Glow by Dr. Brandt Overnight Resurfacing Serum

$85 - 1.7 fl. oz.
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Skin Care > Serums > Serums
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If you’re intrigued by this serum because of its claimed 2% retinol content, the enthusiasm stops here. First, retinol isn’t an ingredient where more is better. The higher the concentration of retinol the greater the likelihood of side effects such as redness, flaking, and sensitive skin. This is true even when the retinol is time-released, as claimed for this product. Second, we’re skeptical (really skeptical) that Brandt’s claim of 2% retinol is accurate. That’s because on the ingredient list retinol is listed after the preservative phenoxyethanol. This preservative is rarely used above 1%, and in fact in most parts of the world its maximum usage is capped at that amount. Knowing ingredients are listed in descending order from highest to lowest amount, the retinol would be listed before phenoxyethanol if it were really present at the amount claimed. But as mentioned earlier, even if this did contain 2%, that’s not necessarily better for your skin. There is plenty of research showing lower amounts of retinol are wonderfully effective without causing undue side effects.

This serum has more of a lotion-like texture and contains several ingredients suitable for normal to dry (but not blemish-prone) skin. It also contains a few antioxidants and a tiny amount of repairing ingredients, though nothing all that unique or worth the price. Ultimately, this serum may end up causing problems due to the fragrant citrus oil it contains. All citrus oils can be irritating, and when you’re dealing with retinol, it really helps to have anti-irritants to minimize any potential side effects. For the most part, anti-irritants are in short supply here. In summation, there are other retinol products with better formulas and lower price tags and those are recommended over what Dr. Brandt offers.

This concentrated serum is formulated with a time released 2% Retinol Complex that provides both immediate and long term release to promote radiance from within. It stimulates new cell turnover to improve skin texture and tone. The appearance of lines, wrinkles, and enlarged pores is softened, revealing new, healthy skin with a youthful glow.

Water, Glycerin, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Isoamyl Laurate, Cyclopentasiloxane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Shea Butter Esters, Triheptanoin, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Behenyl Alcohol, Methylpropanediol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Retinol, Glyceryl Stearate, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Xanthan Gum, Betaine, Polyglyceryl-3 Stearate, Citrus Nobilis Oil, Chlorphenesin, Caprylyl Glycol, Caprylic /Capric Triglyceride, Lecithin, Glycine Soya Sterols, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Maslinic Acid, Phenylpropanol, BHT, Sodium Phytate, Dimethiconol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Honey, Pectin, Phospholipids, Polyglyceryl-10 Stearate, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Glycine Soya Oil.

Dr. Fredric Brandt is a Miami- and New York City–based dermatologist whose claim to fame rests on two main points. The first (and it is a very important credibility factor for consumers) includes the many celebrity clients he claims to work with, while the second is his assertion that he performs more Botox and collagen injections than any other dermatologist in the world. (The picture on the back of his book shows him clad in white, wearing surgical gloves, and holding a syringe.) According to Allergan, the company that makes Botox, they no longer rank the physicians who purchase Botox from them; however, they did confirm that Dr. Brandt was definitely one of their biggest buyers. Yet regardless of how much Botox or collagen Dr. Brandt or any other physician uses, what in the world does that have to do with cosmetic formulations? If anything, you have to wonder why Brandt is using so much Botox and collagen if his products truly fight wrinkles, as he claims they do.

Beyond Brandt's cosmetic enhancement procedures, he is the author of Age-less: The Definitive Guide to Botox, Collagen, Lasers, Peels, and Other Solutions for Flawless Skin. His book and skin-care line are competing against the vastly more popular books and product line from fellow dermatologist Dr. N.V. Perricone. Although Perricone's skin-care line has some drawbacks, including irritating ingredients and the lack of supporting research for his neuropeptide products, the majority of his products, though overpriced, have more pros than cons. Sadly, the same cannot be said for Dr. Brandt, whose namesake skin-care line is one of the more disappointing ever assembled by a dermatologist.

Brandt's products are sold with the tag line that they are "prescription strength, prescription-free," and "are formulated under dermatologic control for maximum safety and efficiency and offer the highest performance without a prescription." Aside from how unbelievable that assertion is, what is not mentioned is the fact that none of the ingredients in Brandt's products are comparable, in any way, shape, or form, to prescription formulations. And what is "dermatologic control" anyway, given that there are no such standards anywhere in the world? Moreover, what do dermatologists know about the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, much less cosmetics? The two arenas of expertise are completely unrelated.

Dr. Brandt positions his products as clinically superior to what you would find in other cosmetics lines, when nothing could be further from the truth. Many of his products tout benefits that don't just stretch the truth, but snap it in two—and these fallacies are all the more disconcerting coming from an esteemed dermatologist. When products contain the problematic ingredients that are so pervasive in Brandt's line, such as irritating plant extracts, drying detergent cleansing agents, and far too many products with skin cell–damaging lavender oil, it becomes nothing more than a too-expensive-for-no-good-reason line that should be approached with extreme caution.

The line does have a few bright spots: many of Brandt's products do contain significant amounts of antioxidants, though that certainly doesn't make his line unique because many other product lines do that too. (Here it's fair to say that while no specific amounts have been established for any antioxidant that will ensure their effectiveness, the general consensus among researchers is that more antioxidants are better than less, and less is still better than none at all.) Unless you're a devoted patient of Dr. Brandt and would be racked with guilt for not purchasing his products while visiting for an appointment, there is no reason to seek out this disappointing line.

For more information about Dr. Brandt's products, call (800) 234-1066 or visit

Member Comments

Summary of Member Comments

  1. How would you rate the results? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
  2. Was this product a good value? (4 = Best)

    3 / 4 Good
  3. Would you recommend this product? (4 = Best)

    4 / 4 Best
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  1. Kerri A
    Reviewed on Monday, October 27, 2014
    • Value
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    love it
    • just finished my first bottle and I'm about to purchase my second. Doesn't irritate my skin at all. Leaves it glowing. I just got a skin consultation at my plastic surgeon office and they said I have "very youthful" skin- I am 36. They don't sell this product, so I know they aren't just pushing it! I'm not saying it's all attributed to this product, as I have tried botox and whatnot. But still, I am going to continue using it

  2. Lee M
    Reviewed on Thursday, May 22, 2014
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Value
      3 / 4
    Time is the key
    • This is the first "dedicated" retinol product I've tried and I have to say I am impressed. I'm on my 3rd bottle and have noticed clearer skin and a forehead that looks botoxed!!! I don't really have deep lines but fine lines look more "rested" and I've had almost no breakouts since starting this. My skin is combo so I use this every night on its own without any cream on top. If nothing else it's been great for preventing spots like nothing else I've ever tried.

  3. Anonymous
    Reviewed on Friday, January 03, 2014
    • Results
      4 / 4
    • Recommend
      4 / 4
    • Value
      4 / 4
    worth the price
    • Have never used a product from the Dr. Brandt line and was hesitant to spend so much but was intrigued by the high level of retinol. I saw an improvement in the smoothness of my skin after just one use and have experienced no irritation. It takes only a small amount for the whole face and neck so it is well worth the price. I would rate it above "average" based on my results.

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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