Back in April I started using the iS Clinical Pro-Heal Advance+ and after finishing the bottle, here is my review. *The product was sent to me by @harbenhouse with no obligation to review.
Context: I have consistently used L-Ascorbic Acid for 4 years. My main skin concerns are reducing redness and keeping hyperpigmentation at bay (as a redhead I freckle VERY easily). I have lots of reviews on my blog for other Vit C serums I have tried (for Skinceuticals versus Paula’s Choice and Timeless click here, for Maelove click here, for Obagi here, for Drunk Elephant vs. Paula’s Choice click here) and on my Instagram page, I have a Vitamin C story highlight that shows even more that I have tried but haven’t written blog posts for (like the Allies of Skin Vitamin C Serum). LAA tends to work better for my skin than Vitamin C derivatives. I have oily, acne-prone aging skin.
Because this has both L-ascorbic acid (LAA) and retinol, this should help increase production and decrease breakdown of collagen (which translates into firmer skin, fewer wrinkles over time). Also, I like to consistently use LAA serums to help fade and prevent pigmentation. But this serum has a unique niche in that it is also meant to help calm inflamed skin, heal scars from acne, and help reduce redness and irritation due to dermatitis, rosacea or acne.
Sidebar on saying that it is great at tackling and soothing inflammation. Excess inflammation is associated with free radical damage and increased oxidative stress which are associated with photoaging, intrinsic aging, scarring, thickening and more. So products that control excess inflammation help with a variety of skin issues.
Size of bottle and how long it lasted: This 15 mL bottle lasted me 10 weeks (2.5 months) with me using about 6-8 drops every day. Note that the color upon opening is what the company says it should look like given the other ingredients it has (compared to other LAA serums that start out clear).
Price: $92 for 15 mL (making this very pricey… one good thing is that you can usually find a 20% off coupon… but still. She’s expensive. FWIW I think this is more effective than the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic) **Also!! Harben House has it’s Labor Day sale and you can save 27% with the code TAKEITEASY. Making the 15mL size $67 and the 30 mL size $113! It goes until Sept 8th**
Smell: This does not have the hotdog water smell that is common with LAA serums
Consistency: This has a liquid consistency and is the fastest absorbing LAA serum I have ever used. Because of that, I adjusted my routine to apply a low-pH product (like a gentle AHA or BHA) before this so that I could apply this to damp skin which helped me spread it around before it completely absorbed. I also didn’t find that this left a tacky texture on my skin. But I always apply other skin care on top so I don’t know that I would notice a tacky texture unless it was extreme.
How I used it: I used maybe 6-8 drops every morning, dropped unto my palm and then pressed onto my face and down my neck. Usually I apply LAA serums directly after cleansing because I want to help increase absorption as much as I can (and since it is a low pH active, I like to apply those first in my routine before moving on to things like hydrating serums, etc.)
Results: I have a cluster of stubborn pigmentation on my right side that didn’t show too much improvement, but what I did see (predominately on the right side, which is my “bad side”) was an overall evening of my skin tone and less redness (redness in my cheeks is a huge annoyance of mine so this result made me very happy). I also felt like my skin looked more plump and healthy while using this. I also noticed that it helped calm angry blemishes, making them less red and inflamed. On my left side, I was happy that I didn’t have any new pigmentation appear (which has happened when I’ve used a Vitamin c derivative serum. So it’s not just about fading, I also want my vitamin C serums to prevent new pigmentation.)
Thoughts: I loved using this. I had no irritation and no complaints. I would go so far as to say that this is my favorite LAA serum… which stinks because this is so expensive. So I think I will use this a couple times a year and then use a more affordable option (like the Paula’s choice Resist C15) for the rest of the year.
Ingredients: water/ Aqua/ Eau, Ascorbic Acid, Laureth-4, Alcohol Denat., Pentylene Glycol, Propylene Glycol, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Zinc Sulfate, Tocopherol, Polyporus Umbellatus (Mushroom) Extract, Arbutin, Glycerin, Bioflavonoids, Retinol, Polysorbate 20, Phenoxyethanol.
- 15% time released L-Ascrobic Acid Vitamin C: Helps to stimulate collagen production within the lower layers while also repairing external damage caused by environmental stressors (like helping to fade and prevent hyperpigmentation), also has brightening and anti-inflammatory properties.
- 1% Tocopherol (Vitamin E): works great in combo with Vit C to provide AOX protection, inhibiting DNA damage and protecting against UV-induced photodamage.
- 1% Retinol (Vitamin A): improves collagen synthesis, provides AOX protection.
- Let’s have a side bar about the 1% retinol. Courtney from @harbenhouse and I have been chatting nonstop trying to figure out how/why this says it has 1% retinol, yet has no irritation. The company said it is a “botanical derived from vitamin A” more specifically that they use a retinol derived from green, yellow and orange plants where it is found in smaller quantities than those sourced from animals… but then I don’t understand why the ingredient list says “retinol” (derivatives have other names). Then after chatting with my smart formulator friend Annalisa (@skinperspective) I asked the company whether it has 1% of the retinol molecule or if it has 1% of the plant extract that contains retinol (with the latter making a lot more sense given it’s location isn’t he ingredient list and how gentle it was). The company wrote back to say “Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ contains 1% retinol but it is retinol that is sourced from botanical sources.” Which still left me confused. BUT I’m just going to ignore my confusion here and say that all I know is that I was able to use this basically every day while still using other retinols (that are 1% of synthetically derived pure retinol) and retinals at night with no irritation. And as a finally aside, I confirmed with the company that this product is pregnant safe (which also makes me wonder if it’s a derivative but I’m giving up on figure that out and just going to enjoy the formula)
- 0.5% Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract: antioxidant that helps repair skin, minimize inflammation and enhance skin hydration
- 0.5% Polyporus Umbellatus (Mushroom) Extract– Source of Kojic acid: This helps to control hyperpigmentation.
- 0.5% Zinc Sulfate: AOX protection and very healing.
- 0.5% Arbutin: Helps control hyperpigmentation.
Will I buy a replacement now that mine is gone? Yes! But I am going to wait until I finish trying the Jan Marini C-esta serum I am currently using. Even though I have tried many vitamin C derivatives and they just have not worked as effectively for me as an LAA serum, I decided to give another derivative ago! But I definitely see myself coming back to this one because I loved how it calmed redness and even though I’m ready cheeks and gave my skin a healthy, beautiful glow.