When I started using Y.E.S. Young Essential Skincare's "dynamic duo" of Anti-Aging Serum and Rejuvenating Moisture Cream, I must admit I was a bit put off by the fluffy cream's saccharine scent and the minty serum's runny consistency. Were there traces of marshmallow mixed in my cream? Was my serum really just mouthwash in disguise? Fortunately, there's more to the two formulas than candy and oral hygiene, and far more anti-aging benefits than you might expect.

Both items feature a proprietary CP24-Complex, allegedly capable of increasing fibroblast growth by 250% within 24 hours. Proven in clinical trials to mimic the actions of placenta extract, this natural complex stimulates cell respiration by increasing metabolic activity. Its combination of nitrogenous substances, amino acids, and inorganic salts stabilize skin pH and reinforce the hydration of the skin.

Highly hydroscopic, the two formulas replenish moisture in the skin by absorbing water from the air. Both boast retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A, which readily penetrates the epidermis and dermis, protecting the skin from free radical damage and facilitating cellular renewal. With a much higher concentration in the serum, retinyl palmitate could be a potential cause for drying or stinging side effects. The rest of the ingredients that the two products share are limited to the antioxidant vitamin E acetate and hydrolyzed soy protein, believed to minimize the appearance of roughness and wrinkles.

What really stands out in the cream is Matrixyl 3000, comprised of two peptides palmitoyl oligopeptide and palmitoyl tetrapeptide-3. While the first peptide behaves similarly to vitamin A (minus the adverse reactions), the latter synergistically supports other active ingredients to create an optimally effective environment. Working together, this team of peptides delivers a one-two punch of cell regeneration and collagen stimulation. Another star is the emollient ester C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, which helps attract cells to sites that need repair, aiding in the natural reconstruction of the dermis.

The cream also sports some friendly botanicals, such as shea butter and aloe vera leaf (both sources of beta-carotene, amino acids, and vitamins), in addition to squalane, which helps the skin maintain its natural moisture. Seabuckthorn seed oil, known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, stimulates tissue regeneration and epithelial healing. Extracts from the chia plant contribute high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids and several antioxidants.

More potent than the cream, Y.E.S.'s serum contains a higher concentration of the CP24-Complex, in addition to glycosaminoglycans, which form a key component of connective tissue and are ideal molecules for a lubricating fluid. Shiitake extract, known to have antibacterial and medicinal properties, stimulates cell renewal by bringing younger cells to the surface. Sodium alginate, which is primarily extracted from a giant kelp, stimulates the detoxification and normalization of skin through its numerous vitamins, enzymes, essential amino acids, polysarrharides, and mineral salts. By virtue of its ability to fight bacteria and fungi, tea tree leaf oil can be effective in clearing acne-related skin conditions.

Too bad Y.E.S. didn't say "N.O." to a few nasty inclusions, or else it might have made it onto the Reviewed and Recommended list. The pink, sweet-smelling cream is clearly loaded with artificial fragrances and dyes. Yellow #5 (aka tartrazine) derives from coal tar, which deposits potentially irritating toxins on the skin. After Y.E.S.'s anti-aging complex, the next most abundant component in the cream is cyclopentasiloxane, a lightweight form of silicone which may cause mild skin irritation. The tail ends of both formulas point to a sorry state of preservatives, packing in a double dose of parabens in addition to phenoxyethanol (in the cream) and diazolidinyl urea (in the serum). Just in case you don't mind a little irritation or formaldehyde on your face.

Though I tend to shy away from serums since they sometimes leave my skin taut or greasy, Y.E.S.'s serum is exceptionally fluid and even little moisturizing. An excellent complement to go over the serum, Y.E.S.'s cream hydrates without feeling heavy. Not only does it coat my skin with a shine-free, quickly-absorbing layer, but it also leaves my complexion clear. Due to the lightweight consistency of both the serum and moisturizer, they last for a looong time. Neither item will need to be replaced for months.

Young Essential Skincare's prices are on the moderately expensive side, at $60 for the serum and $55 for the cream, but you can get the set at a discount for $105. If you're not quite ready to take the plunge, visit the Y.E.S. website and request a free trial kit.

Ingredients in Rejuvenating Moisture Cream:

Water, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, CP24-Complex, Cyclopentasiloxane, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Salvia Hispanica (Chia) Root Extract, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Fruit Extract, Squalane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) Extract, Fragrance (Parfum), Tocopherol, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Yellow 5 (Cl#19140), Tetrasodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben.

Ingredients in Anti-Aging Serum:

Water, CP24-Complex, Glycosaminoglycans, Sclerotium Gum, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E Acetate), Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate), Pimpinella Anisum (Anise) Fruit Extract, Phospholipids, Letinus Edodes (Shitake) Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Ascorby Palmitate (Vitamin C Palmitate), Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Flower Extract, Algin (Sodium Alginate), Polysorbate 20, SD Alcohol 40, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Slyrene/Butadiene Copolymer, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Diazolidinyl Urea.