And the award for most hyped-up, outrageously expensive skincare cream goes to… Creme De La Mer!
Look, I get it. Creme De La Mer has a cool story. NASA scientist Max Huber created it to heal his skin after an experiment blew up in his face.
I mean, how many creams can say they were created by a NASA scientist? I’d shout that from the rooftops too.
But Max didn’t come up with anything special. When you take a closer look at the cream, it ain’t that much different from Nivea Cream. Ahem.
Need I say more?
Ok, I will. Here’s why Creme De La Mer is all hype and little substance:
What’s In Creme De La Mer?
SEAWEED (ALGAE) EXTRACT
Algae is the probably the only ingredient worthy of mention here. Too bad, it doesn’t mean anything.
Did you know more than 20,000 species of algae exist? Most of them have emollient and antioxidant properties, but… who knows which one Creme De La Mer uses?
It may not matter. Much. Apparently, the “miracle worker” isn’t the algae itself. It’s the fermentation process. Nicki Zevola of Futurederm says it better: “(ultrasound waves) are directed into the cream to ferment the algae, accelerating the rate by which algae produces lactic acid.”
Lactic acid is an exfoliant that dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together, allowing them to slough off. Once they’re off, your skin look softer and brighter.
But… why go through all this trouble (and expense) to make lactic acid when you can buy it directly from a manufacturer?
Related: The Right Way To Get Algae Into Your Skincare Routine
MINERAL OIL (PARAFFINUM LIQUIDUM), PETROLATUM, GLYCERIN
Algae aside, the bulk of Creme De La Mer formula is made up of mineral oil, petrolatum and glycerin. That’s the same base as Nivea Creme.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with mineral oil and petrolatum. I know Auntie Google is convinced they’ll give you cancer, but Auntie Science knows best.
The ingredients may be derived from petroleum but they undergo a strict and rigorous purifying process that gets rid of all their toxins before they go into the cream. Phew!
But why use them in the first place? They have wound-healing properties. Plus, they’re super moisturising. They both work by creating a protective barrier on the skin that seals in moisture and slows down water loss.
Talking about moisture, some of that comes from glycerin, a humectant that draws moisture from the air into your skin, keeping it hydrated for longer.
This blend of ingredients is amazing for dry skin. If your skin’s oily, I’d run away.
Related: Is Mineral Oil Bad For Skin?
Unlike Nivea Creme, Creme De La Mer has its fair share of antioxidants, like alfalfa powder and vitamin E. But the most interesting one is copper gluconate: it helps your skin make more superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant that destroys the worst type of free radicals.
The catch? Antioxidants slowly go bad and lose all their effectiveness when exposed to light and air. Jar packaging isn’t the smartest choice for them.
Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About Antioxidants
Rich. Can feel heavy on combination skin.
It smells like Nivea Creme. It’s strong, too.
How To Use It
Warm the thick cream between your fingers for a few seconds until it becomes translucent. Then, massage it gently into the skin.
In the morning, apply it before sunscreen. At night, it’s the last step of your skincare routine.
Performance & Personal Opinion
Creme De La Mer works. It’s so moisturising, it can turn dry and flaky skin into a softer and plumper complexion. All that extra moisture fills in fine lines and wrinkles, too.
So, what’s my problem with it? It no different from other moisturisers out there. You can literally use Nivea Creme and have the same results. Do you really want to pay a gazillion times more for the same thing?
If you really do, the cream is more suitable for dry skin. Oily skin? The thick texture can make you breakout.
Talking about texture, it’s on the thick side. Unless your skin is pretty dry, you may feel like it’s just sitting on the skin.
While we’re on the topic, you don’t need to massage the cream between your fingers before application to activate the Magic Broth. That’s just marketing nonsense. You need to do it so the thick texture glides on more smoothly…
Who Is This For?
People with dry skin who don’t mind splurging on a luxury moisturiser.
Who Is This Not For?
- Acne-prone skin
- Combination skin
- Oily skin
- Anyone who doesn’t want to spend a fortune for a fancy version of Nivea Creme
Creme De La Mer comes in a big white jar. It’s the best type of packaging for such a thick texture, but it doesn’t keep the antioxidants inside stable and effective for long…
Does Creme De La Mer Live Up To Its Claims?
|This luxuriously rich cream immerses skin in deep moisture, helping soothe dryness.||True.|
|Skin feels soft-to-the-touch, supple and smooth.||True again.|
|Dry lines appear softened.||True, but any moisturiser does this.|
Price & Availability
$160.00 at Net-A-Porter and Sephora
Do You Need It?
Nope. Creme De La Mer is a wonderful moisturiser for dry skin. It’s just very basic. And that’s what bugs me. For the price, you deserve more.
Dupes & Alternatives
- Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Cream ($28.00)
- Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream (£28.00)
- Nivea Creme (£4.50)
- Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream ($29.00)
Have you ever tried Creme De La Mer? Share your experience in the comments below.
Seaweed (Algae) Extract , Mineral Oil\Paraffinum Liquidum\Huile Minerale , Petrolatum , Glycerin , Isohexadecane , Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract , Microcrystalline Wax \Cera Microcristallina\Cire Microcristalline , Lanolin Alcohol , Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil , Eucalyptus Globulus (Ecalyptus) 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 , Alcohol Denat. , Fragrance (Parfum)
“The original miracle . . . ” Sounds almost religious, doesn’t it? I haven’t tried it, but I’ve known several women who are willing to shell out for it — even women on very tight budgets! I just can’t justify the price, not when there are better formulas that are so much more affordable.
Laurie, I agree, I can’t justify it either. There’s nothing special in this formula. At least, if they changed the packaging, you’d have the full benefits of the antioxidants. It still wouldn’t be worth $160, but it would make splurging on it somewhat less painful.
I didn’t know that about the sea weed process, I’m so happy that I always learn something new and exciting on your site:)
Helena, I’m glad you do. Thank you!
Great info. And breakdown of the ingredients gio…will love your posts always 🙂
Purva, oh thank you! 🙂
I could never justify the price tag. Far too much for a product that’s your ‘regular’ moisturiser. Had it been in my budget I wouldn’t let this cream slide. I’m rather curious as to whether the NASA inventor got this formula to work for his scars? Excuse me whilst I google.
Iram, petrolatum and a couple of minerals included here have some wound-healing properties, although I don’t know how well they worked for him or how useful that is for the average consumer. Most of us don’t have scars or hurt our faces regularly. I think he used the best ingredients available at the time, but so much time has passed since then and so many new, much more beneficial skincare ingredients have been discovered. So, this has become an average formula, and it’s hard to justify the price tag.
I always and still do think the price of La Mer products is absurd. Thank you for clearing all my doubts for ignoring this brand haha. I have zero interest in it because of the price range. There’s plenty of high-performance products without that hefty cost.
Janessa, I agree, it’s hard to justify their prices. For that amount, a cream should make all your wrinkles disappear forever!
I use Creme De La Mer Intense and LOVE it!! I know you hear how Nivea is identical – NO – and I actually use Nivea, on my hands and feet and I love Nivea for that but I am absolutely 100% with La Mer on my face. It is the Algae extract that matters in this formula, that’s the secret right there!! I buy the 3.4oz original. If you visit Nordstom I left feedback there along with a current photo of myself. I’m 46 and look nowhere close to it. Aside from good genes it’s #1 sunscreen, #2 excellent face cream and serums. I have never had salon treatments in my life nor do I bother with dermatologists to keep me looking young. Hydration is also important!! La Mer really is a wonderful bottle of magic. And I have tried HUNDREDS of face creams, literally. I will never stray from this one.
Sara, I agree that Nivea and La Mer aren’t dupes, and that the latter has better ingredients. I just think there’s nothing in it to justify the outrageous price. But I’m glad it is working so well for you.
Great article, I had a conversation with my cosmetician about this cream and she started to laugh when she saw the ingredients and the price. She said no cream in a jar can do what this cream is promising. I bought several samples on eBay, samples are also very expensive, I mean a 5ml sample is 15 euro….but I was very curious. The cream is so so, but the serum is horrible and I had an itching sensation …and redness some minutes after. The micellar is very inefficient…. I mean, it is similar as efficiency with Nivea or a low level micellar solution.
Ana Maria, I agree, it’s a cheap line with an expensive price tag. I find the cream to be comparable to Nivea moisturiser too in terms of moisturization. The active ingredients are the same too. La Mer has done a great job at building up the hype indeed. Too bad the products don’t deliver.
I tried it but no miracle- half price of other products are as good as Cream De Lamer or better.
Se Ok Yoon, I agree1 It’s a basic moisturising cream. It does that job well but so do many other creams.
Thank you for taking time to breakdown the ingredients and effectiveness of La Mer. I also cannot justify the expense however, I would love to hear your recommendations for a very moisturizing night cream or oil to seal in my layers or oils, serums, etc. I would much rather use an effective moisturizer for my face and under eye area and forgo eye cream.
Joy, have you tried Cerave PM moisturizer?You can use it during the day, too.
Great article as usual. Luckily I have a friend works at the Estee Lauder HQ and was able to buy crème de la mer for me at employee discount. So with the hefty discount I got a bottle of the original crème, soft crème and gel. Comparing to all three creams, only the soft cream and gel has the fabulous and magic-like ingredient “Niacinamide” but the original cream doesn’t. Even though I do love the feel and result from the thick texture original cream, the soft cream and gel provided me the extra benefits from Niacinamide. I use the soft cream during winter time and gel in hot summer time. I think it’s because of the Niacinamide that helped made my skin tone more even and brighter, also the anti-aging benefits. If you are willing to spend the money I would suggest getting the soft cream or gel. but I wouldn’t buy it again without the hefty employee discount, because there are many other creams, lotions, serums are loaded more anti-aging, moisturizing ingredients with fractions of price compares to La Mer. Like Olay’s regenerist serum (fragrance free version) and cream are fabulous ! loaded with antioxidants and Niacinamide.
Alan, glad to hear you were able to buy it at a discount. I agree with you, the thick texture can certainly benefit some people but without the anti-aging ingredients, it’s not really worth the price tag.