The Lifting and Firming Mask

by La Mer  
Price:
$230 - 1.7 fl. oz.
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Category:
Skin Care > Facial Masks > Moisturizing/Firming Masks
Last Updated:
8/14/2014
Jar Packaging:
No
Tested On Animals:
Yes

Here's another product from La Mer that's purported to be nothing short of miraculous, but, given the formula, it simply cannot live up to its claims.

The brand says this moisturizing mask has "serum-strength sculpting abilities" (which is odd, as no serum can sculpt anything) and can firm and tighten skin with La Mer's "Concentrated Miracle Broth" and "Concentrated Lifting Ferment." We don't know whether to laugh out loud or just to feel sorry for the people who fall for such nonsense and spend their hard-earned money on what ends up being quite a problematic product.

This mask does have some good things going for it: It contains a nice variety of antioxidants, and skin-repairing and cell-communicating ingredients, like many other products made by Estee Lauder (Lauder owns La Mer). While these types of ingredients definitely help achieve more youthful-looking skin, they can't give it a more "lifted" appearance - at least not with results as dramatic as La Mer would like you to believe. See More Info for the combination of skincare steps that can truly help your skin look firmer.

Where this product falls down is its inclusion of ingredients that have the potential to cause irritation, including a greater-than-usual amount of potent eucalyptus oil, lime peel and tangerine peel extracts, and other fragrant ingredients (see More Info for details). Over time, irritation can be damaging, even disrupting healthy collagen production, exactly what you don't need if your goal is firmer skin!

Last, even if this mask didn't contain problematic ingredients, the jar packaging means that the good ingredients (such as the antioxidants) will begin to break down in the presence of light and air, decreasing their effectiveness. See More Info for why jar packaging is a problem.

In the end, given how much this mask costs, it should be doing so much more for your skin! Give this one a pass, and check out our list of Best Facial Masks instead.

Pros:
  • Contains a good mix of beneficial antioxidants, and skin-repairing and cell-communicating ingredients.
Cons:
  • Contains eucalyptus oil and other fragrant ingredients that have the potential to irritate and damage skin.
  • Cannot lift skin to the extent claimed.
  • Jar packaging means the beneficial ingredients will begin to degrade as soon as it's opened.
  • Overpriced for what you get.
More Info:

Help for Sagging Skin: 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.

Fragrance in Skincare: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way to go for all skin types. If fragrance in your skin-care products is important to you, it should be a very low amount to minimize the risk to your skin (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).

Jar Packaging: The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria, which further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and Beautypackaging.com, and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).

This luxurious cream mask infuses skin with serum-strength sculpting power. Enriched with the legendary healing energies of our Concentrated Miracle Broth™ and the potency of the new Concentrated Lifting Ferment, it visibly tightens, firms and refines the face and neck. Day after day, skin looks more uplifted and rejuvenated. Resilient and restored.

Declustered Water (-)\Aqua\Eau De-Structuree (-), Declustered Water (+)\Aqua\Eau De-Structuree (+), Dimethicone, HDI/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Caprylic/Capric/Myristic/Stearic Triglyceride, Polysilicone-11, PEG-100 Stearate, PEG-8 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone, 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, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Extract, Sigesbeckia Orientalis (St. Paul's Wort) Extract, Crithmum Maritimum Extract, Eryngium Maritimum Extract, Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract, Silybum Marianum (Lady's Thistle) Extract, Bupleurum Falcatum Root Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Extract, Mimosa Tenuiflora Bark Extract, Narcissus Tazetta Bulb Extract, Chlorella Vulgaris Extract, Saccharomyces Lysate Extract, Prunus Mume Fruit Extract, Whey Protein\Lactis Protein\Proteine Du Petit-Lait, Gelidium Cartilagineum Extract, Glycerin, Coenzyme A, Micrococcus Lysate, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Fruit Juice, Sorbitol, Corallina Officinalis Extract, Molasses Extract\Saccharum Officinarum\Extrait De Melasse, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Seed Extract, Tourmaline, Caffeine, Linolenic Acid, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Gold, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Glycosaminoglycans, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Beheneth-25 Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Bifida Ferment Lysate, Alcaligenes Polysaccharides, Butylene Glycol, Tetraacetylphytosphingosine, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Lecithin, Acetyl Glucosamine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laureth-23, Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Linoleic Acid, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Propylene Glycol Diethylhexanoate, Yeast Extract\Faex\Extrait De Levure, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Laureth-4, Tocopheryl Acetate, Diethylhexyl Syringylidenemalonate, Pentylene Glycol, PEG-8, Potassium Sorbate, Yeast Polysaccharides, Hydroxypropyl Cyclodextrin, Nordihydroguaiaretic Acid, Cyclodextrin, Maltodextrin, Sucrose, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Fragrance (Parfum), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Silica, Ethylbisiminomethylguaiacol Manganese Chloride, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Linalool, Hydroxycitronellal, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Green 5.

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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