Not only is it the fruit of the gods and the source of a heavenly potion in a wineglass, the grape is also an antioxidant-loaded free radical fighter. Grape polyphenols are believed to protect elastin and collagen fibers and preserve the structural integrity of the skin, while grapevine resveratrol has been shown to prolong the life of skin cells by stimulating cellular renewal. Furthermore, grapevine stalks have traditionally been used to lighten dark spots and clarify the complexion. Various components of the versatile grape crop up in every product of the French skincare line Caudalie.

After three years of research, Caudalie's scientific team at the Bordeaux University of Pharmacy isolated and stabilized the molecule in grapevine stalks known for its exceptional lightening action. The patented Viniferine complex stemming from this discovery works by controlling tyrosinase, which is reponsible for melanin production, and boosting microcirculation to improve melanin distribution. It is the star ingredient of Caudalie's Vinoperfect Radiance Serum, delivering antioxidant protection and a brightened complexion all at once.

What I love about this serum is the velvety texture that allows it to glide on beautifully and dry quickly. Though I hate to add an extra step in my morning beauty routine, this serum doesn't force me to sit around and wait as if I'm watching paint dry. Whereas previous experiences with serums have left my skin feeling sticky or gooey, this one creates a perfectly smooth canvas for moisturizer and makeup. It seems to react well with any product layered on top so that you don't end up with miscellaneous clumps around your jawline.

Caudalie's serum coats skin with a thin layer of lightweight moisture through the naturally hydrating olive squalane. Additional emollients derive from glycerin, butylene glycol, glyceryl stearate SE, and caprylyl glycol, all of which are generally safe and non-irritating. The combination of these skin conditioners creates a lovely consistency that drips out of an easy-to-use, hygenic dropper, making you feel rather scientific as you apply the serum. Besides grape polyphenols, the serum packs in a great deal of vitamin E for added antioxidant protection. Its fresh fragrance is subtly revitalizing, and its youth-oriented formula leaves skin looking dewey and fresh.

Caudalie steers clear of the common synthetic shortcomings, such as parabens, sulfates, and phenoxyethanol. The only ingredient to watch out for is sodium hydroxide, a pH adjuster and buffering agent. Though it appears to be present at a low concentration, sodium hydroxide is extremely corrosive and can deeply penetrate the skin. Solutions as weak as .12% have damaged healthy skin within an hour. As a result, prolonged contact to sensitive skin could result in drying, cracking, and inflammation. I've also heard reports of acne flare-ups, but I have never personally experienced any bad reactions.

I was first introduced to this delightful serum during a casual visit to Sephora on a particularly cold winter day. After assessing my wind-chapped skin and taking into account its years of overexposure to the sun, a Sephora consultant recommended Vinoperfect. Caudalie claims that it will deliver scientifically-proven anti-pigmentation action in just four weeks by correcting existing dark spots and preventing new occurrences. This serum is thus ideal for smokers and sun worshippers, as well as skin that is scarred or littered with age spots.

Though I can't say my dark spots have disappeared, they have noticeably faded. But what I care about more is that my skin looks clearer, less dry, and more radiant. Because only a smidge is needed to coat the whole face, the serum lasted for a full three months when used every single day, which is nice since it is no measly investment at $79. That didn't deter my roommate, who after hearing my glowing review and sampling my Vinoperfect, marched straight into Sephora and bought her own bottle. Our medicine cabinet is now a veritable grape storeroom.


Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin*, Squalane*, Tocopheryl Acetate*, Ceteareth-20*, Palmitoyl Grapevine Shoot Extract*, Glyceryl Stearate Se*, Parfum (Fragrance), Caprylyl Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Phytate*. *Plant origin.