Evaluating skincare products is one of those lovely opportunities you get to experience as a green beauty blogger — and as a sustainable lifestyle blogger who focuses on so much more than on INCIs and formulations (namely on fair fashion, healthy food, conscious living and ethical business, among other things), I’m particularly stoked to be invited for the second time.
CertClean is a Canada-based certification system for safer skincare in North America. Rather than aiming at organic or natural ingredients or labels, the certification tracks (and prohibits) 1400+ harmful ingredients.
CertClean Awards 2019, Face Serum Category
For the 2019 CertClean’s Clean Beauty Awards, I was invited to evaluate and test a selection of serums for sensitive skin, pre-mature skin and mature skin — by brands from the US, Australia, and Korea.
And may I start off with a spoiler?
All ten products are splendidly well formulated.
The Serum Category Brand Reveal
Four products were oil based (left to right in the picture below):
✅ Rose Mira, Stem Cell Serum — and think “light oil” here
✅ Beauty Tofu, R3 Serum — quite a special oil-in-gel texture!
✅ Black Chicken Remedies, Nocturnalist Night Serum
✅ Jaboneria Marianella, Royal Kalahari Face Serum
Six had liquid, gel or classic “serum”-like textures:
✅ The Spa Dr., Nourish Antioxidant Serum
✅ AO Skincare, Reverse Longitude PM Serum-Shot
✅ Jenelt Essential Organics, Daily Renewal Firming Serum
✅ Edible Beauty, Turmeric Beauty Latte Clear & Brighten
✅ Leaf People, Clinical Hyaluronic Stem Cells Hydrating Serum
✅ Sioris, A Calming Day Ampoule
The Serum Category Review
Since most of these brands are not available on the European market (yet?), I will give you a brief review of each product, just in case one or some of them really matches what you look for in a serum.
Rose Mira, Stem Cell Serum
10 ml, 82$, for all skin types
What it is: A lightweight oil of deep orange colour — enriched with anti-ox super heroes Rosehip Pulp and Calendula — that imparts a visible golden tint. The strong citrucy smell is invigorating but may be too strong for those who are not into citrus or its aromatherapeutic benefits.
What I loved: The mood-lifting smell and how it behaves under day make-up. Due to the visible tint, I haven’t dared to wear it overnight anyway. The skin remains fresh and plump, and the natural tint gives you a very pretty glow.
Beauty Tofu, R3 Serum
50 ml, 84$, for all skin types
What it is: Quite a unique texture of an oil-infused gel, the serum is enriched with Charcoal, Manuka, Silver and designed to fix troubles related to visible pores and acne as well as to collagen decrease. Basically your acne cure for 30+ skin. The gel appears grey due to charcoal, and has a faint, pleasant, medicinal scent. The skin feels slightly oily after the application, so it may be a great choice for individuals with very dry skin.
What I loved: The R3 Serum is a thirst quencher and skin food at the same time. The texture is made for a perfect nighttime treatment, especially after a day of full face make-up you’ll appreciate the smoothing, calming effect. You do wake up fresh faced, over time inflammations are reduced and the skin looks soft and supple.
Black Chicken Remedies, Nocturnalist Night Serum
30 ml, 99AUD, for premature (read: tired) skin
What it is: All the good and popular ingredients lined up to boost the skin’s natural collagen synthesis — Prickly Pear, Açai, Frankincense. The spicy-sweet smell is delightful and warming, supporting the sensation of this golden, non-greasy oil melting into the skin.
What I loved: First of all, a shoutout to whoever came up with both the brand and the product names! The former always made me chuckle, and nothing keeps you as young as a puckish spirit, the latter made all my goth senses tingle. Nocturnalist. I mean. And yes, I ignored the other, the clinical meaning of it because of course I did!
In terms of effect, the serum immediately softens the skin, and it even beautifully melts into dry skin (some oils absorb only well on damp skin).
Jaboneria Marianella, Royal Kalahari Face Serum
29.57 ml, 90$, for premature and stressed skin
What it is: A “regal” treatment designed to boost the tone, the glow and the firmness of your skin. How? The nearly colourless oil serum is based on twelve not just very potent but also delightfully fragrant botanicals (all cold pressed!) such as Kalahari Melon, Monoi, Maracuja, Tamanu, Baobab, Manketti, Camellia Seed… The smell of the Royal Kalahari Face Serum could be described best as warming, slightly earthy and slightly floral.
What I loved: Jaboneria Marianella is a family-run mother and son business from NYC, specialising in luxurious, cruelty-free and natural skincare and treatments. Products are handmade in small batches and sold in The Marianella Soap Bar & Spa. It might be this Spa background that makes the Royal Kalahari Face Serum so infinitely pleasant to use: it’s lightweight, silk-like texture glides across the skin, works marvellously under make-up or overnight, and — extra tip — is your perfect choice for a Gua Sha massage.
The Spa Dr., Step 2 Nourish Antioxidant Serum
30 ml, 69.99$, for all skin types
What it is: A classic serum texture, a light, colourless gel enriched with Hyaluronic Acid and fruit extracts; with a light, citrusy/fruity smell. The product bears the EWG label.
What I loved: Most gel formulations that contain hyaluronic acid tend to need extra moisturiser on top — otherwise they can make your skin feel, and sometimes even look, quite dehydrated, due to the hyaluronic molecules’ ability to bind moisture. The Nourish Antioxidant Serum leaves your skin in the state of perfect hydration: simply your skin, but smooth, evened out, absolutely not sticky but with a silky soft finish. Perfect under make-up!
AO Skincare, Reverse Longitude PM Serum-Shot
30 ml, 95$, for all skin types
What it is: A light-textured serum enriched with Red Algae extract and Hyaluronic Acid designed to boost skin elasticity, soften the skin, fight hyperpigmentation and wrinkles with the skin-renewing power of natural retinal or Vitamin A.
What I loved: The gentle, but visible renewal action – the tightened appearance of those pesky larger pores, for example. My Autumn/Winter skin never had the chance to start looking dull and grey.
Jenelt Essential Organics, Daily Renewal Firming Serum
30 ml, 52$, for all skin types
What it is: An EcoCert certified aloe-based gel designed for anti-pollution and anti-ox action. Contains apple stem cells, among other plant extracts.
What I loved: This beautifully calming and soothing certified organic serum with a gentle gel texture is among the three most affordable products in this test (under 50€) which kind of makes it a favourite in an industry that begins seeing a hart divide into luxury and budget.
Edible Beauty, Turmeric Beauty Latte Clear & Brighten
30 ml, 54AUD, for all skin types
What it is: A lightweight, gel serum designed to soften hyperpigmentation, calm blemishes and balance sebum production.
What I loved: One of the 3 under 50€ products, this delightful serum is a relief for those among us who dislike any kind of fragrance in their skincare. Enriched with extracts of Snow Mushroom, Turmeric, and Licorice, the serum actually can soften and even out your complexion. Great under make-up, hydrating, refreshing, non-sticky when it dries.
Leaf People, Clinical Hyaluronic Stem Cells Hydrating Serum
14 ml, 37$, for mature, dry, sensitive skin
What it is: A hydrating liquid enriched with Apple Stem Cells and Hyaluronic Acid; designed to hydrate and to soften the appearance of fine lines and age spots.
What I loved: The liquid texture. This serum is almost as runny as a toner, but still a bit more… well, manageable than pure water. It won my heart with its exquisite moisturising properties and the calming effect.
Sioris, A Calming Day Ampoule
35 ml, 24£, for irritated, oily, dry, sensitive skin
What it is: Shisandra, Calendula and Hyaluronic Acid in this beautiful soft pink gel serum help get your troubled skin through a troublesome urban day.
What I loved: The clean dropper design with maximum distribution control. The soft, hydrating formula that works as a charm under make-up.
All products show that beauty companies spend quite some time designing eco-friendly and formula-friendly packaging. All droppers were of great quality, none would cause spilling or product loss.
The formulations are stellar. There is not a single product in this line-up that I would say somehow misses its point or promises a whole lot more than it can deliver. The oil textures are lightweight and non-greasy; the gel textures are soft, non-drying, and non-sticky. I can’t wait to see which products get the first three placements.
If you’re eager to learn more, in particular if you’re based in North America, check out the CertClean website.