You will get wet,” warns the instructor— four little words that strike fear into my cowardly heart. I’m on a beach in Monterey Bay, Calif., about to kayak over beds of sea kelp. Why will I get wet if I am, presumably, above water? And why did I say yes to a beauty launch—for La Mer’s The Eye Balm Intense— that’s part
Fear Factor? Me, who always “forgot” her bathing suit in grade five swim class.
My aquaphobia goes way back: clumsy four-year-old falls into lake and develops lifelong fear of deep water. (To those well-meaning people who assured me that kayaking is a serene experience, with water like glass, I say “Have you ever seen a California surfer movie?”) It will take a small miracle to get me out to sea—fitting, given that small miracles are why I’m here. In 1970, aerospace physicist Max Huber suffered chemical burns to his face after an experiment he was conducting exploded. Unable to find a treatment, Huber set about discovering his own cure. Twelve years and 6,000 experiments later (sounds just like my novel-in-progress), he found it: a mixture of sea kelp—rich in
vitamins C, D and E, calcium, zinc and magnesium—vitamins and plant oils blended in a biofermentation process enhanced by light and sound frequencies. He called it The Miracle Broth, and it became the foundation for Crème de la Mer, the pricey, ultra-rich face cream that gained cult status among those who swear by its ability to hydrate, smooth and clarify skin. It also spawned a range of La Mer products, from cleansers to makeup.
The Eye Balm Intense contains a triple dose of The Miracle Broth—the original form, as well as the concentrated and powdered time-release versions. “It’s an intense amount,” says Loretta Miraglia, senior vice-president of product development and innovation for La Mer. “The skin around the eyes is three times thinner than that of the face.” A second component, The Marine De-Puff Ferment, has energy-rich deep-sea red algae, which helps
reduce eye puffiness caused mainly by the irritation and swelling of fat cells and capillaries under the eyes, which block the flow of fluid, says Miraglia. The silver-tipped applicator further stimulates circulation to keep fluids moving. Finally, The Lifting Ferment has minerals, peptides and plant-derived ingredients that increase collagen and elastin production. And to think it all began with sea kelp.
Ah, yes, sea kelp—and my voyage over it in a 21-kilogram plastic watercraft. Before I can say “I think I’ll go shopping with the other editors instead…,” I’m pushed out to sea. A stiff breeze blows, and swells gently roll. But, miracle of miracles, I am not afraid. I paddle toward a bed of giant sea kelp—the kind used in The Miracle Broth. With the wind at my back, I’m relatively dry and daring to think the unthinkable: I could do this again. If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know
• Kelp contains up to 60 minerals and elements, as well as 12 vitamins and 21 amino acids.
• Giant sea kelp, or Macrocystis pyrifera, is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants (up to 60 centimetres a day during abundant growth periods) and can reach a height of 53 metres. What you see on the ocean’s surface are the canopy-like ceilings of underwater kelp forests; gas-filled “bladders” keep the fronds afloat.
• Nutrient-rich kelp absorbs minerals from the ocean and is a favourite food of sea urchins, which can destroy kelp forests.
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