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La Mer Eye Concentrate is amongst the newest products of the season. Concentrated with hematite, white algae, and the company’s signature Miracle BrothTM, LaMer Eye Concentrate claims to reduce the appearance of dark circles, even skin tone, and soothe and hydrate throughout the day.
Do the product’s ingredients indicate it should reduce the appearance of dark circles?
Based on ingredients alone, most likely, no. La Mer claims that hematite, a mineral form of iron oxide, should attract blood that has pooled below the eyes. In the August 23 Bangkok Independent, Loretta Miraglia of the Max Huber research labs, which develops cosmetics for La Mer, stated that the hematite “is naturally rich in iron. Once we magnetize the colloidal hematite, carefully add it to the Eye Concentrate and apply it with a unique silver-tip applicator, it reduces the dark circles.” However, according to Borba Age-Defying Skin Balance Water, director of the Institute of Anti-Aging Research in Virginia Beach in the October 2007 Allure, “…I’m skepitcal of the claims related to hematite, because the iron in blood is not like the iron dust you might pick up with a magnet.” Further, according to Dr. Leslie Baumann in Cosmetic Dermatology, the complete origin of dark circles is not known, but it may be related to vasodilation of the blood vessels, making them appear more visible through the skin, or excess melanin production. This indicates that, even if hematite were effective in attracting pooled blood below the eyes, it would not treat dark circles created by excess melanin production.
What about the effectiveness of the other ingredients?
The Eye Concentrate contains three forms of LaMer’s Cream de la Mer’s Miracle BrothTM: the original, a new encapsulated form, and a concentrated form of the original. The Miracle BrothTM was first developed by Max Huber, a former NASA scientist who had suffered chemical burns and couldn’t find anything to help, so he designed his own treatment, and hence Cream de la Mer was born. The specific ingredients of La Mer’s Miracle BrothTM are patented, and its formulation has not been disclosed; in fact, even the manufacturer states that they are not sure how Creme de la Mer actually works.
La Mer Eye Concentrate’s main ingredient is known to be sea kelp, a large form of white algae that serves as an effective water-binding agent and antioxidant. However, according to Paula Begoun, author of Don’t Go the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, the claims that algae is an emollient and antioxidant are substantiated, but “the claims that algae can stop or eliminate wrinkling, heal skin, or provide other elaborate benefits are completely unsubstantiated.”
According to iVenus.com, other natural ingredients in La Mer creams include magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, lecithin, Vitamins C, D, E, B12, and extracts from sunflower, alfalfa, wheatgerm, and citrus. Of these thirteen ingredients, four (magnesium, potassium, sunflower, and wheatgerm) have some absorbent qualities that enable them to be hydrating. In combination with calcium, aqueous solutions of magnesium were additionally found in a 1999 study by Denda et al. to improve barrier recovery function; hence, on the basis of these findings, magnesium and calcium in LaMer products may accelerate the healing response in the skin. (Perhaps an explanation for creator Huber’s burn healing?)
Lecithin is a natural moisturizing factor, a phospholipid found in the membranes of plant and animal cells. It too serves as an emollient and water-binding agent. Vitamins C and E serve as network antioxidants, which synergistically enhance the antioxidant power of one another. Vitamin D has no known effects (as of 2005) when applied topically, except as a mild, non-network antioxidant. Alfalfa serves as another mild antioxidant.
So why are La Mer products so expensive?
LaMer was sold to Esteé Lauder Companies in 1994, perhaps helping the product keep its high reputation (and price tag) maintained for so long. Part of the reason for LaMer’s expense is the bio-fermentation process of the ingredients. According to iVenus.com, the bio-fermentation process of LaMer takes three to four months, including “sonic chemistry,” which works by wiring the energy from sound waves into the cream while it ferments. It has been noted by Shimada et. al that ultrasonic (sound) frequencies increase the rate of fermentation, a process in which biological cells produce energy. The fermentation process in Creme de la Mer has not been altered since the product’s inception. However, why the ingredients must be fermented in the first place remains mysterious. For instance, if lactic acid is produced from the fermentation of sea kelp, couldn’t lactic acid simply be added to the starting formulation of sea kelp and the rigorous process be skipped (and the price of the cream lowered)? With LaMer’s mysterious formulation, it is impossible to tell at this time.
LaMer Eye Concentrate, like many other LaMer products, contains potent concentrations of antioxidants and emollient factors. While some women swear by it, others give mixed reviews of the formula’s richness, efficacy, and high price tag. I personally am not in favor of the product for the fact that its formulation is not made public; with all of the advances in cosmetic dermatology today, the skin care consumer deserves to be as informed of the formulations as possible. For the high price tag, I would consider a skin care purchase with a known ingredient list that has been proven in double-blind, placebo-based trials to be effective. 4/10.