At £115 for a 30ml pot, Crème de la Mer is a serious investment piece. A cream which plays on one key question... Do you have to pay more, to get more? Is Crème de la Mer moisturiser special? Does it have something other moisturising creams don't?

The Most Expensive Face Cream In the World – Crème de la Mer – Is It Worth It?

In Product Reviews by Cheryl Wooodman2 Comments

At £115 for a 30ml pot, Crème de la Mer is a serious investment piece. A cream which plays on one key question… Do you have to pay more, to get more? Is Crème de la Mer moisturiser special? Does it have something other moisturising creams don’t?

Is there gold dust included?

This iconic beauty juice is full of mystery. It has rave reviews and it had will-never-buy-it-again reviews.

Is Crème de la Mer worth spending £100 pounds more than a drugstore moisturiser? Is Crème de la Mer worth spending £70 more than a posh skincare counter alternative?

My friend, Imagine this. You’re at the supermarket and you’re on the hunt for a girls-night-in sized bar of dark chocolate. In one hand you have own-brand dark, in the other you have a posh alternative. How do you tell if the posh alternative is any better than the own brand? You’ve got it, you flip to the ingredients list. You look at the cocoa content. You look at the added extras – vanilla extract? And you consider it against the price point. Choice made.

This is the exact same way you will understand if Crème de la Mer is worth its price tag… if La Mer really works and why La Mer is so expensive.

For the skin science you have me. For the ultimate decision on whether you’ll go ahead and invest or purchase a rogue La Mer cream dupe – you have you. My friend, it looks like we’re sorted. Ready to get going? Me too…

At £115 for a 30ml pot, Crème de la Mer is a serious investment piece. A cream which plays on one key question... Do you have to pay more, to get more? Is Crème de la Mer moisturiser special? Does it have something other moisturising creams don't?

Crème de la Mer Moisturiser

Before we delve into the ingredients used in Crème de la Mer let’s take a quick peek at La Mer’s backstory. Because before you can understand where you’re going, its first about where you’ve come from ‘eh. So who makes Crème de la Mer? Who owns Crème de la Mer?

Well my friend, this cream has quite the romantic backstory. Crème de la Mer was the life’s work of an aerospace physicist known as Dr. Max Huber. His reasons? An experiment gone wrong. Very wrong.

During his routine lab work Dr. Max Huber suffered extreme burns to large areas of his skin. He didn’t want to settle. He didn’t want to accept it. He wanted to create a solution.

12 years later, in 1965 Crème de la Mer was born.

Now while aerospace physicists are very brainy people. Their speciality is in making things fly, not in the biology of skin or the chemistry of skincare. So while Crème de la Mer’s backstory paints a very pretty picture, it’s not necessarily a relevant one.

So who owns Crème de la Mer now?

Starting life as a family brand, shortly after Dr. Max Huber passed away, Crème de la Mer was sold. Since 1995 la Mer has been housed under global beauty brand Estée Lauder, the same company who own Clinique, Jo Malone, Bobby Brown and Aveda.

Does La Mer Really Work?

The first step you must take to answer this question, is to look at the first 3 ingredients in the Crème de la Mer formula. Skincare ingredients lists are just like food ingredients lists – they’re ordered by quantity. If you see a chocolate bar with cocoa solids near the top, you know it’s a heart healthy dark bar. If you see sugar and cocoa butter before cocoa, you know it’s a plain, much less chocolate-y alternative.

You can tell a lot about a moisturiser from its first 3 ingredients.

You also need to take a peek at what the moisturiser claims to do. Pair this up against the ingredients and you’ll quickly have an answer. For all of its £115, an investment tub of Crème de la Mer claims to;
  • Have the power to transform the look of your skin
  • To make your skin appear firmer
  • To make Lines, wrinkles and pores appear less visible
  • Be able to make your skin look ‘virtually’ ageless
  • To renew and rejuvenate even dry complexions
  • …and because of a nutrient-rich Miracle Broth™ to bring your skin calm and radiance

We have the claims. Now all we need is the ingredients…

Crème de la Mer Ingredients

While the ingredients list on the back of a 30ml jar may require a magnifying glass, this one doesn’t…

Crème de la Mer Ingredients

Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed, 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, Paraffin, Tocopheryl Succinate, Niacin, Beta-Carotene, Decyl Oleate, Aluminum Distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium Stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat., Fragrance.

La Mer Ingredient No.1 – Seaweed Extract

First on the list is the PR’d and much talked about hero ingredient. Seaweed. This earns brownie points. It’s not often the most talked about ingredient ends up first on a skincare ingredients list.

So what does seaweed extract do? Is it truly a Miracle Broth™?

Seaweed extract can behave like an antioxidant. Not sure what an antioxidant is? Think of vitamin E. Antioxidants protect against ageing. They help prevent UV damage. They protect your skin’s youth.

In addition to behaving like an antioxidant, seaweed extract can also moisturise and soften your skin.

The first ingredient doesn’t sing hero, so I rang Crème de la Mer to find out more. Their answer? To look at the customer reviews on their website. The Crème de la Mer team also advised their cream would work for some people and not others. Not quite the trial results we were looking for.

What is the active ingredient in Crème de la Mer? Seaweed extract, functioning as an antioxidant, skin softener and moisturiser. Crème de la Mer also state this is just one part of their Miracle Broth™ – also containing ‘calcium, magnesium, potassium, lecithin, iron, Vitamins, C, E and B12, plus oils of citrus, eucalyptus, wheat germ, alfalfa and sunflower’ – we’ll look at whether this makes La Mer work very soon.

La Mer Ingredient No.2 – Mineral Oil

The use of mineral oil seems a little off-the-mark when you look at Crème de la ‘ ‘naturally active’ ingredients. Mineral oil is made from crude oil, the thick black sludge which gets drilled up from underground.

Mineral oil is an extremely cheap skincare ingredient.

It’s used as one of the key ingredients in Aveeno’s daily moisturising lotion – £4 for 200ml. It’s the basis of Johnson & Johnsons baby oil (which has only 3 ingredients) – £2 for 300ml.

Mineral oil works by forming a second barrier over skin, it’s like putting on a raincoat. It seals skin. It stops skin from loosing water. It stops potential irritants and skin stressors from entering. Creams high in mineral oil are sometimes called ‘barrier creams’. They’re great for dry skin types.

The fact mineral oil is second on Crème de la Mer’s ingredients list is no doubt the reason for its usage instructions;

…”Crème de la Mer must be warmed for a few seconds between the fingers until it becomes translucent, then pressed gently into the skin.

Mineral oil is a thick ingredient. It takes time to absorb. It also sits mostly on the top layers of skin, meaning as a cream la Mer is thick and heavy.

Does la Mer really work? As the 2nd ingredient on La Mer’s ingredients list is mineral oil – it will help your skin stay hydrated. A skill which by plumping can help lessen the look of fine lines and wrinkles, can help fix dry skin types and can make your skin appear firmer. It’s ticking off those la Mer claims, however ticks which definitely do not give reason for La Mer’s sky-high price tag.

Psst; If you want an insiders look on a science proven shortlist of anti-ageing skincare active which work – grab yourself a free copy of my 5 Best Anti-Ageing Actives Cheat Sheet here. 

La Mer Ingredient No.3 – Petrolatum

Petrolatum is very similar to mineral oil. It works in the same way but is a jelly rather than an oil.

Petrolatum is the key and only ingredient in Vaseline – £2 for 100ml. It is extremely cheap and extremely readily available. Stay tuned for La Mer cream dupes.

Crème de la Mer ingredients; Petrolatum has the same skin benefits as mineral oil. It will help la Mer cream lock water into your skin. An effect causing fine lines and wrinkle to plump and skin to be moisturised.

Does La Mer Really Work?

The first 3 ingredients in Crème de la Mer – seaweed extract, mineral oil and petrolatum mean La Mer will work perfectly as a barrier cream. A type of cream perfect for dry skin types. For this reason La Mer helps your skin lock onto water, which as La Mer claims will help positively affect the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

But… what about Crème de la Mer’s Miracle Broth? Is this the reason why La Mer is so expensive?

The Miracle Broth is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a mixture of many ingredients, brewed together like tea.

It includes;

  1. Seaweed extract
  2. Calcium
  3. Magnesium
  4. Potassium
  5. Lecithin
  6. Iron
  7. Vitamin C, E and B12
  8. Essential oils of citrus, eucalyptus
  9. Alfalfa seed powder
  10. Sunflower seedcake

Some of these ingredients function as antioxidants i.e. vitamin E, some function as skin brighteners i.e. vitamin B12 and some function as moisturisers i.e. lecithin.

Overall, a collection of ingredients which help Crème de la Mer cream live up to its claims, however which are truly and honestly not worth the price tag.

So, I hear you say…

Why Is La Mer so Expensive?

Imagine buying a perfume with the exact scent of Chanel No.5. The bottle doesn’t look beautiful, you’ve never heard of the brand but the scent is an exact dupe.

Would you tell people you were wearing a dupe or would you tell people, ‘Channel No.5 darling’?

It’s ok, second is the right answer.

Second has prestige. A brand name which has spent millions building a loyal following. It has allure, emotion and desire.

Buy Chanel No.5 and you’re paying for prestige. Buy a dupe and you’re paying the fair cost of the ingredients used.

My friend, this is why La Mer is so expensive. It’s not just the skincare ingredients you’re paying for, it’s the brand image.

Which is why you may be on the look out for a…

La Mer Cream Dupe

Great choice my fellow skin savvy. Bottom line, Crème de la Mer does what it says, however so do many other extremely reasonably priced creams.

Take your pick from these ‘gosh aren’t they a bargain’ La Mer cream dupes;

1) First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream (£24/170ml) – the top ingredient colloidal oatmeal helps form a second barrier on top of your skin. It works like mineral oil, but in a natural way. It also soothes, protects and helps plump. There’s antioxidant green tea extract, skin repairing ceramides and skin tone improving liquorice root extract. It’s a winner.

2) Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Deep Moisture Balm (£24/50ml) – with shea butter and skin identical squalane this makes for a great moisture locker and skin condition booster. There’s skin building ceramides, antioxidant vitamin E and strengthening edelweiss flower extract. Another great La Mer dupe.

3) …and if you’re looking for a drugstore dupe, look no further than Aveeno’s Daily Moisturising Cream (£15/300ml) It matches Crème de la Mer with mineral oil and paraffin, contains antioxidant vitamin E and skin protecting colloidal oatmeal.

All 3 of the above La Mer dupes match Crème de la Mer with similar or identical skin protectants, antioxidants and skin conditioners. They will all live up to La Mer’s skin benefits. They will help anti-age. They will help smooth skin. They will hydrate and moisturise.

Best bit… they help your skin and your bank balance. Not bad ‘eh. Which will you choose?

What do you think about Crème de la Mer creams? Which La Mer dupe will you be buying? Chat to me in the comments below…