101 — La Mer

Words by Keven Amfo

19 June 2020

In celebration of their first UK spa location, we take an in-depth look at the mythical brand that is La Mer. At the serene space below the new Beauty Halls at Harrods, trademarked ingredients pair with exclusive application techniques in a peaceful environment. Enter looking tired, and emerge anew—here's how.

The history

Shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories, La Mer is perhaps the most famous skin cream in the world. Created by the late Dr Max Huber, an aerospace physicist, the recipe for the celebrated cream came to fruition after 12 years of research and more than 6,000 experiments of trial and error. The cream is formulated around a base of Giant Sea Kelp, which is sustainably harvested by hand off of Canada's Vancouver Island in the Pacific Ocean. The magic in the recipe is oft attributed to the fact real seaweed is used—most skincare ingredients come from various extracts, not the actual plant itself. This particular sea plant is exceptional, one of the fastest-growing in the world, and has unparalleled self-regenerating powers.

After harvesting, it is shipped on ice immediately to the lab, where for three to four months it undergoes fermentation. During this process, the natural strength of the ingredients is enhanced with the assistance of sound and light. Vitamins and minerals in the kelp undergo a transformative metabolic process, fine-tuning their potency and efficacy. This elaborate and quite exact process eventually leads to the creation of La Mer's signature Miracle Broth™, which defines the brand and remains at the heart of every product.

When Huber died, he hadn't left any formal notes or an actual recipe. His daughter, Marley, had observed and worked with him in his lab, and eventually—after a year and a half of working solely from memory—she was able to recreate the proper recipe for the cream. The new owners, Estée Lauder (the beauty conglomerate had tried to purchase La Mer several times during Huber's life, but he had resisted— it was only posthumously that the sale finally went through), set up a lab mirroring Huber's to continue to produce the cream precisely as intended.

Each product in the entire La Mer line contains Miracle Broth™, and each strain of Miracle Broth™ contains some of the previous batch. A thread continues throughout, connecting all new formulations to the one which came before, maintaining consistent potency. Said to cure everything from burns to diaper rash to premature ageing, the lauded cream is expensive—but most devotees say (there are many), worth it. Visibly transformative, before and after images show skin morph from dull to vibrant, healthy and radiant.

The line has expanded significantly, and still, every product from the Sheer Pressed Powder to the Reparative Body Lotion to the Eye Concentrate contains Miracle Broth™. Science and physics remain at the heart of the brand and are incorporated into every new formulation. The Mist, for example, is a lightweight spray that remains ultra-hydrating while in the bottle thanks to the inclusion of a magnet on the inner tube, giving it a continuous magnetic charge that enables it to moisturise the skin more effectively upon application.

The new spa

As part of Harrods massive renovation project, expanded beauty offerings have taken centre stage. All aspects of beauty and wellness—both inside and out—have been considered in the store's refurb. In addition to the beautifully-designed and diversified Beauty Halls, new features such as a Moroccan Hammam and a Wellness Clinic offering aesthetic injections, acupuncture, cryotherapy, and IV vitamin drips establish the department store as the capital's most comprehensive beauty destination.

The La Mer treatment room is the first of its kind in the UK. One of only a few around the globe, the tranquil space on the lower ground level of the store is exclusive to La Mer. Offering both Harrods-exclusive treatments and signature facials, each experience highlights La Mer's signature massage techniques that provide an instant—and natural—lift to the skin.

The Harrods-exclusive Jet Lag Facial is an eight-step therapy that aims to revitalise skin that may have taken a beating from long haul travel, or simply from everyday city living. A double cleanse provides a clean slate for the redemptive products to come, two of which include the Lifting Contour Serum and the Lifting and Firming Mask, which can be left on the skin or delicately removed following the treatment. 'We recommend you leave them on and let everything slowly absorb,' therapist Jess Baturi says. 'The products will continue to soften and treat your skin the whole time they are there.'

Each step of the Jet Lag Facial (and their other facials) is applied using signature, bespoke massage techniques. Created by celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech, the lifting massage, in particular, helps to enhance the efficiency of the products by applying them in a way that further lifts and contours the face. 'You can see a visible difference from one side of the face to the other when you apply products this way,' Baturi says. 'The eyebrow on the massaged side will literally be higher than the other.'

To book a La Mer facial at Harrods, or for other recommendations, contact your luxury lifestyle manager.

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