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Creme de la Mer vs. Olay Regenerist: Battle of the Anti-Aging All Stars

Note: This article was originally posted at Blogher



My name is Roxanna. I think it's important that we get one thing out of the way: I love beauty products - fiercely. I like them so much that I spent my marketing career in the beauty industry and enjoyed every minute of it.


You probably should also know that I use it all: High-end to drugstore brands, I don't discriminate. I just care that it works.


I believe that makeup should be fun, but skincare? I take that seriously. Which brings me to today's post: Anti-aging creams. (Yes! I'm starting with the big guns.) I thought it would be fun to discuss two of the most hyped creams on the market - a "prestige" brand with a devoted cult following and another one that's beloved by dermatologists but you can find at the corner CVS.


Our contenders? Cult fave Creme de la Mer vs dermatologist darling Olay Regenerist Microsculpting Cream.


Which is better? Let's find out!


Creme de la Mer


Retail: $125 for 1 oz


Texture: Hard and slightly tacky. Must be liquefied before use by rubbing vigorously between your palms. Definitely not for the lazy or the busy.


Scent: Expensive-smelling (as it should be!) subtle powdery floral.


Sales pitch: From the La Mer website:


Because something has happened that cannot be explained. If miracles are defined as unique events that appear inexplicable by the laws of nature, then surely Crème de la Mer is a miracle. For here is the Crème that will truly change the way you see yourself, the Crème that has inspired a devoted following...


From there the story goes on to talk about how Dr. Max Huber, an aerospace physicist, was disfigured in a horrible lab accident and medical science was of not help so 6,000 experiments later he came up with the super secret seaweed formula that needs to ferment for many months before it turns into the Miracle Broth(TM) which is greater than the sum of its parts. Phew!


(Right. So the Creme "cannot be explained" and it's actions are "inexplicable" and "a miracle" - you simply have to BELIEVE. Uh-huh.)


My experience:


I actually like the La Mer Creme, despite the "BELIEVE!" marketing and the hefty price tag. I'm the type to have a night-time beauty routine, and having to warm up the cream before use makes you feel like you're doing something special for yourself. It's also an excellent moisturizer, and it certainly makes my skin look rosy and fills in some of those fine lines. I first thought it was too greasy for my combination skin, but I eventually figured out that I only needed to use a little bit. It does make my skin look dewy, though I suspect that the healthy glow is partly due to the physical effort needed to liquefy the cream.


How does it do that?


As much as I like the creme, and as much as I want to believe that a magical antiaging broth exists, there's a very good reason the cream works (i.e. moisturizes and plumps up the skin) - in addition to the seaweed broth it includes mineral oil and petrolatum, two very common and effective occlusive moisturizers. I'm not saying that the magic seaweed is useless, but we all know the wonders of baby oil and Vaseline (petrolatum) - they're pretty hard to beat. (Just ask Tyra - or better yet, watch her!)


Olay Regenerist Micro-Sulpting Cream


Retail: $25 for 1.7 oz


Texture: Light and moisturizing. Delightful.


Scent: Heavy floral scent. Very retro - if you like Chanel No. 5, you’ll like this fragrance.


Sales pitch: From the Olay website:


Regenerate your skin's appearance at the cellular level.


The result of over 50 years of Olay research, this luxurious cream has the highest concentration of our signature amino-peptide complex infused with intracellular fortifier and a touch of precious marine proteins.


Intracellular hydration regenerates volume and shape across skin's 10 million surface cells, progressively lifting and micro-sculpting...


The rest of it reads as if this cream is the medical achievement of the century. You practically need a PhD to understand it, which is the point.


My experience:


I hate the scent (Olay? I may be old enough to need an anti-aging cream, but I don't need to smell like it, thankyouverymuch) but I absolutely adore the light texture - my skin drinks this cream right up. It didn't take long for it to "work" - I woke up to a more even skin tone and refreshed face the very next day. Fine lines seemed to vanish with this one as well.


How does it do that?


This cream has niacinamide - a variant of Vitamin B3 which has been shown in clinical studies to help the skin heal from sun damage and encourage cell turnover. It has also been shown to increase ceramide levels and to be a very effective moisturizer. Since it's so gentle it is also used to strengthen skin in preparation for retinol therapy.


So what's the verdict - drugstore or department store?


OK, the fine-line dissappearing act is temporary so I didn't quite bring you the fountain of youth in a jar - sorry about that! BUT we did find two excellent nighttime moisturizers at both ends of the price spectrum and that counts for something, right? I used to be a devoted La Mer user, but I currently use the Olay Regenerist and am very happy with the results.


Bottom line? If you have the cash and believe that it works - go for the La Mer. (Tip: Go to the counter, ask tons of questions but act unconvinced. The salesgirl just might give you a sample.) Do you want a more "scientifically proven" treatment? Go for the Olay.


What say you? Have you tried either of these creams? Who's YOUR anti-aging All-Star?


Reader Comments (9)

That is an awesome review - it is VERY helpful to know what to splurge on and what to go "cheap" on. And skin creams are the hardest things to figure out since they all end up talking about a bunch of gobblygook-retin-this-B612-anti-oxidents-stuff that I don't understand.

(I'm trying the Olay stuff - I'm broke!)

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

Glad you found it helpful!

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiguelina

Thanks for this. I've been wondering this for a while - i.e. where the Creme de la Mer is worth it. As I'm currently not working, I'll go with the Olay too! I got some cream from my dermatologist and find that my skin still feels really dry after using it so think I'll switch for a while. What's your opinion on eye creams?

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGina

Do you know if the cream from your dermatologist has retinol? Retinol creams are very effective agains wrinkles, but they're not moisturizers and actually drying. As far as eye creams, I have tons of opinions on eye creams -- stay tuned!

January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiguelina

Olay has been my choice, so thank you for the validation. You are so right about the fragrance - my husband and son recoil when they swoop in for a kiss and take a whiff of my cheek . . . in more ways that one, its the price we pay.

Awesome tips on beauty and style - thank you.

January 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKathyB

Actually, that's not much of a review.
"If you have the cash and believe that it works – go for the La Mer. Do you want a more "scientifically proven" treatment? Go for the Olay."
Wow, that's quite an opintion... LOL

February 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRita

I am just wondering, what about guys? are there any effective products designed specificlly for us or are we left in the cold when it comes to fighting aging and wrinkles?

October 10, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphilip ayad

I love the Olay Regenerist line and can't wait to try the new SUPER version...

Lets talk old lady scent SHISEIDO BIO-PERFORMANCE advanced yada yada, nice cream awful smell....

November 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShazzzz

I love the Olay Regenerist line and can't wait to try the new SUPER version...

Lets talk old lady scent SHISEIDO BIO-PERFORMANCE advanced yada yada, nice cream awful smell....

November 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterShazzzz

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