GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 115.00
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Brand Overview

The name for this water-based serum basically downgrades all of the other anti-aging serums and treatments Algenist offers, doesn’t it? After all, if this is the “ultimate” and a genius, then why bother with any of their other allegedly wonderful products? The truth is that Algenist offers several good to great products, and name aside, this is one of their better options. What also remains true is that although this is a well formulated serum, you do not need to spend this much for that type of product. But if the price doesn’t bother you, read on!

Vitamin C is in the name, and a derivative of pure vitamin C is present in an impressive amount in this serum. The form of vitamin C employed is known as 3-O Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, and although Algenist doesn’t reveal the percentage used, it’s likely in the recommended usage level (3%) for effectiveness, which is great. There is no published research proving this is the best form of vitamin C, but tests the ingredient supplier has done indicate it has better stability than some other forms of vitamin C—yet Algenist packaged this serum to ensure all of the light- and air-sensitive ingredients remain stable during use, so the need for a more stable form of vitamin C wasn’t a necessity.

We love that the formula doesn’t rest on vitamin C alone. Skin is also treated to cell-communicating ingredient niacinamide, algae oil and extract (both have benefits for skin but neither works miracles), peptides, and a small amount of skin-repairing ceramides and antioxidant plant extracts. The mix of vitamin C + niacinamide should help lighten brown spots and red marks from past breakouts.

All in all, this is a good mix of anti-aging ingredients that will help repair, even out, smooth, firm, and strengthen skin—assuming your anti-aging routine includes daily broad spectrum sun protection, too! This serum is suitable for all skin types except extra-sensitive, due to the small amount of fragrant irritant coumarin it contains.


  • Very good mix of anti-aging ingredients, headlined by a promising derivative of vitamin C.
  • Feels silky and hydrating, not greasy.
  • Packaged to keep light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use.
  • Likely to improve dark spots and uneven skin tone.


  • Fragrance ingredient coumarin can cause contact hypersensitivity.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

This serums efficiency and technology joins with Alguronic Acid to improve skin firmness and smoothness. It is formulated with microalgae oil to achieve intense skin hydration and a Vitamin C derivative to help reduce the appearance of stubborn discolorationboosting radiance in the skin while plant collagen promotes a youthful skin appearance.

Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Sodium Citrate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Niacinamide, Ethoxydiglycol, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Vinyl Dimethicone/ Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Citric Acid, Algae Extract, PEG-12 Dimethicone, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Vegetable Collagen, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Sorbitan Isostearate, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Coumarin.

Algenist At-a-Glance

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.

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