As I mentioned in my previous post about the Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique collection, the Barrier Restore Serum* has been my morning face serum of choice for several months. Since I started to use it, I haven’t even considered rotating it with another product. And if you know me, you know that I don’t write product reviews weekly telling you how I am obsessed with this new product that is my new HG–omg! (Does that sound familiar?! LOL). But, based on my experience, this line is innovative and effective. The products are formulated to suit most skin types, and especially those with a weakened skin barrier. This one, in particular, is the one that I call “good skin in a bottle” or “Real Life Snapchat filter”, because it quickly gives the skin a fresh look and a long-lasting radiance.
Let’s start with the product texture. Had I not read the product label, I would have thought that this was an oil-free, runny moisturizer (it actually contains oils–more on that below). That’s how light this formula feels on the skin. It’s almost like a gel, but not quite. It’s virtually weightless. It does not feel like it’s suffocating the skin and clogging the pores–very comfortable. As someone who has normal/combination skin, not too oily but sensitive to a lot of different ingredients, this quality of the product is important to me. Heavy products make my skin itch and get shiny–in a bad way.
If you, however, like the feeling of something a bit heavier (let’s say you have really dry skin and balms are the only thing that makes your skin feel comfortable and look juicy), you could still layer an oil or balm over this serum and get the other benefits that those products offers as well.
Although the product looks like a muddy brown, it goes on clear. It is not tinted. The color is the naturally-occurring color due to the ingredients. Yes, you can wear it even if you have the fairest skin–it will not give your skin any color.
The finish is luminous, but not greasy. It’s perfect under makeup or under sunscreen and makeup (I have tried both).
KEY INGREDIENTS (SELECTED) AND BENEFITS
Ceramides are lipid molecules in the skin cells (located in the stratum corneum) that are thought to provide the barrier property of the skin. In other words, they have a very important protective function that helps the skin stay hydrated and healthy. Ceramide deficiency is linked to dry skin with atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions. In an animal study, a mouse developed skin inflammation and psoriasis-like lesions due to decreased ceramide levels.
About the Skin Barrier
The skin barrier, which is also called the acid mantle, is located in the outer layer of the skin and protects the skin against environmental aggressors. In order for the barrier to cover this protective function, the pH of the skin has to be slightly acidic (between 4.5 and 6.5). When the pH becomes too acidic or too alkaline, the barrier function can be compromised and pathogens can grow, leading to several skin conditions like dermatitis, psoriasis, and even acne.
L-Arginine is an amino acid. When taken internally, it has been shown to have anti-aging effects. It is involved in a variety of functions such as making hormones, enzymes, and structural proteins. It is also known to improve skin texture and appearance.
Sodium PCA is a a derivative of the amino acid proline and works as a humectant. It helps to attract and retain moisture in the skin. Though there isn’t a lot of research out there about this ingredient, it is considered safe.
Sodium Hyaluronate the sodium salt of Hyaluronic Acid, which is already known for its properties–it’s humectant that helps the skin to stay hydrated and helps the skin to maintain its elasticity. Sodium hyaluronate is a slightly smaller molecule compared to the Hyaluronic Acid, which can penetrate the skin better, is more stable, and less likely to oxidize.
Phosphatidyl Serine is thought to be a good anti-aging ingredient. I say thought because there isn’t enough research to prove it, but a study published in 2008 in the Journal of Lipid Research shows some very promising results, (you could read more on Science Daily). The way that it works is by preventing collagen breakdown cause by UV exposure, which is why this is great to wear in the daytime.
Magnesium Chloride may help alleviate dryness/inflammation in magnesium deficient skin by increasing elasticity and moisture.
Green tea extract is the first ingredient in the formula, which means it is present in the highest amount. I wrote a whole post on the benefits of green tea for skincare, so if you’re interested you can read more about it here.
A few more noteworthy ingredients in this formula are the plant oils. But wait! Before you dismiss this product because you have already tried every oil under the sun and they all break you out–read on.
The ones included in this serum have specific functions that work great in the formula. As I wrote above, I would have not even guessed that this serum contained oils if I didn’t check (and double-check!) the label. Jojoba oil is one of the few oils that is able to enhance the penetration of other skincare ingredients. This is especially important if you use a product like this one which has so many beneficial ingredients that you want your skin to soak up. Another noteworthy oil in this serum is Broccoli Seed oil. If you know me, you know I love broccoli seed oil. The lightweight, silky finish of the natural silicone substitute makes the product spread smoothly and gives a velvety, smooth look the skin.
I think that it is also important to mention which ingredients are not included in the formula, since it makes a huge difference to people whose skin (and/or nose!) is sensitive to a variety of different sensitizing/allergenic ingredients. The product is free of essential oils and fragrance. Don’t expect any floral/fruity/chocolate/coffee/gummy/coca-cola scent (don’t know which one you may be into). It is completely free of scents. It does not smell good nor bad. I can’t detect any particular smell.
FULL INGREDIENT LIST
Camellia sinensis (Green tea) extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) seed oil, ceramide 3, milk lipids, sodium hyaluronate, sodium PCA, L-arginine, n-acetyl glucosamine, colloidal trace minerals, L-aspartic acid, Glucono Delta Lactone, urea, hydrolyzed collagen protein, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC), polygonum aviculare extract (knotgrass flavonoids), lactic acid, magnesium chloride, non-GMO soy lecithin phospholipids, phosphatidyl serine, leuconostoc/radish root filtrate ferment, lactobacilli ferment, zinc oxide, decyl glucoside, superoxide dismutase (SOD), resveratrol, xanthan gum
I have truly enjoyed using this serum and I am extremely pleased with my results from using it for the past several months (I think it’s been at least 5-6 months). Every morning, I look forward to using it because it makes my skin feel balanced–moisturized but non-greasy. This is very important to me because I am in my mid-thirties and moisturizing makes my skin look more plump; however I also have delicate skin that gets irritated easily. I also like how it wears under makeup, making a smooth, hydrating base that makes product go over nicely, whether it’s foundation, concealer, or a tinted spf. I should also have mentioned that I haven’t had a single breakouts in months, and my current skincare routine, including this and the Soothing B3 serum, has definitely played a role in that. If it fits your budget(it is on the expensive side), I would highly recommend it, especially if you have delicate skin (prone to rashes and dermatitis), or if you have combo/oily skin, because you will appreciate the hydrating and balancing results. If you need a break from face oils, or if you need a lighter face serum/moisturizer for the Summer, this may be a great option for you, too. Available here. If you want to see exactly how I use this serum in my morning skincare routine, come back tomorrow ;)
As always, feel free to ask any questions, and let me know if you want me to cover any other aspect.