Serious Skin Care At-A-Glance
Strengths: Provides complete ingredient lists on Web site; several good cleansers; some impressive serums (with and without retinol) and primers; one effective BHA (salicylic acid) product; effective AHA (glycolic acid) pads; effective 5% benzoyl peroxide product; the lip line–filling products (though the effect is not akin to dermal fillers as claimed).
Weaknesses: Too many products, which makes determining what to buy incredibly confusing; several good formulas hampered with needless irritants; no effective skin-lightening options; jar packaging for many moisturizers, which allows the important, but unstable, ingredients to degrade; average masks; the at-home peels are terrible; too many gimmicky products; very small assortment of sunscreens, especially considering all of the anti-aging products; the Beauty Treatment patches are gimmicky and useless; the Glucosamine and Calstrum sub-brands are mediocre; and an irritating lip plumper.
Before you learn anything else about this brand, you need to know that their range of products is E-N-O-R-M-O-U-S. Few lines offer so many products that add up to so little in their entirety. The sheer depth and extent of this line (and it is deep) makes it somewhat inevitable that there will be at least a few diamonds-in-the-rough products you may want to take seriously.
Sold via the Home Shopping Network (HSN), The Shopping Channel, and directly from the company, most of my readers are aware of this brand due to its recurring television appearances. In fact, on publication of the seventh edition of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, many readers wrote to ask why we didn't include a new review of this line (we had reviewed it in previous editions of my book). The best answer we can give (outside of the fact that our book already was packed full of reviews and heavy enough to be used as a weapon) is that we honestly didn't think there was much interest in the brand. We rarely received questions about it until it wasn't in the book anymore. But, as always, your interest made it an easy decision (though truly arduous task) for me to revisit this line. Keep in mind that this is one of the most extensive skin-care lines we've ever reviewed.
After delving into the review of the Serious Skin Care line, we quickly discovered why there is more intense interest in it than ever before: The product selection has spiraled out of control and the claims for this at-one-time far more "e;serious" brand's products have gone over-the-top. Now it's laden with ridiculous claims that, regrettably, make it very tempting for consumers, which is surely what the company intended.
Temptation aside, what you have to deal with when shopping Serious Skin Care is the company's poorly organized Web site, which makes the huge product assortment even more confusing (just ask my research assistants; few lines left them scratching their heads more than this one). Even the company doesn't know how to organize or explain what they have and why one skin type would need one product rather than another. That alone might explain why the line does better on shopping channels, where they present only one specific group of products at a time so you don't have to sort through the entire menagerie on their Web site or in a catalog (and good luck to anyone who decides to go down that path!).
A bit of background: Serious Skin Care is from aesthetician Lesa Stock and model Jennifer Flavin-Stallone, who certainly has a charming presence on television. The line began by selling anti-acne products, and has grown into the overwhelming line it is today, with all products claiming to be hypoallergenic (a completely false generality given the number of problematic ingredients Serious Skin Care includes in some of their products). From its anti-acne beginnings on Home Shopping Network, the company blossomed into claims that they have the solution to every skin problem, which of course they don't.
Those with acne will find an incomplete selection of products; those with skin discolorations won't find an effective product to lighten them; there are way too many products that contain irritants (and you won't find a page of research proving those irritants are skin-care essentials); and no matter how you shop this line you'll be forced to compromise if you want to remain loyal to Serious Skin Care. That's because the sub-brands (which include some of the line's star products, at least if you believe what they say during Serious Skin Care's spots on HSN) are mostly one-note products. For example, vitamin A/retinol is offered in one group, vitamin C in another, olive oil gets its own lineup, and if you want to try glucosamine on your skin, that's its own line, too. This begs the question: Why not just put all those ingredients into a few products instead of spreading them out? Skin can benefit from all of those ingredients, and all of those ingredients can remain stable in one formula.
Also available are antioxidant-based products, vitamin B products, lifting, firming, DNA-repairing, brightening, and on and on. Oddly, with dozens of anti-aging products and their lofty claims, there is a surprisingly small selection of sunscreens or daytime moisturizers offering broad-spectrum sun protection, which, as we've told you time and again, is the critical part of any skin-care routine. We realize lots of cosmetic lines capitalize on the "star ingredient" concept to expand their line, but if Serious Skin Care really wanted to assert itself as a skin-care authority, they could streamline their lineup considerably by combining the best of multiple products into a range of truly stand-up-and-applaud products.
It's important to mention that there also are numerous peptides in many of these products. While peptides are potentially (and let me stress potentially good ingredients), they are NOT proven in any way to have an effect on skin that's on par with their anti-wrinkle claims. Please refer to the Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary on this site for detailed information about peptides.
As mentioned above, there are some gems in the Serious Skin Care line, as noted in the list of strengths in the At-A-Glance section. It's also worth noting that, for the most part, the prices aren't out of line for what you get. If you pay attention to the products this line does well, you may very well be pleased. But, even though there are some great products available, few of them are so outstanding that you cannot comparison shop and find even better formulas (sometimes for less money, too).
One more point: In late 2007, Flavin-Stallone launched the Seriesse brand of products. This multi-level marketing company (think Amway or Arbonne) sells some of the Serious Skin Care products and additional products under the Seriesse brand, which Flavin-Stallone runs with her husband, Sylvester Stallone. Although expanding into this type of business may have been a smart move for Flavin-Stallone, we can't help but wonder if her sincerity about Serious Skin Care is genuine. After all, if Serious Skin Care has everything consumers need to manage and improve their skin, why would you need to start yet another brand of products? We have not yet reviewed the Seriesse line, but the products are designed as an extension of Serious Skin Care (which, as we mentioned, should be thinking about downsizing, not expanding, their product selection). It must be that Serious Skin Care's market research indicates that women have an insatiable appetite for this stuff and, therefore, adding even more products must mean better skin. (Now seriously, does that really make any sense?)
For more information about Serious Skin Care, call (800) 540-8662 or visit www.seriousskincare.com.