C-ESTA Serum contains a mix of good and not-so-good ingredients for skin. We appreciate the combination of skin-repairing hyaluronic acid (from sodium hyaluronate), vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate) and the moisturizing agent urea, but things more or less go downhill from there. Our chief concerns, aside from the price, is the amount of fragrance and the controversial ingredient DMAE (dimethyl MEA). See More Info for additional details on why irritation from fragrance is such a problem for skin.
DMAE is controversial because research has shown it to have both positive and negative impact on skin. It seems to offer an initial improvement to skin, but these results are short-lived and eventually give way to destruction of the substances that help build healthy collagen. (Sources: Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, November-December 2007, pages 711–718; and American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, volume 6, 2005, pages 39–47). Given the potential drawbacks of topically applied DMAE, there is no reason to consider it over the long-established superstar ingredients such as retinol, niacinamide, peptides or the innumerable combinations of antioxidants.
Interestingly, there is a formulation challenge when including DMAE in skin-care products. To maintain the efficacy and stability of DMAE, the product's pH must be at least 10. A pH of 10 is highly alkaline, which isn't good news for skin because it increases bacteria content in pores, and causes irritation and dryness. However, as water-based moisturizers (including serums and eye creams) are formulated with a pH that closely matches that of human skin (generally 5.5–6.5, which is on the acidic side of the scale), in all likelihood the DMAE included in skin-care products cannot have any prolonged functionality. (Source: Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, Supplement 72, 2008, pages S17–S22).
When you consider the cost, you can find better options from many brands that don't have the significant drawbacks of Jan Marini's C-ESTA Serum. To see our top recommendations, check in our list of Best Serums.
- Contains a good amount of vitamin C.
- A beneficial array of emollients and a skin-identical ingredient.
- Packaged to maintain stability.
- Contains fragrance and other potentially irritating ingredients.
- Contains the controversial ingredient DMAE (Dimethyl MEA).
Why Irritation Is a Problem:Irritation from too much fragrance, whether you see it on the surface of your skin or not, causes inflammation and as a result impairs healing, damages collagen, and depletes the vital substances your skin needs to stay young. For these reasons, it is best to eliminate, or minimize as much as possible, your exposure to known skin irritants, especially when there are brilliant formulas available that do not include these types of problematic ingredients (Sources: Inflammation Research, December 2008, pages 558–563; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2008, pages 124–135, and November-December 2000, pages 358–371; Journal of Investigative Dermatology, April 2008, pages 15–19; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008, pages 78–82; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, January 2007, pages 92–105; and British Journal of Dermatology, December 2005, pages S13–S22).
C-ESTA Serum is a remarkable anti-aging and skin rejuvenation breakthrough. This patented combination of Vitamin C and DMAE boosts collagen, lifts and tightens the appearance of facial contours & protects the skin against free-radical damage. With use, lines will appear far less pronounced, facial contours more defined and skin tone will visibly improve for noticeably younger, healthier looking skin.
Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc.At-A-Glance
Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance- and colorant-free; excellent AHA and retinol options, including an AHA combined with sunscreen; the water-soluble cleansers.
Weaknesses: Expensive; some categories contain ingredients (growth factors, hormones, and interferon) with unreliable track records or whose long-term risks, if any, remain unknown; sunscreens that lack sufficient UVA-protecting ingredients; jar packaging;Marini Lash isn't as exciting as Marinis former lash-enhancing products.
Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., was founded, of course, by Jan Marini, who originally started out marketing products for M.D. Formulations. Thus, it isn't surprising to find that her own line is also aimed at dermatologists, aestheticians, and plastic surgeons, much the way M.D. Formulations is. In direct contrast to many of the other skin-care lines in this niche market, Marinis line stands out with its selection of far more realistic and varied skin-care products. First, there are no spiraling-out-of-control ingredient lists where everything is thrown in except the kitchen sink. Then, and more important, you will find some well-formulated products that include sunscreens, skin-lightening options, vitamin C products, and good glycolic acidbased alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) products, along with some outstanding retinol options.
It is interesting to observe that Marini attributes the research for her "topical form of lipid (fat) soluble Vitamin C that is stable and able to be absorbed" to the form "developed in conjunction with physician researcher Nicholas Perricone, M.D." Of course, Perricone has his own version of vitamin C products, which are quite similar to Marini's in that they also contain ascorbyl palmitate. That being the case, given that he claims his are the best ever with the highest concentration of the stuff, we wonder if she would now agree with his findings? At least compared to her former partners at M.D. Formulations, Marini's information about vitamin C is more accurately based (it's backed by published research) and there's only a minimal amount of hyperbole. In fact, when it comes to the information Marini and team present to the professionals who retail their products, this line wins high marks for its close-to-accurate information about how skin ages, what can be done to minimize and prevent future signs of aging, and the effects various products have on skin. Of course, you're supposed to believe her products have all the answers, but that's what the reviews below will elucidate.
For more information about Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., call (888) 695-2611 or visit www.janmarini.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.