Battle of the Moisturizers: Creme de La Mer vs. Nivea Creme

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Creme de La Mer is a luxurious moisturizer that is coveted by many.  It was created by NASA aerospace physicist, Dr. Max Huber  to help heal his burned skin from a lab accident.  The creme is costly because it contains a specific seaweed taken off the north coast of California, that can only be harvested twice a year. There have been many discussions on the effectiveness of the creme and whether or not it's truly worth the high price.  During my research on the creme, I found several forums touting Nivea Creme as the cheaper and better version of Creme de la Mer.  Here I share with you my thoughts and recommendations on both.

First is Creme de La Mer which costs $135USD for 1oz. This can be purchased directly from La Mer's website, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, etc. Typically the La Mer website will have deluxe samples with every purchase (0.11oz or 0.24oz).  Below is a comparison picture to show you some of the different sizes of the Creme de La Mer. 


Each of these come in a sturdy and rather heavy white jar.


Each jar comes with a green stand and a white spatula, which lies at the bottom of the package.


Twist open the cap to find a slightly thick creme that has a rather pleasant smell. I love the fragrance of the creme. To use Creme de la Mer, warm up a small amount between your palm or fingertips until the creme turns from white to clear, and gently press onto your face.  If you rub the creme directly onto your face without warming it up, you will find the creme heavy and difficult to use. For maximum benefit, it is important to apply Creme de la Mer to skin that is thoroughly dry and follow the enclosed directions carefully.


Nivea Creme range from 0.99USD to $8USD depending on the size.  It comes in a simple plastic blue jar (200mL) or  round tin (150mL). Either of these cremes contain a spatula to scoop out the product so you'll have to stick your fingers in them.


The ingredients can be found at the bottom of the blue jar by peeling off the sticker.


Now this is where the true comparison comes in for Creme de La Mer and Nivea Creme.  There are 2 types of Nivea Creme, one that is manufactured in Hamburg, Germany and one from Mexico.  You will have to look closely at the labels to find out where the creme is made.  I purchased 2 jars from England and 2 from Switzerland but made sure they were all made in Germany.  For those who are in the US, the stores only carry the cremes made in Mexico as shown in the label below:

 

The Nivea Creme made in Mexico is different and has less ingredients compared  from the one made in Germany.


The ingredients in Creme de La Mer listed below are similar to Nivea Creme Germany but the biggest difference is in the seaweed extracts.

  
In a side by side comparison, you can see the creme made in Mexico looks a lot thinner and feels waxier compared to the Germany creme.


 Here is a close up shot of the Nivea Creme from Mexico. 



A side by side comparison of Creme de la Mer and Nivea Creme from Germany shows the texture a bit more similar.  However, Creme de La Mer is lighter and not as thick compared to Nivea Creme from Germany.

From my personal experience, Creme de La Mer is a very good creme to use for those battling with dry skin.  This was a huge skin savor for me during a cold, snowy winter in New York. However, I would caution using  Creme de La Mer daily because mineral oil in this creme can cause some breakouts.


Both cremes have a very similar scent but when applied, I can feel a distinct difference between the thickness of the 2 cremes. The Nivea Creme from Germany on the left is much heavier and more difficult to spread compared to Creme de La Mer on the right.  It also takes twice as long to warm up the Nivea Creme.  When I apply Creme de La Mer, it sinks into my skin right away, whereas with Nivea, I have to wait a good 5-10 minutes before it gets somewhat absorbed.

I personally would not recommend using Nivea Creme on the face for sensitive and acne-prone skins because it is simply too heavy.  This would be a good creme to use on other parts of the body such as your hands, legs, elbows, feet, knees, etc. 


Nivea Creme from Mexico in comparison, is much thinner as you can see below.  The smell is the same as Nivea Creme from Germany and Creme de La Mer.  However, it feels like waxy petroleum and does not need to be warmed up before application.  Similar to the creme made in Germany, it doesn't get absorbed quickly and leaves a sticky, shiny film on the skin.


Creme de La Mer costs considerably more compared to Nivea Creme although some of the ingredients are similar. The hard to find seaweed that's harvested twice a year to create the "miracle broth" is the biggest cost factor.

In the end, Nivea Creme is really not the same as Creme de La Mer in terms of  texture and feel on the skin.  They may smell similar and contain some of the same ingredients but La Mer is still in a league of its own. My dry patches disappear much faster when I use Creme de La Mer and I break out right away using Nivea Creme Germany.  I would say Nivea Creme from Germany is a more affordable moisturizer if you don't have acne-prone, sensitive skin and are looking for a very thick, heavy creme.  I do not recommend Nivea Creme from Mexico for any skin types because it performs poorly as a moisturizer.

Bottom line: Splurge on La Mer for softer, moisturized skin but don't use daily for those with acne-prone, sensitive skin. The best place to purchase these is at a duty free stores or directly on La Mer's website because they give 3 gifts with every order. If you do want to buy Nivea Creme, try to get the ones made in Germany,which can be found on Amazon.
 
What are your thoughts on Nivea vs. La Mer? Have you tried either one?

59 comments:

BeautyParler said...

I've used both & for the price & results prefer the Nivea German version as I don't see the benefits of the seaweed extracts as its in such a low dose. But I only use the Nivea in extreme winter conditions.

Liz (Beauty Reductionista) said...

This is a wonderfully comprehensive post. I've seen the Nivea/La Mer comparisons and yours is the best by far. I've tried a sample of La Mer before and was astounded that it didn't make my oily skin break out. My skin felt and looked so wonderfully healthy and plump the next morning. I'd definitely get La Mer over Nivea if budget allows.

The Girlie Blog said...

I have been wanting to save up for Creme De Lamer for a LONG time. I just need the courage to drop over 100 dollars. I'm afraid that I would like it too much and never go back to regular cream.

.blushfully. said...

I've mentioned this review in my blog blushfully.blogspot.com

Thanks for this great review. I've always wondered whether those products made in different countries made a difference and this review just proves that! =p

AtelierBeauty said...

I actually wrote a post on the 2 sometime ago. My Nivea cream was made in Thailand o.O

Nivea is good as a body lotion. Have you tried the Gel de La Mer? I find it extremely suitable for my skin whereas the Creme is just too thick for my liking, and I see no miraculous difference.

Lisa said...

thanks for the great review.. i use the la mer gel moisturizer which is a lighter version of the cream.. and i LOVE it!!! it's amazing really works wonders. i have difficult skin.. oily.. but i'm getting to that age where i'm starting to have some really patchy dry spots.. but some parts are STILL oily.. and this one revitalizes the dry spots but keeps me from breaking out in my oily zones!

the Honey B said...

this is a great review! thank you for the extensive research... gonna check out that Nivea from Germany on amazon tonight! :)

coffretgorge said...

the nivea cream does look really thick and waxy! *sigh* i wish money grew on trees so i can finally try La Mer. lol XD

Anonymous said...

sorry but this nivea cream is not meant to be used on your face. it's a "multiuse" cream for hands and body, might like to dab a little on particularly dry patches on face, but only as a temporary remedy. nivea has specific face cream ranges and maybe thay are more suitable for testing on face.

Kristie said...

BeautyParler - thanks for sharing your results. Glad to hear Nivea Germany works well for you.

Liz (Beauty Reductionista) - I hear you. La Mer has a way of moisturizing combination/oily skin without causing further breakouts.

The Girlie Blog - I know La Mer is quite costly. I find the best place to purchase it is at duty free stores or when Bergdof Goodman has the $25 off $100 beauty event with no exclusions.

blushfully - Thank you! I'm glad it is helpful to point out the differences between the different Nivea versions.

AtelierBeauty - wow I didn't know they have Nivea Thailand. I did try the gel version and it was not moisturizing for my skin. In fact, it broke me out.

Lisa - That's awesome. I couldn't use the gel version but it has worked for many. Thanks for sharing your experience.

the Honey B - you're welcome! They have a couple of the Germany version online. Hopefully you can find a good deal.

coffretgorge - hhaha think of it as 3 Chanel lipsticks instead of a hundred bucks ;)

Anonymous - thanks for the information. I did not see the specific instructions on the package. A lot of people did a comparison between these two creams for the face, which like you, I disagree b/c the Nivea is too thick.

Mitz said...

I haven't tried the Creme de La Mer but I am currently using Nivea cream (Germany) and I do like it however I only use it at night because it IS very thick. I don't know that I'll repurchase it though, it's nice but not my favorite. What a thorough review! Thanks!

Rei said...

Great post! Creme de La Mer breaks me out, but I love the gel version of creme da la mer, my holy grail moisturizer for winter :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, here in Italy Nivea cream is often used by mums on their baby's botties when they're sore :-) it does mention use on the face but I don't think I know anybody that actually uses it for that purpose, although everybody buys it, as it's very popular. it's like a first aid ointment with unspecified properties, just very greasy and softening for that reason. it just says: aply to face, hands and body as needed. I honestly wouldn't advise continued use on face. too rich. might clog pores on the long run. Sorry for the "anonymous".... I could only post that way. Oh, by the way, we only have the Geman version here. Just a little curiorisity.
rachel

Gummy said...

Wow! An awesome review! I've tried both and I don't know how people really can think these two products are the same & can produce the same results. All I can come up with is that some people are blessed no matter what they use. Sigh. Thank you for posting this...I will be referring people to it often!

Kristie said...

Mitz - I agree with you, Nivea is definitely very thick. I can assure you La Mer is much lighter in comparison ;)

Rei - yay, glad to hear at least one version of the La Mer works for you.

Anonymous - thanks for letting us know, Rachel. I didn't see the instructions on the label so glad to know that it is to use on face as well. Definitely very thick!

Gummy - Thank you for your kind comment. I sure hope this post can help those who want to know the comparison between these 2 cremes.

Caitlin said...

This is such a great review! I've seen people say the two are very comparable, but I never really thought that was possible. Thanks for validating my concerns.

Eileen said...

One of the problems when just comparing ingredient lists is that it indicates (in descending order) the degree to which an ingredient is present, but it doesn't actually tell you how much of it is in the cream. For example, you can take two creams that both list aloe vera as the first ingredient. One cream might have 90% aloe and the other might have 15% aloe but they must both list it first because aloe is the most abundant ingredient. Are the creams the same? No. Will they perform the same? No. That's not to say one is better than another because it depends on what other ingredients are in it.

There really is very little similarity in the two creams you reviewed. La Mer's number one ingredient is the algea extract. Nivea's number one ingredient is water (aqua). La Mer also contains many other skin nurturing ingredients like tocopherol succinate (the best form of vitamin E), copper, niacin, and etc. which are not present in Nivea. La Mer also uses a number of skin soothing seed oils rich in antioxidants which, once again, are not to be found in Nivea.

Bottom line: The most important thing is to find the product which works the best with an individual's skin needs. That being said, women who have dry, sensitive, mature, and/or reactive skin will probably be happier with a product like La Mer.

Re: Cost of La Mer. You only need a pea size amount of La Mer for your face. Really. Using more than that is a waste of product unless you're also using it on your neck and chest.

Anonymous said...

I've been using CDLM for about 4 years now and like many others have said, it's really the only moisturizer that hydrates my dry skin. And more importantly, it's not irritating - I suffer from rosacea and EVERYTHING irritates my skin. However, the price is killing me! I've tried to make do with Nivea (the one made in Mexico and sold in the US) for the last 6 months but there's just no comparison.

I was curious, has anyone tried using The Body Creme on their face? It's only $195 for a 10 oz jar and $130 for a 6.7 oz tube! Compare this to $135 for a 1 oz jar of the face cream! Reason I ask is because I read a user comment on another blog where the user claimed to use the Body Creme on her face and she said she's been doing this for 20 years and that her skin is amazing!

Kristie said...

Anonymous - I have not tried the Body Creme on my face but would not either. I say that because the Body Creme is rather heavy and might suffocate the skin.

Anonymous said...

@Kristie: Yesterday, I decided to shell out the money for another jar of the CDLM. And while I was buying it, I tested the Body Creme on my hands and forearms and the consistency, texture, and smell of the Body Creme was too different from the Moisturizing Cream for me to even consider slathering the Body Creme on my face.

Piyo1717 said...

Hi Kristie, have you tried the Nivea Cream (the one the white tub)? I find it easier to absorb and lighter compare to the Nivea original. I'm wondering if that one is closer to Creme de La Mer?

Kristie said...

Piyo1717 - Hi! Sorry I have not tried the Nivea Cream in the white tub. However, I doubt it's the same as La Mer due to the differences in ingredients.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh....Chicago stores are adding more German (petrolatum free version) Nivea and less Nivea ( with petrolatum) which I LOVE for winter season. I use German version for warm season. I been using Nivea cream since I was 9 yrs old and my skin looks AH-AMAZING for a 40 yr old. Thank you mom for making me put Nivea. I look like a young Salma Hayek. I have no wrinkles. I'm all natural. Thanks Nivea, baby! =)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Can you please do a tutorial on how to use Creme de la Mer? I can't find any online and I think I'm using it wrong... Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Your visual comparisons are great, but the main difference described between the German and Mexico Nivea creme is simply not true! "Cera Microcristallina" is german for "microcrystalline wax" (check any translator or cosmetics database) The post claims that the Mexican Nivea Creme has this ingredient and the German one does not, but actually microcrystialline wax is the 3rd ingredient in the German Nivea cream and only the 5th in the Mexican Nivea cream. There is actually MORE (relatively) in the German Nivea Cream than in the Mexican version.

Kristie said...

Anon - I will try to do a post on the tutorial. Sorry things have been real busy!

Anon - Thank you for your feedback and the correction. I have made the changes in the post.

Anonymous said...

Do not waste your money on this! I have tried many different lines of skin care products, and this product is, without a doubt, the WORST moisturizer I have ever used. It is difficult to put on. It leaves a glossy, greasy sheen that never disappears even after several hours. The only way to get rid of that horrific sheen is to wear face powder, which is not something I want to do every day.

I am not a young woman, so one would think that the product would be absorbed easily into my skin, but it doesn't. It stays on top of my skin like a greasy mess. I SWITCHED to using the Vitamin Enhanced Moisturizer from the Made From Earth skincare line of products. It moisturizes my skin, and it is absorbed easily into my skin - I see a major difference in how healthy my skin looks with the Vitamin Enhanced Moisturizer.

Kristie said...

Anon - Sorry to hear it didn't work for you. Did you warm up the product prior to application? A lot of the time the proper application of the product does help a lot.

Diana said...

Great review! I finally bought my first creme de la mer and absolutely adore it. I can't imagine using any other cream, especially in the winter season. I searched its comparison between La Mer and Nivea because the scent of La Mer reminded me of Nivea and I thought I could possibly save some bucks if the result was similar. But after reading these reviews, I guess the only choice is to find La Mer at a good price! Thanks ladies!

Anonymous said...

I went to Germany 3 months ago I got a Nivea because I have been using for years Nivea from Mexico for my face with "very" good results I look like 10years younger for my age, I tried the Nivea from Germany NOT is not the same Mexican Nivea is NUMBER 1

Unknown said...

Just bought my first sample pack of Creme de la Mer duty free in London. I now live in a Mountain Village in Switzerland having moved from the UK my skin is dry now due to the change in climate . Love La Mer and will for sure buy again. Normally I use Absolue by Lancome. I have use Lancome for 15 years and have been very happy with it. Will use La Mer in winter and Lancome in summer.

Anonymous said...

That is very odd. I have a tub of Nivea beside me that is made in Mexico but looks nothing like the one you have here. In fact, it looks and is textured EXACTLY like your German nivea photo above. Maybe you got a bad batch.

Anonymous said...

Don't be duped ladies! The German Nivea is the BEST, and cheapest body and facial moisturizer there is. I've tried La Mer and i actually prefer German Nivea. Doesn't clog pores, hydrates like no other...fabulous. You have to emulsify it in your hands just like La Mer and it sinks right in. The difference between the three is that La Mer and Mexican Nivea both have cancer causing parabens, while the German version does not. Its been made the same way for 100 years. And since the old fashioned formula of Nivea was Marilyn Monroes favorite, thats good enough for me!!

Anonymous said...

I vote German Nivea save save your money and do not waste it on La mere ( trust me I am esthetician ) I do not see a difference in women's skin using super expensive or cheap products , its more what you eat and life style . I am 42 eat healthy , workout , always used old fashioned Nivea just like my mom and do not have a single wrinkle. DO NOT SPEND MONEY ON EXPENSIVE SKIN CARE NOT WORTH IT !!!!

Anonymous said...

Can you approximate CDLM by adding Sea Kelp Bioferment to German Nivea? You can get the Sea Kelp from several sources. Is there anything special about the California seaweed that CDLM contains?

Also -- is the current CDLM exactly the same as the original Max Huber formulation. I don't think it is but I would love to hear from others.

Anonymous said...

As I am reading your review, I am shocked to see the Mineral oil listed in an expensive cream like Creme de La Mer! It is a cheap ingredient that destroys your natural oil barrier of your skin and it is known to be carcinogenic as well. I would not expect such an expensive cream would contain mineral oil and it is sitting at the top of ingredient list! :(

Anonymous said...

tried them both and have to say I absolutely could not tell the difference..they smell the same, they absorb the same...must be an individual thing but for me they were the exact same product..

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for the review, really helpful. I've just tried CDLM which my oily acne prone skin loves, where it hates Nivea.

I think I'm going to try the gel, which has no mineral oils. I agree with the poster who likes Neal's Yards' frankincense too - but I have to say, I'm quite shocked at CDLM's effects. It's pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Great discussion.

Anonymous said...

I have seen two people in the family using Nivea for many many yars. One of them is now 60 yrs old and her skin has absolutely no wrinkle. She looks like 30 yrs. so I think there's no ned to spend so much mney. The other person in the family is about 40 and her skin glows.

Anonymous said...

Hello. Firstly, Thank you very much for the Review. Im from Hamburg in Germany And know Nivea very well :-). I think we should also remember that other expensive brands as La Prairie also belong to the Nivea group and the share the same research team. Also considering that la mere belongs to Estée Lauda. I used both.... And I like la mare better. The big question for me is...: it costs 50 times as much, does it deliver 50 times the result? The answer is no! Here's a tip, try Nr. 7 :-)

dk said...

Thanks for your post. I was about to bite the bullet and buy CDLM for $150 an ounce (yes, the price has gone up!) since I tried every other moisturizer out there and nothing compared. Until I tried Nivea Creme...who knew?? Omg, it literally feels and smells the same. For me, clenching my skins thirst was priority #1 - and yes, I would love to diminish wrinkles but from what I can tell there's no data that supports over the counter creams and lotions can do that. I'll stick to Nivea and add a little Retin A (which is proven!)

Dulce Mendoza said...

That's not how the Mexican Nive Creme looks. I have it on my face at the moment and it's the same consistency as the Germany one. It looks nothing like the one on the pic. When ever I get breakouts I use it with Desitine baby Creme and it heals my skin and hydrates it. My mom has been using it since she was a teen and has amazing skin. I'd really recomend it. If you are prone to breakouts use it with Desitin baby rash Creme and it does wonders :).

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post! I first tried CDLM at 25 years. The sole purpose for paying the high cost of CDLM was deep moisturizing for my extremely dry skin. The product proved successful. I am now 41 with youthful and completely wrinkle free skin. I have also been a smoker for 20 years. No one could imagine not having wrinkles and being a smoker but I have always been faithful to this product for a moisturizer and so far it has been faithful to my face.

Anonymous said...

I have used nivea for 22 years and to even try Made from Earth was a challenge for me but after using their Vitamin C Moisturizer - i am very happy with the results from the last 6 months! I can see a difference in the lines around my eyes, and just my skin looks and feels fresher over all. Everyone is telling me how healthy I look - Love it!

ARoe said...

This seems to me to be the ultimate in b..sh.t! Sorry but I have very sensitive skin with redness and a massive tendency to react to active ingredients in anything that I put on my skin. Whilst I agree that Nivea is fine, it sits on my skin and is greasy and ineffective other than being a heavy moisturiser and as for using Retin A, it is a complete NO for sensitive skin - my reaction was terrible! However, when I first tried Creme De La Mer with just a tester pot (in my 40's and having over the years tried every cream under the sun), I was back within 2 days and buying the range of eye creme, moisturiser and serum (although I now use the concentrate as it works better for my sensitive skin). My skin was immediately visibly improved and, 8 years later, I would never stop using it. I am now nearing 50 and my skin looks great and I have never had any reaction from La Mer. The concentrate in particular is wonderful for redness and soothing and is highly recommended. My sisters and a friend who have the same issues tried it once and are all long term converts. I have never found a cheap substitute and have now stopped looking. La Mer is the best if you can afford it.

Anonymous said...


I use Nivea Soft, and it works really well for me especially in the winter, I have used Nivea since I was very young, and now that I am older I still use it, and I am totally satisfied.

Anonymous said...

I have been using CDLM for the past 2 years, and was convinced that it does the job in moisturising my skin for such an expense. But guess what? I had recently undergone the skin analysis on one of the tech-savvy spas in the UK (Elemis spa) where I was informed that my skin was dehydrated and in need of a rescue moisture boost...I am 28, and overall do not have a problematic skin.
The conclusion is CDLM does not do a good job in moisturising your skin unless you maybe use it along with one of the serums....
I am looking for alternatives now!

Anonymous said...

I was disappointed in purchasing from an Australian store 'Coles'a Nivea Creme product made in Germany, as I am from the UK and the Nivea Creme is much softer.
I find the German Nivea Creme to be like emulsifying, it is not smooth but very thick!

Anonymous said...

When my skin is good its very good, when bad very bad. For many years used a lancome product which was perfect for my skin. A few years ago it was discontinued Panic for the moment im mixing a little bit of crème de la mer with a more generous portion of nivea it seems to be doing the job for now until I find the perfect moisturizer.

Anonymous said...

I will never experience more second hand embarrassment than when people tell me they like CDLM. Cheap ingredients with incredibly tacky and cheap packaging. I will stick to good creams for $20 or less and will probably still end up looking younger than you.

Anonymous said...

Just ordered my german tin! I'm excited!

Anonymous said...

Nivea was recommended to me by my dermatologist when I was a teenager after I burned my skin with a sun lamp (trying to clear up severe acne). He suggested to apply Nivea to slightly moist skin instead of towel dried skin. That was 40 years ago and I do it the same way even now and have no wrinkles at 55 years old! Also, I drink lots of water.

Anonymous said...

That is not authentic Nivea from Germany in the photo. The packaging is inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

I use Créme La Mer at night and Sensai Cellular Performance Emulsion III during the day. I have very dry skin and really have to watch out for Allergenes etc. But since I use this combination - since the year 2000 - my skin troubles have vanished. I am 62 years old and I really have no wrinkles at all. I live in Spain but, with exception of La Mer, do not use any cream made in the US. They use preservatives which make my skin rash, even Lancome and similar high end ones. The Sensai I use is made in Japan and is the best I can recommend.

Anonymous said...

I have the 13.5oz blue glass jar of Nivea Creme that's made in Mexico, but it has the same consistency as the German formula. It doesn't look waxy at all. It looks almost like a very thick creme cheese. But I've yet to experience any waxiness from it. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

i would not use la mer or nivea as they are not certified organic i don't see how artificial
ingredients are good for your skin

Anonymous said...

i have been a nivea creme user since 1998. I use it on my face, hands and feet as a moisturizer and sun block. I tested it as a moisturizer and sunblock during the political campaign period in the hot summer months of 1998. While campaigning I couldn't be under an umbrella nor wearing sweaters because i live in a hot humid place - the Philippines. I only had a locally made hat over my head and I was afraid that by the end of the campaign period I would suffer from sunburn but Nivea creme took care of that. I have been using it daily since then. My advice is, if nivea works for you, go for it. If it doesn't there are other options but if you are in doubt take nivea.

Anonymous said...

My skin is very dry do to the Cancer pill that I am taking that blocks Estrogen Production
The only Cream that worked and I saw an improvement the same day.
Tried Gold Bond for dry skin, aquaphor, Vaseline intensive care

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