I'm usually first in line to try a trend. I am addicted to at-home peels, have made contouring a permanent step in my makeup routine, and even own more than one blue lipstick. But despite all the praise heaped on them, I couldn't get behind beauty oils.
Coconut oil made my fine hair too greasy, and I splurged on luxurious treatments only to break out the next day. So when I came upon Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum ($185), I was more than hesitant — I was flat-out skeptical. So I reached out to the product's creator, April Gargiulo, to find out what makes it special.
"I don't have a beauty background," Gargiulo admitted to me immediately. "I'm a winemaker." She had not only struggled to treat her fine lines, breakouts, and inflammation but also couldn't find a formula that she believed was safe enough to put on her skin. Because of this void in the market, Gargiulo decided to create her own product.
"I applied the same philosophy — no shortcuts! — to skin care that I would to fine winemaking," she explained. She spent two years developing her treatment with scientists, and the result was a golden serum absolutely packed with nutrients.
A brief look at the ingredient list surprised me. All 22 items are extremely recognizable: they're plants! Each one is naturally loaded with vitamins. For example, alfalfa leaves contain vitamin D, and carrot seed oil features vitamin A, the original source of retinol. "It's everything your body needs to thrive . . . and the same ingredients are intensely skin beautifying," Gargiulo told me.
Hearing Gargiulo's passion for her serum made me eager to try it, despite my initial reservations. She advised me to cleanse, tone, and then use the Active Botanical Serum.
In the carton for the formula, there's a small insert counseling users on the "push/press" technique, which was developed just for this product. I followed along closely: after dispensing a few drops, I rubbed my palms together, which is supposed to activate the botanical ingredients. (It also allows the lovely rose aroma of the serum to permeate the room!) Then, I carefully pressed my serum-coated palms onto my face, neck, and décolleté for 30 seconds.
I immediately observed a dewy radiance, but it was later that week that I fell in love with the formula. I'd been using it nightly and noticed that my typically sallow complexion looked bright and healthy each morning. In fact, one day, I went through my entire makeup routine but skipped my foundation, because I thought I had already put it on. Daily application of the Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum had made my skin tone that even.
I had never been disappointed by my skin before using Gargiulo's product, but now I was proud of it. I finally understand what Beyoncé is saying in "***Flawless" when she declares that she "woke up like this."