Our Rating: 4 stars

When asked if I wanted to test Astara Age Defying Complex ($85) I naturally checked out Astara's website. I became simultaneously intrigued and skeptical when I read that the basic philosophy behind Astara skincare is raw food. Intrigued, because I'm always open for new approaches to skincare - and this was definitely a new concept to me. Skeptical, because I'm not fond of proselytizing - no matter the religion - and the "Why Raw?" article, which describes the reasoning behind the skincare were more feelings and opinions than science.

I also noticed that there were quite a lot of very positive reviews - a lot of celebrities seem to use Astara products (which may or may not be indicative of a good product), as well as a lot of positive articles in magazines such as Allure, Elle, People, and Vogue. 

I'll come right out and say it: This product is amazing! In my opinion, it ranks right up there with the best serums I've ever used! Here is why:

Just after a few days of use I realized that my somewhat loose skin at the front of my neck (what I call "turkey throat") had tightened up to a remarkable degree, as well as a noticeable tightening of the facial skin as a whole. This is what I've been looking for, for ages, but sadly not found until now. I honestly thought that I just had to accept this brutal sign of aging - but happily not, it seems.

Astara's overview of this product says: "Highly bioactive, this intense serum is intensely restructuring, and mineralizing. While stimulating cell renewal, super hydrating, and encouraging oxygenation, Age Defying Serum also helps improve the skin's elasticity by strengthening the intercellular fluid which is the "cement" of the stratum corneum. When used daily, remarkable improvement in your skin's clarity and texture will be felt and visible within days."

The main active ingredients are sodium hyaluronate, niacin (vitamin B3), Vitamin E tocopherol, Vitamin A palmitate, superoxide dismutase, ginkgo biloba, aloe vera, pine tree extract and royal jelly.

Well, Aristotle said that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts". In my opinion the ingredients above are a pretty impressive bunch of "parts", but I'll stick out my neck and say: Aristotle could have talked about Astara's Age Defying Complex.

Editor's Note: According to Astara's website, they have reformulated their Age Defying Complex and removed parabens from the ingredient list, which has been updated accordingly (November 25, 2013)

Ingredients in Astara Age Defying Complex: Deionized Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Soy (Glycine Soja) Lecithin Phospholipids Propanediol, Ginkgo Biloba, Olive (Olea Europaea) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Royal Jelly, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycine, Sorbitol, Aloe Barbadnensis Leaf Extract, Arginine, Xanthan Gum, Sodium PCA, Proline, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Saccharomyces Cerevisia (Yeast) Cell Extract, Pinus Taeda (Pine Tree) Extract, Niacin, Serine, Octanoic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Triphosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate, Ethylhexyl Glycerin