Big ticket skincare products get all the attention, but there are some under-the-radar gems that are so much more affordable — and just as effective. La Mer's $100+ Crème de la Mer Moisturizing Cream has a cult-like following. Celebrities known for skin that seems to defy the natural aging process, like Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman, swear by it. Over 7,200 Nordstrom shoppers give it five out of five stars and nearly 1,000 Sephora shoppers rave about it. People love its anti-aging and hydration superpowers. But now, people online are claiming that Nivea's Creme is practically the same thing, and it sells for a fraction of the price.
While this has been the rumor for years, the comparison recently resurfaced on TikTok, with some people even testing them against each other. Regimen Lab, a peer-reviewed skin care brand, shared a video in late January comparing La Mer and Nivea's moisturizers in its own lab, and the results were pretty shocking. First, it looked at the formulas in each product and found that they use the same base ingredients. Although, La Mer does contain its famous fermented algae broth (they call it Miracle Broth), along with some additional botanical oils and vitamins, which Nivea does not.
Next, the lab tested each product's water loss reduction and hydrating abilities, and the results were identical. While they didn't test any additional benefits it concluded that, based on hydration, these creams are pretty similar.
If you’re not familiar with La Mer, it has a pretty interesting past. According to the brand's website, German aerospace physicist Max Huber invented his original cream, Crème de la Mer, while trying to heal burns he’d sustained in the lab. After nearly 12 years and 6,000 experiments, he figured out a fermentation process that transformed sea kelp and other natural ingredients into the brand’s cell-renewing Miracle Broth. The cream reportedly healed and transformed Huber’s skin. Today, La Mer is owned by Estée Lauder, and there are plenty of wild stories about it, including that the brand plays music for the Miracle Broth during the creation process.
Comparatively, Nivea Creme is $10 for a 13.5-ounce tin on Amazon and you can use it on your face, hands and body. In addition to moisturizing, it has some pretty good anti-aging benefits, too. It contains citric acid to exfoliate the skin and give it a boost of antioxidants, and provitamin B5 to support hydration, skin regeneration and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
One thing to note is that Nivea is a German-based company, but it has a U.S. business counterpart. Although the ingredient list is almost identical, some loyalists claim Germany's Nivea Creme is better (a little thicker) than America's. Luckily, you can find both on Amazon.
And no matter which version you opt for, Nivea has its own following like La Mer, too. More than 12,500 Amazon shoppers give the American cream a five-star rating and call it "high quality" and "the cream of the crop."
"Amazing," wrote one loyal user. "If you have dry skin this is for you, it lasts all day. It also gives the skin a radiant glow. Goes on thick but melts perfectly. I love It — been using this product for 10 years and just bought my mom who is 80 years old this cream. She loves it."
"I have used Nivea for the last 40 years and it is consistently the same recipe, I love it. My mother-in-law still uses it and it hasn’t changed," commented another person.
Nonetheless, plenty of Amazon reviewers confirmed they use it as a La Mer alternative as well.
"Better than La Mer," claimed one impressed shopper. "I've used La Mer for many years, but Nivea is just as moisturizing if not better for literally a fraction of the price."
"I used La Mer a few times and didn't see what the fuss was all about for the crazy high price," explained another five-star reviewer. "It was nice, but nothing spectacular. However, ... this Nivea Creme is the bomb."
"The only downside is that it's a little hard to spread, but I would bet there's a reason why that has to be like that," warned one long-time fan.
Still, if you really want to try La Mer, but can't justify the cash, one Amazon customer shared an interesting hack: "I’m an esthetician and I love fancy moisturizer... I’ve been buying travel sizes La Mer Concentrate and putting about an ounce of this into a jar and mixing them together and it’s basically the same as the La Mer moisturizing cream. It smells so good and it’s nice and thick and hydrating."
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.