Is it worth it? Crème de la Mer by La Mer


What’s the deal with this eye-wateringly expensive cult-favourite moisturiser?

Dropping some serious coin on beauty and skincare products that you know will run out in a matter of months isn’t something we do lightly. That’s why we called in Rob Povey, a makeup artist extraordinaire and product junkie, to try some of our most lusted after luxury purchases to decide, “Is it worth it?”. First up, the cult-favourite, mind-bogglingly expensive Crème de la Mer by La Mer.

What is it?

Crème de la Mer by La Mer.

How much does it cost?

$125 (15ml), $242 (30ml), $445 (60ml), and $665 (100ml) at Mecca Cosmetica.

What does it claim to do? 

An ultra-rich cream, high in antioxidants and infused with a patented Miracle Broth (a cell-renewing ocean botanical elixir), that delivers all-day hydration, whilst repairing signs of premature ageing and visibly soothing redness and inflammation.

How well does it live up to those claims? 

It’s no surprise that a cream peddling such lavish claims and such a steep price tag has become one of the most contentious skincare items on the market. One of the most common critiques of the product is that its first four ingredients are all seemingly very basic and inexpensive.

On the surface, algae extract – the entire line’s primary ingredient, hence La Mer (The Sea) – may not seem like a particularly advanced component, however, the elaborate fermentation process utilised in the creation of La Mer’s patented broth is.

Rounding out the key ingredients are mineral oil (neither expensive nor advanced, but also not the devil, like many articles would have you believe), petrolatum (a common occlusive) and glycerine (a popular humectant) which effectively seal in moisture and work as a barrier cream to prevent water loss.

I totally understand why this doesn’t sound very impressive for a moisturiser you have to take out a small loan for to afford. Marketing hyperbole aside, my experience with Crème de la Mer, in both personally using the cream on-and-off for the better part of a decade, as well as speaking to other skincare aficionados over the years, is that mileage may vary – some people will have incredible results and swear by the stuff, while others may not glean enough results to warrant the extravagant cost.

Any other pros/cons?

Another key ingredient is lanolin, so if you’re vegan, this formulation won’t be suitable for you. Likewise, if you have oily or acne-prone skin, this is simply not designed for your skin needs. Finally, having realistic expectations about what a topically-applied cream can actually achieve is also key; it’s only moisturiser, after all.

For the best results, you need to be utilising the product in tandem with a well-rounded skincare routine, including daily sunscreen application, nightly double-cleansing, as well as recommended water/dietary/exercise intakes.

There’s only so much a moisturiser can do for the overall quality of your skin. And, of course, if you have more significant skin concerns, you’re better off consulting a dermatologist who can prescribe you cosmeceutical-grade skincare, as well as recommend non-invasive treatments or procedures, to achieve the maximum results.

Are there any cheaper dupes out there? 

There really isn’t anything else on the market “just like” La Mer, due to the complex fermentation process of it’s Miracle Broth technology, but there are still some exceptional rich moisturising creams on the market that address the needs of very dry to dehydrated skin. My personal favourite when I need a more budget-friendly alternative is Weleda Skin Food ($24.95 for 75ml).

Is it worth it? 

Ultimately, this is a completely personal question. Paying an average of $7.60 per single ml of product (depending on what size you splurge on) is a big investment. If you have the financial means to and your interest in this cult fave has been piqued for a long time, then I would say give the product a go.

You can always start out by trying the smallest size, which is still expensive, but much less of an outright commitment than other luxury skincare lines, like La Prairie or Sisley, who don’t offer travel-sized versions of their star products. If the price point is just too much of a deterrent, then I would say that there are absolutely other rich moisturisers on the market, at various price points, that perform beautifully.

Check out the second instalment of our ‘Is it worth it?’ series here, and the third instalment here, the fourth instalment here, and the fifth instalment here.

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