Wherein we take a closer look at a product with a fairly long name and a commensurately high price tag. HURRAH. But yeah, I’ve talked about this one before albeit briefly, and you guys wanted more info (or at least one of you did), and I feel very strongly that this stuff is worth a little more bandwidth so … here ya go!
WHAT IS THAT FANCY SHIZ
Algenist Advanced Anti-Aging Repairing Oil ($82/1oz at Ulta and Sephora, $79 at Nordstrom) is, for the short answer, the only facial oil I’ve ever tried that A) I really liked, B) didn’t break out my oily acne-prone skin, but C) actually DOES do a thing. Before we get into my own opinions on this stuff, let’s check out what’s in there (description of/info on each ingredient pulled from the ingredient databases at Beautypedia, EWG, and/or TruthInAging):
INGREDIENTS : Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Isopropyl Isostearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ceramide 3, Alaria Esculenta Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Cymbopogon Martini Oil, Geraniol.
Chlorella Protothecoides Oil : this is Algenist’s fancy patented microalgae oil, for which there isn’t really any independent study data. According to Algenist’s site (i.e. marketing copy), “Renewable and sustainable, Microalgae Oil is sourced from microalgae […]. Its rich composition containing Oleic Acid, Phytosterols, Tocopherols and Tocotrienols, deliver superior benefits to the skin, replenishing essential moisture and nutrient loss. Microalgae Oil is clinically proven to keep skin hydrated 5x longer than untreated skin over a 24-hour period.” Ignoring the fact that they fucked up the subject/verb agreement in that first sentence (I know, participial phrases are tricky), some of that sounds very good and some of it sounds like Marketing Woo.
Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate : emollient, skin conditioner and thickening agent.
Isopropyl Isostearate : emollient, skin conditioning agent, binder and humectant.
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride : emollient, dispersing agent and solvent. As an emollient, it both quickly penetrates the surface to condition the skin/hair, and provides a lightweight and non-greasy barrier of lubrication. As a dispersing agent, it helps enhance the delivery of vitamins, pigments and other active ingredients contained in a solution so that they become evenly spread out and fully absorbed by the epidermis.
Ceramide-3 : naturally occurring long-chain lipids that are major components of skin’s outer layers; provide and retain moisture in the skin.
Alaria Esculenta Extract : algae-derived antioxidant, emollient, texture-enhancer.
Retinyl Palmitate : combination of retinol (pure vitamin A) and the fatty acid palmitic acid. Research has shown it to be an effective antioxidant when applied to skin.
Tocopherol : vitamin E, antioxidant.
Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract : rosemary extract, antioxidant.
Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil : sunflower seed oil, emollient.
Cymbopogon Martini Oil : palmarosa oil, conditioning agent with possibly some sebum-production-balancing properties, also used for its rose-like fragrance.
Geraniol : from geraniums, primarily used as fragrance.
So all of that stuff sounds really good, right? Emollients, antioxidants, ceramides, yay. Also worth noting : persnickety Paula’s Choice Beautypedia rates every one of these ingredients as “GOOD” or “BEST” — except for the microalgae oil (which, again, not much in the way of publicly-available data on that one) and the last two (thus in very small concentrations) ingredients, because we know how Paula’s Choice feels about fragrance additives, even “natural” ones (THEY’RE THE DEVIL INCARNATE) (BUT A NICE-SMELLING DEVIL).
WHAT’S IT LIKE THO
It’s SO NICE. The texture is very light and thin compared to the other facial oils I’ve tried, and it feels like it mostly absorbs into the skin — applied after washing my face, my skin feels positively velvety, and never greasy. That light texture alone is enough to make me love it … especially since rosehip seed oil seems really heavy and I don’t feel like it accomplished a lot, and Fresh Seaberry Oil and Josie Maran Light Argan Oil also both felt heavy, and both broke me out.
The packaging is also quite nice — the glass bottle has a (very durable) opaque metallic coating, except for a small calibrated vertical window in the side to show you how much product remains. It’s also got a glass dropper with a fancy push-button in the cap to draw the product into the dropper, instead of the usual rubber squeeze-bulb affair. Also notable is the fact that despite containing two “fragrance” ingredients, they’re apparently in mere trace amounts, because this doesn’t really smell like much at all. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, I can’t IMAGINE that this would be a problem for you.
DOES IT EVEN DO A THING?
It does do a thing! For me at least, it does many things. As already noted, it makes my face feel velvety and smooth and plush and nicely hydrated. Also, I haven’t done Science on this or any kind of quasi-controlled experiment, but I feel strongly that it makes any jacked-up skin heal much faster — like the flaky remnants of a breakout, or a too-aggressive-with-tweezers accident. That phase where whatever Bad Spot has healed over and the top bit of damaged skin flakes off and now it’s just slightly pink? I hit that phase much faster when I’m using this stuff. Also, I’ve discovered that my best-looking base makeup application is 1) clean skin 2) this oil 3) foundation. [Yes I know, SUNSCREEN. I promise I use sunscreen if I’m going to be out during the day, and also my foundation has it.] This seems to yield the smoothest most “natural” finish with few-to-no streaks or clumps or areas of heaviness or cake-face. (YMMV here, I guess depending on your skin and your foundation — my skin is oily/acne-prone, and my usual foundation is the OG Guerlain Lingerie de Peau.)
DO I NEED THIS?
Do you have another facial oil that you adore with all your heart? Then no. Do you hate the feeling of all oils in general, regardless of purpose or effect? Then no. Do you think $82 for an ounce of face grease is frakking insane? Then no. BUT! If you want to use a facial oil and/or feel that you need one, and you’ve tried a lot of others and didn’t like the texture or didn’t see much of an effect or they broke you out, then I’d say this is worth a shot. If you’d like to test-drive it first before shelling out a C-note, you have a couple options : you can lurk on Ulta and Sephora and department stores, in hopes that a mini will turn up as a GWP or points reward (which is how I first tried it). OR, you can purchase a .23oz travel size at Algenist for $22, which is quite reasonable and not a huge $/oz markup. (If you’ve got a store that carries the line, you might even be able to get a decanted sample!)
IN CONCLUSION : I love this, have already repurchased once, will in all likelihood repurchase yet again. Love the texture, love the packaging, love what it does for my skin. Yeah, it’s pricey, but the one-ounce bottle generally lasts me a year of daily use; the mini/travel size should last you a couple of months with ease.
Tried it? Love it as much as I do? Got another fave facial oil? Share!