Reviewed by Jess

Raised by a mother who loves all things holistic and ayurvedic, I was excited to review Evan Healy’s Pomegranate Repair Serum. The prospect of trying a truly “all-natural” skincare line roused me from a bout of serious product fatigue; like many TIA readers, I’m a product junkie and have an entire drawer full of samples and impulse purchases in constant rotation in my skincare routine. So I resolved to buckle down and conduct this review like a clinical trial (I’m a research scientist by day), which meant locking that drawer of samples for three full months and devising an experimental control so I could more accurately assess the serum’s effects.

The Pomegranate Repair Serum promises increases in elasticity, suppleness, and (the ever-elusive) vitality with daily use. This seems like a tall order for a product with only five ingredients, but a little research reveals that this is a carefully curated group of skincare superstars: pomegranate seed oil, rose hip seed oil, jojoba oil, sea buckthorn oil, and vitamin E. Jojoba oil acts as a neutral carrier for the other three oils, all of which are renowned for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Rose hip seed oil is rich in vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), a known skincare powerhouse that promotes collagen production and healing. Pomegranate seed oil contains an abundance of conjugated fatty acids, which help regenerate the epidermis and counter inflammation caused by photodamage. Sea buckthorn is perhaps the most intriguing ingredient, boasting plenty of fatty acids and a mini alphabet of vitamins: A, B1, B2, C, and E. The serum is blessedly free of preservatives and synthetics, allowing these unique oils to be the stars of the show. This reflects Evan’s minimalist philosophy that less is more when it comes to skincare, and it’s hard to argue with that ethos when you see her gorgeously supple skin (seriously, have a look at the photo on her blog -- her skin is downright dreamy!).

Along with a love of natural products, I also inherited my mother’s oily, acne-prone skin. Adding more oil to my already shiny face seemed counterintuitive, but I was intrigued by the idea that treating like with like (instead of routinely stripping my skin of oil, which was a losing strategy) could help my skin down-regulate oil production.* I chose pure jojoba oil as my control, which seemed fair since it’s the most neutral component of the Repair Serum. The directions instruct you to apply the serum to a moist face after using one of Evan Healy’s Hydrosols. A hydrosol is simply a steam-distilled solution of water and essential oil, so I used the organic rosewater spray I had on hand before applying one drop of serum or jojoba oil to either side of my face. I learned quickly that moisture is essential to the absorption of the serum; if your face is dry, the oil will just sit atop it in a heavy, greasy layer. Properly applied, both the serum and the jojoba oil settled nicely into my skin without any residual slickness. For drier skin types, the brand recommends using an additional moisturizer on top of the serum, but I found this step unnecessary.

The first week of testing was a bit rough, literally. On the serum side of my face, my forehead developed a distinct patch of fine, slightly raised bumps that were easily felt but harder to see. This turned out to be a temporary reaction (to what, I’m not sure), and by the following week the bumps had vanished. Despite the late summer heat and humidity, my skin was no more oily than usual, indicating that the oil-based regimen at the very least wasn’t exacerbating my shine problem. Likewise, neither the serum nor the jojoba oil seemed to affect the frequency or size of my minor breakouts. A few weeks in, I began noticing a small improvement in texture on the serum side of my face, and old acne marks seemed less noticeable compared to the jojoba-treated side. I gradually wore less makeup as the experiment went on, partly because the serum gave me a nice glow without it, but also because liquid makeup refused to stay put on either side of my face. As an added bonus, I came to enjoy applying the serum, which I always accompanied with a little face massage (warm skin + nice-smelling oil = massage, right?).

The luxurious feel of the product and the gradual improvement in my skin’s texture made it easy to maintain discipline for the full eight weeks. By the end of the experiment, though, I noticed no changes beyond the slight improvement in texture and tone on the serum side of my face. I began to doubt that my spotty 28 year-old skin was the ideal testing ground for this nutrient-rich serum. So I enlisted another guinea pig: my 60-something aunt Coco, a reformed sun-worshipper and a perfect target for a one-two punch of antioxidants and moisture.

Coco has the wrinkles and sun damage you’d expect for someone who used to slather on baby oil and lounge on tar rooftops in the blazing sun (“It was a different era,” she says), but has admirably foregone cosmetic procedures in favor of aging naturally. Thrilled at the prospect of improving her dry, sensitive skin, she agreed to use it daily for three full months. Here are her unedited comments:

1.  Easy to put on.

2.  Goes on very smoothly and evenly.

3.  Helps give skin one overall skin tone.

4.  Skin feels really good.  Does not feel there is a thick layer of cream on your face.

5.  Makeup also goes over the lotion very smoothly and evenly.

6.  Blush goes on smoother...minimizes clown look.

7.  Seems as though it would last a long time.  I can't say for sure because as you can imagine, I’ve been buying the same products for as long as you’ve been alive!

8.  I really like the way it feels on my face.  BETTER THAN ANYTHING I HAVE EVER USED!

So, while we agreed that the texture and user experience of the product was quite pleasant, ultimately Coco’s skin derived a much greater benefit from this serum than mine did. In fact, she extended the ‘experiment’ with no prompting from me; when I saw her after about five months of use, I was shocked at the improvement in texture and the overall glow she was sporting. Deeper wrinkles were still visible but seemed a bit softer, and the overall pitting that once caused makeup to settle unevenly into her pores had disappeared. The ruddiness around her nostrils and on her chin was much less noticeable despite the dry winter air. She even pulled a classic beauty junkie move and started applying the serum to the back of her hands!

Bottom line: I would recommend Evan Healy’s Pomegranate Repair Serum to anyone with fine lines, rough texture, or overall dullness, since those were the biggest areas of improvement we noticed in Coco’s and my skin. The serum’s ingredients are particularly well-suited to addressing sensitivity, dryness, and sun damage, and were considerably less harsh than retinols and fruit acid-derived wrinkle treatments Coco and I have tried. While the Pomegranate Serum wasn’t quite right for my ill-tempered skin, I was sufficiently impressed by the brand’s philosophy to purchase their Tea Tree Cleansing Gel and French Rose Clay Mask, both of which I love. The brand does sell kits tailored to specific skin concerns, so you can try an entire regimen for about the price of a full-sized serum. They also offer travel-sized versions of all their products, allowing you to mix and match -- I would recommend trying a serum and a hydrosol.

(Thanks to Marta and the TIA community for the chance to review this product!)

Ingredients: Pomegranate seed oil*, rosehip seed oil*, jojoba oil*, sea buckthorn oil CO2, and vitamin E.  *Certified organic

*There’s actually some logic to this; our outermost layer of skin is protected by a thin layer of sebum (oil) and sweat (water and dissolved ions) known as the hydrolipid layer (or ‘acid mantle,’ which sounds cooler). The acid mantle, which maintains skin’s pH at around 5-5.5, is critical to our immune systems; the acid thwarts pathogens, while the oil component keeps our skin watertight. Common cosmetic detergents have been demonstrated to disrupt the acid mantle, leading to abnormal immune response and increased secretion of the wax esters and triglycerides that make up sebum. For more on the subject, see Claire’s excellent summary here.