Elevate Advanced Retinol Serum
Algenist's ELEVATE Advanced Retinol Serum has been reformulated since we originally tested it and earned an upgrade for its excellent formula that's suitable for all skin types except sensitive. It contains an impressive array of cell-communicating, antioxidant and replenishing ingredients. More of a sheer, silky-feeling lotion than a traditional serum texture, you will find this delivers a light amount of moisture, so if you have oily skin you may not need a separate hydrator.
Like all Algenist products, this contains algae exopolysaccharides, which the brand touts as "Alguronic Acid" and claims it is a potent anti-wrinkle ingredient. Independent, peer-reviewed and published research doesn't corroborate this claim, but nevertheless algae exopolysaccharides do have some moisture-binding and antioxidant benefit for skin.
On the upside, you don't need to worry about the lack of research around this ingredient, because this retinol serum contains other proven ingredients in abundance.
In addition to retinol, Algenist also added a few synthetic peptides and a ceramide along with a nice array of skin-identical ingredients—the fragrance is exceptionally mild, so it shouldn't be a problem for most. This also contains the mineral pigment mica which adds a subtle illumination.
While you certainly do not need to spend this amount of money for a well-formulated serum, it stands among the best (and certainly ranks among the better products by Algenist). But even then, you can ignore the claim about this serum helping skin resist gravity. We wish that were possible, but such a feat is beyond the capability of even the best skincare products.
- Contains a mix of retinol and other beneficial anti-aging ingredients.
- Packaged to protect its formula from light and air.
- Lightweight texture works well with any moisturizer.
- Feels very silky and is easy to apply.
- Cannot make skin resistant to gravity.
- Contains fragrance, which can irritate skin.
This advanced vegan serum is formulated with pure vegan retinol, encapsulated with green algae (patented and exclusive) to preserve retinols efficacy and allow for a gradual time release of retinol. A high concentration of our patented Alguronic Acid boosts retinol efficacy and helps support elastin in the skin. Gentle enough to use every day and night, this high-performance formula helps enhance skin strength and elasticity, visibly improves skin texture and resistance to gravity, and minimizes the appearance of fine line & wrinkles.
Strengths: Good facial cleanser and toner; select serums and moisturizers formulated with an impressive mix of anti-aging ingredients; Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer really does make wrinkles less apparent.
Weaknesses: Expensive; the star ingredient (a modified form of algae) doesn't have reliable research to support its anti-aging efficacy; jar packaging; some of the moisturizers contain eucalyptus oil, which can be a potent irritant.
Algenist is a small range of skin care products sold at Sephora with a focus on anti-aging. Like several other cosmetics companies, Algenist has based their brand on a single ingredient, an ingredient they claim has superior benefits for skin and that, therefore, is worth the steep price tag. In this case, it was the "accidental" discovery of a substance found in algae. As the story goes, a group of biotechnology scientists were looking for ways to use something called microalgae as a renewable source of energy when they stumbled upon a compound known as alguronic acid. Their research revealed that alguronic acid is one of the compounds responsible for regenerating and protecting algae cells.
Figuring they were on to something, the company did further in vitro testing (although the details of their tests are not available) and, of course, found that alguronic acid had anti-aging benefits on skin, too. Aside from having no idea what their studies did or didn't really show, in vitro means this ingredient was examined in a petri dish, not directly on human skin. They did limited testing on human skin, but many key details of these "studies" are not available. Instead, we're asked to accept that their ingredient made a remarkable difference. At the time of this writing, there isn't a single published study attesting to the claims Algenist makes for alguronic acid, so you're taking an expensive leap of faith in buying these products! We should note, there are several forms of algae that are valuable when it comes to providing skin with anti-aging benefits - it's just that the research surrounding alguronic acid remains scant.
Whether the story about alguronic acid being the answer for your skin is true or not, it is critical to keep in mind that skin, and skin care, is far more complex than one allegedly miraculous ingredient. Think of it like your diet: As healthy as green tea is, if that's all you consumed, you'd soon be malnourished. Just like your diet should contain a healthy mix of nutritious foods, your skin (which is your body's largest organ) needs a wide array of helpful ingredients to become and remain smooth, healthy, and, yes, able to look and act younger.
To Algenist's credit, their products contain more than just alguronic acid. Most of them have a good blend of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients, although the ones they call out as key ingredients (such as apple stem cells) have no real published research proving their efficacy. Despite the fact that their products contain some tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients, Algenist makes the same mistakes as many other lines, such as using jar packaging (which won't keep any of the beneficial ingredients stable during use) and including fragrance or fragrant plant extracts to give the products an appealing scent. Fragrance isn't skin care and, in fact, more often than not, will cause irritation that hurts your skin's ability to look and act younger!
In the end, Algenist is not a must-have line, and it certainly isn't worth expanding your beauty budget to afford. There are some acceptable to impressive options for those who don't mind spending more than they need to for effective products, but you'll find a wider, often better range of options on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.
For more information about Algenist, call (877) 650-1837 or visit www.algenist.com.
Note: Algenist lists the alguronic acid in their products as algae exopolysaccharides, which is the accepted cosmetic labeling name for alguronic acid.
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.