Beauty products do more than just moisturize and cleanse. They make a woman actually feel beautiful, and for some, those feelings can be worth a lot of money. Creme de la Mer is the signature moisturizer around which the rest of the product line centers. According to the official La Mer website, a 16.5-oz. jar retails for $1390, as of 2010. Some women swear by the product, while others think it is a waste of money.
Creme de la Mer--Estee Lauder's premium moisturizing cream--contains fermented seaweed. Max Huber, a NASA scientist, developed the formulation after an industrial explosion burned his face and hands, leaving painful scars. He marketed and sold the cream, developing a small but devoted clientele. Following his death, Estee Lauder bought the rights to manufacture and sell the cream from Huber's daughter.
Creme de la Mer, as any other moisturizing product, functions to hydrate and soothe the skin. The effects of La Mer skin cream vary, according to which person you ask. Studies conducted confirm that the cream does improve skin tone and texture, although whether it functions any better than bargain brands remains a topic of debate, according to an article in "The New York Times." One secondary function of a Creme de la Mer is to pamper the user. Although the fact that someone at Estee Lauder hand-fills the jars with the creme mixture adds to the cost of the product, the company suggests that the luxury is so delicate that this labor-intensive step is necessary, according to the company website.
Behind the Mystique
The "Daily Mail," a British newspaper, writes that the ingredients that go into Creme de la Mer account for only 5 percent of the retail price. Sea kelp--or seaweed--is one major ingredient. According to the "Daily Mail," chemists who analyzed Creme de la Mer declared it "a fairly basic cream," using the same petroleum-based products and botanicals found in supermarket-variety creams. In an article for "The New York Times," Lawrence H. Block, a professor of pharmaceutics, who is a cosmetics researcher and consultant to beauty companies, says that a luxury cream does not alter a skin's fundamental structure, and that any improvements are fleeting.
Estee Lauder's marketing of Creme de la Mer skin products helps bolster its mystique and glamorous appeal. In a video featuring sweeping panoramas of the coast, the company compares the fermentation process of seaweed to the production of wine--a more upscale comparison than the fermentation of cabbage--which produces sauerkraut in another similar process.
Women who spend hundreds of dollars on Creme de la Mer claim that it improves the clarity and texture of their skin. Photographs of luminous and dewy-skinned celebrities who use the product seems to prove its effectiveness. Any woman who eats a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetable and grains, avoids stress, excess sun exposure, and uses a skin moisturizer will likely see improvement in her appearance as well. Whether it is worth a four-figure improvement is up to the individual to decide.
Higher price does not automatically equate with better quality. Beauty and cosmetics specialists spend a lot of money in packaging and marketing--and the effort might make women believe the luxury products work better than pedestrian ones. No cream can do the same job as cosmetic surgery, nor can any cream stop the aging process--but it might make soften the blow a little.