(Cult Status)

This Is Why Crème de la Mer Is So Expensive — & Worth The $350 Price Tag

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Courtesy of La Mer
A black shopping bucket filled with Creme de la Mer jars
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Cult Status is our series that highlights an iconic item from brands both established and buzz-worthy. In these features, you'll discover the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever product. This time, the focus is on La Mer’s Crème de la Mer.

Whether you’ve read about it, dreamt about it, or had the extreme pleasure of dipping your finger into a coveted jar of it, this facial moisturizer set the bar for luxury skincare back in the 1960s and is comfortably maintaining its reign as the gold standard ever since. There are few products that embody luxury like a pot of Crème de la Mer (see the $350 price tag for proof). There's no denying the allure that surrounds this pot of moisturizing magic, but what makes Crème de la Mer so darn special? The short answer: everything. The long answer involves an aerospace physicist, a laboratory accident, 6,000 experiments and a game-changing playlist. Allow me to explain.

It all started in the 1960s when Dr. Max Huber, an aerospace physicist, suffered severe burns during a lab accident. Inspired by the power of physics and energy, he sought to find a formula to help restore his skin’s vitality.

Twelve years of research and 6,000 experiments later, he discovered a fermentation process that transformed sea kelp, eucalyptus, wheat germ, vitamins, and mineral into the cell-renewing elixir coined Miracle Broth. Miracle Broth became the heart of Crème de la Mer. As one of the fastest growing plants in the world, Giant Sea Kelp was recognized by Huber for its exceptional self-regenerating powers, and he began sourcing it from Vancouver Island to use for his formulations. “Today, we hand-harvest the kelp in an effort to help support its sustainability for generations to come,” Loretta Miraglia, Corporate Senior Vice President of Product Development and Innovation at La Mer, tells TZR. “Each time the Miracle Broth is created, it is infused with drops of the batch that came before it, creating a timeless link to our original."

As a pioneer at the intersection of science and skincare, Huber’s process was credited by the brand, and backed by dermatologists, as one of the first original uses of fermentation in a modern skincare product with potent anti-inflammatory properties that successfully soothed and healed skin. “The process to produce Miracle Broth is extensive and detailed, making the product more expensive, pure, and of the highest quality combination ingredients,” Dr. Jason Emer, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based cosmetic dermatologist, tells TZR. When it comes to attention to detail, not one was overlooked in the formulation of this coveted cream. “The principle marine ingredients were said to be collected per Huber’s reported instruction: twice a year to coordinate with the tides and natural cycles of the water off of Vancouver,” Dr. Ranella Hirsch, MD, FAAD, a Boston-based dermatologist, says.

Furthermore, Huber supposedly would play fermentation sounds while the broth brewed. “He believed that the sound waves increased the activity,” Hirsch shares. “The word is that [Estee] Lauder, who purchased the rights from his estate in the 90s, still plays his original sounds during the fermentation process." I challenge you to name another cream that's literally serenaded during its formulation process. And it’s not just the formulation and fermentation process that’s exceptional. Each jar of Crème de la Mer IS hand-filled in a temperature-controlled room within exactly eight hours of formula completion. “This time-intensive method suspends the Crème’s ingredients in its extraordinary emulsion formula,” the brand shares with TZR.

If the meticulously crafted formula hasn't impressed you yet, maybe the stories that surround it will. Like most intimate life experiences, your first encounter with a jar of Crème da la Mer is never forgotten. “The first time I learned about Crème de la Mer was in the early 1980s, when I was a beauty assistant at Vogue. It was long ago, but the meeting was so strange that I remember it vividly,” Linda Wells, founder of Flesh Beauty, shares with TZR. “Huber talked about the ingredients, but what he seemed most proud of was the cream's purity. To demonstrate, he dipped his finger in the jar and put a glob of cream in his mouth. Then he upped the ante and stuck the cream in his eye. For the rest of the meeting, the lashes on one of his eyes were frosted and every time he blinked, he flicked cream around. I couldn't look away,” Wells recounts. “Crème de la Mer was a combination of a strange, particular alchemy, science and lore."

Fancy, yes. But does it work? You’d have to believe with a triple digit price tag the stakes are high and the critics extra, well, critical. But with over 8,000 glowing online reviews and praise from just about every glowing face you’ve ever seen on television like Beyonce, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively, and Chrissy Teigen, this coveted jar of Miracle Broth is a bucket-list worthy splurge backed by results. One dab of the super-rich formula is enough to leave a lasting impression, but it’s the deeply hydrating benefits that have lured fans in ever since. There’s something undeniably regal about applying that perfectly-portioned dab from the accompanying marble spoon so as not to waste a smidgen of the plumping, smoothing magic. “Our customers love Crème de La Mer for the high quality and effectiveness of the Miracle Broth ingredient, which has built trust within the brand. Customers continuously rave about the fast, nourishing and revitalizing results they see in their skin,” Marcella Schlitt, National Beauty Director for Nordstrom, shares.

Not all luxury skincare products are created equal, and Crème de la Mer is the proof. “Think about it like wine," Emer explains to TZR. "Yes, they’re all made with grapes, but there are many factors that make a bottle exceptional. You consider the quality and purity of the grape and where it came from, the barrels it was aged in, and the development process. The best ones are rare, and this is why it’s expensive. La Mer is that fine French vintage.” Who’s up for a glass... I mean jar?

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