After an experiment exploded in his face, NASA scientist Max Huber decided to create a cream to help heal his wounds. Creme De La Mer was born. In 1996, Estee Lauder bought it, and since then it has become a staple in many a celebrity’s beauty arsenal. J.Lo is said to love this stuff so much to stockpile huge amounts of it. And who could blame her? Surely, a cream developed by a NASA scientist must contain something pretty unique and incredibly effective, right? Well, not exactly…
What Creme De La Mer says
The original miracle, borne from Dr. Huber’s quest to heal his own skin’s scarred appearance. This ultrarich cream transforms skin on contact and soothes sensitivities. It helps heal even the driest complexions and dramatically renews skin’s appearance. Skin in any state will benefit from this nourishing treatment, but it is especially suited to very dry complexions. To this day, each opal jar is filled by hand to maintain its delicate balance.
Seaweed (Algae) Extract
Seaweed extract is a very generic term. More than 20,000 species of algae exist and, even though only a bunch of those are commonly found in cosmetics, it’s hard to say which one Creme De La Mer uses. Most of them have emollient and antioxidant properties, but they aren’t the miraculous ingredients the brand claims them to be.
But the secret is, apparently, in the fermentation process. Nicki Zevola of Futurederm explains that “(ultrasound waves) are directed into the cream to ferment the algae, accelerating the rate by which algae produces lactic acid.” A Alpha Hydroxy Acid, Lactic Acid can dissolve the glue that holds skin cells together, allowing them to slough off. Once exfoliated, skin is smoother and brighter. There is no need to go through all this trouble to produce lactic acid though. It can be bought from many manufacturers.
Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin
Mineral Oil and Petrolatum have gained a bad reputation because they are derived from oil. But before they can be used in skincare products, they must undergo a strict and rigorous purifying process that eliminates all their toxic components. What’s left is not only safe for us, but very moisturizing too.
Both ingredients work by creating a protective barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. Plus, they also have wound-healing properties. Glycerin, instead, is a humectant that draws water from the environment into the skin, increasing its hydration. This blend of ingredients makes this a very moisturizing formula, especially suitable for dry skin.
Creme De La Mer is infused with antioxidants, such as Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Powder, Copper Gluconate (it can increase the levels of superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant), and Tocopheryl Succinate, a very effective form of Vitamin E. Unfortunately whatever benefits these antioxidants may provide are nullified by the jar packaging. That’s because antioxidants lose a bit of their effectiveness when exposed to light and air, which happens every time you open the lid.
Final considerations on the formula
Creme De La Mer is a basic moisturizer with a very high price tag. It moisturizes skin, which will make it softer and look smoother and plumper. It also contains small amounts of copper and magnesium which could help heal wounds too, but while Dr Huber may have found them helpful, not many hurt their skin that bad or even just frequently to need a cream with such healing properties. I also don’t like the preservatives used. Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone are too of the most irritating and can cause allergic reactions.
Full Ingredient List
Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Powder, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus Amygdalus 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, Aluminum Distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium Stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat., Fragrance
The bottom line
Creme De La Mer is an effective, but very basic, moisturizer that’s particularly suitable for dry skin. If you like the formula and can afford it, go for it. But don’t expect miracles. There’s nothing revolutionary or unique here that justifies its high price tag. On the contrary, its active ingredients are commonly used in many, and much cheaper, skincare products.
Have you ever tried Creme De La Mer? If so, what do you think of it?