Brand Backgrounds: The History of La Mer

La Mer has got to be the queen of queens when it comes to luxury brands - when you ask people what they know about expensive skin care, they probably go “oh, there’s that super-expensive face cream, right?”

Yes, there is that one super-expensive face cream and it’s called Crème de la Mer - aka, cream of the sea. The ocean played a crucial role in the development of this iconic product, so it was only natural for the brand to be named after the sea by its creator. 

La Mer Moisturising Cream Jar
The ultra-luxurious flagship cream of the La Mer brand, rich in seaweed-derived Miracle Broth

Speaking of which, did you know that Crème de la Mer wasn’t even invented by a dermatologist or a chemist? La Mer has an unusual origin story that most people don’t know; here’s how it all started.

The History of Crème de la Mer

Model Holding Creme de la Mer

Credit: LaMer/Instagram

Don’t worry, it was invented by someone with a scientific background - his name was Max Huber and he was a German physicist based in San Diego, California. I know what you’re thinking - how does a physicist end up creating the world’s most luxurious face cream? Well, Huber’s interest in the product was personal. He burnt his face in a lab accident and found that there was nothing that he could get at the time to heal and nourish his skin.

Since he lived close to the shore, Huber noticed regenerative abilities of seaweed - specifically, giant kelp. Huber wanted to harness these fast-growing abilities to help the skin on his face heal with less scarring, so he shifted to working on it full-time. All his efforts went into creating a cream that could help his skin regenerate, just like the seaweed did.


The Creation of Miracle Broth

La Mer Skincare Close Up

Credit: LaMer/Instagram

Was he successful? Well, over 12 years and 6,000 experiments later, Miracle Broth was born - a sea kelp ferment that noticeably helped skin to heal and repair faster than anything else could at the time.

Although La Mer has never released their scientific studies, the formula was so effective that the Estée Lauder Company (ELC) tried for years to buy La Mer (and the formula) from him. There had to be something to it if ELC was so determined to get their hands on it! 

While Huber drew heavily from his background, he used a mix of conventional and unorthodox methods to create his ultra-potent end result - blending science and a little bit of the unknown. 

Two of these included exposing the fermenting broth to specific light sources, as well as playing sounds to it. As unusual and unscientific as it sounds, these steps made a huge difference in the efficacy of the Miracle Broth - something that cosmetic chemists would learn the hard way. 

Huber sadly passed away in 1991 (before Estée Lauder acquired La Mer in 1995), leaving behind meticulous notes outlining each step of the Miracle Broth process so it could continue to be made after his death. 

Because Huber’s notes contained so many details that didn’t seem relevant (such as charting each batch of Miracle Broth’s astrological alignment or playing sounds to the fermenting broth), Estée Lauder scientists attempted to streamline the process. They didn’t play Huber’s recordings to the fermenting liquid, nor did they expose it to light.

The results? A not-so-miracle broth that wasn’t as potent as the ones created by Max Huber himself. So, the scientists went back to Huber’s notes and followed it step by step (although, I don’t think they recorded the star alignment of each batch) to create Huber’s unique Miracle Broth, sound recordings and all. 

He didn’t play music to the broth - instead, he recorded the sound of the broth bubbling and played those sounds back to it. How this actually impacts the fermentation process isn’t clear, but what is clear is that it makes a huge difference!

Another key step to making each batch of Miracle Broth is including some of the previous batch made - a practice that was started with Huber and (thankfully) one that the Estée Lauder scientists kept. This means that technically each batch of La Mer Miracle Broth has some of the first batch in it!

Why is La Mer So Expensive?

La Mer Serum Flatlay

Credit: LaMer/Instagram

Nevermind all of the research that’s gone into developing such a potent bespoke ingredient - La Mer is expensive because of the incredibly lengthy process of fermenting and refining the broth. Remember, it’s not ‘just a seaweed extract’ - it’s an entire fermentation and formulation process. 

It starts with sustainably harvesting the kelp, which takes three months to ferment into Miracle Broth. Before that, an antioxidant-rich ingredient called lime tea needs to brew before being added to the mixture - and then, once the miracle broth is added to the creamy base, the jars are hand-filled at a specific temperature. 

It’s incredibly labour intensive - but also completely worth it! Considering the entire La Mer line is infused skin-nourishing Miracle Broth, there's no wonder why it's a celebrity favourite, too. Chrissy Teigen, Kim Kardashian, and Blake Lively are all fans of this luxury cult class brand.

That’s why we’ve added La Mer to our carefully curated luxury skincare stable - don't forget to check out our collection of La Mer skincare and get your beauty affairs in order!

Need some help putting together the best skincare routine for your skin type? Try our skin quiz!

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Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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