This product was provided for review at my request by W2Beauty. All opinions and recommendations in this post are my own unless otherwise noted. Learn more about my rules for store partnerships by checking out my sponsorship policy and sponsor list.
“Anti-aging.” What even does that mean?
No, but seriously. We see it in skincare marketing all the time, and we know the implication: it will stop my aging or maybe even reverse it. Because if it’s anti-aging, then it’s the opposite of aging!
When you look more closely, though, “anti-aging” as a term is really…pretty meaningless. As a cosmetic claim, how do you prove that something, uh, anti-ages? And the same thing goes for “anti-wrinkle.” It’s just not a specific enough claim to take seriously.
On the other hand, I don’t hold empty marketing claims against the potentially good skincare products that wear them. Brands have to move product somehow, and if they’ve found they can do so more easily using terms like “anti-aging,” then that’s what they’re going to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean the product itself isn’t of value. I think I’ve said this before, but my enjoyment of skincare has increased greatly since I stopped paying attention to most packaging claims. (Unless they have to do with fancy water, but even then I’m not always susceptible. Take that, Laneige! You’ll not get any of my money again!)
Anyway, it’s my openness to giving products a shot even if their packaging flashes some pretty silly buzzwords that led me to the subject of today’s review, Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum. Also, my own staunch anti-aging ideology. I am, at least when it comes to my skin, very much opposed to aging.
Purpose: Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum claims to hydrate, moisturize, and improve skin elasticity.
Best suited for: All skin types, but especially oily, combo-oily, and normal skin.
Do not use if: You are sensitive to olive oil, shea butter, botanical extracts, or anything else in the ingredients list.
When and how to use: After cleansing (and after applying any toner, booster, and essence steps in your skincare routine), apply a thin layer to face and neck. Pat in or let dry slightly, then move on to the next step. Graymelin suggests that people with drier complexions apply two layers of this product instead of one in order to maximize hydration. Fiddy says it makes more sense to follow this product up with a different hydrating layer if you need more hydration, because then you’ll benefit from a wider variety of other beneficial ingredients rather than just stacking more of the same. Why only eat carrots when you can eat carrots and kale?
Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum ingredients (pulled from Hwahae via Tracy of Fanserviced-B and the Snailcast): Water, PEG/PPG-17/6 copolymer, butylene glycol, aloe barbadensis leaf juice, butylene glycol, betaine, Bis-PEG-18 methyl ether dimethyltaurate, scutellaria baicalensis root extract, paeonia suffruticosa root extract, astaxanthin, hydrolyzed collagen, camellia sinensis callus culture extract, sodium hyaluronate, hydrolyzed pea protein, lecithin, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, squalane, phytosterols, ceramide 3, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, triethanolamine, sodium polyacrylate, adenosine, allantoin, dipotassium glycyrrhizate
Notable ingredients: The two star ingredients in this product are astaxanthin and camellia sinensis callus culture extract, the extract of cultured, undifferentiated stem cells of the green tea plant.
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant found in both plant and animal sources, including microalgae, salmon, trout, krill, and shrimp; it is deep red and is the reason for the flamboyant color of flamingo feathers, due to its presence in the shrimp and algae that make up the birds’ diet. Astaxanthin is said to be powerfully photoprotective and shows some promise for reducing UVA damage when applied topically prior to sun exposure. (Side note: I also take astaxanthin supplements, which are surprisingly inexpensive.) Cool. UVA damage is responsible for so much visible skin aging that anything that could potentially reduce its harm is worth a shot to me. In conjunction with daily sunscreen use, astaxanthin could provide some useful extra protection.
I’m not as excited about plant stem cells. The whole concept smells as fishy to me as the natural sources of astaxanthin. We aren’t plants, so why on earth would their stem cells do a thing for us? The most they might offer, I always figured, would be a high dose of antioxidants. FutureDerm’s assessment of the ingredient emphasizes the antioxidants as well, though Nicki does link some limited and imperfect, but promising, research suggesting that plant stem cells might have a more active impact on wrinkles. Basically, the jury is still out and probably will be for a long time, but there’s some potential there. So, you know, they’re like almost every other skincare “star ingredient” on the market.
The rest of the ingredients suggest a pretty light product, with humectants up near the top and the more emollient and nourishing (heavier) ingredients closer to the bottom.
The serum is exactly how its ingredients sound: light and watery, but with a little more richness to it than a purely hydrating product would have. Actually, the lightness of the product sets it apart from most of the other “anti-aging” skincare products I’ve tried. Anti-aging products are generally on the heavier side, since aging skin is often conflated with dry skin. It makes sense, due to skin’s tendency to lose both lipid production and natural moisturizing factors with age, but leaves oilier-skinned people and younger anti-agers out in the cold. For those people, Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum may be a refreshing change.
My skincare wardrobe is geared towards stacking of lots of light, hydrating treatment steps before I apply my cream. I find the stereotypically thick, heavy, sticky “anti-aging” serums a little challenging to fit into my routine. The Astastemcell serum, on the other hand, is thin, with a pleasant slip, and it absorbs quickly into my skin without any noticeable residue. The clean, sweet, and very subtle fragrance is another differentiator in a category full of overly perfumed products. One of the things that has turned me off from anti-aging products in the past, particularly higher-end Western products, has been the, uh, mature fragrance and texture of many of them, so I found Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum much more enjoyable to use than many comparable products.
While it’s pretty much impossible for one lone blogger with just the one face to accurately assess an anti-aging product’s preventative abilities–which are most likely the strengths of the astaxanthin and plant stem cell ingredients–it is possible to gauge more immediate results, if there are any. I used my Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum morning and night until I emptied the 50ml bottle, which took about a month and a half. During that time, the primary effects I noticed came from its hydrating and moisturizing qualities. On average, an application of this product increased my skin’s lipid content by about 8% and my skin’s water content by a pretty impressive 20% according to my handy (if not very clinical) digital skin analyzer. This boost to my skin’s moisture levels delivered a noticeable smoothing effect and did improve my skin’s elasticity while I used the product, so the serum does live up to the specific claims on its packaging. It was also subtly anti-inflammatory, which I especially appreciated around my mouth, where the skin tends to get blotchy if I’m tired or dehydrated.
One thing that disappointed me was the lack of brightening ingredients (or effects) in this product. Almost every Korean anti-aging serum or ampoule I’ve seen has contained either niacinamide or arbutin, since age spots and pigmentation issues also fall under the visible aging category; Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum contains neither. There may be some melanin-inhibitory effects in some of the plant extracts, but those aren’t as well supported in the research and didn’t do anything for me in practice. On the other hand, breakouts due to niacinamide sensitivities aren’t uncommon, and some people choose to avoid arbutin due to concerns over its relationship to hydroquinone. Not everyone has pigmentation issues, either. For those of you who don’t want–or feel the need for–lightening agents, this may be one of the few good options without them.
Conclusion: Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum is the anti-aging serum for people who don’t typically enjoy anti-aging serums. It contains some powerful and promising antioxidants to prevent oxidative damage to your skin in the long term and provides a weightless and non-greasy boost of moisture in the short term so that your skin can look its best right now while you work on preventing it from sagging and wrinkling in the future. While I do wish it had at least some brightening actives, I get plenty of those in the rest of my routine. Overall, I enjoyed this product, and I think those with oilier skin types than mine might like it even more.
Where can I buy Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum?
I received my bottle of Graymelin Astastemcell Anti-Wrinkle Serum from W2Beauty, where a 50ml bottle is $49.56 with free standard worldwide shipping.
What’s your go-to anti-aging product?
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