La Mer fails to impress in moisturizer test

Price is no guarantee of performance, as MingJian uncovers in a test of 42 moisturizing day creams.

In our latest cosmetics test, MingJian tested 42 different moisturizer day creams is a top cosmetic test laboratory in Europe together with ICRT partners from 10 countries. The product selection included 38 brands representing all price points from in-house store brands (The Body Shop and Sephora) to elite cosmetic brands sold in high-end department stores (Biotherm, Clinique, Clarins, Estee Lauder and La Mer).

Test Criteria

The test criteria covered four criteria: hydration effectiveness (65%), usage test (25%), labeling (10%) and delimiters for undesirable substances (endocrine disruptors and harmful allergens). Over 500 pre-screened women with normal healthy skin, age between 25 and 66 years old, with skin type normal to dry participated in the test over four weeks.

The hydration effectiveness was tested with a corneometer at the beginning of the test with no product after three days of wash out and again at the end of the test after 4 weeks of twice daily product use.

Cosmetic qualities of the moisturizing creams were assessed through a questionnaire provided to 30 women testing the products during 1 week, once a day. Each women is asked to evaluate 8 products, with 220 women in total participating in the usage test. Questions focused on the cosmetic acceptance of the product including texture, application, quickness of absorption, non-sticking and non-greasing effect on the skin and perfume of the product as well as perception of effects (sensations on the skin) of hydration.

The label of each product was assessed to look at compliance with cosmetic regulations as well as to note the presence of undesirable substances including endocrine disruptors and allergens.



Like alchemy, the “Miracle Broth” makes for a nice myth, but the reality is far less impressive; La Mer’s moisturizing effectiveness is lower than even the basic lab reference and is the bottom performer in our test.

When it comes to cosmetics, price is no indicator of performance, as our test of moisturizers clearly demonstrates. At RMB 24,000/liter consumers expecting results to match are sadly disappointed, the most expensive cream in our test, La Mer (RMB 1,450 for a 60 ml pot) was the lowest performing moisturizing cream in our test, while the least expense moisturizer from Cien, which can be purchased online for RMB 50 for a 50 ml pot, was the top performer! 37 moisturizer creams performed better for hydration of the skin than La Mer.

Moisturizing Effectiveness:

Of the 42 products tested, none performed higher than the standard laboratory reference cream, which is considered “good” in hydration of the skin, therefore none can be considered exceptional moisturizers. 37 products met the laboratory standard and can be classified as “good” for hydration. 5 products, including La Mer and the Sephora store brand, provided inferior hydration relative to the laboratory standard.

Usage test of cosmetic qualities:

There were quite a few differences noted between products: none stands out with exceptional cosmetic qualities and conversely, none would be considered unpleasant to use. The assessments are "average" for 9 creams and 'good' for all others. The majority of the tested creams are rather pleasant to use. Those who are less present small texture defects (La Mer, Dr. Hauschka, Body Shop, Clarins ...), smell (La Mer, Dr. Hauschka, Estée Lauder) or leave some skin sticky or greasy (Yves Rocher, La Mer and Dr. Hauschka).

Regarding the perception of effects, La Mer, Clinique, Dr. Hauschka, Body Shop and several others do not leave the best impression of hydration.

Undesirable Substances:

The products were each assessed for the presence of undesirable substances including endocrine disrupters and allergens. Endocrine disrupters were found in six products, including products from Diadermine, Garnier, and Venus. The Allergen, Methylisothiazolinone, which can cause a strong adverse reaction in women allergic, was found in the moisturizing cream from Eucerin.