Welcome to Deep Reviews—your one-stop destination to discover the absolute best products and brands the beauty industry has to offer. The Who What Wear staffers you already know and trust will research, test, and review the market's most sought-after and buzzed-about products to see which formulas (of the hundreds up for consideration) are truly worth your hard-earned money and attention. You can expect honest, completely uncensored feedback and no-BS recommendations our hard-to-please testers endorse without reservations.
The majority of our Deep Reviews will feature our editors' honest, ultra-hot takes on entire product categories or multiple products from a particular beauty brand, but every so often, we'll sprinkle in a special single-product format called Honestly, I Love It. As the name suggests, these reviews will hone in on one standout beauty formula our editors quite literally can't shut up about. This time around, I'm highlighting Symbiome's The Answer Reparative Serum ($200), which is packed with peptides, growth factors, and probiotics to restore skin's youthfulness and vitality.
Listen, I'll be the first to tell you that there are a lot of serums out there that talk a big game when it comes to the results they deliver. Many promise to erase fine lines and promote a radiant glow, but few of them actually do it. Recently, however, I stumbled upon a bottle of magic that actually does what it says—and then some. I found myself chatting with WWW Beauty Director Erin Jahns about skincare (as we do), and she told me her facialist friend deemed this serum "Botox in a bottle." Naturally, I was intrigued.
It had been a while since my last Botox appointment, and I was looking for something to help with some pesky fine lines on my forehead. Jahns told me she'd been using Symbiome's The Answer ($200), a serum packed with human growth factors, peptides, and probiotics that truly rejuvenated and repaired her skin in a big way. I was immediately excited to try it because Jahns and I have eerily similar skin types—sensitive, acne prone, and teeters on reactive. (We've even joked that we break out just by looking at a new product.) What's great about The Answer is that, although it packs a punch, it's sensitive and skin-friendly and contains only six ingredients. That's actually the wonderful thing about the entire brand—Symbiome takes a "less is more" approach with all its products. Each one contains less than 10 ingredients. The brand believes in maximum potency using the fewest number of ingredients possible. This approach resulted in skincare with nutrient-dense ingredients that do the most without irritating sensitive skin.
This is something I obviously gel with due to my skin type, so I tested out The Answer (along with a few of the brand's other offerings) for a month, and color me impressed. For my full review, along with a word from the experts on why this serum is so great, keep reading below.
It's a bit hard to tell in the above photos, but I've been dealing with aggressive skin-barrier damage for quite some time as well as breakouts and dehydration. I've noticed huge improvements after making some tweaks to my skincare routine, but I was really looking for something to help repair the damage and improve my moisture-barrier function significantly. I also have to acknowledge that this serum is expensive. Although I know not everyone has the means to be able to drop $200 on one skincare item, I will say that I think there are a few select serums out there that are totally worth the money—this is one of them.
I've tried quite a few serums over the years. With some, I started to see results within a week or two, and others have been more of a slow burn. I'd say this serum falls into the latter category. Although it took a little longer to start seeing the changes in my skin, they were definitely there. I noticed that my skin was a lot less red and irritated, especially around my nose area. I also noticed that any breakouts that would pop up would heal a lot quicker thanks to an ingredient called lactobacillus ferment—a multifunctional postbiotic that contains lactic acid, enzymes, phospholipids, and more to support barrier function and even out your skin tone. I was also just plain relieved to see that my moisture-barrier function had improved because I was starting to think that it never would after years of using the wrong skincare. If you're like me and are looking to repair skin damage, I think this serum will be the one for you. Don't let the minimal ingredient list fool you. After just a month, it has improved my skin-barrier function majorly and even helped with some of those pesky little fine lines on my forehead.
The fine lines may not be visible in the above photos, but they are there, and I, of course, notice them. The growth factors in this serum are what will help with this. Growth factors are a wonderful ingredient to add to your skincare routine if fine lines and wrinkles are a concern for you. As I mentioned, I also have extremely sensitive skin, so it's tough for me to find a serum that delivers results without breaking me out. This serum definitely offered that to me and more.
Now, let's dive a little deeper into the formula of this product. You might be thinking, "How can this possibly be a potent, high-quality formula with only six ingredients?" Well, let me tell you. For starters, The Answer features several nutrient-rich ingredients that are straight from the Amazon. Rose geranium–leaf oil in the formula is an essential oil derived from rose geranium and is rich in terpenoids that calm the skin microbiome and purge toxins, excess sebum, and dead cells from the skin. Protium heptaphyllum (breu) resin is derived from a native tree in the Amazon rainforest that's also rich in terpenoids and antioxidants.
At the heart of the formula are two star ingredients—adult adipose stem cell conditioned media (human growth factors) and lactobacillus ferment. Lactobacillus ferment supports a healthy moisture barrier, and the human growth factors are what will have the most effect on fine lines and wrinkles. In addition to water, the final ingredient in this formula is Caesalpinia spinosa gum, which is a natural polysaccharide from a South American tree. It provides a smooth, luxurious texture and improves the spreadability of the product. Another great thing about Symbiome is how readily available information about each ingredient is on the brand's website. You can take a look yourself if you have questions about any of the ingredients used in each of the brand's offerings.
If you aren't quite convinced yet, I tapped two experts to give me a rundown on the product—Larry Weiss, Symbiome's founder and CSO, and celebrity esthetician Dakota Katt.
What makes it unique: Weiss broke down what makes this formula different from anything else on the market. "Healthy skin stem cells are essential to healthy, beautiful, youthful skin, but modern life is stressful on our skin and our stem cells," he says. "The Answer Serum is the first minimally formulated and biologically intact serum built on the clinically proven cosmetic benefits of adult stem cell conditioned media. Because stem cell conditioned media is already optimized by biology and nature to provide everything skin stem cells need to thrive, we intentionally left it intact and formulated at 50% to preserve potency. Together with rainforest-derived botanicals and our postbiotic lactobacillus ferment, The Answer Serum packs everything you need into seven biologically intact ingredients. We simply cannot improve on nature."
Why it's deemed "Botox in a bottle:" Katt echoes Weiss's breakdown with a little more on why she deemed this serum "Botox in a bottle." "Symbiome pumped The Answer with 50% adipose stem cell conditioned media, which is more than any other serum of its kind," she explains. "This stem cell–communicating ingredient is a game changer for anyone looking for anti-aging results. After just a few weeks of using The Answer, you will begin to feel that same tight, smooth feeling that Botox gives you.
Why estheticians love it: "I believe that less is more, and I love that each bottle contains just six superstar ingredients," Katt says. "This simplifies the product by using thoughtful powerhouse ingredients while still achieving incredible results! I also love how it absorbs seamlessly into the skin and leaves that clean, silky finish that we all want."
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