Anti-aging serums like this really get our blood boiling! Not only is the price jaw-dropping, but the formula lists alcohol as its second ingredient. Alcohol! The free radical damage-causing, pro-inflammation, pro-aging kind of alcohol is in the number two position in this absurdly overpriced, water-based serum! See More Info to find out why alcohol is a problem.
This serum claims to correct an uneven skin tone in numerous ways, improving skin clarity, dark spots, and dullness. Its silky texture feels great going on, but you'll smell the alcohol (which is telling given this serum also contains fragrance) and notice a drying finish that still illuminates. The radiance-boosting illumination comes from the mineral pigments (titanium dioxide and mica) this serum contains, but those ingredients are present in lots of other products whose formulas and price are significantly better.
The chief lightening ingredient in this serum is vitamin C, listed by its pure form of ascorbic acid. The formula also contains salicylic acid for exfoliation, but the pH of 4.4 is a bit outside the optimal range needed for great results (but it should have some impact, so that's a bright spot). As for vitamin C, there's lots of research indicating it helps lighten dark spots and uneven skin tone due to sun damage, but the amount in this serum is likely less than 3%, which isn't that impressive if the goal is improving dark spots and other discolorations.
YSL included some repairing and antioxidant ingredients but they're present in tiny amounts unlikely to be of much benefit to skin. There's some promise to be found in this serum, but if we could circle back to the beginning of this review, it's very hard to get past the amount of alcohol and the obnoxious price.
Alcohol in skin-care products causes dryness and free-radical damage, and impairs the skin's ability to heal. The irritation it causes damages healthy collagen production and can stimulate oil production at the base of the pore, making oily skin worse (Sources: Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1,410–1,419; Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, January 2011, pages 83–90; "Skin Care—From the Inside Out and Outside In," Tufts Daily, April 1, 2002; eMedicine Journal, May 8, 2002, volume 3, number 5, www.emedicine.com; Cutis, February 2001, pages 25–27; Contact Dermatitis, January 1996, pages 12–16; and http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh27-4/277-284.htm).
The first Skintone Corrector Serum by Yves Saint Laurent, integrates the exclusive GlycanactifWT™ complex and helps correct the appearance of uneven skintone by acting on dark spots, uniformity, clarity and radiance. Instantly, skin looks more luminous, its texture refined. Over time, color imperfections - dark spots & redness - look visibly reduced, skintone recovers its clarity and evenness.
Aqua/Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycerin, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethyhexanoate, Dimethicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, 3-0-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, Propylene Glycol, Polyacrylamide, Bis-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Phenoxyethanol, Panthenol, Polymethyl Methacrylate, C13-14 Isoparaffin, PEG-6, Capryloyl Salicylic Acid, CI 77891 Titanium Dioxide, Xanthan Gum, Pentylene Glycol, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Mica, Citric Acid, Polymethylsilsequioxane, Sodium Citrate, Laureth-7, BHT, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Methylsilanol Mannuronate, Disodium EDTA, Adenosine, Dimethiconol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Gingko Biloba Extract/Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Limonene, Linalool, Prunus Yedoensis Leaf Extract, Hydrolyzed Prunus Domestica, CI 14700/Red 4, CI 42090/Blue 1, Parfum/Fragrance.
Yves Saint Laurent At-A-Glance
Strengths: Every sunscreen includes avobenzone for sufficient UVA protection; some moisturizers with elegant textures; good makeup removers and toners; Radiant Touch is a favorite for good reason; intriguing blushes; two fantastic mascaras; very good liquid highlighter; innovative gloss/stain lip products.
Weaknesses: Expensive; no AHA or BHA products; no products to manage acne or combat skin discolorations; mostly mundane moisturizers and serums; pervasive use of jar packaging; antiwrinkle claims that epitomize ridiculous, yet cost hundreds of dollars; mostly average foundations; eyeshadow quads; mostly average lipstick and gloss options.
We have never reviewed an expensive cosmetics line with the intent of criticizing it based on the price tags alone. Our standard for reviewing all cosmetics remains the same whether the prices are rock bottom or stratospheric. What cannot be denied is that there are many consumers who just refuse to give up the notion that, in terms of cosmetics, expensive means better. If you're one of those consumers you may have been curious about our take on Yves Saint Laurent's makeup, which by far outshines their skin care.
In the past, as we surveyed the other French-themed lines at the department store (including Lancome, Chanel, Dior, and Guerlain), YSL almost always came in last, barely stepping up to the plate to compete in any category. Lately, we've been pleasantly surprised to find several impressive products, along with some needed improvements for many of their previously lackluster options (whose price-to-performance ratio was depressingly low). YSL still isn't the French line to set your sights on and fill your makeup bag with, but there are enough positives to make a trip to their counter worthwhile, assuming that your budget extends far enough to comfortably afford these items. (Even the best products from this line have less-expensive counterparts, but if you're label-conscious, you should know what to focus on.)
What's not so great is the lack of sufficient UVA protection in products with sunscreen, or SPF ratings that are too low given what we know about the need for a sufficient level of daily sun protection. Adding sunscreen to many of the foundations and lip products was a smart move, but doing so without getting the basics right doesn't get a passing grade. Most of the mascaras are surprisingly average also, yet on the other hand the foundation and powder shade selections have improved considerably. It's this off-kilter blend of outstanding and boring products coupled with steep prices all around that earn this line an "approach with caution" statement. However, careful shopping from YSL will undoubtedly net you some wonderful products you'll be pleased with, at least until the credit card bill comes due!
When it comes to skin care, Yves Saint Laurent relies heavily on its fashion heritage to convince consumers to give these products more than a passing glance. Based on the formulas and outlandish prices, we see no reason for anyone to admire, let alone purchase, most of the skin-care products this brand sells. The claims are nothing short of ridiculous, especially for any YSL product designed to minimize wrinkles or stop sagging. It's good that all of the sunscreens provide broad-spectrum protection, but the cost means you'll be replacing them quickly (if you're being diligent about liberal application, as you should be) and, of course, all of them contain wafting fragrance. The moisturizers are much less impressive, but carry some of the most too-good-to-be-true claims imaginable. None of what they're said to do in terms of wrinkles, skin regeneration, firming, and sculpting skin is the least bit reliable, though many of the moisturizers have luxurious textures.
What's missing is a focused approach to provide skin with what it really needs to thrive and remain healthy. Some of the basics are covered, but antioxidants are seemingly an afterthought, water-binding agents and skin-identical substances are mostly lacking, and once again fragrance takes precedence over advanced ingredients with substantiated research to support their use. If your skin-care routine must involve a designer brand, you'd be better off shopping Chanel and only considering YSL for the makeup products they have that, cost notwithstanding, are worthy of the attention they get in, where else, fashion magazines.
For more information about Yves Saint Laurent, call 800-399-0929 or visit www.ysl.com.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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