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The new face cream from Southold Bay Oyster Farm uses oyster nacre to hydrate and soften the skin (credit: Felicia LaLomia).

I’ll be honest. Using a face cream that has some sort of oyster ingredient in it sounded, well, a bit weird. I didn’t know what exactly it was or what it would do to my face. But when I found out that Southold Bay Oyster Farm was releasing a face cream (yes, a skincare product from an oyster farm), I was intrigued. Looking at the jar, it said it featured “oyster technology.” Upon further research on the box, that technology means oysters nacre. I Googled it.

Nacre, also known as mother of pearl, is an organic–inorganic composite material produced by some molluscs as an inner shell layer; it is also the material of which pearls are composed. It is strong, resilient, and iridescent, Wikipedia told me.

To find out a little bit more about the product before I put it on my face, I talked to Dave Daly, one of the founders of the oyster farm and Southold Bay Skin Care.

“So, how did you go from farming oysters to making a face cream? Seems like a big jump?” I asked over the phone.

“In my previous life, before I was an oyster farmer, I worked at L’Oreal USA in a marketing role on Maybelline Mascara and Garnier, so I had a little bit of experience in the beauty industry before this. It’s always been something that has fascinated me,” he said. “We got this rolling about a year ago — what if we could take something from oysters and put it in a product that we can ship anywhere?

One of the biggest barriers for oyster farmers, he explained, is that people can’t buy them from far away. “Unlike other seafood, you can’t freeze oysters so it always becomes a bit of a hassle to ship,” he said. “This was something we were hoping we could offer and ship anytime, anywhere. Can’t eat it, but at least you can use it and still be part of our company and something that uses oysters.”

“And this ingredient, how do you pronounce it?” I asked, looking at the photo of the jar.

“Oyster nacre,” Daly said. Neck-er.

“And how did you find out that this part of oysters was beneficial in skin care?”

“This was something that was used in Asia for quite awhile. But it was really through reaching out to various skin care labs to find out what types of ingredients they have that could be related to shellfish,” he said. “Oyster nacre was the one that just kept coming up as having all of these benefits that people really look for but also one that’s not widely available in North America.”

“So how do you harvest it out of an oyster and turn it into a cream?” I asked.

“Unfortunately, right now there is no processing means to do that on Long Island or on the east coast, so this all has to be sourced from labs from around the world,” Daly continued. “It’s not from our oysters yet. Hopefully somewhere down the road, that will be something that’s available to us here. But it is an ingredient that has been used for ages in skin care elsewhere. And there are entire processing places that raise oysters specifically to harvest their oyster nacre.”

So, some of my questions were answered. But I still had to try the product for myself. Opening up the jar, I prepared myself for a smell — not necessarily a bad smell, just maybe a faint ocean-y essence. But nothing. In fact, I put my nose up to the cream, and only got a little whiff of a light floral scent — it was pleasant. 

As far as the benefits go, the jar said “it produces a protective moisturizing film that provides a repairing effect on damaged skin. It hydrates and moisturizes while softening the skin, increasing skin elasticity and supplementing skin nutrition.” Sounds promising.

I dipped my finger in and rubbed a small amount on my arm. It was thick, like the equivalent of a heavy duty sunscreen. I moved onto my face. It felt comfortable on my skin—moisturizing, but not greasy. It does leave a pretty significant white cast, so it’s certainly not a cream that I would put on in the morning. But I did feel like it will make a good night cream, especially during the colder months as the air becomes drier. 

When I woke up in the morning, not only had the white cast completely disappeared, but my skin looked pretty amazing. My pores looked smaller and everything seemed smoother. I don’t know if that’s because of the cream or I just happened to have a good skin day on that morning, but it is a product I will continue to use. 

To get your hands on a 50 mg jar, head over to South Bay Skin Care’s website, or purchase it on Amazon for $29.