Hydra Beauty Micro Serum
The lightweight, water-based Hydra Beauty Micro Serum from Chanel makes a big deal about the micro-droplet technology (it's patented!) which is said to deliver this product's Camellia japonica extract ingredient to skin. This plant is supposed to "infuse skin with exceptional hydration" said to last 24 hours. As it turns out, other ingredients besides this plant make the formula a decent hydrating serum for normal to dry skin, but one that's assuredly overpriced for what you get.
About that patent claim: We're not questioning the patent, but from a consumer standpoint, you need to know that a patent is simply a means of controlling rights to use an idea or concept; it is not, as is sometimes mistaken for, proof of effectiveness. Buying a skincare product because it contains patented technology or ingredients doesn't guarantee great results—or even a good formula!
Chanel refers to the Camellia japonica extract as "camellia alba PFA" on their website. According to Chanel, this plant promotes "optimal moisture retention within skin cells," but there is no research supporting this claim; even if such research did exist, there's a long list of other ingredients with lots of research showing they can help skin maintain moisture and fight environmental damage. Besides, skin care is never as simple as one ingredient, however good it may be.
What research has revealed about camellia alba PFA (which Chanel lists by its correct Latin name Camellia japonica) is that an extract from this flower seems to inhibit excess melanin production, and, like most plants, it also functions as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (Experimental Dermatology, 2014; Journal of Natural Products, 2012; and BMB Reports, 2012).
There's nothing in the research about Camellia japonica extract being able to hydrate skin (though the plant oil, which this product doesn't contain, certainly could). That's likely why Chanel front-loaded this product with classic hydrating ingredients like glycerin and propanediol. Along with butylene glycol, these ingredients provide the silky slip and lasting, skin-smoothing hydration this serum can provide—but so can lots of other serums and moisturizers that cost a lot less.
We would be more likely to recommend this serum if it didn't contain fragrance (though the amount is thankfully more subtle than lots of other Chanel products) and if Chanel had added more skin-identical repairing ingredients like ceramides. A more robust mix of antioxidants would've been nice, too; especially for over $100!
In the end, although Hydra Beauty Micro Serum hydrates skin, leaves a soft glow, and has a modern, non-sticky gel texture that feels great on normal to dry skin (oily skin will find it too heavy), its overall formula isn't as exciting as it seems. You're simply not getting your money's worth, and if you want to spend in this range for a single skin-care product, it should be loaded with beneficial ingredients you'll find in the Best Serums section of our site.
- Capable of hydrating and keeping skin smooth for an extended period of time.
- Modern gel texture is non-sticky and leaves skin with a healthy glow.
- Overpriced for what you get, which is little more than a basic moisturizer.
- Not a very exciting anti-aging formula due to its low amount of state of the art ingredients.
Strengths: Sleek and occasionally elegant packaging; the sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection; a handful of good cleansers and a topical scrub; some impressive foundations with sunscreen; an assortment of good makeup products including concealer, blush, mascara, eyeshadow and bronzer.
Weaknesses: Expensive, with an emphasis on style over substance; overpriced; over-reliance on jar packaging; antioxidants in most products amount to a mere dusting; no products to successfully address sun- or hormone-induced skin discolorations with research-proven ingredients; mostly mediocre to poor eye pencils; extremely limited options for eyeshadows if you want a matte finish.
The history of this Paris-bred line is steeped in fashion, jewelry, and fragrance firsts. The image-is-everything fashion sensibility and fragrance know-how have been loosely translated to Chanel's ever-imposing skin-care collection, now divided into several categories, although most of them have overlapping, overly exaggerated claims and over-the-top pricing. The company likes to mention its research facility, referred to as C.E.R.I.E.S. (Centre de Recherches et d'Investigations Epidermiques et Sensorielles) as a way to give credibility to its products and the formulary expertise of Chanel's team of scientists, but its studies are not necessarily the kind of independent research that shows up in medical journals.
Founded in 1991 and funded by Chanel, the goal of this research facility is "to help provide a scientific foundation for the design of skin care products and to promote public awareness of the principles underlying maintenance of healthy, attractive skin." Examining Chanel's often lengthy ingredient lists reveals that they believe healthy, attractive skin requires mostly standard, banal ingredients coupled with lots of fragrance and just a smattering of anything resembling state-of-the-art ingredients. Designing skin-care products whose purpose is to reinforce healthy skin doesn't involve strong scents, irritants such as alcohol, or sunscreens whose SPF ratings fall below the standards set by major health organizations, including the American Academy of Dermatology and corresponding international academies as well. Furthermore, their N 1 products claim to increase skin's oxygen uptake, something that essentially puts skin on the fast track for more free-radical damage, and no one at C.E.R.I.E.S. seems to have any idea about how to treat acne-prone skin. (Well, let's face it, acne is never fashionable.)
Just like most Chanel skin-care products, the research facility and its ties to the dermatology community make it sound more impressive than it really is. Chanel's influence on fashion and luxury accoutrements is legendary and ongoing; but their skin-care products simply cannot compete with what many other lines are doing, including Estee Lauder, Clinique, Prescriptives, Olay, Dove, Neutrogena, and many others. Considering the couture-level prices, too much of Chanel's skin care is average, and that doesn't look good on anyone.
For more information about Chanel, call (800) 550-0005 or visit www.chanel.com.
Chanel pulls out all the stops to present their makeup in the most flattering light. Many of their products are deserving of the best status, but, frustratingly, an equal number disappoint, seeming to coast on Chanel's name and attention to upscale, designer-influenced packaging rather than providing true quality. For example, few companies have foundations with textures as varied and state-of-the-art as Chanel. However, most of their foundations with sunscreen are formulated without essential UVA-protecting ingredients, even though Chanel clearly knows about this issue, as evidenced from their numerous skin-care products that do contain avobenzone or titanium dioxide. Neglecting adequate UVA protection while going on about how the product creates younger-looking skin is not only inaccurate, it's harmful to your skin's health and appearance.
Beyond inadequate sunscreen, Chanel's eye and lip pencils have extraordinary prices, but ordinary to poor performance, and most of their "we're trying to be unique and clever" products don't do much to prove they're worthy of purchase. It's hard to ignore that much of what Chanel does well other lines do just as well (and sometimes better), and with a more realistic price range to boot. However, the overall situation is better than standard but well-dressed formulas with shamelessly affluent prices, because although it's not inexpensive, the best of Chanel's makeup is truly outstanding. What's needed to establish consistency is an overhaul of the many products that have fallen behind formula-wise. We doubt Chanel will reevaluate their pricing for the better, but given that, the least you should expect is stellar performance from everything you buy that bears the iconic double C logo!
Note: Chanel is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because its products are sold in China. Although Chanel does not conduct animal testing for its products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they dont test on animals unless required by law. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Research Team.
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.