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Creme de la Mer: A Review and Ingredients Overview

creme de la mer review and ingredients

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
• 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

PR Sample



  1. Stacey
    June 20, 2018 / 2:38 pm

    I have been using the creme de la mer since 2002 (yes, you heard it right, for the last 16 years) What I normally do, is simply rub the 1/4 peanut size creme between my fingers and lightly slap my fingers all over my face and neck, it forms a thin film covering my face. Perhaps it is because I lived in warm weather country. So upon reading your review on how to properly use it, I realized I never really rub until it became clear liquid. I use almost a full range of La Mer products and always try its new products. But over time, I zoomed down to three must have 3 basic 1.Creme de la mer moisturizing cream (60ml can last for 8 months), 2. The cleasing oil (200ml a bottle can last for one year, the best cleanser that cleans make-ups as well, leaving face fresh and supple) and the eye balm intense (that’s how I do not have wrinkles around the eyes). If one is willing to invest, use the serum, as it shows the obvious result the next morning. I use it sparingly because it is too expensive lol. When people look at my face and heard how old I am, the next question will follow – what skin care you use? Upon hearing La Mer, their response is “No wonder!”. It is a little pricey no doubt, I never regret using it.

    • Sherri
      November 5, 2018 / 2:20 pm

      Wow! Happy to finally find a La Mer long term user! Can you specify which serum you are referring to? I just returned the Hydrating Serum- I did not find anything special abt it even had it been a third of the price. I started using the Lifting Serum but the application is cumbersome. I do like the texture of the Oil but not sure of the actual benefits yet.
      While I’m at it, I didn’t think anything special abt the Cooling Gel but am considering the others. Is the Soft Moisturzing Cream the same as Cream de la Mer? Sales person recommended the Soft Cream saying it was the same but lighter texture. Your thoughts? THANKS!

      • 15mins
        November 5, 2018 / 4:32 pm

        I actually haven’t used La Mer since this review, which was many years ago. Based upon the active ingredients I think La Mer is good for dry skin as it is very hydrating, and there are antioxidants to help prevent aging but I don’t view it as a line that really helps reverse the signs of aging at all. I think the textures are slightly different to the products, but beyond that I don’t see much different in the formulations to recommend one over the other. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more help!

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