It would be great if most of the claims made for Caudalie's Resveratrol Lift Firming Serum were possible, but that's simply not reality. No serum, regardless of what it contains or how much it costs, can "return your face to a youthful V shape" or plump cheeks that have, presumably, become hollow-looking with age. Such age-related changes in face shape are beyond what skincare (even with special ingredients) can do. See More Info for details on why products claiming to lift and "resculpt" sagging skin cannot work.
Caudalie updated the packaging from its former wide-mouthed bottle with dropper to a bottle outfitted with a pump. This welcome change makes the slightly gelatinous, lotion-like serum much easier to use—and it improved this product's overall rating, although this still remains a serum that we find difficult to recommend.
Getting back to what's inside the bottle, this serum has a light, silky texture suitable for all skin types. It slips over skin and absorbs quickly, leaving a slightly hydrated-feeling, non-sticky finish. As mentioned, it contains some good antioxidants, including resveratrol, which is a component of the brand's palmitoyl grapevine shoot extract—red grapes are a natural source of this antioxidant. It also contains skin-repairing and line-smoothing hyaluronic acid, though the fragrance this contains plays a bigger role.
Speaking of fragrance, in this serum it's on the potent side, but it does fade quite a bit once the serum has dried. Still, the scent comes from not only added fragrance but from several fragrance ingredients known to cause irritation (examples include linalool and limonene). See More Info to learn how daily use of fragrant products like this can impact skin.
Summing up, what's to love about Caudalie's Resveratrol Lift Firming Serum is outdone by its shortcomings. In contrast to its marketing, it cannot change your face shape, cannot "recontour," and won't lift sagging skin. It will smooth and hydrate and does contain some very good antioxidants, but the fragrance ingredients pose a risk of irritation. See our list of Best Serums & Boostersfor dozens of superior options, many of which cost less than this one.
Products Claiming to Lift Skin: Many skin-care products claim they can firm and lift skin, but none of them work, at least not to the extent claimed. A face-lift-in-a-bottle isn't possible, but with the right mix of products, you will see firmer skin that has a more lifted appearance—and that's exciting! To gain these youthful benefits, you must protect your skin from any and all sun damage every day, use an AHA (glycolic acid or lactic acid) or BHA (salicylic acid) exfoliant, and use products that have a wide range of antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients. Remember, no single product can do it all; it's the combination of products that has extensive research showing they can significantly improve many of the signs of aging, such as firming skin, reducing wrinkles and brown spots, and eliminating dullness.
Irritation from High Amounts of Fragrance: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes chronic irritation that can damage healthy collagen production, lead to or worsen dryness, and impair your skin's ability to heal. Fragrance-free is the best way for all skin types to go for all skin types (Food and Chemical Toxicology, 2008 & American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003).
The sneaky part about irritation is that research has demonstrated that you don't always need to see it or feel it for your skin to suffer damage, and that damage may remain hidden for a long time (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008).
In fact, the effect of inflammation in the skin is cumulative, and repeated exposure to irritants contributes to a weakened skin barrier, slower healing (including of red marks from breakouts), and a dull, uneven complexion (Aging, 2012 & Chemical Immunology and Allergy, 2012).
Caudalie Paris At-A-Glance
Strengths: Good cleansers; an excellent scrub for dry skin; air-tight packaging; a good lip balm and moisturizing mask; one truly state-of-the-art moisturizer for dry skin (one is better than none).
Weaknesses: Expensive; mundane to irritating serums, moisturizers, and eye creams; limited sun protection options; no AHA or BHA products; no products to lighten skin discolorations; several products contain irritating plant extracts.
Let's pour ourselves a glass of wine before we begin this review. Okay, now that we are adequately prepared we can, in effect, review this line without smirking. Why wine? Because Caudalie is a skin-care line whose ambience is intended to evoke the importance and value of grapes for your skin. Are you ready for this? Caudalie is in fact a term used in wine tasting; it is an actual measurement used to indicate how long the taste of a wine stays on your palate: 1 caudalie = 1 second. So, if you can still taste the wine in your mouth 1 second after swallowing it, that's 1 caudalie; 2 seconds after swallowing, that's 2 caudalie, and so on. And, supposedly, the more caudalie the wine has the more elegant and superior it is.
What does any of that have to do with skin care? From Caudalie Paris's perspective, everything, because clearly they think the grape is the cornerstone for formulating any skin-care product. After reading their information you could easily assume that Welch's Grape Juice could be used as a toner. But of course that's not what Caudalie has in mind, because it's their formulas they want you to count on, not Welch's juice.
It turns out that grape extract, grape oil, and other parts of the grape do have mounting research proving that they do have benefit for skin when applied topically. Red grapes (stem, seed, pulp, and especially the skin) contain proanthocyanidin and resveratrol, naturally occurring compounds that are considered very potent antioxidants. There is also impressive research showing how helpful these compounds are for reducing the sun's damaging effects, and that topical application plays a role in wound healing. (Sources: Photochemistry and Photobiology, March-April 2008, pages 415–421; Journal of Medicinal Food, December 2007, pages 636–642, and June 2007, pages 337–344; and Free Radical Biology and Medicine, October 2002, pages 1089–1092).
The research is significant, but (excuse me while we take another sip of wine) what's ludicrous—and disappointing—about the Caudalie products is that most of them don't contain a significant amount of grape extract, and resveratrol (the most potent compound in the grape) is entirely absent. Without question, Caudalie could have formulated products that included a larger amount of grapes and their beneficial compounds—at least it would have given more resonance to their story that the grapes in their products offer long-lasting antioxidant protection to every cell.
Getting back to the research on grapes, what's important to keep in mind is that while grapes are a great source of antioxidant protection, there are also hundreds of other plant extracts, vitamins, and minerals with potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and wound-healing properties. No single ingredient has achieved the coveted status of "best" when it comes to skin (or health) care. Almost all antioxidants appear to have some benefit for skin, and while some are indeed more stable or more potent than others, there is still no reason to get wrapped up in any single ingredient, any more than your diet should have only one food group for adequate nutrition. Plus, skin needs more than one single antioxidant; thinking otherwise is like believing you can subsist on drinking wine or eating grapes and nothing else. For skin, cell-communicating ingredients, skin-identical ingredients, sun protection, and exfoliants are all fundamental to superior skin care, yet in Caudalie's narrow view, each comes up short.
Although almost all Caudalie products contain a small amount of grapes in one form or another, they don't offer much else for skin, and several of their products contain irritating plant extracts that not only hurt skin but also work against the beneficial compounds from the grapes. In addition, no antioxidant stands much chance of helping skin if you're not protecting your skin from sunlight.
As much as Caudalie would like you to believe that their botanical cocktails are the sought-after fountain of youth, for the most part, you'd be far better off spending your money on fresh grapes, grape juice, or a vintage bottle of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon!
For more information about Caudalie Paris, call (866) 826-1615 or visit www.caudalie.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
Beautypedia cuts through the hype to bring you product insights and recommendations you won’t find anywhere else!