The A, B, C & E of Skincare
I’ve been eyeing the Profiling Kit from Alpha H for years, but it took some hyping of the Vitamin B serum on Instagram for me to give it a serious look. As I also was in a need of a new vitamin C serum and wanted to test out Ethylated Ascorbic Acid, I saw a good opportunity to get this set.
The Profiling Kit includes four serums with a specific focus. Each serum contains
25ml (the new kit offers 15ml), you can buy them separately in full size (25ml) for about the same price as the kit. All serums are fragrance-free. I’m unsure about the new set, but the old one came with a profiling routine wheel, targeting specific concerns. The same profiling can be found on Alpha H’s website if you’re curious to see all recommendations.
A pamphlet is also included, describing all the serums and the philosophy of the A, B, C, & E. In it, it also says that the serums are not designed to be blended and that it is best to use them individually for best results. The only serum that seems to be ok to layer or layer with others is the Vitamin E serum – it says on the bottle that you can mix a few drops with your moisturizer. I add this as, before my purchase, I read a few negative reviews complaining about the effectiveness of the serums when mixing them. I can agree that the text about them not being suitable for mixing and matching isn’t quite obvious, but it’s there and to keep in mind.
Vitamin A – Anti-Ageing
Active ingredients: Encapsulated Retinol 0.5% + Retinyl Propionate
Recommended for nighttime use, this serum also contains a hydrating formula of squalane, evening primrose, jojoba, sweet almond, and macadamia seed oil to combat the drying effects of retinol. So it has a somewhat oily texture, but it does sink in without feeling dry or too moisturizing. It has a yellow tint to it like most retinoid products. A little goes a long way, two to three drops are all that’s needed for the face and neck.
I’ve been using it between one and three times a week, and even after six months I still got 1/3 of it left in the bottle. The reason for not using it nightly or so is that I rotate my retinol with chemical exfoliants, which makes it easy for my skin to get upset.
The first two times of using this I would wake up with slightly dry and dehydrated skin. However, that could’ve just been my skin at the time. As I haven’t experienced that issue since then. However, compared to other retinol serums I’ve tried, this one doesn’t seem that effective when it comes to feeling and seeing overnight results. My skin feels only slightly softer and calmer compared to the plumpness, youthfulness, and smoothness that I experience with others. I know that retinol works slowly, and it’s only with continued use you’ll be garnering the benefits. But even after six months of using it I’m not completely sold by the results compared to others I’ve tried. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be wowed by it.
However, note, if you are using strong exfoliants like Biologique Recherche P50 toner (review) or similar, this retinol may come off as strong. Always be aware when using acids and retinol no matter the strength.
And a trick, if it ever feels drying to the skin, is to mix a few drops of Vitamin E with your nighttime moisturizer.
I find it quite comparable with the First Aid Beauty 0.25% Retinol (review), despite being double the strength in percentage, It’s on the milder side but can bring on irritation if not used correctly. The Alpha H Vitamin A serum also uses encapsulated retinol, which means it will be slowly released during the night to combat irritation. For anyone with acne, I personally didn’t find this one to be that effective compared to certain other retinol serums that I’ve tried. You need to give it time and the oils may be an issue for some. But it definitely keeps your skin in check if you have mild to moderate problems. Used together with all of the other serums in this kit I noticed a less breakout-prone complexion.
Overall I find the Alpha H Vitamin A 0.5% to be excellent for anyone who’s between 25-30 years old and just starting to see the first signs of aging. I feel like this is a good gentle retinol that delivers results more slowly than some others I’ve tried.
But because I know of some better retinol serums for my skin, I wouldn’t necessarily go out and repurchase this alone. I much preferred the FAB retinol over this one. I do, however, find it plays well with the rest of the serums in the kit, to the point that I would give it another go if I ever repurchased this kit again.
Vitamin B – Build Moisture
Active ingredients: Niacinamide + Copper Tripeptide
The Alpha-H niacinamide serum comes spiked with copper tripeptide, which gives it this cool blue hue. Copper peptide is good for maintaining normal immune function, collagen synthesis, and calming down inflammation. I couldn’t find any information on what percentage of copper or niacinamide is used. I found one blogger claiming 5% niacinamide at least. And looking at the inci list that might well be true. But I haven’t found a source of the company confirming this. So we can’t be sure.
Besides the ones mentioned, the Vitamin B serum also offers a hydrating formula with chia seed oil, sodium PCA, B5, ferulic acid, hyaluronic acid, and lactobacillus ferment. All of this help to strengthen, repair and protect the skin barrier. And like most hydrating serums, this has a liquid gel-like texture. Because of the copper peptide, it smells a little of hot dogs. But nothing overpowering and it fades.
I was the most excited to try this one and can happily report that it did not disappoint! However, I found it to be more barrier-repairing than actually hydrating. And despite Copper peptide being an “it”-ingredient and generally hyped by many… I’m not truly sold on the necessity of adding it to this particular serum.
I’ve tried three different serums with copper peptide now and none of them has really impressed me or made any real positive difference to my skin like for everybody else you read about. I don’t know why. I personally don’t find it to do much for my skin than perhaps slightly increase facial hair…? Yes, that’s one of the drawbacks of it. If anything, copper peptide is a bit annoying to have as it doesn’t pair well with other active ingredients like vitamin C, and should not be used with retinoids. (According to some sources.)
Still, I would consider repurchasing it, even alone. I think it’s a good and well-balanced hydrating and barrier-repairing serum. But I think it’s important to know that because of the copper peptide, it’s mostly a stand-alone serum that shouldn’t be mixed or applied with other actives. So if I could choose, I think it would make a better fit if it had not had the copper peptide and would focus more on niacinamide and other hydrating and barrier-repairing ingredients. Just my opinion.
Vitamin C – Clarity Enhancing
Active ingredients: Ethyl Ascorbic Acid + Grapeseed Extract
Ethylated Ascorbic Acid (ELAA/EA/EAC) is the new kid in the subcategories of Vitamin C. What’s great about it is that it’s very close to the molecular weight of actual Vitamin C, but offers much better stability in both oil and water than pure Ascorbic Acid. According to the pamphlet from Alpha H, our skin cells can convert 89% of Ethyl Ascorbic Acid into L-Ascorbic. If you think it will replace pure LAA, you’re getting your hopes up as the results aren’t as immediate; it takes a while to notice an effect.
Alpha H doesn’t disclose what percentage of ELAA they use in the Vitamin C serum, and I’m afraid to guess. Most popular serums with ELAA are in a waterless formula, this one isn’t. The serum also contains Sodium Hyaluronate and brightening Licorice extract. The texture reminds me very much of Paula’s Choice C15. I’m not super fond of watery serums, I find them to be a bit difficult to apply. It says 2-3 drops, but that didn’t feel sufficient to cover my face and I didn’t notice an effect. I then started to take more, like it was an essence. It felt very wasteful. But that’s when I started to see and feel actual results.
I never truly saw any super brightening or fading effect on red acne spots with pure Ascorbic Acid. In my opinion, retinol and AHAs are much better in that department. I also never seemed to be able to finish a bottle of LAA in time before it started oxidizing. So to me, ELAA is a much better fit for my expectations and use.
The Alpha H Vitamin C serum doesn’t brighten or even the skin as effectively as the pure version (if it ever did). At least not this serum – don’t know about those with a higher percentage. However, as an antioxidant just like LAA, I found it to make my skin feel softer, less bumpy, and decreased the number of blackheads on my skin. I also find it to be less irritating than pure vitamin C.
ELAA is being used more and more because of its high stability. It can be found from as much as $118 (Allies of Skin) to as little as $18 (The Ordinary), and Summer Fridays offer ones too. I wouldn’t necessarily repurchase this one from Alpha H. But don’t mind using it if I ever buy the kit again.
Vitamin E – Emergency Repair
Active ingredients: Encapsulated Vitamin E + Macadamia Seed Oil
This serum promotes soothing and skin repair. It’s a water-based oil serum, that also includes nourishing almond and evening primrose oil. Out of all the four serums, I’m actually most inclined to repurchase this one alone.
What makes Alpha H Vitamin E serum stand out is that it’s water-based compared to other oil and vitamin E serums. So it feels more penetrative and doesn’t leave the skin feeling oily. It’s not your regular tocopherol oil either, Alpha-H uses Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates (DLTP) which is primarily used to treat diaper rash, underarm irritation, shaving irritation and works wonderfully to decrease redness.
Vitamin E is also the only serum out of the four that can be applied together with the other serums without causing issues. It’s well paired with Vitamin A to counteract dryness, will boost softness and antioxidant protection with Vitamin C, and add an extra boost of hydration to Vitamin B. Or could be used alone or with a few drops mixed with your moisturizer when your skin is feeling distressed.
If your skin is feeling dry or irritated this serum is your best friend. I find it to be very nourishing without feeling heavy. My favorite use for it has been to boost hydration but also help speed up the healing after acne marks. Especially if I popped a pimple, I’ll even use it as a spot treatment, as vitamin E is good for preventing scarring.
Conclusion | ★★★★★
Overall, I wouldn’t mind getting this set again considering what a great value it is compared to buying the serums separately. Even if getting similar serums from other brands, this is such a bargain!
UPDATE: While composing this review Alpha H has updated the kit and is in the process of renewing the packaging on the vitamin serums. The bottles in the kit are now reduced to 15ml instead of 25ml, but the price is also somewhat reduced.
All of the serums have beautiful textures I must say! None felt too sticky or drying to me personally. If you don’t let the Vitamin E serum really sink in before putting your moisturizer on, your skin may feel quite moist though. But neither of the serums causes your moisturizer or makeup to pill. They all feel very high quality. The effectiveness of the serums may vary from person to person. If you’re an actives-veteran you might not see a huge effect on your skin with some of these. Then again, this set feels more made for people in their 20s and early 30s that just got into skincare.
If I had to choose the ones I genuinely liked the best and would consider purchasing a full size, it’s the Vitamin E and B serum. I found the two to be unique enough to spend my money on. My least favorite is the retinol serum as I have other ones in mind that I feel performs better when it comes to anti-acne and youthfulness effect. It’s just missing something I feel. But like I said, if you’re just starting out (or have sensitive skin), it may be a good option!
This kit makes a great gift or an introductory to actives for anyone in their 20s who wants to step up their skincare game without it being too complicated. These serums are the perfect supplement to your cleanser, moisturizer, and chemical exfoliant. The profiling wheel is helpful to customize your routine to suit your skin’s needs and what you like to target for the day. Ever since I started living by its recommendation and sticking to the same products, my skin has gotten better and better! I could not be more satisfied with my purchase!