La Mer & Me: One Writer’s 20-Year Skincare Saga With the Cult Creme

La Mer & Me: One Writer’s 20-Year Skincare Saga With the Cult Creme

As a teenager and young woman, I was a total sucker for glossy magazines. A portion of my allowances and early paychecks went straight to Vogue, Elle, Bazaar, W, Glamour, and Allure. I believed every editorial they published about skincare and bought everything I could afford in their features and “best of” lists. Which is how I ended up, somewhere around the age of 20, with an extremely expensive jar of Crème de la Mer, the hottest moisturizer at the time.

Editors praised it. Models and actresses swore by it. The moisturizer, whose brand story involves an aerospace physicist developing a “Miracle Broth™” from fermented sea kelp extract “and other pure ingredients,” is said to be “cell-renewing,” capable of delivering timelessly radiant skin for the low, low price of way more than $100 per jar. I can’t remember how much Crème de la Mer cost back when it first launched and I first bought it, but I believe it was around $200. These days, La Mer’s official price for Creme de la Mer Moisturizing Cream ranges from $95 for 0.5 oz all the way up to $2,475 for 16.5 oz of this precious balm of mermaid tears.

Editors praised it. Models and actresses swore by it. The moisturizer is said to be “cell-renewing,” capable of delivering timelessly radiant skin.

To put that into perspective, 0.5 oz is about 15 mL. Most full-sized moisturizing creams clock in at 30-60 mL, with 30 mL being on the small size, 50 mL being pretty common, and 60 mL feeling quite deluxe. The 1 oz/30 mL jar of Creme de la Mer Moisturizing Cream goes for $190, while 2 oz will set you back $345. I assume the 16.5 oz vat is for those who want to slather it all over their entire bodies, and I’m not judging, because if I had the budget to spend $2,495 on my body moisturizer, I would probably do that too.

Anyway, I bought it. I expected incredible things from it. I fully expected to wash my face, put it on, and wake up in a night (or maybe a week or so if I could be patient) totally transformed. I got a fun case of cystic acne instead. I freaked out, disposed of the cream, and never touched anything made by La Mer again until this year. My reasoning for giving the Miracle Broth™ a second chance was as follows.

      • Now that I’m on the other side of 40, my skin has changed dramatically. Something that clogged my pores to hell and back at 20 might actually benefit my skin at 40, since skin’s needs change over time.
      • I really, really, really love seaweed in skincare, especially fermented seaweed. With its high antioxidant content and excellent humectant and emollient moisturizing effects, seaweed hydrates, plumps, and smooths my skin beautifully while possibly protecting it against free radical damage.
      • La Mer now makes several different variants of the original cream, two of which sounded especially appealing to me due to my personal textural preferences.
      • Kalista Edit was willing to send me the products in exchange for an article about them.

We arranged for me to receive one jar each of La Mer’s The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream (1 oz version) and The Moisturizing Soft Cream (2 oz version). The package arrived, I eagerly tore it open and started testing the creams, and here we are.

 

The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream vs. The Moisturizing Soft Cream: Which One Is Right for You?

Good news first: Neither the Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream nor the Moisturizing Soft Cream broke me out! Yay!

In further good news, both the gel cream and the soft cream contain the fermented seaweed extract for which the brand is known, either at or near the top of their ingredients lists. Since the seaweed is the main attraction for me, I welcome them on my face.


Bad news: Well, there isn’t really any. I liked the Cool Gel Cream and absolutely adore the Moisturizing Soft Cream. I suppose the prices are bad news for many people, but even that bad news is mitigated somewhat by the fact that Kalista Beauty offers these products at a discount.

La Mer The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream

The Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream is, as the name suggests, a gel cream—one of my absolute favorite moisturizer formats. I am even more of a sucker for gel creams than I used to be for glossy magazines. Lightweight and refreshing, gel creams are a boon for normal to oily skin. They generally use more silicones than oils for their emollient components, resulting in a satiny finish without any oily residue. I found La Mer’s gel cream wonderfully refreshing and fast-absorbing, making it great for a rushed morning skincare routine. It sits well under my sunscreen and makeup, too.

Unfortunately, I did find the gel cream just a touch less moisturizing than my normal-with-dry-tendencies skin needs, especially on more arid days. I felt a little tight over the cheeks by evening. So now that this article is done, I’ll be packing what’s left of my jar off to a friend with more oily skin. I think she’ll love it.

La Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream

On the other hand, the Moisturizing Soft Cream turned out to be absolutely perfect for my skin (which makes me extra happy that this one came to me in the 2 oz/60 mL size).

What is a “soft” cream? Aren’t all creams soft?

Well—not exactly.

Over the years, the original Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream has invited more than a few comparisons to a surprisingly budget-friendly product, the classic Nivea crème in the blue tin. Their consistencies are similar: both are thick, dense, stiff creams that take some work to spread on skin if you don’t warm them up between your palms first. (This, I suspect, is the reason La Mer instructs customers to warm the product between their fingers before application.)

In contrast, the La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream is, well, soft. It has a delightfully pillowy whipped consistency, spreads easily, and melts into my skin like butter. Using it always gives me incredibly soft, supple skin with the texture of fresh flower petals, and it delivers exactly enough moisture to keep my face happy all day, without greasiness. This one is an absolute winner that I reach for whenever I want my most nourishing day cream option. It’s also just rich enough for me to use happily at night as well.

Writing about these La Mer products feels like destiny. As I think back on my skincare life, I realize that La Mer was my first “investment skincare” purchase, and the first skincare purchase I made that was driven by an interest in the ingredients, rather than simply by the pressure applied by a department store beauty counter saleswoman. That first purchase obviously didn’t work out for me. Two decades later, I’m so happy to find alternatives that do.

Shop La Mer Soft Cream and Gel Cream at a discount here!

 

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