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This Miracle Night Cream Gives Me a Rich-Person Glow (Without the La Mer Price Tag)

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

I was a desperate 30-year-old, grappling with angry breakouts of vicious red acne. As a teenager, I’d only ever really experienced the odd pimple. Now, my skin was pustulous and dry at the same time. I tried everything: I threw money at the problem. I stopped drinking alcohol. Came off all hormonal contraception. No change. My GP prescribed me benzoyl peroxide, but it made my skin flake off in clumps. I paid to see a private dermatologist who said my only option was Roacutane. I almost did it, but then, an unhappy coincidence brought a (very expensive) solution into my life.

My friend Laura had burned her hand badly on an iron. The scar was serious — a purple iron-shaped blob. Fortunately, though, she had found a cream that was diminishing it by the day: Creme de la Mer. She slathered her hand in the goop every night before bed, scooping it out of its £130 30ml pot. According to the origin legend, Creme de la Mer was invented by a German rocket scientist named Max Huber who was trying to heal burns he himself had sustained. Its formula includes a fermented juice that they call “Miracle Broth.” And, while each batch is fermenting, which is said to take about three months, lab technicians play the broth a special mixtape of carefully selected sounds. Sold on the thaumaturgy of it all, I used a credit card to buy some, reasoning that if it could fix up Laura’s hand it could probably salve my furious face.

Within weeks, my skin was soothed. The red scars left by under-the-skin spots I had squeezed and picked in frustration began to fade. New spots became fewer and fewer. An added bonus — the tiny lines on my forehead shrank to the point of invisibility. I was hooked. I began using Creme de la Mer religiously, morning and night. When the first pot ran out, I closed my eyes and used the same credit card to buy another. I knew it was not financially smart. But, it was the closest I had ever come to an actual miracle. People complimented me on my skin all of the time and wanted to know my secret. My secret was: debt. I couldn’t sustain a habit that cost me £130 every four to six weeks. I could not justify over £1,000 a year. But I also couldn’t go back to my untreatable acne.

So, I did what any good journalist would do: I cried, then spent hours on skin-care blogs, researching. That’s when I came across Mario Badescu’s seaweed night cream. In a comment under an article about chronic acne from 2015, one internet user swore that it was the only thing that had stopped her spots. The cream promised to hydrate my skin with a lightweight, oil-free formula containing elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid combined with the vitamins and minerals found in Bladderwrack extract (a.k.a. seaweed). At a relatively frugal £22 for 28ml, it seemed worth one more hit to my credit card.

What happened next was the real miracle: It worked. It worked as well as the Creme de la Mer. I woke up looking fresh and dewy. It kept my spots at bay. I still had a “rich-person glow” but I was no longer spending like one. I still use it to this day, three years later. The cream itself is a pearly green, smooth and elastic goop. I spread it across my face after Mario’s glycolic toner. Then, like a skin scientist, I squeeze generous drops of La Roche-Posay’s Hyalu B5 and Mario Badescu’s Vitamin C from their officious glass pipettes and slather them across my skin. I go to bed with my skin glowing and glossy, almost wet to touch, and I wake up looking like a younger, dewier, more mermaidy, spot-free version of myself.

A pot of Mario’s Seaweed Night Cream lasts me around three months. I have even decanted some of it into a miniature pot from Muji — that I bought especially for this purpose — which lives in my overnight bag in case I go away, because I cannot be without it. I live in fear that this cream will be discontinued, so much so that I buy it in threes from Liberty. Open my bathroom cabinet and you’ll find a year’s supply, which costs me roughly the same as two pots of Creme de la Mer.

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This Bargain Miracle Night Cream Gives Me a Rich-Person Glow