These days I am becoming just as interested in what gets left out of a potion as in what goes in.  Stem Organics is an Australian brand that goes out of its way to do no evil. It never uses phenoxyethanol (the ubiquitous, but potentially harmful preservative) or parabens (damaging to marine life).

Stem Organics preservative of choice is sodium hydroxy methylglycinate. This is an amino acid and independent tests have found it to be non-toxic by skin absorption and non-mutagenic (does not damage the DNA or possess the potential to damage chromosomes). However, a test on a guinea pig did reveal it to be a potential allergen. In Europe it is permitted at concentrations of 0.5%.

Anyway, if that's as bad as Stem gets, I'll take it. For a light summer serum Fresh Start Serum ($65) is an enjoyable experience. The appellation 'fresh' is really appropriate. It will help you start your morning off with a little spring in your step. It is also packed full of antioxidants including rosehip oil (which one reader commented is even better than argan oil), ginko, green tea, niacinamide (a vitamin B with a good pedigree for repairing skin cells) and sea buckthorn. Like all other Stem products, it has their signature combo of kakadu (brimming with enough vitamin C to put an orange to shame), tasmanian kelp, pomegranate and gotu kola.

Ingredients in Stem Organics Fresh Start Serum

Organic Aloe Barbadensis, Purified Aqua, Organic Jojoba Oil, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax, Organic Rose Hip Oil, Beta Glucan, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Vitamin E Tocopherol, Cetyl Alcohol (veg), Carbomer, Pomegranate Extract, Green Tea Extract, Kakadu Plum Extract, Organic Olive Leaf Extract, Organic Ginkgo Biloba Extract, Tasmanian Kelp, Gotu Kola Extract, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Grapeseed Extract, Organic Mandarin Essential Oil, Organic Vanilla, Sodium Hydroxy Methylglycinate (amino acid based preservative), Limonene (Occurring in Essenial Oil), Helichrysum Essential Oil, Billy Goat Plum Bush Essence, Potassium Sorbate, Banksia Robur Bush Essence, Lactic Acid