Oh La Mer,
The luxury skincare brand which everyone has coveted for decades. La Mer seems to have been talked about by every celebrity and every luxury magazine. Their products are enriched with their famous ‘Miracle Broth’ that claims to completely transform your skin. The prices surely reflect that their skincare line should work nothing less than miracles on your face. I got a sample of their famous Creme de La Mer skin cream, and thought I’d share if I think this really is worth $230.
ABOUT LA MER:
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the brand, La Mer is an ultra-luxury skincare brand that has been around since 1965. It came to being when scientist Dr. Max Huber reportedly suffered chemical burns from an experiment and wanted to create a healing salve. He created his own ‘miracle broth’ from a fermentation process of sea kelp and minerals and La Mer was born. Upon reading several articles about La Mer, Huber’s secret fermentation process reportedly involved all sorts of unconventional steps, such as using various light and sounds. He believed so strongly in his healing miracle broth that he would advise it could be used over surgical wounds. Huber also had bizarre eating habits, and would even place a dollop in his dinner. Read more on that in this article by Elle.
Estee Lauder acquired La Mer in 1995 after Huber’s passing and the potency of La Mer’s Miracle Broth had come into question. No one knew of Hubert’s exact fermentation process, and the company even hired a psychic medium to speak to him from ‘beyond’. Flash forward to 2018 and La Mer is consistently one of the most highly coveted skincare brands. They have expanded with a full skincare line and even complexion products. A 1 ounce jar of Creme de La Mer will set you back $230CAD/$175US. If you’re feeling spendy and dehydrated, you can opt for the 16oz jar which is priced at $2150US.
LETS TALK ABOUT THE INGREDIENTS:
For a range that is so absurdly expensive, the ingredients are interesting. I will note that since I wrote my review on their $240 eye concentrate (read here), La Mer has since updated their website to include full ingredient lists. I found it suspicious before that you couldn’t find them anywhere. Below is the Creme de La Mar ingredients list from the La Mer website. This being a $230 product, you bet your ass I’m gonna go through the ingredients with a fine tooth comb.
The above list is a cocktail of petroleum-derived ingredients. Mineral oil, petrolatum, isohexadecane, microcrystalline wax, and paraffin all come from petroleum. Petrolatum, mineral oil and the latter have a reputation for clogging skin and leaving a false feeling of moisture when really it’s just a slick layer. It quite literally seals the skin from absorbing moisture from the atmosphere. I’ve personally tried to avoid any products with mineral oil as I find it makes my skin actually feel drier over time, despite the immediate sensation of moisture.
While petrolatum has been deemed ‘safe’ by most governmental organizations, the Environmental Working Group (EWG.com– a great resource for looking up the safety of cosmetic ingredients) says, “there is a risk of contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), cancer-causing chemicals found in crude oil and its by-products.” I’d rather avoid this risk at all costs, thanks. I’m sure La Mer is using only the highest grade of petrolatum and mineral oil, but still, I wish they didn’t use it at all.
Other interesting ingredients:
Lanolin alcohol- derived from fat secretions of sheep
Limonene- ranked as 6/10 on the EWG database for toxicity. It is a citrus derived scent solvent that when exposed to air will oxidize and can irritate the skin and respiratory tract.
Hydroxycitronellal- ranked 7/10 for toxicity (10 being worst). A synthetic scent ingredient that is a known immune system irritant and allergen.
Benzyl Salicylate- ranked 7/10. A fragrance ingredient linked to contact dermatitis. Cute!
Methylchloroisothiazolinone- ranked 7/10. A preservative and known skin toxin.
Alcohol denat- 4/10. Controls viscosity, among other uses. Has a tendency to strip skin of moisture and is toxic to organs.
You can see that the first ingredient in Creme de La Mer is sea kelp a.k.a. the fermented ‘Miracle Broth’. There is also an array of natural ingredients such as sweet almond oil, sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, and eucalyptus oil. None of the natural ingredients are particularly expensive or exotic. Creme de La Mer is also formulated with an array of vitamins and minerals essential to the skin, such as copper, zinc and magnesium. Unfortunately, all of these natural ingredients and vitamins are bogged down by the petroleum derivatives.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH CREME DE LA MER:
Ingredients aside, I still gave this moisturizer a fair shot. I used it over serum, without serum, in the morning, at night, rubbing it in my palms and applying directly to the face. This cream has a ‘warming process’ where you are officially meant to warm it in your hands for a few seconds so it can ‘melt’ and apply nicely onto the skin. Well, no matter what method I used, two pervasive issues were present every time. First, the scent of this cream is awful! Seriously awful. It smells like a combination of an old woman’s perfume and fake lemons. The scent is so strong I don’t know if I will even use my sample up. I’m not even averse to scented products, I usually enjoy them.
Second, the consistency of this cream is so heavy and it doesn’t absorb nicely. It feels slick and greasy and I actually noticed a few zits after using this!!! This literally just sits on top of my skin. Obviously the slickness comes from the petrolatum and mineral oil. Also, the cream is so thick that you really have to work it in your hands or else it feels like you have to tug on your face to spread it properly. Hence the ‘warming process’ I guess.
Waking up, I don’t find my skin to be particularly better or worse. It feels somewhat smoother, but is that just a placebo effect?
MY OVERALL THOUGHTS ON CREME DE LA MER:
Honestly, if this was on sale for $20 I wouldn’t buy it. I can’t get past the awful fake scent and the thick, greasy texture. I don’t want to hate on this, but facts are facts. This feels like a cheap moisturizer, not an ultra-luxury product. The worst thing is when I actually feel like a product I’m putting on my face is going to break me out. That’s how Creme de La Mer makes me feel!!! It’s too bad because I actually loved their Eye Concentrate.
I spent a lot of time researching the ingredients for this product because I don’t like wasting money on poor quality. You wouldn’t buy a $1000 jacket from Forever 21 would you? I understand the use of filler ingredients to maintain an attainable price point, but for an ultra-high end cream, this should not be happening. Vaseline anyone? Also, the fact that harmful preservatives, synthetic fragrance and even denatured alcohol make the ingredients list are reasons enough for me to never want to buy this.
The history of the company is cool, but Estee Lauder’s La Mer is clearly relying on celebrity endorsements and marketing to keep the perception of quality up while maximizing profits. This is a glorified drugstore moisturizer with sea kelp in it. Maybe long term exposure would show results, but I’d also be slathering my skin with a bunch of c-r-a-p. Do your research before falling for these type of products that offer more status than ‘miracles’.