Daily Antioxidant Facial Serum
1 fl. oz. for $109
Last Updated:03.25.2013
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

This is a very good, though needlessly expensive, serum with 15% glycolic acid, and it is formulated at a pH of 3.8 so it is an effective exfoliant. However, the amount of AHA is more than what the FDA considers safe for long-term daily use; the FDA recommends a 10% maximum concentration. Routinely applying 15% or greater of AHAs in an acidic base (pH of 3 to 4, which allows AHAs to be effective) to skin may result in pronounced stinging, redness, and irritation. Continued irritation to the skin can cause negative results, just the opposite of what you want.

There has always been a tradeoff with using well-formulated AHA products: some irritation (though many formulas contain anti-irritants to counter the problem) versus lots of benefits. You always want to tip the scale in favor of the benefits (smoother skin with a plumped, less lined appearance), while incurring minimal risk, and for most people, that’s entirely possible by using a pH-correct AHA product containing 5%–10% glycolic acid. Using higher concentrations can be overkill—and there just isn’t any research to support the safety of using such high concentrations daily on a long-term basis.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review board (a cosmetic industry based group) assessed the available data on the effectiveness and safety of glycolic acid, and concluded that AHAs are safe as used provided that the concentration of glycolic acid does not exceed 10% in a pH of 3.5. Higher concentrations were deemed safe if used “in products designed for brief, discontinuous use followed by thorough rinsing from skin, when applied by trained professionals, and when application is accompanied by directions for the daily use of sun protection.” The FDA concurs with this assessment, but goes further, stressing the importance of sun protection while using any AHA product (Sources: 2007 CIR Compendium, 2007, pages 117–120; and www.fda.gov). The high concentration of AHA in this Facial Serum is what keeps it from earning a higher rating. It is worth considering if the expense doesn’t bother you (though it should, because MD Formulations offers a 15% concentration AHA product for far less) and you plan to use it, say, once per week as a “booster” to your lower-strength but still effective AHA product.


Daily Antioxidant Facial Serum is a regular application of glycolics for hydration and renovation of the top skin layer. Also provides antioxidant protection to fight premature aging. Contains 15% glycolic compound. To be used once daily, every morning. Perfect under makeup.


Purified Water, Glycolic Acid (And Ammonium Glycolate), Isononyl Isononanoate, Glycerin, Phenyl Trimethicone, Cyclomethicone, Phospholipids, Dimethiconol, Polyphosphorylcholine Glycol Acrylate, Cassia Angustifolia Seed Polysaccharide, Bis Hydroxy Ethoxypropyl Dimethicone, C14-22 Alcohols, C12-20 Alkyl Glucoside, Butylene Glycol, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract (Green Tea), Punica Granatum Extract (Pomegranate), Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract (Licorice), Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract (Chamomile), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Stevia Rebaudiana Extract, Sodium PCA, Urea, Trehalose, Polyquaternium 51, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 33, Mannitol, Cyclodextrin, Yeast Extract, Disodium Succinate, Disodium EDTA, Olea Europaea Leaf Extract (Olive), Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben

Brand Overview

Vivité At-A-Glance

Strengths: Fragrance-free; good selection of pH-correct AHA products with effective amounts of glycolic acid; good water-soluble cleansers.

Weaknesses: Expensive; the sole sunscreen option does not provide sufficient UVA protection; using the company's recommended routine will result in AHA overload; jar packaging won't keep ingredients stable.

Vivité (pronounced 'Vee-va-tay') is a small skin-care line developed and owned by Allergan, the pharmaceutical company behind Botox and the lash-enhancing drug Latisse, among other products. This isn't the first time Allergan has forayed into the skin-care market; they previously partnered with Clinique on that company's "Medical" product line. Clinique Medical is medical in name only, and there isn't anything medicinal or pharmaceutical about Vivité, either. These products aren't akin to getting dermatologist-strength results at home. Besides, dermatologist-strength skin-care products are not sold without a prescription, so the whole notion is nothing more than a marketing sham. So, please don't buy into that hype.

The main reason to consider Vivité products is if you're interested in well-formulated, pH-correct alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) products. Several Vivité products contain effective blends of glycolic acid and ammonium glycolate. Although glycolic acid is a great way to exfoliate skin and offers multiple benefits for sun-damaged skin, it isn't the only ingredient you should focus on. Skin care at any age is much more complex than simply supplying one key ingredient. For example, despite glycolic acid's multiple benefits, it cannot protect your skin from sunlight, it doesn't rebuild skin's healthy barrier on its own, and it cannot defend skin from oxidative damage. Think of skin care as you would a healthy diet, if you ate only one type of food you wouldn’t be healthy for long; skin acts the same way. Skin is a complex organ that requires a complex array of substances to function in a younger manner and to be as healthy and normal as possible.

Allergan took an interesting angle with Vivité, using something called GLX Technology™. They have the patent on this and they claim it will partially neutralize the glycolic acid so that the acid releases into the skin over an extended period of time and at a pH closer to that of our skin, which is about 5 to 5.5. While that sounds like a gentler way to use AHAs (because the pH is closer to that of our skin), research shows that AHAs have optimal exfoliation when formulated in a base with a pH less than 4. As it turns out, all of the Vivité products with glycolic acid have a pH of 3.8, which means you can ignore the point-of-difference about pH and GLX Technology™—it certainly seems that Allergan did—and be assured that these products will exfoliate as claimed (Sources: Dermatologic Surgery, February 2005, pages 149–154; and Cosmetic Dermatology, October 2001, pages 15–18).

Allergan wants you to think their AHA products have an edge, but they don't. However, their leave-on AHA products will certainly exfoliate skin and also provide AHAs' other benefits, though some precautions are warranted, as you'll see in the reviews.

For more information about Vivité, owned by Allergan, call (877) 345-5372 or visit www.viviteskincare.com.

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