GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum

Algenist At-a-Glance

Strengths: Good facial cleanser and toner; select serums and moisturizers formulated with an impressive mix of anti-aging ingredients; Targeted Deep Wrinkle Minimizer really does make wrinkles less apparent.

Weaknesses: Expensive; the star ingredient (a modified form of algae) doesn’t have reliable research to support its anti-aging efficacy; jar packaging; some of the moisturizers contain eucalyptus oil, which can be a potent irritant.

Algenist is a small range of skin care products sold at Sephora with a focus on anti-aging. Like several other cosmetics companies, Algenist has based their brand on a single ingredient, an ingredient they claim has superior benefits for skin and that, therefore, is worth the steep price tag. In this case, it was the “accidental” discovery of a substance found in algae. As the story goes, a group of biotechnology scientists were looking for ways to use something called microalgae as a renewable source of energy when they stumbled upon a compound known as alguronic acid. Their research revealed that alguronic acid is one of the compounds responsible for regenerating and protecting algae cells.

Figuring they were on to something, the company did further in vitro testing (although the details of their tests are not available) and, of course, found that alguronic acid had anti-aging benefits on skin, too. Aside from having no idea what their studies did or didn’t really show, in vitro means this ingredient was examined in a petri dish, not directly on human skin. They did limited testing on human skin, but many key details of these “studies” are not available. Instead, we’re asked to accept that their ingredient made a remarkable difference. At the time of this writing, there isn’t a single published study attesting to the claims Algenist makes for alguronic acid, so you’re taking an expensive leap of faith in buying these products! We should note, there are several forms of algae that are valuable when it comes to providing skin with anti-aging benefits – it’s just that the research surrounding alguronic acid remains scant.

Whether the story about alguronic acid being the answer for your skin is true or not, it is critical to keep in mind that skin, and skin care, is far more complex than one allegedly miraculous ingredient. Think of it like your diet: As healthy as green tea is, if that’s all you consumed, you’d soon be malnourished. Just like your diet should contain a healthy mix of nutritious foods, your skin (which is your body’s largest organ) needs a wide array of helpful ingredients to become and remain smooth, healthy, and, yes, able to look and act younger.

To Algenist’s credit, their products contain more than just alguronic acid. Most of them have a good blend of skin-repairing and antioxidant ingredients, although the ones they call out as key ingredients (such as apple stem cells) have no real published research proving their efficacy. Despite the fact that their products contain some tried-and-true anti-aging ingredients, Algenist makes the same mistakes as many other lines, such as using jar packaging (which won’t keep any of the beneficial ingredients stable during use) and including fragrance or fragrant plant extracts to give the products an appealing scent. Fragrance isn’t skin care and, in fact, more often than not, will cause irritation that hurts your skin’s ability to look and act younger!

In the end, Algenist is not a must-have line, and it certainly isn’t worth expanding your beauty budget to afford. There are some acceptable to impressive options for those who don’t mind spending more than they need to for effective products, but you’ll find a wider, often better range of options on our list of Best Anti-Aging/Anti-Wrinkle Products.

For more information about Algenist, call (877) 650-1837 or visit

Note: Algenist lists the alguronic acid in their products as algae exopolysaccharides, which is the accepted cosmetic labeling name for alguronic acid.

Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum

Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum is a serum formulated with a vitamin C derivative, alguronic acid, and microalgae oil to minimize the appearance of deep wrinkles, age spots, and discoloration, and to strengthen skin’s texture. While I am not a huge fan of putting collagen in creams — it is too large to penetrate the skin and does little more than sound fancy and hydrate — I will go so far as to say I like this serum’s inclusion of the promising new vitamin C ester 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, as well as antioxidant Alguronic Acid to improve skin firmness and smoothness and microalgae oil to deeply hydrate skin and help retain moisture for up to 5 days. It’s a great serum for those with normal to dry skin. For more details, read on!

3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid is a More Stable, Stronger Form of L-Ascorbic Acid

Esters are taking the skin care world by storm. As I’ve noted before in a review on a retinol ester-containing product, concentrations as low as 0.06% of retinyl retinoate are proving to be nine times stronger than retinol — that is, producing results equivalent or similar to 0.50% retinol.

In a similar way, 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid is a derivative consisting of vitamin C and an ethyl group that is proving to be stronger and more stable than ascorbic acid, at least in early studies. In a clinical skin lightening test by Spincontrol France, a solution containing just 2% 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid was found to improve skin whitening and radiance after just 28 days of twice-daily application (Cosmetics and Toiletries). Keeping in mind that similar results are produced in separate studies with 15% L-ascorbic acid — 7 times as much! — this means that 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid certainly holds promise.

As for stability, the only difference between 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid and ascorbic acid structurally is that the former has an ethyl group bound to the third carbon position — but it makes a big difference. What this means in plain English is that 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid is more stable in the presence of light, heat, and air than ascorbic acid when used in cosmetic products. Samples of 2% 3-O-Ethyl ascorbic acid have been retained for 1 month in a 45°C (113°F) oven, and there was no change in color or purity (Cosmetics and Toiletries).

So I do believe that esters of some of our favorite active ingredients at FutureDerm are the future of skin care — retinyl retinoate instead of retinol, for example, or 3-O-ethyl ascorbic acid instead of L-ascorbic acid. Truth be told, I do say the future because I would like to see studies directly comparing the efficacy of each set of these ingredients head-to-head before I personally go back and change my entire skin care regimen to ester-based derivatives of active ingredients. But, I do see it as a distinct possibility in the near future.

Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum has a high concentration of 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid — the highest I’ve seen in any skin care product to date. For that reason, I’m giving this a major thumbs-up.

Chlorella Prototecoides Oil May Help with UV-Damaged Skin

Chlorella is an exciting ingredient. Originally used as a superfood rather than a topical skin care treatment, chlorella has been gaining steam since it was first used in body wraps at spas.

Chlorella is most helpful for skin that is sun-damaged or inflamed. Chlorella has been found to inhibit inflammatory processes via a pro-inflammatory pathway called the NFkB pathway (Clinica Chemica Acta, 2005). Chlorella may also be helpful in protecting skin cells from UV damage by upregulating collagen production in fibroblasts and inhibiting collagen-degrading enzymes (European Journal of Dermatology, 2008).

As an oil, chlorella oil is very hydrating and absorbs quickly. It’s honestly not my favorite delivery system, but it works well enough. It’s the reason why I recommend Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum for dry to very dry, or normal, skin types.

Palmitoyl Oligopeptide Firms Skin. Period.

What is great about palmitoyl oligopeptide is that it significantly stimulates collagen production in human fibroblasts, as shown in a 2007 study in Dermatologic Therapy. When used twice daily for a significant period of time – about six months – this means firmer skin, provided that other factors remain the same (i.e., weight, sun exposure, etc.).

Research Studies on Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum

***Research by Algenist.
Research results:
Within 10 days of use:
– 93% said skin looks more resilient, smoother, and brighter

After 28 days of use:
– 98% said it reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
– 87% said it corrects the appearance of skin discoloration

Personal Use and Opinions

Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum is clear and non-scented. It has a thicker texture than most vitamin C serums, due to the polymethylsilsesquioxane (a silicone) and high glycerin content. It is not sticky and glides across the skin well, owing to the polymethylsilsesquioxane and Vinyl Dimethicone/Methicone Silsesquioxane. Butylene glycol helps this product absorb into the skin quickly. Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum is a more hydrating serum than most. The combination of chlorella oil, niacinamide, collagen, ceramides, glycerin and silicones make this serum seem more like a 2-in-1 light moisturizer and serum than just a serum. That said, it is great for normal/dry to dry skin types.

Bottom Line

Algenist GENIUS Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C Serum is a fantastic serum for anyone concerned with the appearance of deep wrinkles, age spots, and discoloration. I’m thrilled that this serum contains such a high concentration of the new vitamin C derivative 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid — the highest concentration of that derivative I’ve seen to date! — and I’m pleased with the chlorella oil for normal/dry to very dry skin as well. Overall, this makes a superb vitamin C serum, and I’m happy to recommend it for normal/dry to very dry skin.

Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, 3-O-Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Sodium Citrate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Niacinamide, Ethoxydiglycol, Algae Exopolysaccharides, Chlorella Protothecoides Oil, Vinyl Dimethicone/ Methicone Silsesquioxane Crosspolymer, Citric Acid, Algae Extract, Peg-12 Dimethicone, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Caprylyl Glycol, Xanthan Gum, Vegetable Collagen, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Sorbitan Isostearate, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Carbomer, Polysorbate 20, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance, Coumarin.

Genius vitamin c serum

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