After reading Claire's cursory assessment of Joshi Face & Neck Serum, I got a bottle of my own to resolve first-hand whether its holistic claims keep pace with its press-savvy hype. A media darling, Nish Joshi is the brains behind a popular clinic and skincare range based in the UK, which embrace both Eastern and Western approaches to health care. In the two short years his skincare line has been around, Joshi has amassed an an impressive cadre of A-list celebrity clients including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Ralph Fiennes. I figured if it's good enough for Gwyneth, Joshi's face and neck serum must pack in some pretty amazing stuff.

Unfortunately, as Claire discovered, the formula lacks a holistic WOW factor. There is very little borrowed from Ayurveda tradition, the Indian system of mind-body medicine that Joshi lays claim to. Typical Ayurvedic remedies for premature aging include ghee, almond oil, aloe vera, and cucumber. Instead, Joshi threw in chlorella vulgaris extract from green algae, which has shown to stimulate collagen and elastin production, thus helping to maintain skin's firmness. But that's about it for targeted anti-aging actives.

There is also a conspicuous shortage of natural ingredients, in spite of Joshi's synthetic-free stance. The formula's botanical extracts end after chlorella vulgaris and rose water, a gentle toning agent that calms irritation and stimulates regeneration processes. Though it may be devoid of parabens, silicones, and artificial fragrances, Joshi's serum buries other undesirables, such as the potentially irritating preservatives ethylhexylglycerin, phenoxyethanol, and dehydroacetic acid, as well as the pH adjuster sodium hydroxide.

Even more disturbing is the high proportion of propylene glycol, a humectant derived from petroleum and a suspected carcinogen. The Material Safety Data Sheet for propylene glycol states, "May be harmful by ingestion or skin absorption. May cause eye irritation, skin irritation. Chronic exposure can cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting, central nervous system depression." And Joshi chose to make this his most prevalent ingredient after water?

Notwithstanding how propylene glycol helps skin retain moisture, I'd rather not coat my face in an extremely high concentration of it on a regular basis. Even with its double dose of heavy-duty humectants glycerin and sodium hyaluronate, Joshi's serum is hardly self-sufficient for hydration without a regular moisturizer on top. I found its slimy texture unpleasant and had a hard time using up a full squirt, since it dispenses generously and spreads thinly. Perhaps this explains why the serum is meant for the face and neck. The leftover slime has to go somewhere- why not keep on smearing downward?

After several weeks of waiting for a miracle, I am retiring my so-called holistic serum so that it can continue to do a whole lot of nothing somewhere other than my body. Joshi's slippery serum does not reduce wrinkles, firm the face, nor lift the neck. At best, it provides an insubstantial layer of moisture; at worst, it penetrates the skin and causes potentially irreversible health conditions. Sorry Gwyneth, but your 39 British pounds could be better put to use elsewhere.

Ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Propylene glycol, Rosa Damascena flower water, Glycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Chlorella Vulgaris extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Mannan, Sodium hydroxide, Polyaminopropyl biguanide, Phenoxyethanol, Dehydroacetic acid, Benzoic acid.