La Mer The Reparative Face Sun Lotion SPF 30

Reviewed by Marta on July 1, 2013

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Looking at La Mer’s new sunscreen, The Reparative Face Sun Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($120), I feel a bit like someone with a gluten allergy gazing at a sandwich – the filling looks scrumptious, but the bread’s a killer.

La Mer makes the usual silly claims about “harnessing the power of the sea” and “Miracle Broth,” which if you didn’t know is “the heart of La Mer’s profound powers of transformation.” Time for some Truth In Aging context to get behind the hype and find out what is really in La Mer’s sunscreen.

Let’s start with the sunscreen actives themselves. Three out of the four in Reparative Face Sun Lotion are controversial. There’s avobenzone, which is not advised for pregnant women. Oxybenzone is a photocarcinogen, demonstrated to increase the production of harmful free radicals and attack DNA cells; for this reason, it is believed to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of melanoma cases with sunscreen users. Some studies have shown it to behave similarly to the hormone estrogen. Ditto octocrylene.

The “bread” surrounding the “filling” includes too many synthetic emollients such as neopentyl glycol diheptanoate, a number of silicones and a couple of PEGs. Since these are the dominant ingredients, these and the chemical sunscreen actives pretty much rule out La Mer’s Reparative Face Sun Lotion as far as I am concerned.

Having said that, Reparative Face Sun Lotion does have a couple of things going for it. For starters it’s way better than La Mer’s Fluide De La Mer The SPF30 UV Protecting Fluid, which was launched back in 2009. This has no fewer than 11 silicones and the chemicals with names like prehistoric birds (such as dipentaerythrityl tri-polyhydroxystearate) far outweighed anything you might actually want to put on your face.

Which brings me back to Miracle Broth. In my post “What’s in La Mer,” I tried to get the bottom of it, concluding that we are talking about seaweed and an array of minerals, including copper, potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium. These are here in Reparative Face Sun Lotion (it has suddenly struck me that this is similar to the mineral brew in E’shee’s altogether simpler and more appealing Multi-tensor).

I must admit that La Mer has thrown in botanical extracts and other anti-agers. So many, that the formulation strategy seems to be everything but the kitchen sink. Still, there are some good things here including niacin, apple extract, soy protein, yeast extract, caffeine, rosemary and various marine extracts.

There’s even an interesting acne treatment, nordihydroguaiaretic acid, but by now we are wading through more PEGs, copolymers and the like and then on to the preservatives.

I’ll stick with my far less expensive and irreproachable Prana Natural Defense SPF25, which is pretty much all filling and no bread.