The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20
La Mer's The Soft Fluid Long Wear Foundation SPF 20 is one of the most expensive foundations we've ever seen, and even we were curious if it's really worth the price. While this does have a number of lovable aspects, it can also cause problems for skin and in any price range that doesn't paint a pretty picture!
This liquid foundation comes in a frosted glass bottle with a pump-style dispenser. It feels luxurious, with a smooth, satiny texture that glides across skin and blends like a dream. It sets to an attractive, soft dewy finish that's best for those with normal to dry skin.
The medium coverage looks remarkably natural, keeping its skin-like appearance throughout its wear time (which is indeed impressive). After a full day's wear, this doesn't fade or crease, and is easy to remove with your favorite cleanser or makeup remover. La Mer offers a number of natural-looking shades for those with fair to medium skin tones.
If all of this sounds great it is… but unfortunately, there's more to this foundation than meets the eye and the initial application on your skin. First and foremost is the issue of fragrance. This has a strong, perfume-like scent that lingers. Even though fragrance is near the end of the ingredient list, the potency still has the potential to cause skin irritation.
Next is the poor choice of including skin-sensitizing eucalyptus leaf oil and lime peel extract, as both ingredients can irritate skin. (See More Info for details on the problems irritation can cause for skin.)
Another significant issue: While this does have broad-spectrum SPF 20, health boards and skincare experts around the globe agree that SPF 30 or greater is necessary for the best sun protection, so this also falls short in that regard—at least if you were planning to apply this liberally as your sole source of facial sun protection. Not to mention at this price, the SPF should at least meet the global standard for sun protection.
It's a shame, because this is truly a beautiful foundation. But beauty's more than skin-deep, and this foundation's formulary missteps won't do you skin any favors. For non-irritating options, see our list of Best Foundations With Sunscreen.
- Satiny formula is easy to apply and blend.
- Attractive, natural-looking dewy finish.
- Wears well without fading or emphasizing imperfections.
- Admirable range of shades.
- Has a strong fragrance that lingers and can cause skin sensitivity. Contains irritating eucalyptus leaf oil and lime peel extract.
- SPF 20 is below worldwide standards for optimum sun protection.
Irritating Ingredients: We cannot stress this enough: Sensitizing, harsh, abrasive, and/or fragrant ingredients are bad for all skin types. Daily application of skincare products that contain these irritating ingredients is a major way we unwittingly do our skin a disservice!
Irritating ingredients are a problem because they can lead to visible problems, such as redness, rough skin, dull skin, dryness, increased oil production, and clogged pores, and they contribute to making signs of aging worse.
Switching to non-irritating, gentle products can make all the difference in the world. Non-irritating products are those packed with beneficial ingredients that also replenish and soothe skin, without any volatile ingredients, such as those present in fragrance ingredients, whether natural or synthetic.
A surprising fact: Research has demonstrated that you do not need to see or feel the effects of irritants on your skin for your skin to be suffering, and visible damage may not become apparent for a long time. Don't get lulled into thinking that if you don't see or feel signs of irritation, everything is OK.
Generally, it's best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to ingredients that are known to irritate skin. There are many completely non-irritating products that contain effective ingredients, so there's no reason to put your skin at risk with products that include ingredients research has shown can be a problem.
References for this information:
Journal of Dermatological Sciences, January 2015, pages 28–36
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, August 2014, pages 379–385
Clinical Dermatology, May-June 2012, pages 257–262
Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175
Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135
Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475
American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798
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.