gone, and I’ve now reluctantly put it aside for a rainy day, when I’ll need to call on its healing prowess on another airplane ride, after an excruciating facial or just way too many sleepless nights.

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