We put Crème de la Mer to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.
Few beauty products out there have a cult following like Crème de la Mer, the OG moisturizer from luxury skincare brand La Mer. Said to be formulated over the course of 12 years by an aerospace physicist looking to cure burns he suffered in a lab accident, the final product—a skin elixir created with a special fermentation process involving sea kelp—promises to heal dryness, strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, soften fine lines and wrinkles, and revitalize the complexion. But this hefty list of promises comes a hefty price tag to match: $180 for just one ounce.
I recently put a jar to the test to see if it really lived up to its reputation. I evaluated its ingredients, its feel and texture, and its ability to heal dryness and improve my skin tone. Read on to see if it was really worth the hype.
La Mer Crème de la Mer
Best for: Dry skin
Star Rating: 3.5/5
Uses: Deep hydration
Potential allergens: Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf oil, fragrance
Active ingredients: La Mer’s Miracle Broth, Lime Tea
Byrdie Clean?: No (contains mineral oil, petrolatum, and paraffin)
Price: $180 per ounce
About the Brand: One of the most renowned skincare brands in the world, La Mer was born after an aerospace physicist sought out to heal the burns he suffered in a lab accident. After 12 years of research, the result was a fermentation process that transformed sea kelp and other pure ingredients into what we now know as the brand’s Miracle Broth, which is a key ingredient in every La Mer product.
About My Skin: Dull and dry during the colder months
Living in New York City, my skin definitely has its moments. My skin type is “normal” most of the year, although I do find that during the colder months, my skin is left dull, lifeless, and extremely parched.
My current daily routine is as follows: I first wash my face with a nourishing oil cleanser, pat dry, and spritz on a soothing facial spray. I then swap between Noto’s Ultra Hydrating Deep Serum or Supernal’s Cosmic Glow Oil and let it fully absorb before moving on to my SPF and makeup. At night, after cleansing and spritzing again, I use a night cream, swapping between Haoma’s Recovery Night Cream and Glow Recipe’s Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask, using the mask only I need an extra hydration boost.
While testing Crème de la Mer, I swapped it in for my usual night cream, warming a bit between my fingers until the thick cream became translucent (as per the product directions), then patting it into my skin. La Mer recommends using it both day and night, but I felt it was too heavy for day and chose to just use it at night, save applying a dab or two to particularly dry zones after my usual daytime routine when necessary.
Ingredient Quality: Sea kelp and Lime Tea are the heroes
Like all La Mer products, one of Crème de la Mer’s key ingredients is the brand’s signature anti-inflammatory Miracle Broth, a fermented mixture of sea kelp, vitamins, minerals, citrus oil, eucalyptus, sunflower, wheat germ, and alfalfa. Its second key ingredient is Lime Tea, an antioxidant concentrate consisting of lime rinds and alcohol. With algae (seaweed) Extract listed as the very first ingredient and the others closer to the top of the list, we can assume that it contains an effective concentration of all.
However, while it’s free of parabens and phthalates, it’s not considered clean by Byrdie’s standards due to the petroleum-based ingredients used to help the skin retain moisture. Mineral oil and petrolatum immediately follow algae (seaweed) extract on the ingredient list, meaning they make up a large part of the formula.
There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not these ingredients are actually safe, but La Mer confirmed to Byrdie that its products use USP, a refined petroleum jelly product that has passed the FDA’s safety standard for use in food and cosmetics. "Consumer safety is a top priority at La Mer and our products undergo a rigorous protocol of safety evaluation," a representative from La Mer Global Product Development told Byrdie via email. "Petroleum-derived ingredients are found in a wide variety of personal care and cosmetic products. As used in cosmetic formulations, these ingredients are highly refined and do not share the characteristics of unrefined petroleum."
Regardless, for a product this pricey, I would have hoped La Mer would have sought out a more natural alternative.
The Feel: Heavy with a light residue
Crème de la Mer is a heavy-duty product. It has a thick, almost sticky cream consistency when first scooped out of the jar, but in order to activate the Miracle Broth, it needs to be warmed between the fingers until it becomes translucent. This ultimately thins out the consistency a bit, but I still felt this product was much too heavy to use during the day, even for dry skin like mine. It doesn’t absorb very well, leaving behind a heavy residue I still felt by morning. When I applied in the morning, I could feel the product sitting on top of my skin throughout the day.
The Scent: A refreshing, floral scent
Crème de la Mer has a fresh, floral scent that I found to be quite pleasant. Fragrance can potentially be irritating to sensitive skin, though I didn’t notice any allergic reactions while testing this product out.
Results: Very soothing on dry skin, but no long-term improvements
While I’ve already talked about the not-so-favorable residue, I can’t deny how soothing this cream was for dry, rough patches of skin. During both daytime and nighttime use, my cheeks felt protected against the elements and any discomfort I felt was immediately alleviated. However, this relief was surface-level. The cream didn’t absorb very well, and it didn’t feel like it penetrated my skin enough to actually heal it. Sure, it would feel supple and soft once I applied it, but as soon as I washed my face, it immediately went back to feeling rough and dry.
I tested this product over the course of 12 days, and I didn’t notice much of a long-term improvement in my skin’s texture and overall moisture level—it was more of a temporary fix, rather than the miracle cure-all it’s hyped up to be. Being how respected (and expensive) Crème de la Mer is, I was hoping this product would truly heal my dry skin and help it retain more moisture over time.
However, it's also worth noting that Crème de la Mer could be a great option for anyone with more mature skin because it feels super rich upon application and leaves a luminous finish.
The Value: Definitely an investment
Crème de la Mer is pricey, ringing in at $180 per ounce. It’s available in multiple sizes; the bigger the jar, the better the deal (I tested from a 2-ounce jar, which costs $335 rather than $360). Keep in mind, you’re not slathering this stuff all over your face—you’re meant to use it sparingly, so it will last longer than a typical moisturizer. However, I do think that you could find an equally effective product for a lower price.
Similar Products: Less expensive, quality options
Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream: Crème de la Mer is meant to be used during the day and at night, but as I preferred to use it mostly at night, I’ll compare it to another night cream I’ve tested recently: Fresh’s Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream (read my review here). Fresh’s night cream is exponentially lighter, absorbing almost instantly into the skin unlike La Mer, but in terms of texture, it really comes down to preference. Both creams are packed with antioxidants (La Mer with Lime Tea Extract and Fresh with Super Lotus), and provide soothing, hydrating relief from dry skin. However, I found that Fresh’s cream—which is significantly less expensive—more effectively improved dryness and skin texture over time (and gave me a more radiant glow), which makes it the clear choice.
Haoma Recovery Night Cream: When comparing Crème de la Mer to my usual night cream, Haoma’s Recovery Night Cream, Haoma is the winner for me. In terms of texture and feel, Haoma's lightweight cream formula absorbs quickly and effectively hydrates the skin, while La Mer’s heavy formula tends to sit on top of it. Both soothe dryness, but I find that Haoma’s formula better penetrates the skin and has longer-lasting effects. Less expensive than La Mer but still with a luxury price tag ($110 for 1.6 ounces), Haoma’s clean formulation is jam-packed with reparative and regenerative plant ingredients, while La Mer’s formulation, infused with the brand’s potent Miracle Broth and Lime Tea, is not considered clean by Byrdie’s standards.
Our Verdict: Great for instant soothing
This may be sacrilegious to say, but I was expecting to be more impressed by La Mer’s Crème de la Mer. It effectively hydrated and soothed dry patches when applied, but this effect only lasted until I next washed my face. After 12 days of use, I didn’t notice much of an improvement in my skin’s texture and overall moisture levels.