Monday, March 03, 2008

Creme de la Mer: A Review and Ingredients Overview

creme de la mer review and ingredients
A few weeks ago, I published the suggestions of La Mer for winter dry skin, and I got a huge response! A lot of readers were excited to see what I have to say about the creme, and even more wanted me to compare it to Nivea cream (that myth of the two being the same product is alive and well). Today I'll review Creme de la Mer and discuss the ingredients, in a few days look for a review of the Nivea with specific comparisons to la Mer.

By now, I hope that everyone knows about the miracle of la Mer. It was developed by a NASA scientist, Dr. Max Huber, who had some sort of experiment explode in his face. He was compelled to create a creme that would repair his face when nothing else worked. It was bought out by Estee Lauder in 1996. In fact, it turns out that they had a hard time recreating this cult classic. The Miracle Broth that is the secret of the Creme is very time consuming and difficult to make. The lotion is a fairly basic moisturizing lotion, but with the added ingredients of sea kelp (turned out it could only be harvested twice a year and then had to be processed for months), calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, lecithin, Vitamins C, E and B12, oils of citrus, eucalyptus, wheat germ, alfalfa and sunflower.

While the ingredients of la Mer are pretty much kept a secret, I did manage to find a few lists on line, where people had basically typed the list in from their own jar. I found this list 3 times, with slightly different typos (so I think people were typing it in on their own), but the lists were all identical. So, I am pretty sure that this is indeed what is on the jar. I'll italicize the ingredients that are considered to be the key ingredients behind la Mer. You'll see that they are included in what is otherwise a fairly basic but very moisturizing cream (check out the large number of emollients, humectants and occlusives, that really does explain a lot).

Ingredients (refer to the moisturizer post):
Seaweed (Algae) Extract
• Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum): emollient
• Petrolatum: occlusive
• Glycerin: humectant
• Isohexadecane: thickening agent and emulsifier
Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract
• Microcrystalline Wax (Cera Microcristallina): commonly used thickening agent
• Lanolin Alcohol: emollient, very closely resembles your skin's natural oils
• Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil: emolllient, can be irritating to those with very sensitive skin
Eucalyptus Globules (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil: thought to have anti-bacterial or anti-viral properties on the skin
Magnesium Sulfate
Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seeds: Sesame oil is anemolllient, can be irritating to those with very sensitive skin. However, I believe that the whole seed are included here as part of the Miracle Broth component of the creme, which means including all of the vitamins and minerals within the seeds.
Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seeds: thought to improve healing, contains a "large number of vitamins and minerals" according to the references I found on-line
Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seeds: Sunflower oil is known to possess emollient properties, however the seeds are included as part of the Miracle Broth.
Runus Dulcis (Powdered Almonds) [sodium, Potassium, Copper, Calcium, Magnesium, And Zinc Gluconate]
• Paraffin: occlusive
Vitamin E Succinate
Niacin: Vitamin B3
Beta-carotene
• Decyl Oleate: emollient
• Aluminum Distearate: emulsifier
• Octyldodecanol: emulsifier with emollient properties
• Citric Acid: used to adjust the pH
Cyanocobalamin: Vitamin B12
• Magnesium Stearate: thickening agent
• Panthenol: humectant
Limonene: Oil derived from the peels of citrus fruits such as lemon and lime
• Geraniol: A derivative of geraniums, this fragrance can cause skin allergies
• Linalool: A floral fragrance
• Hydroxycitronellal: Another floral fragrance
• Citronellol: fragrance
• Benzyl Salicylate: fragrance
• Citral: lemon fragrance
• Methylchloroisothiazolinone: preservative
• Methylisothiazolinone: preservative
• Alcohol Denat: Denaturized alcohol
• Fragrance

La Mer is an experience that has a few tricks to be experienced properly. The creme itself is very thick creme with a light floral scent. Properly used, you place an amount (about the size of 1-2 peas) into the center of your palm then very vigorously rub your hands together. The creme will liquify, becoming a clear liquid. Truthfully, I did have a hard time mastering this, I was rubbing it between my fingers (didn't work), I tried hitting it with a blow dryer thinking my hands are too cold (also didn't work). I was not able to fully emulsify and properly use the product until I made a trip to the Creme de la Mer counter at Neiman Marcus in Newport Beach. The ladies there showed me how it is properly done, and they wouldn't let me leave the counter until I had properly demonstrated the technique to them several times and they had loaded me down with more la Mer samples!

Once properly emulsified, Creme de la Mer will really be clear and will have more of a thick liquid consistency. When applied to your skin you can immediately feel it start sinking into your skin. For me, it really takes about 10-15 minutes to sink fully into my skin, making this more of a night time treatment since I don't have time to wait for makeup application. But, the time really is well worth it. It is very hydrating, and it has made me glowy and taken away any winter dryness without turning me into an oil slick! I can see why celebs like J Lo are rumored to stockpile massive quantites of this stuff!

Lately la Mer has been touted also as an anti-aging product, and while I can't say there is a lot of evidence regarding the Miracle Broth, I can tell you that there are antioxidants in the sea kelp as well as the anti-oxidant properties of several of the other ingredients. I also think a large part of looking younger is being properly moisturized/hydrated, as the outer layer of the epidermis will swell with moisture, improving the look of fine lines/wrinkles.

All in all, is la Mer worth it? I definitely liked it as a stronger moisturizer, and despite my combination skin it was not "too much" of a good thing. I looked more glowy and radiant, my winter dryness disappeared completely! I do feel that there are a lot of added ingredients beyond the basic moisturizer that are worth the added expense.

Also: don't miss my comparision of Nivea Cream to Creme de la Mer


creme de la mer review and ingredients

51 comments:

Sheila Ferrari said...

Wow. Thank you for this review. It will be my next creme once I run out of the one I have (Thibiant, Jolie swears by this stuff). I heard about Lamer on the morning show yesterday and was intrigued by it. So thank you for this again.

Irazema said...

Hi,

I've always wondered about the effectivity of this product, it is nice to finally have an opinion. Sometimes products are expensive and no necessarily good, glad to know this is not the case!

Blog to be Alive said...

It's definitely an amazing product. I've been using it for 2 years now and if I stop using it for a little while I really notice that my skin is not so good.

I got samples of their eye cream and it's brilliant too. Unfortunately too expensive for me right now.

Sarah said...

Can you do a post showing how to properly emulsify the cream? I use it and love it but am still stumped by the warming technique.

Christine said...

Sarah-
I can't really describe it any more than I already have in this post, truthfully. I put the creme in the center of my palm, and being careful to keep the creme in the middle of my palm (if you spread it out too much it is harder to apply it), I just rub it between my hands very fast and in circles. I feel like I should be in the karate kid! Just do it fast and with little motions, it only takes about 20 seconds or so.

Hope that helps! If you have problems I'd suggest running to your nearest La Mer counter, they were very sweet about teaching me the technique, and that was without telling them about the blog!

Food, she thought. said...

hank you so much for the details and background info on la mer. I have a full size jar in my cupboard I have only touched once, and I am going to give it another whirl tonight.

Shop With A Vengeance! said...

Thanks for the review! This sounds pretty good :) I know it's super expensive and a bit out of my league now, but I do appreciate reading about it!

Julie said...

Could you possibly tape yourself "melting" the La Mer and post it on YouTube? Please? lol I have tried and tried and cant get it to be anything but spread out! Is it supposed to turn a different color too?

Anonymous said...

My Goodness how superficial and vain have we all become!!! Children are going hungry today in Ireland and you gush and rave about sinfully expensive face creams. Shame on you!

Christine said...

Anon- Children are actually going hungry everywhere, not just Ireland.

Personally I feel that we all need balance in our lives, and we can't just dwell on the bad things going on in the world. Personally, I make a HUGE impact on the world, since I work as a pediatric ICU doctor. I spend all day, everyday, saving the lives of children. I can see that. So, I don't feel I should be ashamed at all for loving beauty products and discussing them on my website. I need something fun and fluffy in my life to help me face my day to day lifesaving work.

So, I feel I'm making a great impact on the world.

ryder said...

is crema de la mer suitable for people in their 20'?
just an info, cause im new on this blog... what moisturizer should we use in order to get a good sun protection but still not to get closed pores or shiny t-zone?

Anonymous said...

I've used La Mer off and on since 1996 or so, but its the only product that has maintained a presence in my routine. I use it when my skin is extra dry (worked great during my pregnancy) or irritated.

Anonymous said...

I've used Le Mer and it's super for very dry skin. People have said, however, that it is way over priced because of the amount of glycerine it has in it. I have just been told that the 'Artistry Creme LuXury by Amway is much better and that it's a real miracle cream.(Price is high too). Do you know anything about it? Could you review it and compare it to Le Mer?

Anonymous said...

oh yes, people in their 20s can use it! I'm 25 (though I do have very dry skin) and I have been using Creme de la Mer almost everyday since I was 23. People have said to me "you had nice skin before, but WOW, what are you doing?" It really is AMAZING and I feel lucky to have been turned onto it so young.

Anonymous said...

Not a myth -- this cream is almost identical to Nivea, but not the one we have here in the States. It's the Nivea cream that comes in the blue tin that is found in Germany.

Bombchell said...

how interesting.

Im tempted but how long does it last, for the 1oz face cream

Anonymous said...

Everytime I see a review like this, I'm tempted to try La Mer, but unfortunatly the only place I can buy it is strawberrynet.com and every time I check they are out of stock.
Btw, La Mer can't be same as Nivea original blue tin cream, b/c Nivea has no plant extracts, no vitamins or anything in it, it's just a very plain and greasy moisturizer. I didn't find it particulary effective, all it does is cover your skin with a greasy film, so it really just seals moisture in.

Channai said...

I have oily skin, HAD acne and HAD many marks to prove it. Used La Mer for a year now and won't ever stop. When I have stopped using the creme my skin is not the same. The creme is fine for my oily/combo skin as I use a small amount, with a sunscreen on top and I still don't have an oily face like I use to before using La Mer. My acne marks have diminished and I get compliments all the time on my skin from people who are in awe when they see how my skin looks now even when I'm not wearing makeup. It's worth a try and if you don't like it most places that sell it like Holt Renfrew in Canada will take it back or do something for you but ask first.

Anonymous said...

I've been using the Creme and Eye Creme for a few months and my skin looks and feels exactly the same. Despite what the literature says, I still have aging lines, visible pores and my skin isn't virtually creaseless by any means! I'm amazed by the number of women who claim that this creme works. It's a luxurious, pleasant smelling but expensive moisturiser. If you want to look younger, don't invest in buying this creme, invest in a good plastic surgeon!

Anonymous said...

The texture of La Mer and Nivea is very similar. I actually got a La Mer sample from ebay, and have been suspicious about how genuine it is. It has been some time since I last used La Mer (got it from Neiman Marcus) and Nivea (from my childhood, the one in blue tin). Last night I was finally totally convinced that the one I have is fake for sure because of the unmistakable Nivea smell! For some time I was hopeful and thought that maybe it is La Mer's smell, however, as time goes, it smells stronger and more like Nivea. I happen to have a sample of La Mer gel cream, so I opened it last night and compared the smell. That's how I figured out. People who would like to get La Mer from ebay, be careful, and here is an article that may help avoiding being tricked into getting a fake La Mer cream:
http://reviews.ebay.com/Creme-De-La-Mer-fakes_W0QQugidZ10000000004894435?ssPageName=BUYGD:CAT:-1:LISTINGS:3

Anonymous said...

Is La Mer good for sensitive/acne prone skin. I'm always told not to use anything with mineral or other oils and this product contains those items. I was also told not to use items with fragrances. Anyone with sensitive/oily/acne-prone skin please advise if this works for you. Thanks
From Montclair, NJ

Anonymous said...

You can buy a kit from skinactives.com for $29 that has the active ingredients (such as sea kelp) in Creme de la Mer. I have used it for two months and my skin has improved enormously. I love it and it is affordable.

Anonymous said...

I just bought my second jar last week. My last one lasted exactly one year (1 oz), however, I did not use it as much in the summer as the other seasons. I will not live without this cream if I can help it. It is that good. I also use Nivea and they are not the same. A little warning about purchasing on ebay - I did the same thing last year. I purchased the little sample jars from two separate people on ebay. One was real, the other was not. I ended up purchasing the 1oz on La Mer's website, so I know what I have is legit. Also, we you order from them, they sometimes offer free samples with your purchase. I got three free good-sized samples of other products, unfortunately I can only afford the cream right now but the 'lift' cream was also great. I would NOT spend the money on this cream twice if I did not feel it was the best out there. It makes me glow and the dryness is gone. I am 44, have pretty normal skin (dryer in winter) and have used dove soap since my teens. Never really needed a moisturizer until my late 30s and I smoke (I know, I know). I love the stuff.

sabysab said...

it's very expensive, but i think it's the best cream i have tried ! it lasts a lot, it clears your skin, no need for facials after using it ! very very good ! for combination skin they have the lotion i think ! bottom line, i think every woman deserves the splurge

sabysab said...

i also bought seakelp from skinactives, it resembles very good creme de la mer, but still the cream is better ! anyway i love them both and i put seakelp in my day cream :D very effective !

sabysab said...

i have sensitive dry and it's very good, buy for sensitive/oily i think they have the oil absorbing lotion ! good luck

sabysab said...

i also buy mine from strawberrynet, i live in romania :D and they have it, keep checking ! there is another website called best beauty store, don't buy from them i order 1 cream in december and guess what? never showed up ! anyway you can find it on strawberry net ! for the girl who wants to know how much the 1 oz jar lasts, well 3-4 months with every night use !

crazyfemale said...

Thank you for the review. I'm a La Mer Gel Cream user, and I LOVE it. I have to save my $, but it's worth it to buy La Mer. I use it at night to moisturize my face and neck and occasionally apply it to my lips after exfoliating. I'm extremely acne prone and La Mer works well for my skin, no breakouts!
Completely worth it! I use it sparingly but I will continue to buy La Mer and try their other products, (Neiman Marcus is great about giving samples, just ask!)
Thank you!

Angela C. said...

I just decided to stop at the counter and I'm fascinated. I received a one-week sample and love it, going to get my full 1 oz. tomorrow when I get paid. When you think that it lasts 6 months, that's only about $20.83 a month (about $5 a week!!!!) Totally worth it!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you ! My Mum just gave me a jar (turning 40 in less than 2 weeks) and I'm headed directly to the counter to make sure I'm applying it correctly !!

Anonymous said...

Am 62, have used this for almost 5 years. I can tell a difference if I go a few days without using it. Your skin is worth the investment. I was spending just as much per year on other products which did hardly anything. I also use the cleanser which is fabulous.

Crystal said...

I always wanted to try Creme de la Mer, and the last time I was in my local Nordstroms they had a brand new La Mer section. I was so excited. The SA gave me a sample, and I have been using it for about a month now. I had just started using an acne medication called Epiduo and my dermatologist said that my face could get dry. It never did.

I put the Epiduo on once a day and the La Mer on once a day (switch out day or night depending). It is a little greasy, but I LOVE IT. I now have no blackheads or acne. My face is so smooth. It's like buttah.

I also am 31 and I have little laugh lines around my eyes, and they have gotten much less pronounced since I started my new beauty combo.

I am in love. I splurged and bought a full one ounce jar. I am waiting on it to arrive. I got it off of the La Mer web site. They also are sending me three samples!

Clay said...

ladies,

As a man, and as much as it pains me to say this (given the price of these product)Creme de lamer does appear to produce better results for my wife than anything else she has tried.

While she has used the tonic, cleanser & mosituriser for a while, she recently tried the eye creme, which is ridiculously priced, but even I as a dumb man I have to admit it really does work, puffyness and bags dramatically reduced, I said just go and spend the $200, it really is that good!!

Anonymous said...

I just got back from Norstroms w/a sample. The sales assistant told me it works wonders for people w/Rosaca. Has anyone been using it for this? I have to say they really talked it up and it seems by most comments its not just a sales pitch.

Pamela said...

I have Rosacea and gave been using the cleansing gel and creme for a month now .... It's incredible! I love this stuff!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine! here is a link for the German Nivea cream, please try and blog about it thanks!

Lily said...

I tried the German Nivea - excited that it would be the same a La Mer, only cheap.

I did not find it was the same at all. Sadly. Oh well.

It does occur to me that this can be duplicated or near duplicated at much less expense. Why haven't more people tried?

The American Observer said...

I started using La Mer about four years ago, when it was still $95 for 1 oz. Every year, they have somehow jacked the price. I try to make sure to scrape together the money, because it's really a lovely cream. I'm sorry to hear that it contains some questionable ingredients but I have slightly oily skin and it works very well for me in very small amounts. The 1 oz. lasts about a year, sometimes a little more. You don't need much if you have my complexion. I lived in Colorado for 10 years and HAD to have it. Now I'm back in Chicago and need a new jar for winter dryness. It's worthwhile. Maybe not a "miracle," but very good. I buy it at the counter at Saks and they usually give samples, too.

Anonymous said...

I took a picture of my face with no makeup, and was grossed out how about my skin looked. I went and bought La Mer, as all of my friends swear by it. Two weeks in, I can see a major difference. I'll never use anything else.

Anonymous said...

Can someone comment on it's use on eye wrinkles, or wrinkles near the mouth. Just recently 2-3 weeks i experienced sun poisoning plus a strep infrection for the first time, on my face. I'm 34, and after all the swelling and peeling went away, i'm left with new wrinkles :( i never appreciated my face before as much, and now i miss it. So, i'm looking around and soo soo overwhelmed at how many eye wrinkle creams there are. So, if you can share experience of this product on eye wrinkles mainly, please let me know. I too have 2 children.. but i keep them well fed, and clothed and every few months will spend something on me. I can make it last. Thanks so much...

Christine said...

Anon-
This is NOT a wrinkle cream. The only "anti-aging" ingredients in the formula are likely anti-oxidants found within the seaweed extract. You can read more about anti-oxidants in this post, but they do not get rid of wrinkles (with the exception of Vitamin C, which can stimulate collagen production), rather they act to help counteract reactive oxygen species damage.

With your description of what happened and how your skin has reacted I encourage you to instead visit a dermatologist. The description of the fine lines/wrinkles that you have after the infection and sun damage sounds like it might respond very well to either a laser or peel.

I hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I've used La Mer products for about 18 months now and can honestly say my complexion is the best it's ever been. Until La Mer, I had sensitive oily/combo skin, mild/moderate adult acne, enlarged pores, and emerging sun damage from my teen years. What I noticed in the first couple months was a gradual balancing of my skin...much less oil and no dry spots, and a significant reduction in redness as my skin was no longer so reactive. Presently, my skin tone, elasticity, pore size...really every aspect of my complexion...is dramatically improved. And I almost never break out. I know this stuff is crazy expensive, but at 42 years old I had spent a fortune on products, treatments and doctors with no luck. The results I've enjoyed with La Mer reduce the sting of the cost. And the products really do last a long time. Initially, I used the Moisturizing Lotion (in the warm/humid summer months I use the Moisturizing Gel Cream mixed with a little Lotion for day), then later added the Tonic and the eye cream. For the past few months, I've used the Regenerating Serum at night and my skin is truly better than I ever thought it could be. I have to be honest, I am an analytical person and the limited amount of information that La Mer provides about its products really turned me off. I'm not sure why I finally tried it - when I did, I was totally prepared to add it to my list of product failures. Now I am a grateful fan, oddly willing to spend 15 minutes of my time writing a positive review.

Pammy said...

Thanks for the review Christine! I have wondered about this product for a long time. I also will look forward to your comparison with Nivea!

Anonymous said...

Great review! Six years ago, I was exhausted trying to find the best moisturizer for chapped winter skin. I bought a jar of La Mer and I will never go back. Not only does this stuff heal chapped winter skin with one application, but it's great all year long. Since it so thick, you don't go through the 1 oz. jar as fast as you would think. La Mer is worth it's price!

Anonymous said...

I was given several samples of this and it's AMAZING! I have always had problems with dry, irritated skin and that caused a lot of breakouts. Since I've been using this stuff my skin on my face is healthier and softer, and after only a week, I stopped breaking out!

Anonymous said...

i have just started using it , its been 2 weeks now.My skin is breaking out.Im not sure if this is what happens when u use it for the first time. Anyone had this experience?

Anonymous said...

I'm male, 47 and have used La Mer - both moisturizer and eye balm -steadily for just under 10 years. Yes, it's incredibly expensive but it lasts a long time and it's worth it. When a 20-something tells you you can pass for mid-30s (not that I want to) then you're on to something. I will NEVER stop using it.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh....Chicago stores are adding more German (petrolatum free version) Nivea and less Nivea ( with petrolatum) which I LOVE for winter season. I use German version for warm season. I been using Nivea cream since I was 9 yrs old and my skin looks AH-AMAZING for a 40 yr old. Thank you mom for making me put Nivea. I look like a young Salma Hayek. I have no wrinkles. I'm all natural. Thanks Nivea, baby! =)

sxsupp said...

Do not waste your money on this! I have tried many different lines of skin care products, and this product is, without a doubt, the WORST moisturizer I have ever used. It is difficult to put on. It leaves a glossy, greasy sheen that never disappears even after several hours. The only way to get rid of that horrific sheen is to wear face powder, which is not something I want to do every day.

I am not a young woman, so one would think that the product would be absorbed easily into my skin, but it doesn't. It stays on top of my skin like a greasy mess. I SWITCHED to using the Vitamin Enhanced Moisturizer from the Made From Earth skincare line of products. It moisturizes my skin, and it is absorbed easily into my skin - I see a major difference in how healthy my skin looks with the Vitamin Enhanced Moisturizer.

Kitty said...

I love La Mer! My skin adores the stuff! I have very sensitive skin prone to dermatitis, it gets very dry, red and irritated and CDLM is one of the only things that soothes and calms it. It sinks right in and leaves my skin plump and dewy. Many people would comment on my beautiful skin - but only if they knew the truth! lol - like how red and crazy my skin would be during a dermatitis flare-up. One day a young SA (about 23) said I had beautiful skin and asked what I used - I told her MD Formulations Sensitive Cleanser and CDLM. She then asked how old I was and I replied "37!" - she said "Oh my gosh, I thought you were about 25!" Well that made my day! :) She said her next purchase would be CDLM.

Nivea cream (blue tin) is good but it just does not compare to CDLM. We keep Nivea in the house for dry cracked feet, knees, etc. It is too greasy for the face but not bad on chapped lips.

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