If there’s a fountain of youth, La Mer might know the way. It’s always been a wonder to me what made this cream so special and miraculous. This is what I found out:
La Mer or Creme de la Mer, translated as “cream of the sea”, is the creation of Dr. Max Huber, a NASA physicist from San Diego, who burned himself in a chemical explosion in the 1970s. After 6,000 experiments over a decade’s time, Huber concocted a formula that significantly smoothed and soften his scarred skin. He had created and trademarked his formula, “Miracle Broth” originally for personal use but soon started selling it in small quantities to others who wanted to use it. It was proven so effective, it gained global recognition. However, the formula was lost when Huber died in the 1991 at age 66, as he was the only person who knew the formula.
When Estee Lauder bought the company from Huber’s daughter in 1995, they hired scientist Andy Bevacqua, who set out to re-create the formula. Bevacqua, now scientist and VP of Research and Development at Estee Lauder’s Hubert Research Labs, was left to analyze and experiment with Huber’s laboratory of unlabelled plastic containers. They came close a few times, but it was not until after 1.5 years, they discovered the missing piece of the formula. From a lab note, they found Huber had used sonochemistry in his formula (effect of sonic waves and wave properties). He would record the sound of fermenting sea kelp batches and then play the sound the to new batches. When Bevacqua used this method, he discovered the potency of the fermented sea kelp had tripled. Additionally, Bevacqua continued Huber’s seeding method of putting the existing batch into successive batches to ensure each pot contained a fraction of the original. Since re-discovering the secret formula, Estee Lauder re-branded and increased the product range of La Mer to include cremes, serums, spf, mists, etc.
The steep price of La Mer cremes comes from extension and time-consuming efforts: handfilled jars, extension fermentation process, artisan method of gathering kelp and of course the (re)creating the secret formulation.
Today, La Mer has become quite a trusted religion, sworn to work skin miracles and used by many woman around the world.
What $8,000 of Miracle Broth looks like
Photographed by Jer Crowle/Courtesy of La Mer