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You have to hand it to Creme De La Mer ($130), it has maintained cult status for a decade (it celebrates its tenth birthday this year). I (sheepishly) admit that I was one of the first people to fall for the hype and bought (what was then one of the expensive face creams on the planet) a pot from Harrods. I also bought La Mer's eye cream. Even La Mer claims that it doesn't know how its miracle cream works. Perhaps that's because it doesn't. At least not for me.
La Mer's birthday prompted me to try to find out more about La Mer's secret sauce (another thing that the company does very well is to keep Creme De La Mer's ingredients off the internet). A few months ago, I found the ingredients for La Mer Fluide and the only thing impressive about it was the number of silicones, 11 at my count. For the past decade, La Mer has been remarkably consistent about messaging the "Miracle Broth", a scientist devised concoction of seaweed and minerals that have been fermented for three months.
The fermentation process had better be good because there is nothing remarkable about the ingredients. After seaweed extract, there is glycerin from mineral oil (not vegetable) and probably the reason why I recall finding La Mer really drying. Other petroleum-derived ingredients are the emollient isohexadecane and microcrystaline wax. I am not quite sure what to make of alfalfa. I looked at in L'Oreal's Dermo-Expertise Collagen Remodeler and I couldn't find much more about this common fodder for cows than it may be a milder (non-irritating) alternative to retinol exfoliants.
The most impressive ingredients are an array of soluble minerals including copper, potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Calcium and zinc are critical to the health of skin. Magnesium stimulates the skin to ensure that healthy elasticity is maintained and moisture levels remain normal and copper is a potent wound healer. In fact, all of these are in the, much superior (in my view) Dermophisiologique range called Mineral, which also packs in other antiagers such as glucosaminoglycans and gingko biloba. Both La Mer and Dermophisiologique stock up on vitamins, although La Mer has added cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12).
Some folks report breakouts when using Creme De La Mer. This may be due to the lanolin alcohol, which is highly comedogenic. Methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone are also irritants.
See our FIVE BEST recommendations including Five Best for sagging skin, Five Best with vitamin C and Five Best eye creams
Ingredients in Creme De La Mer: Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral oil Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Sesame Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesame Seed, Medicago sativa (alfalfa) seed powder, Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus amygdulus 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, Aluminium distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat., Fragrance (Parfum).