La Mer

The Brightening Infusion Intense

4.20 fl. oz. for $ 115.00
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While the price for this skin-lightening product is far more reasonable than the other La Mer products, the claims are still completely over the top. Funny how a La Mer product that costs $260 for 1 ounce makes almost the exact same claims as this one! How come more women don’t notice this? And if you do ask the salesperson about the difference in price, the rationale you hear is all over the place. Each salesperson makes it up as they go along, because, ultimately, they just want to make a sale and/or are ill-informed about cosmetic ingredients.

This contains 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, it all goes to waste because alcohol is the second ingredient. What a shame. Alcohol causes free-radical damage, irritation, dryness, and hurts the skin’s ability to heal, definitely not something you want from a skin-care product (see More Info to find out more about the negative effects of alcohol on skin). This also contains fragrance, but not as much as other products from La Mer.

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. Web sites 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 to help 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 need the perfume and other irritating fragrant ingredients absorbing deeper into the skin.

  • Impressive amount of antioxidant and skin-lightening agent vitamin C.
  • Lists alcohol as the second ingredient, which is pro-aging.
  • Contains irritating fragrance ingredients, including eucalyptus oil. (A complete La Mer routine would expose your skin to so much eucalyptus oil that it’d be a wonder if you had a healthy cell left!)
  • There are more effective, more gentle, and less expensive ways to improve dark spots.

More Info:

Alcohol in Skin-Care Products
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin’s ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: “Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In,”Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).

Irritation From Fragrance and Fragrant Oils
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).

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

High-potency gel delivers intense moisture while targeting dark spots.

Declustered Water, Alcohol Denat., Yeast Extract, Methyl Gluceth-20, AscorbylGlucoside, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Gentiana Lutea (Gentian) Root Extract, Hydrolyzed Rice Bran Extract, Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seeds, 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, Tocopheryl Succinate, Niacin, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Betula Alba (Birch) Bark Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Extract, Glycerin, Plankton Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Sucrose, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Acetyl Glucosamine, Alcaligenes Polysaccharides, Caffeine, Pantethine, Jojoba Wax PEG-120 Esters, PPG-5-Ceteth-20, Lecithin, Polysorbate 20, Butylene Glycol, Sodium RNA, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tourmaline, Caprylyl Glycol, Silica, Fragrance (Parfum), Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Green 5

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.

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