Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sample Review: La Mer Creme de la Mer

Hey, friends! Today I wanted to review a rather "controversial" product for you. I talked about it briefly in my Evening Skincare Routine, and you'll see it again later in the month in my monthly empties post, so in case you were interested in learning more about this moisturizer, look no further!

At over 1600 reviews on Makeup Alley and an almost 50-50 split on people who love it or hate it, the original La Mer Creme has always intrigued me. When I got a sample redemption card in a style magazine I was reading, I was so excited to finally try this famous (or perhaps infamous) moisturizer.

This product has quite a lot of back-story behind it, so let me start from the beginning. 

The Story: Believe it or not, there is a full-out legend associated with this cream. Who knew one tiny jar could get so much press? La Mer has a whole page on the heritage behind it. It goes a little something like this: Once upon a time (around 50 or so years ago), an aerospace physician was badly burned during an experiment. After 12 years (holy damn), he developed the "Miracle Broth" that La Mer contains today. Apparently, Estee Lauder bought the formula in the '80s to sell to the mass market. And that's essentially the story. I personally agree with Total Beauty on this one--it's just a marketing technique to get people to buy it, because everyone loves a good story. One thing that really tips me off is that: if this cream really could "perform miracles" and magically heal burns, wouldn't the medical field have gotten hold of it by now? Rather than selling it to beauty addicts, wouldn't it be sold in pharmacies or dermatologists' office? Plus, even if it could cure burns and scars, why is it being sold as a wrinkle cream? Being "bad" doesn't exactly make wrinkles and burns the same thing, or give them the same cure. 

The "Miracle Broth": Another thing that makes me not-so-trusting of this cream is the ingredients list. Or, rather, lack of ingredients list. No matter where you look, there is none. How sketchy is that? Any company that doesn't provide an ingredients list, but rather just shows the active ingredients (aka the ingredients they want you to know about so you'll buy it, the "marketable ingredients") makes me a little uneasy. La Mer's "ingredients list" consists of them showing a few pictures of ingredients that may or may not be in the moisturizer (we don't have an ingredients list, so how can we be sure?). We have no idea how much of the marketable ingredients are even in the cream--they could be the very last ingredients in the list, but .0005% of lime extract isn't exactly a selling point. 

There are a number of sources that have a possible list, but no one's really sure, and that's what makes me nervous. Is there really a "Miracle Broth" that they're protecting the recipe for, or do they just not want the public to know what they're really paying for? After doing some research, I think this might be the possible ingredients list, or at least contain a good number of them. There is some differentiation between each list I come across, but at least this is something. 

Ingredients: Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral Oil (Paraffinum Liquidum), Petrolatum, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax (Cera Microcristallina), Lanolin Alcohol, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Globules (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seeds, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seeds, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seeds, Prunus Dulcis (Powdered Almonds), [sodium, Potassium, Copper, Calcium, Magnesium, And Zinc Gluconate], Paraffin, Vitamin E Succinate, Niacin, Beta-carotene, Decyl Oleate, Aluminum Distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric Acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium Stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl Salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat

Let's just talk about the first three ingredients.

Seaweed (Algae) Extract - According to La Mer, this can help heal scars and burns and do about anything else you've ever wanted it to do. To my knowledge, there is no information or study to confirm this, so really this is just La Mer speaking out of their ass. If I wanted to incorporate more seaweed into my life, I would take the $155 it costs (for 1 oz, mind you) and buy myself lots and lots of sushi, which I would probably enjoy a lot more. Seaweed, being all-natural and things like that, probably does contain some nice antioxidants, but they can't expect me to believe that it will be my cure-all without any proof. According to Susan Brawley, professor of plant biology at the University of Maine, seaweed (algae) extract isn't rare/exotic/expensive/magical. In fact, it's inexpensive and used in practically everything, from the medical field to the food industry (sushi, duh) to cosmetics. In fact, you can even buy two ounces of oh-magical-holy sea kelp extract from Amazon for under $15.

Mineral Oil - Really? The second ingredient in a $155 cream is mineral oil? For those who don't know, mineral oil comes from petroleum (the third ingredient on this list). It is not bad for your skin--in fact, as someone with dry skin, I rather like it--but it is found in many other, more inexpensive products. Some people do have sensitivities to it, but it's not a bad product. It doesn't really clog pores, due to the fact that the molecules are too large to get in there, but people with oily skin might not like the look or feel it causes (aka: more oily). I could easily pay $10 or $20 for double the amount of product to get mineral oil, if that was what I wanted.

Petroleum - A more solid form of mineral oil, aka a natural ingredient commonly known as Vaseline. Back in the day, Marilyn Monroe used to smear this stuff all over her face to give her that famous glow. Nowadays, we don't have to do that, but it's still a fun fact. Again, while Vaseline is great, I can go out and buy a 13 oz tub of it for less than $5.

Essentially, you could buy the two most abundant ingredients from La Mer for $20 and call it a day.

Although La Mer does contain some nice antioxidants and vitamins, the jar packaging won't keep them fresh for nearly as long as it'll take to finish up the jar. Other ingredients in Creme de la Mer include: irritating plant extracts, enough eucalyptus oil to stress out the skin, fragrance that is unnecessary and can be irritating to some, thickeners, wax, and preservatives (one being Kathon CG, which is only recommended for use in rinse-off products like face masks). Yum.

The Packaging: A lot of people have a gripe with jar packaging for sanitary reasons, but when it comes to La Mer, even I have to get on board. This product is in a jar, meaning that all of it will be exposed to air multiple times. The jar packaging in La Mer causes the ingredients to become unstable. What little benefits you're actually getting for your money are essentially being thrown out the window after a few uses.

Judging by the ingredients list and the packaging, not only are you paying for a large amount of garbage (and a little amount of benefits that will expire before you get the chance to really use them), but you're paying to quite possibly irritate your skin.

Still, I'm not the kind of person who likes to take other's opinions and roll with it. I wanted to test La Mer out for myself, so when I got my free sample, I was so excited to see what all of the fuss (or bitterness) was about.

The Sample: I was so flipping excited to score a sample of this, because I love having opinions on things, and I can't have an opinion on something I've never tried (well, some people can and do, but don't believe what they say because they don't know what they're talking about usually). However, it's next to impossible to get a free sample of this, because like the Pink Sith says, "...getting a La Mer sample is like asking to touch the Crown Jewels." She's not far off. I can't believe I found a sample redemption card in a magazine (it's killing me that I can't remember the name because oh my God what else could I find in there?)

The sales associate that helped me had to probe me for information, make sure my redemption card was legitimate (omg it's a moisturizer, not a blue diamond), and then take down my phone number so she could call me in a few days to see if I liked it. I'll be honest, I gave her my home phone number so that way I wouldn't have to talk to her (I dorm away at school), but really? I've never had to work so hard to get a sample in my life. God, if they want you to shit out $155 for one ounce of moisturizer, the least they could do is let you test it first. Especially since there is so much controversy surrounding it.

My Experience: After talking to the woman at the La Mer counter (who proceeded to tell me the aero-physicist story, and I just smiled and nodded because I'd heard it so many times), she demonstrated how to use the product. She said I was to take a pea-sized amount, warm it up between my fingers to activate the ingredients until it became semi-translucent, and press it onto my skin. I kind of think that "warming up the product to activate the ingredients" is bullshit, but the product is actually quite thick so rubbing it between my fingers helped to apply it a bit more evenly. She said that the tiny sample jar should last me about 10 uses (2x daily). I almost laughed when I heard that, but it actually did last 10 uses. Actually, it lasted a little longer than 10 uses for me, but I was possibly being stingy with it because at the cost it might as well sell on the black market.

Okay, real talk. I was not head-over-heels in love with this cream. Many people are, as the La Mer Creme has a good size cult following, but I am not one of them. The creme is nice, but that's just it. It's just nice. If it were a mere third of the price, I still wouldn't pay $50 for it. It feels very luxurious, since it costs more than 75 iced coffees at Dunkin Donuts, but I don't think it's worth it. It didn't physically irritate my skin, but I hadn't been using it for that long. For a moisturizer that not only doesn't have any anti-aging aspects, but also loses its small amount of benefits in a few uses once it gets too much exposure to the air, I just can't see the excitement over it. It doesn't even moisturize that well--the drier areas of my face (cheeks, especially) were dry when I'd wake up the next morning. If I spend $155 on a moisturizer that doesn't even moisturize enough, admit me into a mental institution because I must have seriously gone insane. It's not even like my skin is that dry, since I've used plenty of other moisturizers (Olay Night of Olay, Korres Wild Rose, etc) that fit the bill just fine.

There is a rumor going around that this product is similar to the Nivea cream in the blue container, but from what I hear it isn't true (then again, I haven't tried it). Apparently, the ingredients are similar to Nivea, but without the seaweed extract (but that's okay, since Amazon sells it for $15, oh my God I'm so mad). However, apparently the ingredients in the US version vs. the German version (Nivea is a German brand) are different. Therefore, it's not the same as the US version (the US always gets stuck with the shittier version it seems, especially since Europe has like a billion bad products banned and the U.S. has like seven). But, it can be the same as the German version. I don't know (I can't waltz into a German drug store and pick one up, dammit why didn't I do this when I studied abroad last year). Still, since I wasn't impressed with La Mer, I'm not so interested in finding a dupe for a so-so product.

Final Verdict: This moisturizer is not worth the hype. It doesn't do the things it claims to do, but even if it did, it still wouldn't be worth the price. It's a nice claim, to have one product to solve all of our problems and end world hunger, but frankly, it's just not true. This moisturizer was pretty average with a side of "meh." In order for me to pay $155 on a 1 oz jar of moisturizer, it not only has to do what it says it will, but also cook me dinner and do my laundry. That's an insane price, for no reason at all, other than the fact that pricier products seem more luxurious and splurge-worthy and people like to pamper themselves. I'm shaking my head at all of this nonsense, and this does not get the College Beauty Buff seal of approval. I will save my $155 to spend on iced coffee and sushi, as any other college student should, and I advise you do the same. But, if you don't want to listen to me, you can buy it on La Mer's website with free shipping, because it's the least they can do for making you pay $155 for Vaseline and a bunch of preservatives.

What do you think about the all of this La Mer craziness? Ever try it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I got this sample for free from a little magazine redemption card. College Beauty Buff is not sponsored by, nor affiliated with, La Mer. All opinions are 100% my own, always honest, etc. Trust me, if this review was actually sponsored, La Mer might actually have me tar-and-feathered (Yes, tar-and-feathered. Wanna fight about it?). 

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