La Mer Creme de la Mer

Posted on December 2nd, 2009 by Gina

La MerEveryone who works with LookinGood is required to fill out a form listing all the personal care products they use from dawn to dusk, with the exception of fragrances.  That includes what the brand is, how much it costs per unit and how often they replenish it.  At the end of the exercise, the spreadsheet will reveal how much a person spends per day in their grooming regimen.

It is often shocking, particularly for women who begin by saying, “I don’t wear makeup or use much of that stuff.”  I have come to believe that women who don’t wear makeup actually spend more money on skin care, simply because they aren’t covering up skin imperfections or decorating the face with makeup.  Nothing diverts the eye like a good red lipstick.

But I digress.  One young man actually shocked me when his assignment was done.  I am a product whore, and spend nearly $9 a day just trying to maintain what I looked like two years ago.  This young man, however, spent a whopping $12 a day.  Now granted, he was a hip guy who waxed his body and wore first-rate cologne, but none of that counted in the exercise.

Upon closer inspection, I found what was putting him over the top – La Mer Crème de la Mer face cream at $130 an ounce, replenished once a month.  He was as loyal to the stuff as he was to his mother, even when I pointed out that that kind of money could be a car payment.  I have met many other people since then who love it as well, so I decided to put it on LookinGood’s list for potential product review.

Before we make a purchase here at LookinGood, we make 3 minimum stops:

First stop:  Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop, who has been testing products for 30 years and has reviewed 45,000 of them.  There is very little that she and her team don’t know about cosmetics.

Second stop:  The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep, a cosmetics safety database that measures toxicity in personal care products.

Last stop:, a website that does nothing but poll people about beauty products and report the results.  Whether a product is silly or not, sometimes it is very popular.  What can we say – we don’t always make the right decisions.

So, what does Paula have to say about Crème de la Mer?  “…This very basic crème doesn’t contain anything particularly extraordinary or unique,” she says.  Basically water, thickening agents and some seaweed, which, before you get excited, is also in your table salt.

But, environmentally sound products are often more expensive, so we checked the hazard warnings from Skin Deep’s data.  With a score key of low, moderate and high hazard, Crème de la Mer is in the high hazard range with a 7 out of 10, primarily because of copper and citral, an allergen and irritant, as part of the ingredients.  The company has also refused to give Skin Deep the specifics about what is in the category “fragrance,” which tends to be a catch-all for multiple scary things.

Well, I know of several people who swear by it, so what do the “true believers” on think?  On a scale of 1-10, it has an average rating of 8, with 94 reviewers.  That’s a fair number of people willing to fork out $130 for “basic” high hazard.  What did I tell ya?  Sometimes we just like stuff we shouldn’t.

Speaking of hazards, Le Mer was developed by Max Huber, a NASA scientist, who was burned in an accident and, according to his press clippings, spent the next 12 years developing the cream to get rid of his scars.  I guess the expectation is that the rest of us should pay for his experiments, but at that cost, LookinGood is not convinced.

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