I noticed that Creme de la Mer was used on 10 Years Younger last night. ( A UK programme: people are given a makeover with the aim of making them look 10 years younger.) After a chemical peel to remove some badly sun damaged skin they needed a very good moisturiser. Money being no object, the one they used was Crème de la Mer.
I have only briefly tried Creme de la Mer. I remember it as a rich and probably very effective moisturiser. I also know some people who use it who say that it is so effective that they can make a single jar last 18 months. This puts the high price into perspective a bit – and if it really does work that well maybe it is in fact cheap.
Creme de la Mer’s mystique
This is a product with a mystique around it as well as a high price tag. There is a lot of attention to detail. Somehow it wouldn’t be the same if it were called Cream de la Mer. There is the story about it having been developed by a Nasa scientist to clear up burns he suffered during an accident. So this really is rocket science.
So as a cosmetic scientist, what can I learn about it. I trawled the net and found an ingredient list. It isn’t from their own website so I hope it is reasonably accurate. Creme de la Mer don’t give out free samples! My first thought was that considering it is supposed to have been formulated by a physicist it is remarkably similar to formulations done by myself and my colleagues.
Creme de la Mer’s Formulation
The basic formulation is that of a water in oil cream. These are the heaviest and most effective creams. Nivea Creme is a classic example. Attrixo is another that has a cult following. These kinds of creams are very good for very dry skin. I could easily imagine that someone who had dry skin who had previously used a standard cream might would find one like Creme de la Mer very effective in comparison.
But the story is not just of a very effective moisturiser. This cream is supposed to be an exceptional one. Is there anything out of the ordinary that might explain its remarkable popularity? The Crème de la Mer website admits: “There is nothing miraculous about its ingredients – sea kelp, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, lecithin, Vitamins C, E and B12, plus oils of citrus, eucalyptus, wheat germ, alfalfa, and sunflower.”
Creme de la Mer – Sea Kelp is the key?
I agree. These are all ingredients that other people have used. The sea kelp is the one that attracted my interest.
Is there anything in seaweed that gives benefits to the skin? Yes there is. Plants maintain their shape using long thin but very strong molecules called polymers. These are used to give the plants structure. The best example is cellulose, the main ingredient in wood. Reduce the polymer size a bit by heating wood in alkali and you can make paper. Reduce it still further and it makes a good wallpaper paste. Even smaller cellulose molecules applied to the skin have a tendency to shrink as they dry out. This has a tightening effect which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This neat trick has been used for years.
Cosmetic scientists have long been seeking the best polymer to combat wrinkles. It seems that polymers derived from seaweed are particularly good. And you can change the behaviour of polymers by the way you treat them. Crème de la Mer has a long treatment process for the seaweed which might well affect the way it works. I don’t have any proof of any of this, but it is believable.
Creme de la Mer Fragrance
A couple of other comments from the ingredient list. I notice a lot of allergens from fragrances are mentioned. This suggests to me that they are using high levels of an expensive fragrance. Well, the price they are charging I would hope so! There are also a lot of mineral salts: these are the ones called sodium gluconate, potassium gluconate etc. I am not yet sure whether minerals are beneficial to the skin or not. I will keep my opinions to myself on that one until I have done more research. But the minerals are there – if you like the idea then that is another positive.
I was a bit disappointed that the preservative used is a combination of Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone. This is an effective, legal and safe alternative to parabens. But I would have been happier if they had used something a bit more natural in a product like this one which is meant to be something special.
All in all – I have to say that Crème de la Mer might well be a very good product and might justify the high price charged for it. What I would really like to see would be a trial comparing it with Nivea Crème over a reasonably long period of time. It would be particularly interesting to see how much you need to use to get a benefit. If it lasts a long time because you don’t have to use so much of it, it might even be a cheaper option than some of the alternatives.
Creme de la Mer Ingredient List
Seaweed (Algae) Extract, Mineral oil, Glycerin, Isohexadecane, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Extract, Microcrystalline Wax, Lanolin Alcohol, Sesame Seed Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Magnesium Sulfate, Sesame Seed, Medicago sativa(alfalfa) seed powder, Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) Seedcake ,Prunus amygdulus dulcis(sweet almond) seed meal, Sodium Gluconate, Potassium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Zinc Gluconate, Paraffin, Tocopheryl succinate, Niacin, Beta-carotene, Decyl oleate, Aluminium distearate, Octyldodecanol, Citric acid, Cyanocobalamin, Magnesium stearate, Panthenol, Limonene, Geraniol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Benzyl salicylate, Citral, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Alcohol Denat., Fragrance (Parfum)
If you want to read a review of a product from the other end of the price spectrum have a look at my aldi anti-wrinkle cream review.