If there ever was a beauty product that could be considered truly legendary, it would be Crème de la Mer—not only for its cult cachet as one of the priciest, and most coveted, moisturizers in the world, but also because of its oft-related origin story: Max Huber, a German-born aerospace physicist, suffered severe burns in a lab explosion in the 1950s while working on a rocket stabilizer. He spent the next 12 years experimenting with Macrocystis pyrifera, a variety of kelp found in the ocean near his California home, until he finally created an elixir that healed his wounds and restored his skin to such lustrous health that all evidence of the accident was erased. Huber started selling his creation, christened Crème de la Mer (you know, Cream of the Sea), in 1965; after his death in 1991, Estée Lauder purchased the brand from Huber’s daughter and turned it into the blockbuster luxury skin-care company we know today.

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