Salma Hayek’s much anticipated skincare line, Nuance, has finally been launched and, naturally, I immediately bought the nothing if not affordable Renewing and Brightening Facial Serum ($19.99 for 1oz at CVS) and tried it out for the first time over the weekend.

The 44-year old actress says that the line is inspired by her grandmother and the Facial Serum makes a big feature out of licorice. Before Salma Hayek’s line was launched there was a flurry of speculation that the star of the show would be something called concha nacar (mother of pearl) and that the actress would be using it to make a “lightening cream”. But now that the Nuance serum has debuted, it doesn’t even have a bit part.

In fact, the lightening role looks to be the job of a stable form of kojic acid (the third ingredient listed - aminopropyl kojyl phosphate). Now kojic acid, typically used as a skin whitener, is somewhat controversial and is certainly a strong irritant or sensitizer. In 2008, the European Union concluded that “data support the conclusion, that skin penetration in rats and humans is considerable” and that “the use of kojic acid at a maximum concentration of 1.0% in skin care formulations poses a risk to the health of the consumer.”

So at less than 1%, kojic acid may be relatively safe. However, the industry body, CIR says that at less than 1%, while safe, skin lightening wouldn’t be seen. I don’t know what the concentration is in Nuance, but I would assume that it is 1% or less. That’s good, but then am I to have low expectations for this product to work?

Despite my misgivings about kojic acid, I’m giving Nuance a try out on my neck. My skin seems a bit reaction-prone right now, so I am taking a cautious approach in case this serum irritates me.

Although the most dominant ingredient after water is unimpressively a thickening agent, pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate, I found the consistency of the Nuance Facial Serum to be a little on the thin side. Nor does it absorb very well, which tends to make the metal roller with which it is applied a bit redundant since I resorted to rubbing it in with my fingers.

There are a good number of decent botanicals in Nuance. I especially like omega 7 rich macadamia and mimosa (albizzia julibrissin) seems to have exciting possibilities as a free radical scavenger that is more potent than L-ascorbic acid. Probably the most impressive track record is held by cactus pear (opuntia), a cancer fighter that deploys an array of different antioxidants. Nuance also contains blue agave extract, but I’ve never been able to find much justification for its role in skincare. Licorice is supposed to play a key role in Nuance's serum and it is certainly an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, although less convincing as a skin lightener.

Another interesting inclusion is hexanoyl dipeptide-3 (which is lecithin and norleucine acetate) activates skin cell regeneration by stimulating the natural desquamation process of the skin, leading to a gentle peeling.

There are, of course, the usual suspects in the preservative department (sodium hydroxide and phenoxyethanol) and undisclosed fragrance. The above mentioned thickener emollient (pentaerythrityl tetraisostearate) has way too big a role. But that may be how the price of Nuance Facial Serum is kept at such a keen level. And for something that is under twenty bucks, I think the formulation is, on the face of it, pretty good. Now I just hope that my skin can cope with the kojic acid. I’ll report back in a while.

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For an update and review of Salma Hayek's Correcting Spot Treatment click here

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Aminopropyl Kojyl Phosphate, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Corylus Avellana (Hazel) Seed Oil, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Oil, Albizia Julibrissin Bark Extract, Opuntia Ficus Indica Stem Extract, Agave Tequilana Leaf Extract, Physalis Angulata Extract, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Chondroitin Sulfate, Atelocollagen, Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate, Lecithin, Sodium PCA, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Squalane, Sodium Polyacrylate, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Trideceth-6, Carbomer, Menthyl Lactate, Silica, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance (Parfum), Phenoxyethanol, O-Cymen-5-ol.