This artificially pink-tinted, water-based serum lists alcohol as its second ingredient. Actually, the first three ingredients in this serum are among the least expensive, which makes the price that much more ridiculous! Although the first and third ingredients (water and glycerin) are a boon in most skin-care products, the alcohol is a distinctive problem and the chief reason why Forever Youth Liberator Serum isn't recommended. See More Info to find out the many ways a high alcohol content can hurt skin.
Without the alcohol and the fragrance (which compounds the potential irritation from the alcohol), this would've been a good serum for all skin types. It contains some novel but effective synthetic antioxidants as well as the cell-communicating ingredient adenosine and skin-repairing sodium hyaluronate. Of course, these types of ingredients can be found in many serums costing less than $60, so for certain you don't need to spend in the triple digits to gain their benefits.
What about the high concentration of "Glycanactif" YSL refers to? We suspect this is about the fourth ingredient in this serum, which is a plant sugar known as rhamnose. YSL's sister company Vichy (both brands are owned by L'Oreal) uses rhamnose in their LiftActiv products. They maintain they have research (in vitro, meaning it wasn't done to an actual person's skin but in a petri dish) proving that this plant sugar does all sorts of marvelous anti-aging things. Although neither Vichy nor YSL wouldn't share their research details with us, it turns out there is some compelling published research on how rhamnose may help skin do what it should be doing before it was damaged—but mixing it with a destructive ingredient like alcohol negates much of the benefit.
It's important to point out rhamnose is not the only ingredient in town for anti-aging (clearly YSL doesn't think so either or they wouldn't be selling so many other anti-aging products with similar claims). It's intriguing to note that although the carbohydrate (sugar) portion of rhamnose seems helpful for skin, the lipid portion (known as rhamnolipids) is toxic to skin cells. It seems rhamnose sugars (technically known as polysaccharides) function as cell-communicating ingredients. They have an affinity for cells that produce fibroblasts. Since fibroblasts are cells that create collagen, this is good news for wrinkles, because, at least in theory and in controlled lab settings, rhamnose can "tell" misbehaving fibroblast cells to begin producing normal, healthier cells (Sources: Clinics in Plastic Surgery, January 2012, pages 1–8; Amino Acids, May 2011, Epbulication; Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, December 2008, pages 1,388–1,394; and Pathologie-Biologie, September 2006, pages 420–425.).
It seems there's reason to be excited about rhamnose, but not more so than lots of other ingredients, including vitamin C, retinol, and niacinamide. Rhamnose is but one more option, not a complete solution for aging skin—and not in a serum with the drawbacks this one has!
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 star of the Forever Youth Liberator range, the Serum contains the highest concentration of Glycanactif™ , specially formulated to help restore your skin’s youthful beauty. Instantly, skin looks more luminous and soft. After 1 week, skin feels more moisturized and supple. Within 1 month, skin has visibly improved: tone and texture are more even, bounce is back and radiance returns.
Aqua/Water, Alcohol Denat., Glycerin, Rhamnose, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxypropyl Tetrahydropyrantriol, Cyclohexasiloxane, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Hydroxyethylpiperazine Ethane Sulfonic Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polysilicone-11, Caprylyl Glycol, Ammonium Polyacryldimethyltauramide/Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Adenosine, Xanthan Gum, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose, Sesquistearate, Disodium EDTA, Polystyrene, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Citric Acid, Chondrus Crispus (Carrageenan), Linalool, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Geraniol, Red 4, Yellow 5, 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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