Black Tea Age-Delay Face Serum
1 fl. oz. for $85
Last Updated:11.20.2014
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Having more of a thin lotion texture rather than a serum, this water-based treatment claims to instantly hydrate and brighten skin, and it can do that thanks to the mix of moisture-binding ingredients it contains along with cosmetic pigments (titanium dioxide and iron oxides) for a brightening effect. That’s great, but for what this costs it should compete more favorably with today’s best serums, yet it falls short.

Black Tea Age-Delay Face Serum contains a good mix of antioxidants, several of which have considerable research behind them, and the non-fragrant plant oils are a nice boost for dry skin, though there’s not enough of them in here to make this serum a winner for very dry skin—you’ll still need moisturizer.

Disappointment sets in because this serum contains fragrance and fragrance ingredients (like rose oil) known to irritate skin. Their amounts are low, but combined they can pack a potentially irritating punch. We know from research that skin does better without fragrance, so any anti-aging serum you consider should ideally be fragrance-free (and many are!).

In the end, while this isn’t a bad serum, it’s not great enough to warrant the investment, despite containing some impressive ingredients. Last, contrary to claim, this does not appear to contain any peptides.


  • Lightweight hydrating texture.
  • Instantly brightens skin tone thanks to cosmetic pigments.
  • Antioxidant-rich formula.


  • Expensive for what doesn’t amount to a superior formula.
  • The fragrant ingredients pose a risk of irritation.

A restorative blend of potent antioxidants and peptides proven to instantly hydrate, brighten, and improve skintone and texture while having long-term hydrating, firming, and brightening effects. Helps to prevent the breakdown of skin proteins to maintain a firm, supple complexion.


Water, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Pentylene Glycol, Sodium Polyacrylate, Butylene Glycol, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Hydrolyzed Rice Protein, Cyathea Medullaris Leaf Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides Oil, Litchi Chinensis Seed Extract, Blackberry Leaf Extract, Sunflower Seed Oil, Acacia Senegal Gum, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Xanthan Gum, Rosa Damascena Flower Oil, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Evening Primrose Root Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Retinyl Palmitate, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance, Maltodextrin, Silica, Laureth-7, Adenosine, Ci 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Algin, Carbomer, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ci 77491 (Iron Oxides), Polysorbate 20, Serine, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Tocopherol, Potassium Sorbate, BHT, Biotin, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Phenoxyethanol.

Brand Overview

fresh At-A-Glance

Strengths: fresh provides complete product ingredient lists on their Web site; some good facial cleansers and a handful of praiseworthy makeup items.

Weaknesses: Very expensive; very fragrant; several products contain potent plant irritants; limited sunscreens; boring below-standard toners and masks; no viable exfoliant options (at least if you're aiming to avoid extraneous irritation); no products to manage acne or reliably lighten skin discolorations; the lip balm with sunscreen does not provide sufficient UVA protection.

The story of how Boston-bred "fresh" came into existence is full of compelling adjectives and phrases like "dynamic," "passions," "inspiration," and "destined to create." It seems that back in 1991, two happy newlyweds, both with artistic backgrounds, felt there was a void in the world of luxury bath soaps. They searched far and wide, but could not find a soap that met their criteria. Of course, they began experimenting, gained a following for what they developed, and yet another clone of The Body Shop was born.

Their success has led them from a single boutique in Boston to a series of shops in New York City and a presence in upscale department stores such as Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus. In 2000, fresh was purchased by luxury good purveyor (and owner of Sephora) LVMH, which is not surprising given fresh's price point and positioning.

Naturally, given all of this attention, fresh quickly expanded beyond soaps. They now also offer "future of beauty" products that capitalize on such innocuous-sounding, good-for-you ingredients as black tea, rice, and soy, coupled with the latest scientific advances. In other words, according to fresh, they're giving you the best of nature and science, with a heavy accent on natural (even though in most cases it's the synthetic ingredients that are responsible for their product's texture and functionality).

In the marketing copy each fresh product includes a history of how it came to be. It's pleasant to read about products inspired by stories passed down from one generation to the next, and about cultural secrets that have been discovered, incorporated into cosmetic potions, and adorably packaged for your "fresh lifestyle" experience. However, we wouldn't encourage anyone to rely on fables and anecdotal information when it comes to making serious decisions about how to care for your skin, any more than you would do so to make dietary or health-care decisions. What your grandmother ate or what your great-grandmother put on her skin is no more relevant than basing your computer needs on what they were using back then. (Oh, that's right, there weren't computers back then—my point exactly.) We now know a lot more about skin care than ever before in history. Going back to the old ways may sound idealistic, but that doesn't take the best care of you.

Almost the entire fresh premise revolves around their products' fragrance content. For all their talk of cutting-edge technology and the wisdom of traditional remedies, what you will notice most about all of these products is the almost overpowering fragrance. Compared with countless other skin-care and hair-care lines, including Aveda, Bath & Body Works, and Origins, fresh is far more perfumed—and that spells trouble for all skin types. Perfume and eau de cologne, natural or otherwise, are serious problems for skin. The irony is that fresh's signature scents are what put them on the map, and what continue to enthrall consumers. (Women find it hard to give up fragrance in their skin-care products, just like lots of women can't eschew sun tanning, smoking, or using overly expensive skin-care products.) In contrast, many of the natural ingredients in fresh products are present only for show, not effect, and the effects from the beneficial plants are impeded by irritating plant extracts.

From facial skin care to body and hair care, fresh products are a collection of relatively standard to below-average formulations counting on the romanticized stories behind them to help them make the leap from store shelf to your home, and that seems to be happening quite a lot. However, very few of fresh's facial-care products have anything that approaches the current state of the art, especially in regard to interesting skin-identical ingredients, anti-irritants, or antioxidants. And for all the fancy posturing, their soaps are just that, soap, and the fragrance is the only unique aspect of each. None of this makes for superior skin care.

For more information about fresh, call (800) 373-7420 or visit www.fresh.com.

Fresh Makeup

Fresh's makeup offers very little to get excited about. Those who adore a lot of shimmer in their cosmetics will fare best with this line. The company's lineup includes very few matte options, and given the overwhelming prevalence of shimmer products, those over 40 should approach cautiously. This much shine works best on younger, unlined skin because shine makes wrinkles more apparent, not less. The packaging has a youth-oriented appeal, so clearly the marketing department knew who their customers were most likely to be.

Doubtless many shoppers of all ages have been lured to try Fresh cosmetics due to the beautiful packaging, but beautiful exteriors don't have anything to do with the quality of the product inside. If you shop carefully, there are a handful of products you'll probably be satisfied with, but be prepared to pay dearly; just as Fresh didn't skimp on the shimmer, it certainly didn't skimp on its retail pricing.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

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