Chanel no 1 perfume, skincare and make-up review

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N°1 is an interesting name for Chanel’s new collection – particularly as it’s not primarily focused around a perfume (well, there’s a fragrance mist, but more on that later). Obviously, N°5 is what the brand is best known for – and the scent’s cryptic numerical name continues to be the […]

N°1 is an interesting name for Chanel’s new collection – particularly as it’s not primarily focused around a perfume (well, there’s a fragrance mist, but more on that later).

Obviously, N°5 is what the brand is best known for – and the scent’s cryptic numerical name continues to be the source of intrigue. (Was it Coco Chanel’s lucky number? Was it the fifth iteration of the formula that she chose? We’ll never know.) So calling their new collection N°1 de Chanel certainly suggests a high bar. The brand says it represents a single “global vision of beauty” encompassing skincare, make-up and fragrance.

Putting the skin centre stage, even the make-up and scent products have been created with skincare bases, with a focus on boosting radiance and plumping out fine lines. The formulas’ hero ingredient is red camellia extract, which contains skin-plumping protocatechuic acid. The brand says it is rich in antioxidants to protect the skin and promote a radiant glow.

Read more: 10 best perfume dupes that smell like the real thing

Sustainability is also at the forefront of this new range; a high percentage of the ingredients in the formulas are “of natural origin” (where the natural ingredient is modified in the lab). What’s more, the packaging is eco-friendly, with lighter bottles and jars. Glass is prioritised over plastic and many of the materials are recycled or bio-sourced (ie, created from biomass). The face cream jar is refillable, and there’s none of the usual cellophane covering the cardboard packaging.

We particularly loved the oh-so-chic red and white packaging. A welcome addition to our bathroom shelves, it’s guaranteed to please the beauty snobs among us.

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We were looking for formulas that really held their own against the slew of new and exciting indie brands that have been cropping up on the beauty market, not to mention products that work hard for their – considerable – money. Chanel has allegedly spent 17 years studying the aforementioned red camellia extract… but in an age where we’re all trying to consume less, do we really need another beauty range, even if it is from the house of Chanel?

How we tested

We incorporated a few products from the range into our regular routine, noting how well they performed and how much we enjoyed using them – particularly the make-up. With the skincare, there wasn’t enough time to fully test the long-term difference it made to our skin (you should give any product at least four weeks for that), so we focused on the sensorial aspects and any short-term benefits. We also tested the fragrance mist on our skin, examining the originality of the bouquet and how it developed over time.

Chanel N°1 red camellia powder-to-foam cleanser

Rating: 10/10

Powder-based skincare products are set to be huge for 2022 – not just for their ability to cleverly transform on contact with water, but, because they’re free from water, they’re said to be far more sustainable. They’re also less prone to mould so don’t require as many harsh preservatives. Plus, being a concentrated formula, you’re getting a lot of bang for your beauty buck and Chanel’s hardworking powder cleanser is case in point. A small sprinkling is all you need in the palm of your hand, with literally a few drops of water from the tap to work it up into a foamy lather. With a delicate floral scent, it dissolved make-up and grime without leaving our skin dry and uncomfortable, thanks to its skin-nourishing camellia extracts. It also swept away mascara and eyeliner without a hitch (or stinging eyes). Being powder-based, our tester found it was light, yet hydrating enough on their combination skin, and we imagine all skin types – from oily to dry, you won’t find anything to complain about. The packaging is particularly groovy, with a lid you slide across to reveal a small gap where you gently tap out the powder, so it doesn’t go flying everywhere.

Chanel N°1 red camellia revitalising serum

Rating: 8/10

Chanel claims this serum will leave your skin plumped and radiant over time, with fine lines reduced. There wasn’t enough time for us to test this out, but the brand says it tested the product on 80 women in a polluted environment, who claimed after one month to have seen improvements of up to 30 per cent. The supercharged formula certainly sounds promising, with 95 per cent natural origin ingredients, 76 per cent of which are derived from the antioxidant-rich camellia flower, which is particularly good if you live in an urban environment (pollutant particles are your skin’s worst nightmare).

It was certainly a joy to use – the transparent gel texture felt refreshing (that will be the camellia water) and our skin practically drank it up within a few seconds of applying. With continued use, it apparently boosts skin elasticity and radiance, so we’re looking forward to that. The bottle is super nifty, with a dropper applicator contained in the cap (and activated by giving it a twist), so you only dispense what’s needed. The scent is divine – like a mini aromatherapy hit. Rub a little on your hands and inhale before applying and you’ll see what we mean.

Chanel N°1 red camellia revitalising cream

Rating: 9/10

If there was one product that our weather-beaten, tired complexion was crying out for, it’s this rich whipped face cream, which is packed with skin-plumping super-ingredient red camellia extract (roughly 70 per cent of ingredients in the formula are derived from it). Dab it on first thing in the morning to create a protective moisture barrier to shield the skin from pollutants during the day, and then apply last thing at night to wake up with a post-facial glow. If you suffer from insomnia like our tester, you’ll know how important that is. The jar lid incorporates up-cycled camellia seed shell, plus once your jar is empty, you can purchase a refill for £71, benefitting your purse and the planet.

Chanel N°1 red camellia revitalising serum-in-mist

Rating: 8/10

As if we didn’t have enough to concern ourselves with, it turns out city life can wreak havoc on the skin – city pollution can cause what’s known as free radicals (unstable molecules that attack healthy skin cells), which result is accelerated ageing, irritation and dullness. This fortifying mist is meant to protect a fragile complexion while you’re out and about.

Designed to be spritzed on throughout the day, it helps skin stay hydrated and protected. The brand says that the antioxidants in the red camellia oil are the nemesis of free radicals. The refreshing camellia water, meanwhile, can also help revive your make-up without disturbing it (in case you were worried about Alice Cooper eyes). It’s a commuter handbag essential if ever there was one.

Chanel N°1 l’eau rouge body mist

Rating: 7/10

When Chanel releases a new fragrance it provokes squeals of delight from beauty fans, so we were initially a little bemused by the fact that this was a delicate body mist as opposed to a full-throttle perfume. Being used to the “fiercely feminine” character of Chanel N°5,  we have to admit, the bouquet took time to grow on us – being a body spray, it was incredibly light. Boasting the same camellia water and camellia extract as the rest of the range, it has a “skincare base” making it perfect to mist on as a final finishing touch in a skincare routine.

Our tester found the scent improved after it warmed up on the skin – it doesn’t shimmy out of the bottle flashing its wares straight away, but the enveloping floral bouquet certainly becomes slightly addictive over time. Think of the most blissful-smelling skincare you’ve ever tried. We wouldn’t call it a future classic, in the realms of N°5, but that probably wasn’t the intention. As it’s not an overbearing fragrance, it’s perfect for those with sensitive noses or who don’t like anything too heavy or cloying. Plus the rouge-noir coloured bottle definitely makes it a fetching addition to your dressing table.

Chanel N°1 red camellia revitalising foundation

Rating: 9/10

We found this formula was particularly good for dry or mature skin types. It was light enough not to settle into fine lines, but at the same time delivered decent coverage and bestowed our tester with the dewy, shimmering complexion of a young SJP. Our tester applied it with a damp sponge, and found it blended beautifully and created a gorgeous glow that lasted for most of the day. Being enriched with the same camellia oil as the other products, it helps to hydrate the skin and protect from the elements too (although it doesn’t contain an SPF, so you will need to apply one underneath). There are 20 hues to choose from, grouped into both skintones and undertones, ranging from fair to deep.

Chanel N°1 red camellia revitalising lip and cheek balm

Rating: 8/10

Our tester found this multi-tasking coloured balm to be a great contender for creating that “au naturelle” look, or for just touching up our make-up come 4pm, bestowing a healthy, French-girl allure to cheeks and lips. It comes in six shades, including “berry boost”, “flame red”, “red camellia” and our tester’s favourite, “healthy pink”, which creates the illusion of a fuller lip while adding a just-pinched glow to the apples of the cheeks. The formula, made with red camellia oil and plant origin wax, left our lips moisturised without feeling too heavy or greasy on the cheeks (as can be the case with lip and cheek tints), blending easily into the skin with just a few taps of our fingertips. The chic mini jar, emblazoned with the Chanel logo on the lid, was another plus point.

The verdict: N°1 de Chanel

Overall we were impressed with Chanel’s new streamlined range and its efforts to make the packaging more sustainable. While the skincare’s abilities to transform our complexion couldn’t be tested in the long term, the products delivered that luxurious experience we would expect from the brand, in both texture and scent, and were a joy to use. However, given its famous forebearer, we were hoping that a fragrance named Chanel N°1 l’eau rouge would be a tad more exciting than the light floral body mist it turned out to be (albeit a perfectly pleasant one).

Our pick of the collection had to be the red camellia powder-to-foam cleanser for ticking all the boxes, with its eco-friendly waterless formula, heavenly scent and concentrated, cost-effective format – not to mention its ability to suit most skin types. The red camellia revitalising foundation came a very close second, with its skincare-infused formula flattering and enhancing our tester’s sleep-deprived, thirty-something skin.

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We also tried Makeup by Mario, the beauty brand from Kim Kardashian’s favourite MUA – here’s how it went

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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