The Serum Stick

0.28 fl. oz. for $ 48.00
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Brand Overview

The Serum Stick by Tatcha is intended to be a concentrated treatment balm to target dryness and signs of aging. We particularly love that it offers easy reapplication throughout the day to give skin a smoother, hydrated appearance in key areas. Just one formulary misstep holds it back from receiving our top rating.

The Serum Stick comes in opaque packaging as a solid, twist-up balm that glides over skin like butter, leaving a hydrated sheen as it goes. It’s meant to be used in precise areas such as on fine lines, rather than an all-over facial treatment.

We found this especially helpful for anyone who struggles with under-eye skin that tends to look more crepey or parched as the day goes on. In essence, the balmy layer of hydration instantly perks up dehydrated skin with a healthy glow and makes lines look less severe. (Just keep in mind you’d need to top it off with sunscreen during daylight hours.)

The formula is front-loaded with squalane, which is an excellent source of skin-replenishing fatty acids, antioxidants and moisture for dry skin. Next on the ingredient list you’ll find a couple different types of waxes that help hold the stick in its solid texture, while also adding a protective-feeling barrier over skin. Other beneficial ingredients include the rice/green tea ferment and sodium hyaluronate (a skin-plumping form of hyaluronic acid).

The Melissa officinalis leaf extract (or as Tatcha calls it, Japanese lemon balm) is our only cause for hesitation with this formula due to the fact that it may pose a risk of irritation. However, because its scent is not detectable, and it falls far enough down on the ingredient list, we aren’t overly concerned about its potential to sensitize skin. Nevertheless, fragrance free is always a safer bet, especially if you have sensitive skin.

There are more potent serums out there in terms of hardcore anti-aging ingredients, but because The Serum Stick offers a unique solution to make fine lines and crepey areas of skin look less pronounced, we think it’s a worthy contender to complement your skin care routine.

  • Balm texture slips over skin and delivers a protective-feeling barrier.
  • Delivers hydration that instantly perks up crepey, dehydrated skin.
  • Makes fine lines looks less severe and can be reapplied up on-the-go.
  • Front-loaded with squalane—a rich source of replenishing fatty acids, antioxidants and moisture.
  • Supporting ingredients reinforce skin health.
  • Contains a fragrant plant extract that may pose a slight risk of irritation.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

A concentrated treatment and touch-up balm packed with 80% squalane, hyaluronic acid, and Japanese lemon balm to target dryness and signs of aging.


Squalane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Cera Alba/Beeswax/Cire D’ Abeille, Saccharomyces/Camellia Sinensis Leaf/Cladosiphon Okamuranus/Rice Ferment Filtrate*, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Betaphycus Gelatinum Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tocopherol, Aqua/Water/Eau, Pentylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Propanediol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol.

Tatcha At-a-Glance

The allure of ancient beauty treatments coupled with modern science is tempting for many peopleand the Japan-inspired brand Tatcha plays that combination up to the max. As the story goes, Harvard graduate and businesswoman Victoria Tsai, had a chance encounter with a modern-day geisha on a trip to Kyoto, Japan. What followed was an introduction to a fabled book on the beauty secrets of the geisha, which led to Tsais desire to translate these secrets and tips into a modern-day skincare line.

The hallmark ingredients Tsai and her team seem most interested in are of Japan-inspired such as green tea, red algae, and rice bran which are supposedly mentioned often in the ancient geisha beauty book. Although all three of these ingredients have merit for skin, research hasnt shown them to purify or do some of the other things for skin that Tatcha claims. What you really need to know is none of these are the solution for any skin concern or for any skin type.

One more point, the entire premise of Tatcha is built around Japanese geishas beauty routines, but this assumes that under all of their decorative makeup, geishas have (or had) beautiful, flawless skin. In all likelihood, some do and some dont, but its quite likely that when unadorned and viewed close up, these women have the same types of skin issues as women the world oversave for perhaps fewer signs of sun damage, as most east Asian cultures are careful about avoiding sun exposure.

Enough about the marketing story because what really matters is the quality of the products and whether or not they are beneficial for skin. The short answer is this line has more problematic formulations than beneficial ones.

Chief among the concerns that keep us from getting behind this line are an abundance of fragrance (natural or not, fragrance can irritate skin) and several products housed in jars that expose their delicate ingredients to light and air.

Admittedly, its easy to get swept up in what the ancients knew and kept to themselves for centuries, only to have these seemingly amazing secrets finally divulged. We wish that were a wise way to find the best products for your skin, but despite Tatchas promises, your skin will be left wanting more.

For more information about Tatcha visit www.tatcha.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.

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