The Brightening Essence Intense
While the price for this product is nauseating and the claims completely ludicrous, the formula itself does have an impressive array of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. None of them are miracles or unique to La Mer, but the blend is definitely noteworthy. It even contains Lauder’s signature use of ascorbyl glucoside (a form of vitamin C) to improve skin discolorations (La Mer is owned by Estee Lauder).
Unfortunately, all this praise is for naught because eucalyptus oil is high up on the ingredient list. This fragrant oil is irritating for skin, and irritation is always a problem for skin’s health. Another concern is that it also contains a dose of fragrance, and fragrance is never skin care (see More Info to find out why).
One unique aspect of this product is that it contains declustered water. Trying to explain declustered water is phenomenally complex, but it basically involves changing the molecular structure of water to a single molecule so it can be more readily absorbed by cells. There is much passion about this kind of water being a miracle for the body, so, of course, why not the skin, too? But all this ballyhoo is despite the utter lack of any research showing that declustered water has any benefit, whether applied topically or taken orally. Websites often mention the fact that there are Nobel Prize laureates who did research on declustered water, but that wasn’t about health or skin care, it was just brilliant research. Even more to the point, this synthetic water (or water of any kind) isn’t the answer for skin care because the skin doesn’t need more water! Instead, it needs ingredients that help the skin maintain its own water balance.
If anything there is research indicating that too much water in the skin can make it plump temporarily, but that also prevents cell turnover and renewal, and inhibits the skin’s immune response. Either way, skin likes taking on water—skin cells plump up to many times their normal size just from taking a bath—and it doesn’t need special water to help the process along, nor would that be good for skin in the long run. Moreover, if the declustered water were indeed capable of carrying skin-care ingredients into the skin, in this case that would only make matters worse because you don’t want the perfume and other irritating fragrant ingredients absorbing deeper into your skin.
- Contains a helpful amount of vitamin C known to improve skin discolorations.
- Nice range of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients.
- This toner contains a slew of irritating ingredients.
- Ridiculously overpriced.
Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin’s ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
Delivers brightening and anti-aging benefits, targets spots and future discoloration.
La Mer At-A-Glance
Strengths: Effective cleansers; a supremely good powder; the makeup brushes.
Weaknesses: Outlandish claims; ultra-pricey; several products contain irritants, including eucalyptus oil and lime; no AHA or BHA products; jar packaging weakens some of the anti-aging ingredients; the skincare tends to do more harm than good.
The original Creme De La Mer was launched by Estee Lauder as a miracle product for wrinkles based on research from Max Huber, an aerospace physicist. How does space technology relate to wrinkles? Well, it doesn't, although it may lend an air of expertise (if you can do rocket science, the assumption is you can do anything). Huber at one time suffered severe chemical burns in an accident. Then, according to the Max Huber Laboratories, after 12 years and 6,000 experiments, he came up with a special cream. The company refers to its key element as "miracle broth," and it's said to take months to concoct and ferment. In this case, the process that goes into making La Mer products gets as much talk as the product itself. So be prepared for formulary information that sounds a lot like alchemy.
Huber's experiments took place over 30 years ago. Given that none of his self-experimentation was ever documented or published, there is no way to know what Huber was using before, what was unique about this formula, or what went wrong with the 5,999 or so other experiments that preceded the final discovery. It turns out that the original Creme De La Mer was, and still is, almost exclusively algae, mineral oil, Vaseline, thickening agents, and lime extract. Not very exciting stuff, but most of it will make dry skin look and feel better, although the jar packaging doesn't provide much hope for the algae. The notion that anything in this product can be a miracle for burnsor any aspect of skin careis strictly folklore and has nothing to do with rocket science or even cosmetic chemistry for that matter.
Given the cult status the original Creme De La Mer enjoys, it's hardly surprising that Lauder has spun an entire skin-care line out of a product that was initially sold as the be-all and end-all antiwrinkle solution (in jar packaging, no less, which would have the effect of rendering the algaethe cornerstone of the productunstable). In the world of skin care, if one product sells well, then other related products that carry the same name will experience increased sales, too. With today's expanded range of La Mer products, Estee Lauder has added a slew of hocus-pocus ingredients to the continuing list of concoctions that were never in Huber's original formula. So much for the credibility of that mythic story, because it obviously wasnt good enough to be repeated.
These supplementary products contain malachite, a range of other minerals, diamond powder, something called "declustered" water, and another semiprecious stone, tourmaline (which is now being downplayed in favor of the semiprecious stone du jour, malachite). It's almost too outlandish to even begin explaining, but the declustered water deserves some elucidation. Before reading on, keep in mind that if these products were the ultimate for the Estee Lauder company, why are they still selling all those other anti-aging products in the dozen or so other lines they own and retail just around the cosmetics counter next door?
Supposedly, the La Mer products are worth the money because most of them contain declustered water. Declustered water is water manufactured to have smaller ions, which supposedly makes the water penetrate the skin better. There is no proof that this synthetic water does what the company claims, but even if the water could penetrate better, is that better for skin? There is definitely research indicating that too much water in the skin can make it plump, but that could also prevent cell turnover and renewal, and inhibit the skin's immune response. Either way, skin likes taking on waterit plumps to a thousand times its normal size just from taking a bathand it doesn't need special water to help the process along, nor would that be good for skin in the long run. Moreover, if the declustered water were indeed capable of carrying La Mer's miracle broth further into skin, that would only make matters worse because some of the components in this broth are documented irritants.
Other gimmicky ingredients La Mer products contain are fish cartilage, algae (explained in the Creme De La Mer review), and the rarefied blue algae, which La Mer claims can "biologically lift" skin due to its nutrient-dense nature. While all of these may have some water-binding properties, the fiction that any of them could have an impact on wrinkles is not substantiated in any published scientific study.
For more information about La Mer, owned by Estee Lauder, call (866) 850-9400 or visit www.cremedelamer.com.
La Mer Makeup
Sold as Skincolor, La Mer's small but tidy makeup collection carries over the major miracle claims that their flawed skin-care products espouse. If you stop by the counter to explore these products, you'll hear all about their powers to "transform the complexion" with a special blue algae ferment and optical-diffusing gemstones (a concept Aveda and Estee Lauder also play up, but not to the extent La Mer does). We wouldn't count on algae or gemstones for any amount of transformation, especially given the small amounts of each included in the cosmetic products below. What you will find are two foundations with excellent sunscreen and a few more skin-care perks than are typically seen in liquid makeup. Does that make them worth the money? Not from my perspective, because you can find similar products that perform just as well. However, if you're already sold on La Mer, most of the items below won't disappoint and the shade selection is mostly impressive. Still, for the money, your face won't look any better than if you had applied makeup that's available at a fraction of this cost.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.