Opinion: Is Crème de la Mer worth it?

I often get asked my thoughts about the famously ultra expensive Crème de le Mer “miracle” cream. I find clients want the truth and inside scoop from a professional skin therapist versus a sales person. Over the years this brand has built quite the reputation for itself and as one of the most talked about cult favorite face creams. It’s known for being super luxurious and the “goal” skin care product for many people. As a consumer, do I think the hefty $170 an ounce price tag is worth it? And as an esthetician and clean beauty blogger, do I think the ingredients are safe, effective or even beneficial for the skin? Let’s dive in and talk about some of the main ingredients in this face cream, shall we….

la mer

The Ingredients

We know that ingredients are listed from the most amount of the product to the least on the ingredient deck. Among the 37 ingredients on this list, the first ingredient is seaweed (algae) extract. The brand claims it's a super fancy smancy fermented seaweed that is only harvested twice a year to create its "miracle broth." While it does have some wonderful anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying benefits, it’s surprisingly highly comedogenic. So if you have skin that is prone to acne, clogged pores or blackheads this cream may not be suitable for your skin. I will also note it is not a very expensive or rare ingredient and is found in all kinds of items from food to beauty products regardless of the harvesting process. 

There are several occlusive waxy ingredients in this cream, three of which are derived from crude oil which is a possible carcinogen. Petroleum, mineral oil, and paraffin wax. These ingredients don't do much for the skin at all. They are basically a skin barrier which doesn't allow anything in or out of the pores since it just sits on top of the skin and does not absorb. I will also add these are all very inexpensive ingredients. For example, a 400-pound drum of mineral oil cost around $346. Because I am a maniac, I will break this down for you. That is about 7,168 ounces, so if in a 1-ounce jar of La Mer there is around 1/4th of an ounce for the sake of math (I am sure there is even less) that is .012 cents. Literally less than a cent!

Fragrance, so much synthetic fragrance. It's a completely pointless ingredient that is only there to “enhance” the user experience and/or cover the smell of chemicals that aren’t appealing. It is a known skin irritant and the #1 cause of contact dermatitis according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It’s also been shown to mimic estrogen, cause hormonal imbalances and trigger asthma/allergies.

Lanolin alcohol (basically sheep skin oil) is non-toxic, however, it is highly comedogenic for the skin and an animal derived ingredient if that is of importance to you. Speaking of animals, La Mer is not cruelty-free and does test on animals.

The most impressive ingredients in the La Mer formula, in my opinion, are the few minerals and antioxidants. While those ingredients are super beneficial for the skin, you can definitely find them in a less expensive product. 

"I swear by it, it totally works!"

Let's understand how the skin operates and why some people see it as "working." You put anything on the skin that is highly occlusive and anything underneath will be locked in and natural oil trying to come out will be trapped. Sure, this may not be a bad thing for an extremely dry skin type, but for most, it can be clogging. Not to mention you'd get the same effect with a rich night cream from the drugstore for under $10. I also think this is a bit of a placebo effect. 

My Opinion

So back to the question I receive all the time. What do I think about this cream as a consumer, an esthetician and clean beauty blogger?

Ingredient wise, this is a pretty basic moisturizer formula and it doesn't contain anything exceptional, expensive or unique. This essentially is an extremely expensive barrier cream full of inexpensive ingredients. Seaweed extract, petroleum, mineral oil, a few essential oils and vitamins plus, numerous thickening agents and preservatives do not warrant that price. I think what is mainly being sold here is exclusivity, luxury and people like seeing that fancy face cream on their bathroom counter. In my opinion, it’s a very outdated formula, it may have been an advancement for the 1970's when it was developed. Nowadays there are plenty of formulas that are much more beneficial to the skin and have a significantly less expensive price tag. Simply it's not worth the price for the ingredients you receive. Skin wise, in the entire formula I think there are a handful of beneficial ingredients, however, the rest is fluff and fillers that potentially are pore clogging. Plus, if you find value in using clean, organic, non-toxic and cruelty-free products, this is definitely not one of them. It ranks as a 9 on the Think Dirty app.

So, there you have it. I've personally tried this product, I've researched the ingredients for safety, skin benefits and cost and I'm not convinced.