A few weeks ago, I reviewed Creme De La Mer, a fancy moisturizer with an outrageous price tag. It may have been developed by a NASA scientist, but its boring formula doesn’t contain anything revolutionary.
Far from it. Its main ingredients are so basic and common they can be found in most creams, including Nivea Creme. In fact, the two are said to be dupes! But is that hoping too much?
To find out, let’s take a look at the ingredients of all three creams. No, that’s not a typo. There are two versions of Nivea Creme. The German version (sold in Europe and almost impossible to find in the US), and the US version (sold, well.. in the US). Let’s get started:
Mineral oil gets a bad rep because it’s derived from oil. But half of the ingredients used in cosmetics are, and most of them don’t attract the same vicious criticism.
And nope, they’re not dangerous. Not even mineral oil. That’s because all the nasty and toxic stuff has been removed through a rigorous purifying process.
Cosmetic grade mineral oil is safe, and one of the most moisturizing ingredients available today. It works by creating a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss.
But that’s not the only reason why it is so widely used. Mineral oil is also non-irritating and noncomedogenic (but if you use products with comedogenic ingredients, they will get trapped under the barrier mineral oil creates, and that could lead to breakouts).
Like mineral oil, petrolatum is derived from oil, purified and safe. It doesn’t penetrate skin, but remains on its surface, where it forms a water-repellent film that keeps skin moisturized.
It also helps reduce inflammation and heal skin. But only Creme De La Mer and the US version of Nivea Creme use this ingredient. It’s why they are greasier and stickier than the German version.
It seems like every skincare product contains glycerin, doesn’t it? That’s because glycerin is a good humectant that can attract water from the environment into the skin, hydrating it. Together with mineral oil and petrolatum, it makes these thick creams godsends for dry skin.
Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone
I was disappointed to see that both the US version of Nivea Creme and, especially, Creme De La Mer use Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone as preservatives.
People make a big fuss about parabens, even though there is no proof (at least yet) that they’re bad for our health, yet they ignore Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone, which are considered to be the most irritating preservatives used in skincare!
Please, someone tell me where’s the sense in that? Is it because their names are so difficult and impossible to remember that no one pays any attention to them? Well, if you have sensitive skin you should. Just so you can avoid them.
It’s true that a lot of people can use them without experiencing any side effects. I do. But, even so, I’d have expected fancy Creme De La Mer to have a better, safer preservative system. Nivea is cheaper, so I’m more forgiving towards it.
What About The Rest Of The Formulas?
Those mentioned above aren’t the only ingredients all three creams have in common. They also use the same emollients and thickening agents, such as mycrocrystalline wax, lanolin alcohol, and magnesium stearate.
This means the base of Creme De La Mer and Nivea Creme (US version) is pretty much identical. They’re both very similar to the German version, the main difference being the lack of petrolatum in the latter.
Although super similar, Nivea and La Mer aren’t 100% identical. Creme De La Mer contains a bunch of antioxidants, which, at first sight, makes it a much better option than the cheaper Nivea Creme. That’d be the case if the cream weren’t packaged in a jar.
Antioxidants are very delicate ingredients and they lose a bit of their effectiveness every time they are exposed to light and air (every time you open the jar, basically). So, if you’re buying Creme De La Mer because of its antioxidant content, you’re wasting your money.
Creme De La Mer also contains seaweed extract, which undergoes a fermentation process that makes it produce lactic acid. Lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that has exfoliant properties: it can make skin look brighter, smoother, and more even-toned. But there really is no need to spend so much for it.
Creme De La Mer Ingredients
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
Nivea Creme (German Version) Ingredients
Aqua, Paraffinum Liquidum, Cera Microcristallina, Glycerin, Lanolin Alcohol (Eucerit®), Paraffin, Panthenol, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearates, Citric Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Magnesium Stearate, Parfum, Limonene, Geraniol, Hydroxycitronellal, Linalool, Citronellol, Benzyl Benzoate, Cinnamyl Alcohol
Nivea Creme (US Version) Ingredients
Water, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Beeswax (Apis Mellifera), Panthenol, Alcohol, Magnesium Sulfate, Decyl Oleate, Octyldodecanol, Aluminum Stearate, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone
Creme De La Mer, which costs an outrageous $160 for 30ml, is available at Nordstrom and Harrods. Nivea Creme (US version) can be purchased at Drugstore.com. A 200ml jar costs only $7.49. The German version is available at Boots for £3.39.
So, Is Nivea Creme A Dupe For Creme De La Mer?
Creme De La Mer and Nivea Creme are very similar but not exact dupes. They’re both basic moisturizers that make even the driest of skin feel soft and smooth for hours. Creme De La Mer is slightly better because it contains seaweeds that produce lactic acid, but that’s not enough to justify the high price tag imo.
Have you tried Creme De La Mer or Nivea Creme?
Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping
Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.