Our Rating: 0 stars

Reviewed by Nina on July 8, 2013


For the past month, I’ve been using the Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Skin Rehydration Solution ($68). Formulated with pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and hyaluronic acid, Hydr8 is designed to moisturize and soften skin, and is non-aggravating to acne-prone and oily skin types. And as far as my skin is concerned, it’s pretty much a dream treatment come true – I’m prone to acne and shine, and yet at the same time suffer from patches of eczema, and tight and dry skin. Throughout this trial, my skin has been clear and calm, soft and hydrated, and I’ve had only one zit, which I blame on the oppressive, 100+ degree weather. I am happy to give this serum two thumbs up and a green light for anyone who needs hydration, yet wants to cut the shine.

Medik8’s efficacy may be due to its focused and therefore concentrated formula. Only six ingredients go into this serum; water is the first, and the next two are the actives B5 and sodium hyaluronate (yes there are preservatives, one of which is dubious, but the Good Guide gives Hydr8 B5 an overall score of 8, and rates its concern level as low.) With its short recipe, Medik8 Hydr8 B5 takes a targeted approach to healthy skin, and the two actives seem to complement one another – the B5 is healing and balances oil production, while sodium hyaluronate supports the skin’s matrix and hydrates without clogging.

I assumed that Medik8 was non-acnegenic by virtue of what it didn’t have – heavy oils and other comedogenic ingredients. While it is oil free, its skin-clearing powers actually come from the B5, which (I’ve learned) is a powerful anti-acne treatment that also has healing and regenerative properties. Taken orally, B5 helps to balance hormones and regulate oil production of the sebaceous oil glands. Topically applied, B5 hydrates, encourages blood flow to skin tissues, and keeps the skin pH balanced. It has humectant properties, rejuvenates assaulted skin, and is a superior treatment for wounded skin. Studies reveal that injured dermis treated with B5 exhibits faster regeneration, reduced scarring and greater elasticity as compared to skin not treated with it; and B5-derived dexpanthenol is often used to heal eczema, acne and reactions to radiation therapy. Data aside, a quick Google search of B5 yields numerous posts by dedicated users who swear by its anti-acne and healing powers. And again, I only got one pimple during this trial.

The second active is sodium hyaluronate, which holds about 1,000 times its own weight in water (like the acrylamide in diapers that keeps babies’ bottoms dry) and thus gives skin a plumped, fuller and generally firmer look. While this is temporary and may therefore have the superficial feel of a well-placed highlighter, sodium hyaluronate is considered an important part of any skincare protocol. Sodium hyaluronate keeps skin hydrated, and hydrated skin functions optimally and is able to maximize companion treatments and ingredients (for example the B5 in this awesome serum!). Indeed, my cheeks do have more spring and my skin looks fresh and glowy.

Though Medik8 made no promises about reducing redness or abating the appearance of broken veins, my skin tone is even and my nemesis veins appear diminished. Yay!

Like many people, I enjoy using my serums day and night, especially when the directions read “morning and evening.” But often I find that even when a serum soaks in, it doesn’t agree with my sunscreen and makeup, and I end up with pills and flakes. But Medik8 rises to this occasion, too (and honestly, I was kind of surprised). Packaged in a medicine-dropper bottle, Medik8 is a clear serum, with a thick, viscous consistency. Sticky and gross though that may sound (and yes, I had fleeting thoughts of snails and snot), the serum absorbs quickly and blends completely. My sunblock and cream blush apply as seamlessly as they do when my face is bare, and the serum doesn’t add any excess oil or shine, which is a regular problem for me. A little – by which I mean two drops – goes a long way, and after one month, about half of my 1oz bottle remains.

So let’s talk about the preservatives. The first, phenoxyethanol, is the worst of the lot. It’s been linked to reproductive toxicity and nervous system damage, among other disturbing injuries. Marta wrote an article that explains phenoxyethanol, and details various studies and their findings. She concludes that she’d prefer to “give it a miss” and she’s not alone: Japan limits its use in cosmetics and the EU classifies it as an irritant. It’s disappointing to find it in such an effective and otherwise carefully formulated serum, and I hope that the concentration is extremely low. The other two preservatives, Ethylhexylglycerin and citric acid, are both considered safe and are well rated by the Environmental Working Group and the Good Guide.

In spite of the lamentable preservative, I do recommend Medik8 Hydr8. It’s kept my skin fresh and calm, and had the bonus surprise of minimizing my red squiggle veins. A 1oz (30ml) bottle of Medik8 Hydr8 B5 sells for $80, and given that it appears it will last me at least six weeks (and that’s being conservative) I think that this is a good price for this highly effective, professional-grade product.