Creme de la Mer – Review

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.

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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.


25 thoughts on “Creme de la Mer – Review”

  1. Good Morning Colin 🙂 Thank-you for all the information you have shared here on your site! I am addicted already… I found you through beautyswapshop. I really wanted to reply to your message regarding suncreams for children. I hope you will comment on the ingredient list for this one? I would love to know your comments…

    Water/Aqua/Eau Solvent

    Zinc Oxide science Sunscreen

    Octyl Methoxycinnamate science Sunscreen

    2-Ethylhexyl Salicylate (Octyl Salicylate) science Sunscreen

    Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate science Skin Conditioning Agent,


    Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate science Thickener, Emulsifier, Stabiliser

    Cetyl Dimethicone science Thickener

    Oxybenzone science Sunscreen

    Butylene Glycol science Solvent

    Cetyl PEG/PPG-10/1 Dimethicone science Thickener, Emulsifier, Stabiliser

    Glycerin, Cyclopentasiloxane science Skin Conditioning Agent

    Ceresin plant/science Gellant

    Hexyl Laurate science Skin Conditioning Agent,


    Cyclohexasiloxane science Skin Conditioning Agent

    Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract plant Moisturiser, Skin Protectant

    Plantago Major Leaf Extract plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract plant Antioxidant

    Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil plant Antioxidant

    Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil plant Emollient, Moisturiser,


    Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil plant Emulsifier

    Retinyl Palmitate science Skin Conditioning Agent

    Ascorbyl Palmitate science Emulsifier, Thickener, Emollient

    Tocopheryl Acetate science Emollient, Thickener, Stabiliser

    Phospholipids science Suspending Agent, Thickener

    Citric Acid science Neutraliser, Emulsifier,


    Panthenol science Humectant, Moisturiser

    Sodium Chloride science Carrier, Thickener

    Triethoxycaprylylsilane science Thickener

    Phenoxyethanol science Preservative

    Caprylyl Glycol science Skin Conditioning Agent,


    Ethylhexylglycerin science Skin Conditioning Agent

    Hexylene Glycol science Solvent

    Potassium Sorbate science Preservative

    Sodium Benzoate science Preservative

    Sorbic Acid science Preservative

    Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Dipteryx Odorata Seed Extract science Skin Conditioning Agent

    Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Leaf Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine) Oil plant Skin Conditioning Agent

    Limonene plant Solvent

    Geraniol science Skin Conditioning Agent

  2. Thanks Karen, it is always nice to hear that someone appreciates what one has done. That is quite a list you have asked me to comment on. I did see your question on Beauty Swap Shop and was wondering how to go about answering it. My first comment is that it looks like the formulation for a fairly high SPF sunscreen, probably quite a thick greasy one. There isn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary about it, but whoever formulated it has put some probably non-functional natural sounding raw materials. They might have wanted to make it sound natural. I don’t personally like very complicated formulations like this and I am suspicious of UV absorbes like the methoxycinnamate and the oxybenzone. But I don’t have any strong misgivings about it.

  3. Hello and thank-you for commenting. Had trouble finding this thread again! and my apologies for putting it in the wrong place…I seem to have some trouble finding my way about. I’m a little concerned now that you say the may have wanted to ‘make it sound natural’ 🙁 It is a sunscreen for babies (or sensitive) SPF 30+. It is quite runny and not particuarly greasy feeling. I am a novice with ingredients and I apologise for the long list! Thank-you for taking the time to comment, I do appreciate it. Best Regards…Karen

  4. Quick question!

    I am allgeric to SPF!
    What can I use to protect myself from the sun?
    and bismuth oxychlorided Titantium Dioxide makes me allgeric
    Ingredients in the Bare Escentuals line!

    I also tried Lancome SPF and broke out with little bumps under my eye -_-!

    I am combo skin and sensitive! Nationality Vietnamese and Irish

    Please reply I’m concern b.c I’m 21 with light brown spots -_-

  5. Hi Christy,

    Mmmm, tricky. For a start, don’t worry too much about the numbers on SPF products. Even a low number like 2 is still going to give you quite a bit of protection. And also remember that simply keeping your skin well moisturised will also help your skins built in defences against photo damage to work well.

    A product that might be worth a try is E45 Sun Reflective Sunscreen. This does include titanium dioxide but the particle size will be very different to what you would have in the Bare Escentuals product. The thing that puts a lot of people off these products is that if you use a lot they tend to make you look a bit pale and ghostly. This is because they reflect light – that is how they work. I suggest using a very low level and see how you get on with it.

  6. I would love to be given the chance to test NIVEA vs. Crème de la Mer, you’re so right that it sounds so interesting

  7. Yes Marina, if I was in charge of Creme de la Mer I would do a blind study comparing it with Nivea. Ideally announce it was happening in advance. That would show confidence in your brand wouldn’t it.

  8. Hi Colin,
    What a great site, I found it because a story broke recently in the new York times about how creme de la mer is overpriced for what it is. Anyway I found a creme I actually like better but have no clue if it is superior to la mer. I would love your professional opinion as I don’t trust the sales pitch, any help would be great.The ingredients are below:


  9. Aqua , Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil*, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Squalane, Saccharomyces/Xylinum/Ferment, Hydroxethylcellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Dextran, Caprooyl Tetrapeptide-3, Ribes Nigrum Seed Oil, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis  Seed Oil*, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Alcohol Denat., Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (D-alpha), Glycine Soja  Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis  Peel Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia  Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate (L), Camellia Sinensis  Leaf Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium  Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana Water, Thioctic (R-lipoic) Acid, Citric Acid, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzoic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Benzethonium Chloride, Dehydroacetic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Xanthan Gum

  10. Hello Michelle, thanks for posting that list. I can say straight away that whoever formulated it didn’t skimp on the ingredients. There are some pretty expensive raw materials on that list. The ones that catch my eye are the peptides. There is a lot talked about peptides. There is a story about how they are supposed to work which is hard to believe but I suppose you have to admit might be true. More convincingly there is some published data that shows them to have a measurable, though still modest, anti wrinkle effect.

    The salicylic acid is well known to promote cell turnover which some people find beneficial.

    So on the whole based purely on that list I would be inclined to think that it might be an effective formulation. As to Creme de la Mer being overpriced, the whole ultra premium skin care sector is overpriced. But so are Louis Vuitton handbags by the same criterion. Those kinds of products are much more about a lifestyle than cost effective skin care.

  11. Colin,
    Thank you for taking the time to answer. Do you think that the above formula is as effective as la mer?
    The sales person also claimed the creme would brighten my skin, something la mer hasn’t done for me.
    Thank you

  12. Hi Colin

    Have you heard of Obagi? Thought your review of La Mer was really helpful. Agree that a comparison against another cream would be good and would like to know what you think of Obagi Nu Derm System which is about £500 for a 3 month supply.



  13. Obagi isn’t a name that I have come across before but I have just had a look at the website. The claims are impressive, and as they are using some pretty serious actives like tretinoin and hydroquinone are likely to be justifiable. I am pretty sure that they are both prescription only in the UK. There may be some wriggle room legally on that, but in my opinion there shouldn’t be. They can both be used quite safely if used with care, but they can also be harmful if overused. I don’t really think they should be sold over the internet with no controls even if a lawyer has managed to find a loophole in the legislation.

  14. Hi Colin

    Great website – I purchased Creme de la Mer and thought it wasn’t worth the money or the hype. Prefered Eve Lom TLC cream so I took it back.

    ….now you say it, both are very similar to Nivea.

    What cream for dry skin (face and body) would you recommend?


    1. @Livia, I am afraid I can’t recommend one in particular. I would say though that if you have dry skin you want to be looking for one with a pretty high oil content. The only thing I would say is ignore the price tag. A cheap one might be just the thing for you. On the other hand, even a really expensive one like Creme de la Mer isn’t that expensive when you work it out per application. So pick the one that gives you the best results. Eve Lom TLC is extremely rich in oil, much richer than Creme de la Mer. It is a water in oil emulsion rather than the more usual oil in water, so it is a seriously good barrier cream. Another one that you might want to consider in the same vane is Atrixo. It is a fraction of the price but as i say judge it on the results not the price tag. For anyone other than Livia reading this – Eve Lom TLC and Atrixo are intended for very dry skin. If your skin isn’t dry you will probably find using either of these products a horrible experience.

  15. Hi Colin,

    I have a cream here that contains the following ingredients :

    Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil
    Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride Betaine
    Butylene Glycol
    Cetearyl Olivate
    Sorbitan Olivate
    Sodium Hyaluronate
    Centella Asiatica Extract
    Cetearyl Alcohol
    Glyceryl Stearate
    PEG-100 Stearate
    Dimethicone Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract
    Hydrogenated Lecithin
    Triethanolamine Carbomer
    Human Oligopeptide-1
    Ceramide 1

    Can it be used as a face moisturizer and is it good for sensitive/combination skin?
    It is really expensive for a small tube of only 15ml so I am wondering if it is worth it.
    Thanks in advance 🙂

  16. Very interesting read, thank you. I love the product and have bought it about 3 times over the years – depends on when House of Fraser have a 10% off promotion, or I’m at the airport! It lasts about 6 months for me being used once a day in the evening. I’d be scrimping and not feeling so well moisturised if I tried to make it last longer.

    I use Soap & Glory Night in Shining Armour cream as a more affordable alternative when I’m not feeling so indulgent. However I absolutely think it’s worth the investment, in fact I’m going to inspect the state of my credit card bill to see if I can squeeze in another purchase 🙂 I love the feeling of my face when I wake up in the morning and it’s still well moisturised.

    I have had sample pots of it before, possibly through a voucher though. Don’t blame them if they don’t give them out freely, they’d get inundated!

    1. It isn’t strictly speaking paraffin. The mineral oils used in skin creams are very different to the paraffin you use in a stove.

  17. Hello,
    Sorry in advance for my english. For people with sensitive skin, I wouldn’t recommend Creme de La Mer, as it contains lots of allergens. A friend of mine bought it and had such bad skin reactions that she had to stop it right away. As you mentioned it, part of the price is the fragrance used. As I am in the medical & pharmacological field, I tried it too because I wanted to have an opinion for myself. For me, it is well overpriced for its effects, as are all luxury skin care brands. You pay mainly for the “prestige” of the brand, because it’s a luxury brand or because it was the first to use an ingredient etc.

  18. Some stores do give out little sample pots of creme de la mer, but usually if they have a new product and usually by card invitation. I buy it rarely, because of cost (I do tend to be a bit heavy on application!) but I absolutely love it. I prefer the lotion to the standard crime, especially in the summer. But I always try to keep a little bit of the standard (original?) cream sample pot, because I have a sore red patch of ecema on the back of my neck, which flares up occasionally, especially in hot weather. Creme de la mer is the only product I’ve tried that soothes it.

    Incidentally, I recently bought the soft cream. I like it very much, but it lasts a fraction of the time as the standard.

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