The Lifting Contour Serum

by La Mer  
Price:
$290 - 1 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Serums > Serums
Last Updated:
2/14/2014
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
Yes

We're fairly certain that at least a few people at La Mer must know that this serum cannot lift or recontour the skin, but given its cost, we suspect many consumers will believe otherwise. So for just shy of $300 does this so-called "miracle broth" lift your skin?

Suffice it to say, this product cannot lift sagging skin, and we explain why in the More Info section. If your skin-care budget is unlimited, should you spend some of it on this serum? No, because your just not getting enough bang for your buck, or even a little pop.

The formula contains numerous problematic ingredients that can be pro-aging. Alcohol and the fragrant oils of eucalyptus, grapefruit, lavender, and coriander are all proven irritants, and the good-for-skin ingredients this serum contains are found in countless other serums from Lauder-owned lines, of which La Mer is one.

About that miracle broth: It harkens back to the man who created the original Creme De La Mer moisturizer, which Lauder acquired a long time ago. Apparently, formulating the miracle broth in the original formula wasn't enough for skin, because now dozens of products contain it, including this serum. Regardless, while the original broth does make for a great story, there is no published scientific research on this. Keep in mind the original formula was created in the 70s, and skin care has advanced greatly since then, even Lauder, (who owns La Mer) doesn't rely on this miracle broth in most of the skin care products they sell. Given that they own La Mer, why wouldn't they add this allegedly miraculous broth to their other pricey products, such as Estee Lauder's Re-Nutriv line?

And about the lifting ferment it contains to supposedly recontour a sagging jawline: We wish there really were a magic ferment to address this common sign of aging, but such hopes are the Santa Claus of the cosmetics industry: The idea is lovely, the reality is there's no such thing.

Pros:
  • None.
Cons:
  • Cannot lift or re-sculpt the skin.
  • Exceedingly overpriced for what you get.
  • Contains ingredients that pose a strong risk of irritation, which is pro-aging.
  • The amount of alcohol is cause for concern (see More Info).
  • Pales in comparison to less expensive serums from other Lauder-owned brands (of which La Mer is one).
More Info:

Why alcohol is a problem for all skin types: Alcohol in skin-care products, no matter the claims or cost, causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).

Why products claiming to lift sagging skin cannot work: Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn't possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that's exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. Remember, no single product can do it all; it's the combination of products that has extensive research showing it can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness. You'll find them on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.

This sculpting serum visibly elevates contours and transforms facial definition. The new seaborn Lifting Ferment helps to promote skin's natural collagen production, creating the illusion of a slimmer, toned jaw line.

Declustered Water, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Gluceth-20, PEG-75, Alcohol Denat, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Ether Dimethyl Silane, Algae (Seaweed) Extract, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Medicago Sativa (Alfalfa) Seed Powder, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Seed Meal, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Sodium Gluconate, Copper Gluconate, Calcium Gluconate, Magnesium Gluconate, Zinc Gluconate, Tocopheryl Succinate, Niacin, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Powder, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Yeast Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Helichrysum Arenarium (Everlasting) Extract, Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Palmaria Palmata Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Extract, Asparagopsis Armata Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Seed Oil, Glycerin, Oleth-5, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Juice, Glycereth-26, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Bifida Ferment Lysate, PEG-8, Squalane, Linoleic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Micrococcus Lysate, Oleth-10 Phosphate, Sorbitol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride, Tourmaline, Sucrose, Caffeine, Lecithin, Coenzyme A, Acetyl Glucosamine, Linolenic Acid, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Styrene/VP Copolymer, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tetraacetylphytosphingosine, Methyldihydrojasmonate, Choleth-24, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Ceteth-24, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hexylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Lactate, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Octadecenedioic Acid, Carbomer, Sodium PCA, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Ergothioneine, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Phenoxyethanol, Linalyl Acetate, Linalool, Limonene, Red 4 (Ci 14700), Yellow 5 (Ci 19140), Red 33 (Ci 17200).

The original Creme De La Mer was launched by Estee Lauder as a miracle product for wrinkles based on research from Max Huber, an aerospace physicist. How does space technology relate to wrinkles? Well, it doesn't, although it may lend an air of expertise (if you can do rocket science, the assumption is you can do anything). Huber at one time suffered severe chemical burns in an accident. Then, according to the Max Huber Laboratories, after 12 years and 6,000 experiments, he came up with a special cream. The company refers to its key element as "miracle broth," and it's said to take months to concoct and ferment. In this case, the process that goes into making La Mer products gets as much talk as the product itself. So be prepared for formulary information that sounds a lot like alchemy.

Huber's experiments took place over 30 years ago. Given that none of his self-experimentation was ever documented or published, there is no way to know what Huber was using before, what was unique about this formula, or what went wrong with the 5,999 or so other experiments that preceded the final discovery. It turns out that the original Creme De La Mer was, and still is, almost exclusively algae, mineral oil, Vaseline, thickening agents, and lime extract. Not very exciting stuff, but most of it will make dry skin look and feel better, although the jar packaging doesn't provide much hope for the algae. The notion that anything in this product can be a miracle for burns—or any aspect of skin care—is strictly folklore and has nothing to do with rocket science or even cosmetic chemistry for that matter.

Given the cult status the original Creme De La Mer enjoys, it's hardly surprising that Lauder has spun an entire skin-care line out of a product that was initially sold as the be-all and end-all antiwrinkle solution (in jar packaging, no less, which would have the effect of rendering the algae—the cornerstone of the product—unstable). In the world of skin care, if one product sells well, then other related products that carry the same name will experience increased sales, too. With today's expanded range of La Mer products, Estee Lauder has added a slew of hocus-pocus ingredients to the continuing list of concoctions that were never in Huber's original formula. So much for the credibility of that mythic story, because it obviously wasn’t good enough to be repeated.

These supplementary products contain malachite, a range of other minerals, diamond powder, something called "declustered" water, and another semiprecious stone, tourmaline (which is now being downplayed in favor of the semiprecious stone du jour, malachite). It's almost too outlandish to even begin explaining, but the declustered water deserves some elucidation. Before reading on, keep in mind that if these products were the ultimate for the Estee Lauder company, why are they still selling all those other anti-aging products in the dozen or so other lines they own and retail just around the cosmetics counter next door?

Supposedly, the La Mer products are worth the money because most of them contain declustered water. Declustered water is water manufactured to have smaller ions, which supposedly makes the water penetrate the skin better. There is no proof that this synthetic water does what the company claims, but even if the water could penetrate better, is that better for skin? There is definitely research indicating that too much water in the skin can make it plump, but that could also prevent cell turnover and renewal, and inhibit the skin's immune response. Either way, skin likes taking on water—it plumps to a thousand times its normal size just from taking a bath—and it doesn't need special water to help the process along, nor would that be good for skin in the long run. Moreover, if the declustered water were indeed capable of carrying La Mer's miracle broth further into skin, that would only make matters worse because some of the components in this broth are documented irritants.

Other gimmicky ingredients La Mer products contain are fish cartilage, algae (explained in the Creme De La Mer review), and the rarefied blue algae, which La Mer claims can "biologically lift" skin due to its nutrient-dense nature. While all of these may have some water-binding properties, the fiction that any of them could have an impact on wrinkles is not substantiated in any published scientific study.

For more information about La Mer, owned by Estee Lauder, call (866) 850-9400 or visit www.cremedelamer.com.

La Mer Makeup

Sold as Skincolor, La Mer's small but tidy makeup collection carries over the major miracle claims that their flawed skin-care products espouse. If you stop by the counter to explore these products, you'll hear all about their powers to "transform the complexion" with a special blue algae ferment and optical-diffusing gemstones (a concept Aveda and Estee Lauder also play up, but not to the extent La Mer does). We wouldn't count on algae or gemstones for any amount of transformation, especially given the small amounts of each included in the cosmetic products below. What you will find are two foundations with excellent sunscreen and a few more skin-care perks than are typically seen in liquid makeup. Does that make them worth the money? Not from my perspective, because you can find similar products that perform just as well. However, if you're already sold on La Mer, most of the items below won't disappoint and the shade selection is mostly impressive. Still, for the money, your face won't look any better than if you had applied makeup that's available at a fraction of this cost.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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