We always chuckle to ourselves when La Mer launches a new moisturizer. It's not that launching a new moisturizer is funny or unnecessary; it's just that in the case of La Mer, if the original product (which is a moisturizer) was supposed to be so miraculous and revolutionary for everyone, why do they need another one? Plus, this isn't all that different from the original, other than having a "softer," less thick texture, and, also like the original, it contains problematic ingredients for skin, which is why this is rated poorly.
Like the original Creme de La Mer, this moisturizer for dry skin contains several problematic ingredients, among them lime, eucalyptus oil, and fragrance ingredients, all known to be irritating (see More Info for details). Those ingredients are part of the "legendary" La Mer "miracle broth," but one has to wonder: If this broth is so miraculous, why doesn't Lauder (Estee Lauder owns La Mer) use it in their numerous other moisturizers, such as their namesake brand's Re-Nutriv line, whose products cost about as much as those from La Mer.
Because this is a Lauder-produced moisturizer, it's also chockfull of beneficial ingredients (although the original wasn't), including numerous antioxidants, skin-repairing substances, and cell-communicating ingredients. All of those are the cornerstone of a well-formulated moisturizer, but you shouldn't tolerate irritants to gain those benefits.
Last, even if this moisturizer didn't contain problematic ingredients, its jar packaging is a problem. See More Info to learn why moisturizers packaged in jars are a bad idea at any price—and check out our list of Best Moisturizers Without Sunscreen for less expensive, irritant-free options.
Irritation, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation, and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For these reasons, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (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).
The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
Luxuriously light formula penetrates deeply to replenish moisture and improve strength and radiance.
Algae (Seaweed) Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Petrolatum, Glyceryl Distearate, Phenyl Trimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Cholesterol, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Steareth-10, Dimethicone, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Polysilicone-11, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Powder, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Meal, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Sodium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Zinc Gluconate, Tocopheryl Succinate, Niacin, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Powder, Water, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Plankton Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Glycerin, Caffeine, Sea Salt, Micrococcus Lysate, Diethylhexyl Succinate, Adenosine Phosphate, Creatine, Hydrolyzed Algin, Isocetyl Stearoyl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Sucrose, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Glucose Oxidase, Polyacrylamide, Acetyl Carnitine HCL, Glucose, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tocopheryl Acetate Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium PCA, Glycosaminoglycans, Urea, Distearyldimonium Chloride, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laureth-7, Lecithin, Trehalose, Polyquaternium-51, Lactoperoxidase, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Cyanocobalamin, Pentylene Glycol, Fragrance (Parfum), Disodium EDTA, BHT, Citronellol, Hydroxycitronellal, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol
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 burns—or any aspect of skin care—is 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 algae—the cornerstone of the product—unstable). 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 wasn’t 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 water—it plumps to a thousand times its 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 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.
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