If anyone has tried IS Clinical Active Serum ($128), I would love to hear from you. I have been staring at it for quite some time trying to make up my mind as to whether to try it, but I have to feel a little rush of excitement when I consider spending well over $100 and my emotions are curiously flat.

The dominant ingredient in IS Clinical Active Serum after water is, glycerin, a perfectly respectable moisturizer that has a fair amount of data to demonstrate that it improves hydration of the skin and provides a protective barrier. Glycerin isn’t super sexy though and fter that its thickeners and alcohol. My flexible friend is likely to remain in my wallet unless I can get excited about the botanical extracts that come next.

First up is sugar cane extract. The reason for including this in cosmetics is that it is a source of glycolic acid, a type of alpha hydroxyl acid. Glycolic acid is the AHA with the smallest molecule and the greatest penetration, so deeply exfoliates to remove skin that is dry, coarse, or dead. I don’t know what the concentration of it is, but I wouldn’t want to use this exfoliating agent every day. Especially as it is not alone.

IS Clinical Active Serum also has willow bark, another exfoliant and this time a beta hydroxy acid. Willow bark is often used for acne control and can be drying for the skin. Although willow bark does have anti-inflammatory properties, I feel a little wary of a daily serum with relatively few ingredients having a BHA and AHA. I would hazard a guess that arbutin, a skin lightener, might be drying as well.

The aforementioned glycerin might counter this, but that’s a bit like taking uppers and downers at the same time. Meanwhile the couple of botanical antioxidants, bilberry and mushroom, look a little lost.

Glycolic acid needs to be pH-balanced to be effective and this probably explains the presence of triethanolamine, which tends primarily used as a pH adjuster. Unfortunately, it is also a human skin, immune system and respiratory toxicant.

My suspicion is that IS Clinical Active Serum will give short-term results due to the exfoliating agents, but may ultimately make the skin dry and dull. IS Clinical, though, goes out of its way to say it is not drying. I did once have a fairly good experience with IS Clinical’s Youth Eye Complex, so I’d be happy to hear from anyone who has had the same with the Active Serum. For now, my credit card remains unused, especially as IS Clinical warns the "hyper-sensitive" against Active Serum.

Ingredients: Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Butylene Glycol, SD Alcohol 30, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Extract, Triethanolamine, Arbutin, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Polyporus Umbellatus (Mushroom) Extract, Menthol, Phenoxyethanol.