$13 moisturiser outperforms $520 product in Consumer NZ test

La Mer the Moisturising Gel Cream, $520, and Nivea Pure & Natural Moisturising Day Cream Normal/Combination, $12.99.

La Mer the Moisturising Gel Cream, $520, and Nivea Pure & Natural Moisturising Day Cream Normal/Combination, $12.99.

A Consumer NZ test of moisturisers has found most were good but the top priced product, costing $520, was "only average".

"The test of nine moisturisers found a $13 cream outperformed the most expensive, luxury-priced La Mer: the Moisturising Gel Cream, which retails for $520," said Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin.

"Most of the creams delivered good results, providing performance on a par with the standard cream used in the test as a control. But the $520 La Mer gel cream was an exception, delivering only average results."

THE MOST EXPENSIVE FACE CREAMS IN NZ - LA MER THE MOISTURISING CREAM, $3100 for 500ml. Created by aerospace physicist Dr. Max Huber as a solution to his serious burns, this cream has now catapulted to have a cult-like following. Fermented kelp is harvested from the Pacific coast to create this anti-ageing potion.

SHISEIDO FUTURE SOLUTION LX TOTAL REGENERATING CREAM, $477. This popular and high-selling cream is formulated with exclusive Skingenecell 1P, Uji Green Tea Extract and Star Fruit Extract to fight ageing signs.

LANCOME ABSOLUE L'EXTRAIT, $508. Each pottle of this ultra-luxe cream contains up to 2 million rose native cells. Research found that these floral cells were able to extend their properties onto skin to dramatically improve its appearance. Roses have come to the rescue in this case.

GUERLAIN ORCHIDEE IMPERIALE THE CREAM, $2396 for a special-edition 200ml version. Orchids steal the show in this cream that was created 12 years ago. Out of 30,000 variants of the flower, only three were chosen to be included in this cream with the most precious gold orchid being one of them. The gold orchid technology has been used to regenerate the cell life in your skin.

CHANEL SUBLIMAGE LA CREME, $570. Researchers for the brand travelled to the depths of Madagascar to uncover the powerful ingredient in this range - the vanilla planifolia which is said to defy ageing. It takes 60,000 green fruits and 14,000 fresh flowers to produce just 1kg of the precious extract needed to make this cream.

LA PRAIRIE CELLULAR CREAM PLATINUM RARE, $1605. This beauty boasts a formula which contains nano-sized negatively charged platinum particles suspended in colloidal platinum water which are designed to sustain the skins electrical charge. Stockists in NZ struggle to keep it on the shelves due to the high demand of this cream.

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La Mer is a brand of the Estee Lauder Companies, which said it questioned the Consumer NZ results and had not seen the full methodology.

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"Crème de la Mer not only infuses the skin with intense, renewing moisture but delivers potent anti-aging benefits, helping sooth, restore and transform the look of skin, and it has millions of loyal devotees all around the world," Estee Lauder said in a statement.

"As a leading luxury skincare brand, La Mer is committed to developing luxury skincare products that are highly efficacious and all products undergo a rigorous protocol of safety evaluation and comply with local and international regulations. Therefore consumers should be confident in our product claims."

All La Mer products contained a "Miracle Broth", developed by Dr Max Huber, who "began developing his meticulous and time-intensive bio-fermentation process 50 years ago", the statement said. The broth was made using Pacific sea kelp.

Estee Lauder said the recommended retail price for 60ml of the La Mer moisturising gel cream was $480. Describing the product, La Mer says it is "ideal for warm-weather climates".

The $13 moisturiser in the Consumer NZ test was Nivea Pure & Natural Moisturising Day Cream, a popular budget option that Kate Middleton made famous when she was seen buying it at Boots.

Eight of the nine creams tested by Consumer NZ were given four out of five stars, indicating good performance. They were:

- Avène Hydrance Optimale Légère Light Hydrating Cream 40ml $59

- Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion+ 50ml $34

- Dr Hauschka Quince Day Cream 30ml $55

- Estēe Lauder Hydrationist Maximum Moisture Creme 50ml $96

- L'Oréal Triple Active Day 50ml $15

- Nivea Pure & Natural Moisturising Day Cream 50ml $13

- Nuxe Crème Fraîche De Beauté 50ml $61

- The Body Shop Vitamin E Aqua Boost Sorbet 50ml $40

La Mer - the Moisturising Gel Cream 60ml, which retails for $520, received three out of five stars, indicating average performance. Had any product gained five stars that would have indicated very good performance.

Testing measured the moisturising efficacy of the creams after four weeks of daily use. Products were blind tested by women aged between 25 and 66, with a normal to dry skin type.

"If you're looking for a moisturiser, you don't need to splash out on a high-priced product. You can find creams for less than $20 that will do the job," Chetwin said.

Consumer NZ was also advising shoppers not to place much store in claims products were "hypoallergenic" or "dermatologically tested".  "There's no standard definition of these terms. Products carrying the claims can also contain potential allergens such as fragrances and preservatives. If you have sensitive skin or want to avoid certain chemicals, your best bet is checking the ingredients list," Chetwin said. 

Regular use of a good moisturiser helped hydrate the skin and slowed moisture loss, the test report said. "But there's little evidence of any other benefit."

The full report is available online at consumer.org.nz and will be published in the November issue of Consumer.

The nine creams were tested using a corneometer, which is used to provide a measure of the skin's hydration. Measurements were taken before and after use of the products over a four-week period. Creams were applied twice daily. Chetwin said cosmetics probably stood out as an area where higher cost didn't mean a better result.

"Because it's so aspirational that's one area where people tend to pay regardless of what the information is telling them," she said.

Cosmetics were regulated and products did have to show an ingredient list. But it was an area, unless products had ingredients some users might be allergic to, where in a way it was buyer beware. Users should examine closely any claims made by cosmetics companies.

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