Many of us have heard of it and a few of us have given it a whirl. The hype originated with the signature face crème ‘Crème de la Mer.’
I’d say La Mer has a cult following, but at this point it is a pretty mainstream brand sold at many high(er) end retailers including Nordstrom, Saks, Barney’s, Bloomingdales and skincare boutiques like (my favorite) Bluemercury.
It’s also available on Amazon in several different sizes!
To La Mer or Not
A lot of people swear by this face cream, but many others are hesitant to take the plunge given that a 1 oz. jar (the smallest you can buy) retails at around $155. There are stories about celebrities using this cream for their ENTIRE body because it is so great. Which makes you think “That’s gotta be the most expensive body cream in history!” Who knows if that’s actually true… but folklore aside, I am here to review this cream for you!
There are many other products in the La Mer line, but today I am sticking with the original Creme de la Mer to answer the question ‘Is it worth the money?’ Or, another way to say it, is the La Mer juice worth the squeeze?
Let’s start with: What’s in it?
La Mer touts that the ‘miracle broth’ is what makes this cream so amazing; the key ingredient in the ‘miracle broth’ being sea kelp. In their words:
- Dr. Max Huber (an aerospace physicist who began experimenting with skin care ingredients after suffering from burns in a laboratory accident) combined nutrient-rich sea kelp and other natural ingredients, infusing them with energies of light and sound to intensify their activity until they became the potent, renewing Miracle Broth. After twelve years and 6000 experiments, a miracle was born.
Sound like marketing hype? Hey, I work in marketing, I know the deal. So yeah, they have some solid marketing going on. But is it possible for a product to take off and for people to continue to pay such a premium if it isn’t an effective product? I mean sure, celebrities will claim to use it and love it if they’re getting endorsement checks on the side, BUT would everyday folks keep buying it if it truly didn’t do something noticeably positive for their skin? After much reading of reviews and my own trials here are my thoughts.
As you’ll see below, seaweed extract is the first ingredient, followed by mineral oil.
- Crème de La Mer Ingredients: Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral oil Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Sesame Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesame Seed, Medicago sativa (alfalfa) seed powder, Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus amygdulus dulcis (sweet almond) seed meal, Sodium Gluconate, Potassium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Zinc Gluconate, Paraffin, Tocopheryl succinate, Niacin, Beta-carotene, Decyl oleate, Aluminium distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat., Fragrance (Parfum)
- Side note: I had trouble finding the ingredient list on the La Mer site and I am never a fan of that practice. Have that type of information easily accessible, otherwise it makes me suspicious!
What’s so great about seaweed extract (aka sea kelp)?
- It’s rich in vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. It is said to help slow the skin aging. Vitamins include: A1, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, K, pantothenic acid, folic acid, and niacin. Antioxidants i.e. beta carotene. Seaweed also contains fatty acids to combat skin irritation and inflammation.
What is the deal with mineral oil?
- Mineral oil is used in many body products, including lip balms and hair-care products. Mineral oil is derived from petroleum. Mineral oil acts as a moisturizing agent but it provides no nutrient value. Many people avoid it as it can inflame acne or clog skin, because it coats the skin preventing it from ‘breathing’ properly (and therefore can cause clogging/congestion). It has long been used as a skin protectant to help heal skin since it keeps outside elements out, but there are many dermatologist who claim it can have negative effects on the skin including accelerating pre-mature aging
Although I couldn’t find any blatant parabens in the ingredient list, I can tell there are some paraben substitutes in there (i.e. Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone – say what?)
I won’t break down every ingredient in Crème de La Mer. Frankly, I’m not a doctor so I can’t even begin to know half about this list of ingredients. But clearly there are a lot of ingredients in this product. And the more I learn about skincare, the more I hear that the fewer the ingredients the better. When the ingredient list gets really long we often have no idea what they are or where they originate from, upping the likelihood that they’re far from natural and might not be great for your skin/body in the long run. Something to keep in mind.
The texture of the original Crème de la Mer is thick. There is a method to applying which starts with you taking just a small dollop of the product out of the jar and warming it between your fingers until it turns into a clear cream. Then you apply to your face in a slow pressing method – don’t rub. Press onto your forehead, cheeks, neck. This method is said to be the way you MUST apply the cream to get the so-bragged-about results.
The fragrance is light – reminds me of a slight mix between baby powder and Coppertone lotion. Let me emphasize that it is light. I’m a big fan of the unique fragrance, but keep in mind added fragrance is often the #1 cause of allergic reactions in skincare products. For the record, I have not had any adverse reactions to this cream.
After using the cream my skin certainly looks moisturized. It feels softer. And I definitely have that La Mer glow that fades after 30 minutes or so. FYI, I am an all-around fan of the glowy look, hence why I love face oils. But that’s a topic for another post.
Although I noticed immediate results, it wasn’t until I visited my aesthetician did I realize it wasn’t exactly doing me any favors. She said that although I wasn’t visibly broken out, I had a lot of clogged pores. I told her what I was using and she said it was too heavy for my skin. Boo! Therefore, I retired my tub of crème to only be used if I’m feeling particularly sensitive or in need of moisture (Think after being outdoors in extreme cold or perhaps if I get too much sun, which is something I try to avoid, especially on my face). It was suggested that I try this La Mer Moisturizing Lotion which is lighter than the crème and comes in a handy pump. However, it retails starting at $240 for a 1.7 fluid oz.
Would I recommend La Mer’s Crème de la Mer?
Frankly, I’m on the fence. Maybe that’s a cop out. But its the truth. Yes and No.
Let me explain. On one hand, I’ve seen results. I like the feeling of the crème on my skin, it’s soothing. I like the smell, my skin feels soft, my skin glows for a bit, and the crème hasn’t irritated my skin in terms of causing itching or noticeable irritation. On the other hand, it was too heavy for my skin which caused pore clogging (probably the mineral oil?) and it’s definitely pricey.
So my conclusion: If you tend to have dry skin, you’re in the market for a new cream, and you’re willing to spend quite a bit more, then definitely try a sample of this creme. Try it out for at least a week. I know it’s sometimes hard to get samples of La Mer, but I’ve had good luck at Bluemercury (especially if you’ve purchased something else or had a service done).
For those of you saying screw that, even if it does something magnificent to my skin, I won’t buy it because A) The price and/or B) The ingredient list. I’m here to help because I’ve been there. Below are some of my favorite alternatives.
I can vouch for a couple but I haven’t tried them all. My goal here is to provide some less expensive alternatives that offer similar benefits, i.e. great moisture resulting in noticeably softer skin and anti-aging benefits.
- Decleor NutriDivine Soft Cream / $65 – I’m a big fan of Decleor. This line is one of the lines used at Bella Sante Spa in Boston (other locations: Lexington and Wellesley, MA). If I could explain this line in one word it’d be luxurious. Decleor face creams and balms are silky and smell wonderful (lightly scented). The Soft Cream is a great cream for day or night. However, there is no SPF so don’t forget to layer on an SPF for daytime! Key ingredients: Shea butter, black currant seed oil
- Decleor is sold at Belle Sante spa locations as well as online retailers: Dermstore.com and Beauty.com (check Retailmenot.com first to see if they have any promo codes for a discount!)
- REN Hydra Calm Global Protection Day Cream / $45 – REN is an excellent line. I consider it more of a cult brand although it is carried in a lot of Sephora stores now. Paraben free products. This cream is thick but not super rich. It’s a great everyday cream to keep you hydrated. Bonus – the pump container is great for travel and more sanitary since you don’t need to stick your fingers into a pot. Key ingredients: chamomile flower extract, camellia seed, sesame seed oil
- REN is also carried at Barney’s, Dermstore.com, and Beauty.com
- Caudalie Vinosource Intense Moisture Rescue Cream / $39 – truth be told, I’ve never tried this cream but I have tried the serum from the same Caudalie Vinosource line. I had great luck with the serum. Also paraben free. Wonderfully creamy. Great tube container – great for travel, more sanitary AND it’s always easier to squeeze every last bit of product out of a tube container! Key ingredients: Grape seed oil, shea butter extract, olive oil
- Sold at Sephora, Dermstore.com, Beauty.com
- Darphin Hydraskin Rich / $62 – I love this cream. It’s my go-to for night time moisture. It’s rich and smells wonderful. I’d consider this a great substitute for La Mer because it’s a rich, moisturizing cream. It also has fewer ingredients than most face creams. Paraben free. Has shea butter as well as mango butter
- Sold at Bluemercury, Dermstore.com, and Beauty.com
I know it’s summer time and sometimes people shy away from the heavier creams in the warmer weather which is understandable. However, if you’re looking for something to wear at night or even something to soothe your skin after a day out in the heat/sun, the above are great options! Heck, you could throw one in the fridge for a little bit before applying which would be a nice soothing cool down!
Photo Credits: MixMedia and Amazon.com